Top Places to Take Visitors in the Triangle
Visitors to the Triangle are often struck by the region’s “greenness.” From the Neuse River Greenway to the American Tobacco Trail to the beautiful university campuses and museum grounds, Triangle parks and recreation areas infuse nature into daily life. Visitors can also enjoy a range of playful venues that invite learning with hands-on experiences.
Three state parks and two state recreation areas in the Triangle make for easy escapes into the wilderness. Umstead Park in Raleigh, Eno River Park in Durham, Raven Rock Park in Lillington, Falls Lake in Raleigh and Jordan Lake in Chatham County offer places to picnic, camp, fish, hike or ride horseback on wooded trails. ncparks.gov.
The Neuse River Greenway (pictured at right) winds through wetlands and fields, offering scenic views of the river and forest creatures. Hike, bike or roll your kids through in a stroller. Upon completion in summer 2014, the paved trail will stretch 27.5 miles from Falls Lake to the Wake-Johnston counties line. raleighnc.gov/parks (search for “Neuse River Geenway”).
The 22-mile American Tobacco Trail, built on a former railroad corridor, offers cyclists, hikers and runners room to roam from downtown Durham into rural Chatham and Wake counties. triangletrails.org/american-tobacco-trail.
Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University in Durham is among the most beautiful public gardens in the U.S. Explore 5 miles of pathways or rest on shaded benches as you take in the abundance of flowers and color in an Italianate-style Terrace Gardens and savor the beauty of Culberson Asiatic Arboretum. gardens.duke.edu.
The Museum of Life and Science in Durham is an interactive science park that features a science center and paved trails leading to a butterfly conservatory through landscaped outdoor exhibits. It’s also home to rescued black bears, lemurs and endangered red wolves. lifeandscience.org. (Photo at left courtesy of the Museum of Life and Science Magic Wings conservatory)
The N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh welcomes art lovers to sunlit spaces and a collection that spans European, American, African and Egyptian art. Outdoors, the 164-acre Museum Park features miles of trails and blends art into landscape with monumental works that invite children to explore. ncartmuseum.org.
Pullen Park in Raleigh is the fifth-oldest operating amusement park in the U.S. and a fun destination for all ages. Kids can enjoy a ride on the carousel (built in 1911), the kiddie boats and the miniature train. Older kids can try out the pedal boats. raleighnc.gov/parks (search for “Pullen Park”).
The N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh features interactive exhibits for a close-up look at the natural world and our connections to it. Explore North Carolina’s geography, geology, plants and animals while visiting exhibits that reveal nature and history from faraway places. Head to the museum’s Nature Research Center wing to observe scientists at work and hear live presentations. naturalsciences.org. (Photo of children at tThe Discovery Room at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences courtesy of the museum.)
Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh features themed exhibits to fuel the imaginations of children ages 10 and younger, and the Wells Fargo IMAX Theatre’s feature and documentary films cater to adults and children. marbleskidsmuseum.org.
The N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh traces life in the state from the first inhabitants through the 20th century, while the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame shines a light on famous athletes. ncmuseumofhistory.org.
Head to the State Farmers Market in Raleigh to pick up locally grown produce, plants and flowers, and don’t forget to leave with some local honey, cheeses and baked goods. ncagr.gov/markets/facilities/markets/raleigh.
No trip to the Triangle is complete without visiting UNC-Chapel Hill, which opened in 1796 as the nation’s first public university. See the Old Well on campus, from which students traditionally take a drink of water for good luck on the first day of classes, and visit Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, the largest full-dome planetarium in the Southeastern U.S. unc.edu.
Odile Fredericks is the web editor for Carolina Parent.
Photo above of is courtesy of Sarah P. Duke Gardens.