Known to most as “The Triangle”, the cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill make up one of America’s fastest growing metro areas thanks to its affordability, strong job growth, and attention-grabbing arts and culture scene. The tri-city region also acts as North Carolina’s epicenter for new business and young professionals, due in great part to the wealth of talent coming out of the area’s many universities – namely Duke University, University of North Carolina, and North Carolina State University.
Located in the center of The Triangle and home to over 150 companies including Cisco, IBM, & Sony Ericsson, Research Triangle Park (RTP) was established in 1959 to attract University students from the area who had historically sought work elsewhere following graduation. Today, RTP has become a hub of innovation and pioneering industries, drawing major events to the area including 2018’s Women in Tech Summit and IoT Slam Live.
With the help of Certain’s new Chapel Hill-based team (formerly Gather Digital), we’ve put together a list for event planners, attendees, and visitors who are looking for the best that The Triangle has to offer:
Where to Eat, Drink, or Host an Event:
- Winner of the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southeast, Chapel Hill’s Lantern blends Asian flavors and North Carolina ingredients sourced mainly from local farms and fisheries. Noted as one of America’s Top 50 Restaurants by Gourmet Magazine, Lantern is a must for visitors in search of local treasure. Available for private dining and groups.
- Centrally located inside The Durham Hotel, The Durham offers seasonally changing menus from James Beard Award-winning chef, Andrea Reusing. The Durham’s rooftop raw bar offers panoramic views of the city, covered and open-air lounge seating, and a penthouse with its own patio for private parties.
- Housed in a repurposed, historic train depot, downtown Raleigh’s 18 Seaboard is a top-rated Triangle destination for locally-sourced cuisine, private dining, and special events. With seasonal outdoor seating and a roof-top mezzanine offering views of Raleigh’s skyline, 18 Seaboard is a go-to for contemporary Southern-inspired dishes.
- For private dining or hosting an event, Durham’s Counting House features a seasonally evolving menu of regional favorites and handcrafted cocktails. Located inside 21c Museum Hotel Durham, this venue has more than 10,500 square feet of art-filled exhibition and event spaces, can accommodate up to 350 people and includes multiple private rooms, a conference room with full A/V, and a rooftop suite.
- The Great Room at TOPO Distillery is one of Chapel Hill’s most exciting venues for private events of all sizes. Located in the space formerly occupied by the Carolina Theatre, The Great Room is a historic and unforgettable space with customizable options depending on your event.
- Raleigh’s Proof Five Points is one of the city’s most unique event spaces for cocktails, offering indoor and outdoor seating in a relaxed setting, complete with vintage decor and pool table. For more upscale events, Solas offers three levels including a rooftop cocktail lounge and ground floor buyout space with outdoor bar and patio.
- *Honorable mentions for Raleigh’s Crawford & Son, Brewery Bhavana, Poole’s, which all offer casual dining for small groups and come highly recommended by Certain’s own locals!
Where to Stay:
- Located in the RTP, The Umstead is a five-star hotel and spa that features a stunning blend of nature and luxury. Surrounded by 12 acres of woods, gardens, and lake, and offering a world-class restaurant, The Umsted is a destination in its own right.
- The Durham Hotel, a mid-century modern boutique hotel in the heart of downtown boasts one of the city’s best restaurants, a rooftop view, and stylish rooms that were specially designed to be warm and residential. The hotel can also accommodate private meetings and events.
- Winner of the Condé Nast Traveler, Readers’ Choice Awards 2017, 21c Museum Hotel in Durham is a full-service boutique hotel with free rotating art exhibits, a spa, 24-hour gym, complimentary shuttle, and bonus for pet-lovers: the hotel offers pet-friendly rooms.
- The Franklin Hotel is located in the heart of Chapel Hill, and offers a modern classic approach to luxury in a historic setting just blocks from the University of North Carolina. Guests can choose between a balcony overlooking lively Franklin Street or room facings the lush UNC campus.
- The Siena Hotel in Chapel Hill is named after the small Tuscan town that influences its design and guest experience. It’s four-diamond restaurant, Il Palio, and luxury rooms provide guests with an elegant Italian-inspired southern experience.
What to See & Do:
- Durham’s Duke University is home to a number of noteworthy landmarks. The Nasher Museum, located on campus, houses an incredible collection of international and contemporary pieces, and offers a year-round schedule of events including performing arts, film series, lectures, social events, and free family days.
- Two miles from the man campus is the Duke Lemur Center, home to the largest collection of lemurs outside of their native Madagascar. Tours are available year-round for various ages, lengths, and price ranges, and all revenue goes to the Education Department to help pay for the care, housing, veterinary supplies, and conservation of lemurs. Advance bookings required.
- If it’s a ball game you’re after, there’s no end to the college sports offered in the area; whether you’re a fan of the Tarheels, the Blue Devils, or the Wolfpack, you won’t be short on options. It’s worth noting that the Durham Bulls Triple-A baseball team, made famous by the film Bull Durham, are based downtown, so if you’re in the mood for a hotdog and a beer, head down to the DBAP and catch a game!
- If you’re looking for a fun night out with a twist, check out The Baxter Bar & Arcade, which boasts up to 50 vintage and original arcade games, an impressive bar menu, multiple lounges, and an outdoor patio.
- Franklin Street is Chapel Hill’s go-to destination for nightlife and culture, with a variety of bars and restaurants, museums, bookshops, music stores, and venues.
- Every Friday evening from April through late October, the historic Carolina Inn celebrates the start of the weekend by hosting Fridays on the Front Porch, a weekly event with live music, beverages and food trucks that’s not to be missed!
- Carrboro Farmers’ Market is comprised of over 75 Market members selling locally produced goods each week, including produce, meats, eggs, cheeses, breads, pastries, local handmade crafts, and more.
- With an impressive collection of fossils, an aquarium, two-story waterfall, butterfly house, and more, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is a playground for the naturally curious.
- If you’re a nature-lover seeking a bit of adventure outside of the city, make your way to William B. Umstead State Park. 22 miles of forest hiking trails, camping, picnicking, canoeing & fishing, plus 13 miles of horseback-riding and mountain-biking trails make this an ideal getaway during a trip to the Triangle.
- Looking for a taste of Raleigh’s numerous breweries? Take the Raleigh Beer Trail and enjoy a variety of local beers while collecting points and winning prizes!
With the perfect combination of talent, affordability, and culture, it’s not hard to see why The Triangle has maintained such steady growth over the past few decades. Nearly sixty years after the development of the RTP, plans to break ground on a light rail are underway in order to further connect residents and visitors in the area, signaling future interest and expansion. So whether you’re visiting for business or pleasure, take some time to see what The Triangle has to offer, you certainly won’t be short of options!