We’ve been lucky enough to have a bunch of visitors come down to enjoy the Triangle with us over the past couple of years. When we’ve got just a weekend to take them around, here’s what we hit up:
Stop by Duke University’s campus to sneak a peek into Cameron Indoor Stadium and showcase its old-school field house appeal. Visit the adjacent Hall of Fame museum and point out the K-ville lawn, where we used to camp out for entry to the Duke-Carolina game. Stroll through the main residential quads to get to the Chapel, which is worth a quick lap around the stained glass windows, and then continue on to the library & the Gothic Reading Room (Fun fact – that’s where Katie Holmes “attended class” on Dawson’s Creek). If you have some extra time, make a pit stop at the Bryan Center Plaza to treat yourself to a Locopop as you rock on one of the porch swings lining the walkway, or duck into the campus store to buy yourself some gear. Stroll down towards Duke Gardens, which includes beautiful terraced blooms, a Japanese tearoom, and some friendly ducks by the pond. The Nasher Museum of Art is also architecturally impressive.
For college-student style eats, head to 9th Street for some classic Cosmic burritos, spicy Chubby’s tacos, Jimmy John’s subs, Blue Corn quesadillas, International Delights gyros (although the cheese steak is actually Harold’s favorite), or Francesca’s tiramisu. A bit further down the road, Magnolia Grill makes for finer dining.
Downtown, the American Tobacco Campus sports innovative post-factory design, outdoor music & movie events, impressive water features, and a handful of restaurants. Tyler’s Taproom is the perfect place to grab a drink before heading to a Durham Bulls game, and their apps are pretty killer.
In Chapel Hill:
After we force our guests to grab breakfast at Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen, we’ll probably make them stuff some more Southern grub down their throats at Mama Dip’s – and order the pecan pie. The drive out to Maple View Farm provides views of the countryside and homemade ice cream, and for BBQ in this neck of the woods, Allen & Son is king. For gourmet foodies, Southern Season is the place to get souvenirs like Tarheel-shaped cookies.
Franklin Street is adjacent to UNC’s campus and also has a few good dining spots. Top of the Hill is the classic place to get a microbrew or eat overlooking the local scene below. Lantern is our upscale favorite (but if you can’t get a reservation, Jujube is on East 54, but decent – and cheaper), while Mediterranean Deli is a welcome break from fried greasy grub (Fun fact #2 – they sponsor Harold’s soccer team, Baklava). Nearby Carrboro is a little funkier (check out the farmer’s market), and there might even be someone you’ve heard of playing at Cat’s Cradle.
At the Carolina Inn, Fridays on the Front Porch is a good happy hour option after a stroll through campus to see the Old Well, Davie Poplar, Wilson Library, the Pit, and the Belltower. We suppose there’s another basketball museum somewhere in the vicinity, but we haven’t yet mustered up the strength to go inside. Memorial Hall has an outstanding rotation of cultural performances and well-known acts.
Speaking of The Pit – on this side of town, that means more delicious BBQ in a slightly refined setting. There’s no way we’d allow fall visitors to miss the State Fair, but the North Carolina Museum of Art and Museum Park might be a good off-season road trip. Moore Square hosts a series of concerts and festivals, and Caffe Luna is right on the corner if you’re looking for pleasant Italian food.
Still not convinced? Well – there’s also us, which we’d like to think of as the biggest attraction of all Either that, or the pulled pork, biscuits, sweet tea and pie.