Raleigh, the state capital of North Carolina and the county seat of Wake County, together with the cities of Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Town of Cary, comprise the Triangle area— a collection of four mid-sized cities and 29 smaller towns and several townships. Although the “Triangle” name is now used to refer to the geographic region in general, it originally referred to the three major universities in the region: the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University in Raleigh, and Duke University in Durham. Dubbed the “Silicon Valley of the East” because of employment powerhouse Research Triangle Park (RTP), the area is preeminent in the fast-growing telecommunications, health care, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and financial services industries. Stabilized by the state capital and 12 universities throughout the region, the Triangle has become one of the Southeast’s leading business centers.
Raleigh and Durham are located approximately 20 miles apart, and each city borders the Research Triangle Park. The Raleigh-Durham Triangle metropolitan area is strategically located within the southeastern United States, with more than one-half of the nation’s population located within a 500-mile radius. Most major cities within North Carolina, including Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and Wilmington, are within a two-hour drive of the region. In addition, the Washington, D.C. metro area is located only 250 miles northeast of Raleigh-Durham, and Atlanta, Georgia, is approximately 400 miles southwest.
With a combined population of almost 2.2 million residents in 2017, the region has historically been one of the fastest growing population centers in the country. The population growth rate continues to surpass the national and state rates as more and more people are attracted to the area’s high-tech economy, relatively high-paying jobs, abundant education options, world-class healthcare centers, and low cost of living, Moreover, the region’s high quality of life, nationally renowned universities, mild weather and expansive transportation network adds to the area’s appeal.
Combined Statistical Area
The Combined Statistical Area (“CSA”) that makes up the Triangle region is composed of two Metropolitan Statistical Areas (“MSAs”) and four smaller “Micro Areas” as described below. The Raleigh MSA, encompassing Wake, Franklin, and Johnston counties, had an estimated population of 1,130,490 in 2010 compared to 797,071 in 2000, an impressive increase of 41.8%, making it the 4th fastest growing MSA and #1 when ranked among major metropolitan areas with populations exceeding one million. The Durham-Chapel Hill MSA includes the counties of Durham, Orange, Person, and Chatham and had an estimated population of 504,357 in 2010 compared to 426,493 in 2000, an increase of 18.3% during that period.
The CSA, which includes the Raleigh and Durham-Chapel Hill MSAs plus the nearby towns of Dunn, Henderson, Oxford and Sanford, had a combined population of 1,912,729 in July 2010 compared to 1,455,081 in July 2000, an increase of 31.5%, a growth rate more than three times the national average and the 2nd fastest growing CSA during that period among major metropolitan areas. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill CSA had an estimated population of 2,199,459 as of July 2017, ranking second only to the Charlotte in terms of population concentration within North Carolina.
Population Growth History 1990-2012
Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Combined Statistical Area
Source: U.S. Census Bureau. The Combined Statistical Area (CSA) includes the Raleigh MSA, the Durham-Chapel Hill MSA, and four Micropolitan Areas.
Population Growth History 2013-2017
Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Combined Statistical Area
Source: U.S. Census Bureau. The Combined Statistical Area (CSA) includes the Raleigh MSA, the Durham-Chapel Hill MSA, and four Micropolitan Areas.
Driven by the young demographics of the area, with an average age of 31, household formation has surged past even the region’s phenomenal population expansion, with Durham’s households developing at 1.81 percent per year and Raleigh’s households expanding at a breathtaking 4.74 percent per annum since 2000. This incredible growth in households underpins the region’s voracious appetite for multifamily housing due to the young, transient workforce and student population. Household income levels in the Triangle are higher than that of the nation and the state due to the knowledge-based, high skill employment at RTP and the major universities.
Favorable Business Climate
North Carolina’s favorable business climate has been recognized by Forbes and others as one of the best states in the nation for businesses due to its low labor costs, low cost of living, and a highly educated workforce. The Raleigh-Durham area is consistently rated as one of the best areas for entrepreneurs, according to Forbes. The business magazine calls the Research Triangle Park one of the “biggest success stories for public-private partnerships,” with more than 170 global companies that benefit from the universities both here in the immediate area and around the state. In fact, Forbes has named Raleigh the #1 “Best Place for Business and Careers” in at least four 0f the past ten years. Durham has been ranked consistently high on this list as well.
North Carolina landed four cities in the top-15 on Forbes’ 2018 “Best Places for Business and Careers” list, and two within the top-five. But it was Raleigh that ranked highest of the four and was singled out by the business publication as “the most consistent performer” in the past 16 years. The study looked at 14 metrics related to jobs, economic growth, cost of living and education to assess business climates in the nation’s 200 largest metropolitan areas.
Raleigh ranked No. 2 for the third year in a row, outshined only by Seattle. Forbes drew comparisons between Seattle and Raleigh and also pointed out an area where Raleigh has the upper hand. “Like Seattle, Raleigh features a strong economy and educated workforce, repopulated by nearby universities like Duke and UNC,” the Forbes report said. “One big advantage for Raleigh is business costs that are 14% below the national average, per Moody’s Analytics, compared to Seattle at 10% above the U.S. average.”
- Raleigh ranks #2 on latest Forbes List for Businesses and Careers – News and Observer, November 2018
- Raleigh Takes the Top Spot On a List of the 100 “Best Cities to Drive in” – WalletHub.com, July 2018
- Raleigh came in First in a Survey of 2,000 GeekWire.com Readers as a Place Tech Industry Staffers Would Like to Live – Geekwire poll, July 2018
- Raleigh listed in Top 10 Best Cities for New Grads Starting Out – Market Watch, May 2018
- Raleigh Among the Best Places to Go in April – Town & Country Magazine, February 2018
- Raleigh is No. 6 in a List of Top 20 State Capitals to Live In – WalletHub’s study, February 2018
- Raleigh is 1 of 10 Cities Primed for Economic Growth & Opportunity in 2018 – CardRates.com, February 2018
- Raleigh Ranks #5 for Best Metros for Dating 2018 – Apartment List, February 2018
- Raleigh & Durham, North Carolina is Ranked #13 in Best Places to Live – U.S. News & World Report, February 2018
- Raleigh & Durham, North Carolina is Ranked #17 in Best Places to Retire – U.S. News & World Report, February 2018
- Raleigh Listed in the 10 Coolest Places to Eat in 2018 – Forbes, January 2018
- Raleigh in Top 10 Best Cities in America to Live – 24/7 Wall St., November 2017
- Raleigh is #2 Most Educated City in the Country – Forbes, October 2017
- Raleigh in the Top 5 Cities for Jobs in the U.S. – Glassdoor, September 2017
- Raleigh is #3 Sportiest City – Men’s Health, September 2017
- Raleigh is 1 of 10 Best Cities For Startups You’ll Want to Be Based In – Hubstaff, August 2017
- Raleigh is Among Best Budget Destinations in America, Part III: The South – Budget Travel, July 2017
- Raleigh is #10 Among 100 Best Cities to Drive In, WalletHub.com July 2017
- Raleigh is #6 Among 100 Most Adventurous Cities in America – Men’s Health, June 2017
- Raleigh is #14 Fastest Growing Metro in U.S. – U.S. Census Bureau, March 2017
- MIT’s International Center for Aviation calls Raleigh’s RDU International Airport Best Connected Medium Sized Airport – News & Observer, May 2017
- Raleigh Ranked #8 in Best Cities for Veteran Homebuyers to Live – Veterans United Network, March 2017
- Raleigh Ties for #7 in Best Places to Work for Veterans – Veterans United Network, March 2017
- Carolina Publishing Associates Names North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh #1 Among 2016 Top N.C. Tourist Attractions – WRAL, March 2017
- Raleigh Among Top 10 Boomtowns of 2016 – SmartAsset.com, January 2017
- Raleigh Among 12 Top Destinations of 2017 – Forbes Travel Guide, January 2017.
Research Triangle Park (“RTP”)
The Raleigh-Durham economy is anchored by world-class universities and is the seat of North Carolina’s state capital, but the most dynamic force in the area is Research Triangle Park (“RTP”), a hub for biotechnology, information technology, pharmaceuticals, financial services, electronics, and telecommunications. Representing an investment of over two billion dollars, the park is home to over 200 companies employing 50,000 workers and 10,000 contractors, including the second largest IBM operation in the world with around 11,000 employees in the RTP. The park hosts one of GlaxoSmithKline’s largest R&D centers with approximately 5,000 employees. Cisco Systems’ campus in RTP, with approximately 4,000 employees, is the highest concentration of its employees outside of its Silicon Valley corporate headquarters.
With nearly 7,000 acres situated in a pine forest campus with 22.5 million square feet of built space, the RTP is the largest planned research park in the world. The RTP is adjacent to Interstate 40 and the Durham Freeway— strategically located in the center of the geographic “Triangle” formed by Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh. A small part of the park stretches into Wake County, but the majority of the land is in Durham County. It is one of the most prominent high-tech research and development centers in the United States. It was created in 1959 by state and local governments, nearby universities, and local business interests. The park is managed by the Research Triangle Institute, a non profit contract research organization formed to supplement the activities of the neighboring universities. All the facilities, laboratories, and scientific personnel at the various universities are available to the organizations within the Park. The combined estimated annual salaries in the RTP are nearly $3 billion, putting the Triangle area within the top 25 for the highest per capita income in the nation.
Known as a center of innovation through research and development, the RTP is supported through contact with the area’s many universities, especially through North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus. Surrounded by 175,000 students in 12 universities throughout the region, the employers in RTP and other employment centers are never at a loss for highly educated and skilled workers, with a steady influx of recent college graduates entering the workforce every year. The presence of the RTP continues to make a considerable contribution to the area’s growth. Since its inception, activities in the RTP have become increasingly significant for the nation. Major tenants in the park are a virtual “Who’s Who of Industry”.
On October 1, 2015, the RTP announced plans for a $50 million redevelopment involving the formation of “Park Center” consisting of over 300,000 square feet of public space at the heart of the Research Triangle Park. This public area will include retail outlets, food and beverage venues, and entertainment space. The redevelopment plans also include exploring partnerships with regional transit groups. The hope of the Research Triangle Foundation is to broaden public transportation to and from the area.
Research Triangle Park has carved a niche for itself as the “Silicon Valley of the East” and Durham has earned a reputation as the “City of Medicine,” prompting corporate expansions and relocations into the area by companies and highly-skilled, educated workers. With a total labor force of 1,136,291 as of September, 30, 2018, the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Combined Statistical Area (“CSA”) comprises nearly 23 percent of North Carolina’s available workers and over 23 percent of the state’s employment. Due to the area’s relatively young age distribution, the CSA typically has labor force participation rates several percentage points higher than the U.S. as a whole, contributing to the area’s economic preeminence and continued strength.
Due to the strong and diverse economy of the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill region anchored by the Research Triangle Park, the unemployment rate continues to be below the state and national averages. The Triangle has added 56,347 jobs since the beginning of last year from 1,046,497 on December 31, 2016 to 1,104,844 as of September 30, 2018. During this same period, the total labor force increased by 42,784, resulting in a sharp decline in unemployment. The overall unemployment rate in the Triangle was 2.8 percent as of September 30, 2018 compared to 3.1 percent for North Carolina and 3.5 percent for the Nation.
Civilian Labor Force Estimates For Combined Statistical Area of Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill
Source: Division of Employment Security, North Carolina Department of Commerce.
Job growth is one of the most important economic indicators for the health of a regional economy and is also a factor in the demand for all types of real estate. Job growth attracts new residents to an area and increases income levels, accelerating the demand for all types of housing.
The Triangle region has experienced robust job growth for many years, consistently attaining some of the strongest employment growth rates in the nation. Even after accounting for 29,476 jobs lost in 2008 and 2009 during the recession, the Triangle region has created 224,632 new jobs in the past 12 years since the beginning of 2007. The region’s average annual job growth rate of 1.95% during that period was two times greater than the average annual job growth of North Carolina and three times greater than that of the nation.
Employment History For Combined Statistical Area of Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill
Source: Division of Employment Security, North Carolina Department of Commerce.
There are three world-renowned research universities in the area – North Carolina State University in Raleigh, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Duke University in Durham. Any of these universities by themselves would be a significant asset and an enormous economic engine. When you combine the resources of the three, all within a short drive of the other, you create one of the most dynamic regions in the country. These universities consistently rank among the top in the nation for graduate and undergraduate research, in such areas as medicine, law, engineering, business, computer science, and communications. The cumulative effect of these universities on the region is a diverse and highly educated workforce. In fact, the Triangle boasts one of the largest concentrations of college graduates and post-graduate degree holders in the United States.
North Carolina State University was founded in 1887 and with enrollment of 35,479 students is the largest university in North Carolina. Located on a 2,110- acre campus in the heart of Raleigh, North Carolina State is a nationally recognized leader in science and technology with historic strengths in agriculture, textiles, and engineering. The university has an annual budget of approximately $820 million and an endowment valued at more than $312 million. NC State offers bachelor’s degrees in 113 fields of study, master’s degrees in 163 fields and doctoral degrees in 61 fields, as well as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. North Carolina State University is ranked third nationally among all public universities (without medical schools) in industry-sponsored research expenditures. NC State’s Centennial Campus, is also home to 130 corporate and government research partners, as well as incubator companies, and NC State University research units.·
- 35,479 students
- 7,727 degrees conferred annually
- 284 bachelor and masters programs
- 61 doctoral programs
- $380 million in annual research expenditures
- Home to Centennial Campus
North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus is also seen as a model research park-though for a different reason than the RTP. Centennial Campus is all about interaction and partnerships. In fact, companies located in this research park must have some type of partnership with the university. These partnerships range from student internships and co-ops to formal research agreements between industry and faculty.
- Founded in 1985
- 1,227 acres immediately adjacent to NC State’s main campus
- 1,013 acres – Centennial Campus
- 214 acres – Centennial Biomedical Campus
- 3 million square feet of space
- $700 million invested in facilities and infrastructure
The University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) was chartered in 1789, which makes it the nation’s oldest state university. Located on a 729 acre campus in Chapel Hill, the UNC campus is widely known for its picturesque and tranquil setting. The current enrollment at UNC totals 29,847 undergraduate and graduate students. The UNC campus has the state’s two oldest university buildings, Old East and Person Hall. Old East and Playmakers Theatre, an 1852 Greek-revival building, are listed as National Historic Landmarks.
- 29,847 students
- $778 million in annual research funding
- Over 35 spin-off companies
- First public university in the United States (Chartered in 1789)
UNC is consistently ranked among the top universities in the country. In 2015, U.S. News & World Report ranked UNC Chapel Hill 5th among the top public colleges and universities in the United States.Many of UNC Chapel Hill’s professional schools have achieved high rankings in publications such as Forbes magazine, as well as annual U.S. News & World Report surveys. UNC currently offers 77 bachelor’s, 109 master’s, and 66 doctorate programs in a variety of academic areas including business, dentistry, education, law, medicine, nursing, public health and social work, among others.
Duke University (Durham) was founded in 1924 by the Duke family, owners of a vast tobacco empire. Located on a beautifully wooded campus in Durham, Duke’s East Campus is recognized by its stately Georgian architecture, while its West Campus is Gothic in style and is dominated by the soaring 210-foot Duke Chapel Tower. Duke’s full-time undergraduate and graduate enrollment totaled approximately 14,800 students as of 2016.
Duke is widely recognized as one of the top private universities in the country; U.S. News & World Report ranked Duke University 8th in their 2013 ranking of national universities. In addition, Duke is home to several of the country’s most highly ranked graduate programs, its school (ranked #9), business school (ranked #12), and law school (ranked #11). The Duke University Medical Center, established in 1930, is the flagship of the broader Duke University Health System, which includes two community hospitals, Durham Regional Hospital and Raleigh Community Hospital. Duke University and the Duke Medical Center combined employ approximately 31,000 professionals.
- 14,600 students
- Approximately $900 million in research expenditures annually
- In 2011 4,446 students earned their degree
Duke Medical Center Expansion
Duke Medicine is a world-renowned hospital and educational institution that in recent years has completed a massive $900 million expansion, which includes the following:
The new Duke Cancer Center (DCC) opened in February 2012. The DCC is a $235 million medical center expansion that added 123 exams rooms, 73 infusion stations, and a radiation oncology wing and mammography suite.
Duke Medicine Pavilion (DMP) is a vast $596 million project that has added 608,000 square feet of state-of-the-art surgical, critical care and imaging facilities to Duke Hospital. DMP .
The new Center for Health Education is a state-of-the-art, $55 million expansion to the medical school, which added 104,000 square feet in late 2012.
Construction began in 2012 on the new Duke Eye Center, a clinical facility that expands services and bring state-of-the-art optical imaging technologies to the existing facility, which is ranked 7th largest in the nation.
With three major medical systems, including two top-rated teaching hospitals within thirty minutes of each other, Wake County is able to offer access to some of the best healthcare in the country.
Wakemed Health & Hospitals (Raleigh and Cary), founded in 1961 as the Memorial Hospital of Wake County, is a three hospital, 919-bed private not-for-profit health system based in Raleigh, North Carolina.
UNC/REX Health Care (Raleigh), founded in 1894, is a private, not-for-profit health care system. For over 120 years, UNC REX has met the health care needs of the community by providing various services throughout Wake County including multiple facilities located in Apex, Cary, Garner, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Wakefield, and Raleigh.
Duke Raleigh Hospital (Raleigh) has been an important part of Duke Medicine since 1998. Their affiliation with one of the country’s best health systems provides their patients with access to the most advanced technology and leading-edge medicine available. Conveniently located in North Raleigh, Duke Raleigh Hospital has 186 beds and an impressive array of programs and services.
UNC Health Care (Chapel Hill) is a not-for-profit integrated health care system owned by the state of North Carolina and based in Chapel Hill. Established in 1998, UNC Health Care currently comprises UNC Hospitals and its provider network, the clinical programs of the UNC School of Medicine, and eight affiliate hospitals and hospital systems across the state.
Duke University Health System (Durham), founded in 1998, is a world-class network dedicated to employing Duke’s strengths in patient care, education, and research to enhance and improve health care throughout North Carolina. The 957-bed Duke University Hospital is consistently rated one of the top hospitals in the United States. Duke Regional Hospital is a 369-bed acute care facility serving the health care needs of Durham and the surrounding communities for nearly 40 years.
The Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area is located midway between north/south Interstate Highways 95 and 85. Interstate Highway 95 is the major east coast artery, linking New England to Florida. Interstate Highway 85 on the other hand, forms the backbone of the largest manufacturing region in the Southeast, reaching from Richmond to Atlanta. Interstate Highway 40, an east/west interstate which extends coast-to-coast from Wilmington, North Carolina on the east coast to California on the west coast, bisects the Research Triangle Park, and connects Raleigh with I-85 on the west and I-95 on the east. Interstate Highways 440 and 540 loop around the City of Raleigh in order to facilitate the flow of traffic through the city.
Highways – The Raleigh-Durham-Chapel area is served by a highly efficient highway system. The transportation system in the Triangle area provides excellent access to the Cities of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, as well as the Raleigh-Durham International Airport and other cities in North Carolina. Major highways serving the area north/south include U.S. Highways 1 and 401 and east/west include U.S. Highways 64 and 70, as well as N.C. Highways 50 and 54. Three interstate highways (I-40, I-85, and I-95) traverse the Raleigh-Durham region, giving the area excellent access to many East Coast destinations. In fact, the Triangle Region is within two days’ trucking distance of over 60% of the U.S. population.
Interstate-40 is a six-lane east-west highway that bisects Research Triangle Park and runs coast to coast from North Carolina to California. Traversing north-south, Interstate-85 passes through Orange, Durham, and Granville counties and forms the backbone of the largest manufacturing region in the Southeast, stretching from Richmond, Virginia, to Atlanta, Georgia. Interstate-95 passes through Harnett and Johnston counties, approximately 30 minutes east of Raleigh, where it intersects with Interstate 40. I-95 is the eastern seaboard’s dominant interstate, originating at the Maine/Canadian border and terminating 1,800 miles south in Miami, Florida.
Interstate-440 is a circular beltway that loops around the inner portion of Raleigh. The North Carolina Department of Transportation is currently constructing Interstate-540 which will be “Raleigh’s Outer Loop.” The first section of I-540, known as the Northern Wake Expressway, has been completed from State Highway 55 to U.S. Highway 64 on the northeast side of Raleigh. Construction is also currently underway on the Western Wake Freeway (Triangle Expressway), a toll road extension of I-540 which will link up with Highway 55 near Holly Springs in southeast Raleigh. Future plans call for construction of eastern and southern segments to complete an outer loop surrounding the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill MSA.
The $1 billion Triangle Expressway project is the single largest transportation infrastructure project in North Carolina history. The project will improve commuter mobility and connectivity to western Wake County and Research Triangle Park while reducing congestion on the existing north-south routes that serve the Triangle Region, primarily NC 55 and NC 54. Phase I opened in December 2011, and Phase II opened in August 2012. Commuters to the RTP are saving 20 minutes roundtrip from many parts of the region, and congestion has been reduced along the I-40 main thoroughfare.
Airport – Raleigh-Durham International Airport (“RDU”), ideally located between the cities of Raleigh and Durham and barely a mile from RTP, connects the area with the nation and the world and acts as a catalyst for the region’s economic growth. With nearly 450 daily arrivals and departures conducted by 10 major and 19 regional airlines, the airport serves 48 destinations non-stop. In 2017, RDU provided flights for more than 11.6 million passengers, employed more than 4,500 people, and had an annual economic impact of $12.6 billion.
Rail and Bus In addition, Raleigh is served by two railroads offering twenty (20) freight trains daily; passenger service is provided by AMTRAK. Two major nationwide bus lines, Greyhound Trailways and Carolina Trailways, also have depots throughout the Triangle area.
The Streets at Southpoint is Durham’s newest mall, having opened its doors in March 2003. This 1.3 million square-foot super-regional mall contains over 140 shops and is anchored by Sears, Macy’s, JCPenney, Belk, and North Carolina’s first Nordstrom. The mall also includes Main Street at Southpoint, which is a 200,000 square foot, open-air entertainment area featuring restaurants, retail shops, and a 16-screen movie theater complex. The Streets at Southpoint is conveniently located at the intersection of I-40 and Fayetteville Road, approximately five miles south of Alexan Garrett Farms.
Crabtree Valley Mall is located in Raleigh at the intersection of U.S. Highway 70 West (Glenwood Ave.) and I-440 and is the largest indoor mall in North Carolina, containing more than 1.3 million square feet of net rentable area. Crabtree Valley contains 220 specialty retailers and is anchored by Macy’s, Belk, and Sears.
City Market, with its cobblestone streets and tile-roofed buildings, is a focal point of Raleigh’s downtown revitalization. This 1911 Spanish-style market is now the location of numerous specialty shops, an antique mall, several restaurants and pubs, and a comedy club. City Market is home to First Friday, one of Raleigh’s most exciting evening entertainment events held on the first Friday of each month.
North Hills Mall is an upscale open-air shopping center located in Raleigh near the I-440/Six Forks Road interchange. Developed by Kane Realty in 2004, North Hills is a mixed use center with 925,000 square feet and is anchored by a JCPenney and Target. The property also includes numerous restaurants, 133,000 square feet of office space, a movie theater, and a 150-room hotel.
Triangle Town Center opened in August 2002 and is Raleigh’s newest enclosed shopping mall. Triangle Town Center is located at the intersection of I-540 and U.S. Highway 1 (Capital Blvd.) and contains 150 specialty retailers and is anchored by Belk, Macy’s, Sears, Dillard’s, and Saks Fifth Avenue.
South Square Mall is a 432,000 square foot retail center located just two miles from Alexan Garrett Farms. The mall includes Super Target, Sam’s Club, Office Depot and Petco.
Patterson Place is a 517,000 square foot retail center located less than one mile from Alexan Garrett Farms. The mall is over 98.0% leased to a variety of tenants include The Home Depot, Kroger, Bed Bath & Beyond, Total Wine, Kohl’s, DSW and Panera Bread.
A wealth of recreational opportunities exists for residents of the Raleigh-Durham area. The Atlantic coast beaches are a convenient 140 miles east of Raleigh-Durham, while the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains are located 180 miles west. Numerous publicly accessible parks and gardens are located throughout the Raleigh-Durham metro area. Raleigh-Durham’s three major universities routinely produce championship-caliber sports teams in a variety of athletics.
The Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area offers a variety of recreational opportunities and entertainment for all interests. The area is well known for its athletic, cultural, and fine arts programs. The area has nearly 200 parks, recreation areas and playgrounds operated by state, county and city governments. Several large lakes are available for public boating and water sports. Kerr Lake, with its extensive shoreline, has facilities for fishing, boating, camping, and water sports and is located 45 miles away from the outskirts of the Triangle. Falls Lake and Jordan Lake, each less than 25 miles from downtown Raleigh, are available for public recreation.
In addition to nearby recreation, the Raleigh‑Durham-Chapel Hill area is within 140 miles of the coastal beaches to the east and 180 miles from the mountains to the west. Many outstanding golf events are held in Raleigh each year and attract both professional and amateur golfers. The Raleigh-Durham area contains more than 40 publicly accessible golf courses, including the highly ranked Duke University Golf Club in Durham and the UNC Finley golf course in Chapel Hill. In addition, the world-renowned Pinehurst Golf Resort, which will host the 2014 USGA Open Championship is a short drive 80 miles south of Raleigh-Durham. In addition, the three major universities located in the area provide excellent sports entertainment for the area’s fans. Most recently, Raleigh landed a professional hockey franchise, the Carolina Hurricanes, which is playing in the new state-of-the-art arena in Raleigh.
Parks and Gardens
The Sarah P. Duke Gardens are open to the public and encompass 55 acres of landscaped and woodland gardens in the heart of Duke’s West Campus. The Duke Forest, established in 1931, covers 7,900 acres in north central Piedmont and serves as a natural outdoor laboratory for Duke and neighboring universities. Selected roads and trails in the Duke Forest are open to visitors for hiking, biking and horseback riding.
Falls Lake State Recreation Area is located approximately 12 miles east of Durham and is one of the largest recreational facilities in the state. Falls Lake offers a wide variety of activities, including camping, hiking, fishing, boating and swimming, as well as numerous picnic areas and playgrounds.
Lake Crabtree County Park is located off Aviation Parkway at I-40 in Raleigh. Lake Crabtree County Park’s 200 acres provide exciting opportunities for enjoying the outdoors. On the shores of a 500-acre flood control lake, Lake Crabtree County Park attracts boaters, fishermen, group and individual picnickers, hikers, mountain bikers and nature lovers. The park offers picnic shelters which are available for group rentals.
Jordan Lake State Recreational Area is a 13,900-acre reservoir in Chatham County which offers boating, camping, fishing, swimming and a full-service commercial marina. Jordan Lake is the largest summertime home of the bald eagle in the eastern United States.
The National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes and North Carolina State University’s Wolfpack men’s basketball team both play home games in the PNC Arena in Raleigh. The Durham Bulls are the AAA affiliate of the National Baseball League’s Tampa Bay Devil Rays and play their home games in a $16 million, brick ballpark in downtown Durham. The Duke University Blue Devils play home basketball games at the 9,314-seat Cameron Indoor Stadium and football games at the 33,941-seat Wallace Wade Stadium. The University of North Carolina Tar Heels play home basketball games at the 23,713- seat Dean E. Smith Center and home football games at Kenan Stadium.
The Raleigh-Durham metro area contains a rich and diverse cultural history, due in large part to the area’s three major universities and Raleigh’s position as the Capital of North Carolina.
The Duke University Libraries, with more than five million volumes, rank among the top 10 private research libraries in the country.
The Morehead Planetarium at the University of North Carolina campus is one of the largest planetariums in the United States.
North Carolina Museum of Art, located in Raleigh, houses a permanent collection of Renaissance and Baroque paintings that is internationally recognized.
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh contains 70,000 square feet of walk-through environments. Live animals are included in exhibits throughout the museum.
The Duke University Primate Center, the only university-based facility in the world devoted to the study of prosimian primates, is home to the world’s largest colony of endangered primates, including more than 250 lemurs, bush babies and lorises.
The Duke University Museum of Art was founded in 1969 and contains an impressive array of collections. The museum’s Brummer Collection of Medieval and Renaissance art is widely regarded as one of the finest collections of its kind in any university gallery in the United States, as is the large pre-Columbian collection from Central and South America.
Exploris is a state-of-the-art interactive global learning center located in Raleigh that contains a seven-story-high IMAX movie theater.
Based in Raleigh at the Meymandi Concert Hall, the North Carolina Symphony performs approximately 170 times each year, frequently with internationally known artists.
The Carolina Theatre, located in Durham, was originally built in 1926 and underwent an extensive $7.8 million renovation in 1986. This 1,400- seat venue is a beautiful example of neo-classical and Beaux-arts style architecture and host numerous live performances annually.
Memorial Hall on the UNC Chapel Hill campus reopened in fall 2005 after a three-year, $18 million renovation designed to make the famed venue a focal point for the performing arts across the region. Memorial Hall hosts the Carolina Performing Arts Series and anchors the planned Arts Common, which will extend southward from Franklin Street to Playmakers Theatre, the oldest building on campus dedicated to the arts.
The Ackland Art Museum at UNC exhibits from a permanent collection of more than 15,000 works of art, particularly rich in Old Master paintings and sculptures by artists including Degas, Rubens and Pissarro; Indian miniatures; Japanese paintings; and North Carolina folk art.