Evan Scott Schwartz
Tuesday November 4th, 2014

The Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area is often called “The Triangle,” which (surprisingly) has nothing to do with basketball. The name refers to the three research universities in the area -- the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State and Duke -- as well as Research Triangle Park, home to several high-tech firms. The area dates back to just after the American Revolution. Raleigh was created as the capital of North Carolina in 1792. Chapel Hill is more college town than big city, as it is the home of the main campus of the University of North Carolina. Durham, also known as the “Bull City,” was the home of the Bull Durham Tobacco Company, as well as the Durham Bulls and the setting for Bull Durham.

To get the full Triangle experience, make sure to visit all three corners. Here is the best of what the Triangle has to offer.

The Pit

Barbecue is big in North Carolina and in Raleigh you can’t go wrong at The Pit. Vinegar-based BBQ sauce is the North Carolina style and it’s on everything from pulled pork to Carolina ribs to BBQ turkey. To wash it down, you can’t go wrong with cocktails like the Moonshine Basil Mojito or Moonshine Delight.

• Check out all the stops on Sport Illustrated's Go Rving Tailgate Tour

Beasley’s Chicken + Honey

Could fried chicken get any sweeter? If it’s paired with waffles and honey, yes. Between the array of biscuits, the Pimento Mac-N-Cheese Custard, and the full fleet of North Carolina beers, you may never want to leave.

Bull City Burger and Brewery

This place offers a “Secret Burger,” but it’s hard to imagine it being any better than the custom job you can whip up yourself. Bull City offers wild toppings like green chiles, bacon marmalade, pimento cheese and the Ghost of Rogers Alley Hot Sauce. A mysterious place indeed.

Top of the Hill Restaurant

Top of the Hill sits on a roof deck just above Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, which makes it the perfect venue to watch any UNC victory celebrations. The restaurant also brews its own beer, which goes pretty perfectly with a serving of Lizard Chips. For the squeamish, that’s just a basket of pickle and jalapeno chips, deep-fried in house-made TOPO beer batter.


That’s “Sandwhich,” as in “Which of these outrageous sandwiches should I get?” Burgers topped with bacon and “whichsauce,” prosciutto and mint? Or maybe the signature BLT, with avocado, roasted jalapeno, and garlic mayo. For the less sandwich-inclined, they offer polenta bowls and a host of Mediterranean favorites. Grab a Moroccan iced tea and be happy.

North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame

The Tar Heel State is rich with athletic tradition. While basketball is obvious, this Hall of Fame honors Carolina’s best in everything from bowling to hang gliding to trap shooting.

Cat’s Cradle

The Triangle is a hotbed for indie music. It’s the home of Merge Records, the label for artists like Neutral Milk Hotel, Bob Mould and Dinosaur Jr. An endless stream of great bands come through the area, and the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro is one of the best places to see them live. The 40-year-old venue has played host to everyone from Nirvana to Public Enemy to The Mountain Goats to live comedy, and is rocking almost every night with sold-out shows.

Duke Homestead

This historic locale is where industrialist George Washington Duke began his tobacco empire. The industry was the lifeblood for the area, which is still referred to as “Tobacco Road,” and visiting this homestead shows the whole farming and packing history of the so-called “golden weed.” As for the man? Duke is the namesake of a nearby school. Hint: it’s not Wake Forest.

Neuse River Greenway Trail

This 27.5-mile hiking trail offers scenic views of the river, wetlands, fields and nearby historical sites that dot the Triangle area. Paved for ease of walking, it’s also a great place to throw out a fishing line.

Neuse River Rafting

If you don’t want to walk the river, kayak it. Right near Raleigh is Paddle Creek, which can outfit you with a canoe, kayak or paddle board for a quick three-mile trip on the Neuse River or a much longer excursion for the true Huck Finn experience.

Contemporary Art Museum

This brand-new facility, in Raleigh, features the best of the local art scene, with breathtaking installations, films, and multimedia works.

Defy Gravity

Are you sick of feeling gravity’s pull? Break the law at this intense trampoline park, which includes obstacle courses, trampoline dodgeball and a giant foam pit for daredevil jumps.

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