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Raleigh, North Carolina, is a thriving city—just what you'd expect from a state capital and an internationally ranked research center in an area defined by three major universities. Visitors to Raleigh usually fall for the same seductions that prompt people to live there permanently. The climate is mild. People are friendly. There's a mix of cultures. Free Raleigh Vacation Package Quote


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Downtown Raleigh, which offers a mix of business and government buildings surrounded by charming older neighborhoods, parks and greenways, includes the 500,000-sq-ft/46,452-sq-m Raleigh Convention Center, which capped off an effort in recent decades to bring to downtown more residential condos and hotels, public art, a redesigned Fayetteville Street, and a large selection of restaurants and shops. Downtown is the place to be during the day and at night.

Research Triangle Park, located between Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is among the largest research parks in the U.S. Some 300 companies and organizations call the Research Triangle Park home. With that in mind, the area often boasts that it has the largest concentration of Ph.D.s of any place in the world.

Education is in the forefront in the Triangle, with three major universities: North Carolina State University in Raleigh, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University in Durham. The draw of possible jobs, education and an affordable lifestyle has attracted thousands of international visitors, many of whom are charmed enough to stay.

But its popularity has brought Raleigh growing pains, too. To keep up with the influx of new residents and visitors, road construction is widespread and constant. Traffic tie-ups are common, especially along Interstate 40, Highway 70 and Highway 54, the three main corridors through Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and on the I-440 beltline around the city.

New road construction is alleviating some of the congestion, and the I-540 and Highway 264 bypasses are helping with backups north and east of the city, but in the meantime, construction projects, from new roads to high-rise buildings continue, which means that patience is an asset when navigating the area.


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Overview

Introduction

Raleigh, North Carolina, is a thriving city—just what you'd expect from a state capital and an internationally ranked research center in an area defined by three major universities. Visitors to Raleigh usually fall for the same seductions that prompt people to live there permanently. The climate is mild. People are friendly. There's a mix of cultures.

Downtown Raleigh, which offers a mix of business and government buildings surrounded by charming older neighborhoods, parks and greenways, includes the 500,000-sq-ft/46,452-sq-m Raleigh Convention Center, which capped off an effort in recent decades to bring to downtown more residential condos and hotels, public art, a redesigned Fayetteville Street, and a large selection of restaurants and shops. Downtown is the place to be during the day and at night.

Research Triangle Park, located between Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is among the largest research parks in the U.S. Some 300 companies and organizations call the Research Triangle Park home. With that in mind, the area often boasts that it has the largest concentration of Ph.D.s of any place in the world.

Education is in the forefront in the Triangle, with three major universities: North Carolina State University in Raleigh, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University in Durham. The draw of possible jobs, education and an affordable lifestyle has attracted thousands of international visitors, many of whom are charmed enough to stay.

But its popularity has brought Raleigh growing pains, too. To keep up with the influx of new residents and visitors, road construction is widespread and constant. Traffic tie-ups are common, especially along Interstate 40, Highway 70 and Highway 54, the three main corridors through Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and on the I-440 beltline around the city.

New road construction is alleviating some of the congestion, and the I-540 and Highway 264 bypasses are helping with backups north and east of the city, but in the meantime, construction projects, from new roads to high-rise buildings continue, which means that patience is an asset when navigating the area.

Must See or Do

Sights—The North Carolina State Capitol building; the Executive Mansion; the Joel Lane House; Oakwood Cemetery.

Museums—The North Carolina Museum of Art; the North Carolina Museum of History; the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences; the City of Raleigh Museum; the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh (CAM).

Memorable Meals—Choose from a wide array in the capital city's two food halls; an authentic barbecue sandwich and hush puppies at Clyde Cooper's BBQ; basic, bargain meals at the N.C. Seafood Restaurant at the State Farmers Market; succulent steaks and great atmosphere at the Angus Barn; good down-home cookin' and a plethora of who's who in North Carolina politics at Big Ed's City Market Restaurant; seafood at 42nd Street Oyster Bar.

Late Night—Drag shows at Legends; Goodnight's Comedy Club; dance to music from the 1980s and '90s at Coglin's Raleigh.

Walks—Stroll the streets of Historic Oakwood; joining one of the Historic Tours of Raleigh; explore the numerous parks, lakes and greenway trails; experience the beauty of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Gardens and the J.C. Raulston Arboretum; go bird-watching at the Historic Yates Mill County Park.

Especially for Kids—The colorful Dentzel carousel, miniature train and Andy and Opie TV Land statue at Pullen Park; interactive exhibits at the Marbles Kids Museum; the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, featuring "The Terror of the South," the only Acrocanthosaurus skeleton displayed anywhere in the world.

Geography

Raleigh is located on the eastern edge of the Piedmont, or central section, of North Carolina, which falls between the Atlantic Coast and the Blue Ridge Mountains. It's traversed by Interstate 40 and sits west of I-95, the primary north-south corridor of the eastern U.S. The city center is circled by I-440, called the beltline.

In downtown Raleigh you'll find most of the city's museums, historic sights, state government buildings and several colleges. Many of the best Raleigh attractions are located inside the I-440 beltline. Near the center of the city are some notable entertainment and historical districts, including Historic Oakwood, Mordecai, the Warehouse District, Glenwood South and Hillsborough Street—the main artery between downtown and North Carolina State University, offering a wide variety of college-type and upscale bars, restaurants and coffee shops.

To the north, halfway between downtown and the beltline, is Cameron Village, a popular shopping area with boutiques and restaurants. North Hills is a rapidly developing area with condos, retail and office space that attract the Triangle's burgeoning workforce. Raleigh has also spread to encompass neighboring towns, such as Cary and Apex.

History

In 1788, North Carolina became the 12th state of the Union. But it was without a permanent capital, so legislators selected a site in townless Wake County, in the middle of the state. They bought 1,000 acres/405 hectares of uninhabited woods and fields from Joel Lane and began building the city—naming it after Sir Walter Raleigh, the 16th-century English statesman who sent the first English colonists to Roanoke Island.

The Statehouse was built on Union Square, and Fayetteville Street was developed as the primary business area, with wooden stores at street level and residences above. Elected state officials built elegant homes. But in the 1830s, several fires destroyed many of the wooden buildings in Raleigh, including the Statehouse. The rebuilding that followed brought an influx of jobs and residents.

Also around this time came the railroad, opening markets to the north and eventually the east and southeast. The Civil War years (1861-65) were hard on the city. For two weeks in 1865, more than 100,000 Union troops occupied Raleigh and Wake County. But after the war, Raleigh grew and prospered.

From the city's earliest days, farming (especially tobacco) has been a big industry in the countryside surrounding the capital. Raleigh also has been a cultural and educational center. In 1959, leaders from business, government and academia created Research Triangle Park to attract companies doing world-class research and development in medicine, science and technology.

The 21st century has ushered in rapid development and an influx of people. Gone are the days when state workers streamed out of high-rise office buildings making downtown mostly a ghost town after 5 pm. The capital city is bustling with commerce, restaurants, condos and nightlife.

Potpourri

North Carolina was called "The Rip Van Winkle State" in the early 1800s because it seemed slow to wake up and develop in comparison to its neighbors.

David Sedaris, author of Me Talk Pretty One Day and Calypso, was raised in Raleigh.

The "City of Oaks" drops a giant copper acorn on New Year's Eve. During the year, the 1,250-pound sculpture by David Benson is displayed in Moore Square Park in downtown Raleigh.

The historic carousel in Raleigh's Pullen Park dates from about 1900, making it one of the foremost surviving works of the Pennsylvania Carousel Company, founded by Gustav A. Dentzel. Its paramount feature is a menagerie of 52 hand-carved wooden animals. In addition to 30 horses, it includes ostriches, cats, rabbits, pigs, a lion, a tiger and a goat.

Actress and singer Evan Rachel Wood is a native of Raleigh, and her well-known father, Ira David Wood III, is founder and executive director of Raleigh's Theatre in the Park. He is locally renowned as the star of an offbeat version of A Christmas Carol, which has been performed annually since 1974 and has been seen by more than a million people.

Clay Aiken, one of the most successful American Idol runners-up, hails from Raleigh.

"Tar Heel" is a nickname applied to North Carolinians, as well as to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's athletic teams. Although most experts believe its origin comes from the fact that tar, pitch and turpentine—created from the state's vast pine forests—were once among North Carolina's most important exports, locals more often attribute it to a quotation from Gen. Robert E. Lee who, at a battle outside Petersburg, Virginia, is said to have remarked of the stalwart North Carolina soldiers, "There they stood, as if they had tar on their heels."

The pedestrian bridge that links greenways between the North Carolina Museum of Art Park and Meredith College was inspired by the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia.

Overview

Introduction

Raleighvallen (Raleigh Falls)/Voltzberg Reserve is the northernmost section of the Central Suriname Nature Reserve, 100 mi/160 km southwest of Paramaribo. This park has fantastic granite outcroppings that tower over a rain-forest paradise teeming with birds and other animals. There are several marked trails (be sure to stick to them—special permission is needed to go off the trails). One of the trails leads to the top of Voltzberg Dome, an 820-ft/250-m granite rock with sweeping views of the rain forest below. The park offers accommodations in two lodges.

To reach Raleighvallen, fly to Foengoe from Paramaribo or drive to Bitagron and take a boat up the river to the Foengoe Island Lodge.


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