The Triangle is composed primarily of three regions, which act like different books within the same series: each functions beautifully on its own, but together they create a wonderful and diverse place to live.
To the north is Durham, a city renowned for world-class education and healthcare. Though once the center of a thriving tobacco industry, the “City of Medicine” is now a global center for pharmaceuticals, research, and biotechnology, with thousands of specialists and researchers flocking to the area annually. Boasting a large number of galleries, museums, and theaters, Durham also provides some of the Triangle’s finest creative offerings. It is an artistic mecca that seamlessly blends an urban lifestyle with an intellectual focus.
With many of the old tobacco warehouses having been converted to residential spaces mere walking distance from vintage boutiques, record stores, and restaurants, Durham provides a hip and exciting alternative to suburban living. Named “The Tastiest Town in the South” by Southern Living, you’ll never find yourself lacking in delicious and diverse dining options.
To the west lies Chapel Hill, home to 55,000 residents and the oldest public university in the United States, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Smaller than its Triangle counterparts, many of the city’s restaurants, stores, and attractions lie along a single central thoroughfare, Franklin St., providing a highly walkable downtown area that can begin with a picnic in the university’s rose gardens, grabbing a paperback from one of the bookstores in town, and finish with afternoon coffee at any one of the many delicious cafes. Though a “college town” with bustling nightlife and music venues popular with both mainstream and independent artists, the overall relaxed vibe, beautiful greenways and bike paths, and compact living has made the city a popular retirement destination as well.
To the southeast is Raleigh, North Carolina’s capital and second largest city. Named by Forbes Magazine as the fastest growing city in the United States, and seventh best city for jobs in 2013, Raleigh has something to offer for everyone. As one of the safest cities in the nation, Raleigh is a great place for families, with no shortage of activities for children and adults alike.
Night time in Raleigh sees the streets filled, with ample bars, restaurants, clubs, and music halls providing plenty of entertainment after a long day. One can enjoy tapas and dancing at Glenwood South, a cocktail in city center, and catch a show at the Lincoln Theatre. The free R-Line bus system provides easy and convenient transportation across the various districts, and active taxi services make for a safe and carefree night on the town.
Giving the Triangle its namesake is Research Triangle Park (“RTP”). Covering 7,000 acres and home to over 170 companies, RTP is one of the largest research parks in the world. Prominent tech, pharmaceutical, and research companies, including IBM, Cisco, Lenovo, GlaxoSmithKline, and BASF all maintain facilities in RTP. The area employs over 40,000 workers and is set to add 100,000 jobs in the not too distant future.
One reason the Triangle continues to be such an attractive location for major multinational corporations is the abundance of top tier colleges and universities. Durham’s Duke University is routinely ranked among the top 20 in the world, and contains one of the nation’s top medical schools and hospitals. Graduates of the Fuqua School of Business achieve the 12th highest average salary following graduation, and have gone on to lead such companies as Apple, Volkswagen, and Deloitte. Duke is also home to the Duke University Lemur Center, the largest colony of endangered primates in the world.
Just a few miles down the road sits the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, ranked #5 in the nation among public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The university provides 71 bachelor’s, 107 master’s, and 74 doctoral programs to nearly 30,000 students. Chapel Hill’s highly competitive School of Law is the oldest in North Carolina and one of the top 10 public law schools in the United States. Not to be overlooked is Chapel Hill’s athletics, with 40 NCAA championship wins-- including 21 women’s soccer and five men’s basketball victories-- under its belt.
Raleigh further upholds the Triangle’s tradition in educational excellence with North Carolina State University, ranked 29th in the world for Technology, Engineering, and Computer Science. The university offers 106 bachelor’s degrees, 104 master’s and 61 doctoral degrees, and maintains a reputation as a leader in agricultural, textile, and life science studies. NC State’s Veterinary program is ranked 3rd nationally, and the university’s library is among the best and most comprehensive in the nation, containing over 4.4 million volumes and covering 119,000 square feet. As part of the Triangle Research Libraries Network, the university also facilitates interlibrary loan services between Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, and North Carolina Central University.
The area also includes three historically black colleges and universities: Shaw University, North Carolina Central University, and St. Augustine’s University.
The Triangle’s secondary schools have also been met with national acclaim; of U.S. News’s top 10 high schools in North Carolina, five are located in the triangle, with Durham School of the Arts occupying the number one spot. The Triangle enjoys a high volume of magnet, charter, and International Baccalaureate schools offering a variety of Advanced Placement, vocational, and elective courses that provide unique learning opportunities beyond a typical secondary education curriculum.
The Triangle has a subtropical, humid climate with four distinct seasons. Summer is often hot, with winter bringing occasional snow. Fall brings about brilliant changes in leaf color, making for lovely outdoor ventures.
For outdoor enthusiasts, the Triangle’s central location means that you’re never more than three hours from the ocean or mountains. One could start the weekend surfing and finish with a hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains and still be home for work on Monday.
But one needn’t even go that far to enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, kayaking, or biking. Raleigh alone has over 12,500 park acres, several times more per capita than that of cities like New York and Los Angeles. The Triangle is home to a large number of gorgeous state parks and recreation areas, including Falls Lake, Jordan Lake, William B. Umstead State Park, Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, and the Eno River State Park. As part of the Piedmont region, the Triangle landscape encompasses beautiful rolling hills, rich forests, and large open lakes that make for a truly breathtaking outdoor experience.
Tennis and golf enthusiasts will find over 100 tennis clubs and more than 30 golf clubs in close proximity—not to mention Pinehurst Resort, host of the 2014 US Open, located just an hour away.
College sports are a favorite for Triangle residents, with the close proximity of three NCAA powerhouses fueling passionate rivalries. Game nights in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill see supporters out in droves, and basketball season—March Madness in particular—brings a special kind of energy that’s hard not to get swept up in.
Professional sports are also well represented in the Triangle. The NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, Stanley Cup winners and #2 in ESPN’s ranking of 120 primary American sports franchises, call Raleigh home. Hurricanes fans have been praised as “the loudest in the NHL” by sports commentators. For baseball fans, the Durham Bulls, a Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays (and inspiration for the Kevin Costner film “Bull Durham”), ensure that summers in the Triangle are never without an exciting match.
Culture and Atmosphere
The Triangle’s appreciation for art, history and culture is apparent in the large amount of museums, galleries, theaters, and festivals.
Sitting on 164 acres with the nation’s largest museum park, the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh maintains a collection spanning centuries, from ancient Egyptian funerary art to modern sculpture. Pisarro, Rodin, and Monet are all on display, as well as one of only two permanent Jewish art collections in America. Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art—with a particular focus on lesser known contemporary artists—and Chapel Hill’s Ackland Art Museum together contain over 13,000 works of art, including pieces by Ai Weiwei and Andy Warhol.
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the oldest museum in North Carolina and the largest in the Southeast, showcases the natural history and biodiversity of North Carolina through captivating, life-size displays. The newly constructed Nature Research Center contains interactive exhibits and allows visitors to observe scientists at work in state-of-the-art labs. The museum frequently hosts workshops, family programs, lectures and special events, including the annual BugFest, which draws over 35,000 visitors.
In Durham, the Museum of Life and Science provides visitors with several floors of interactive exhibits, a large outdoor playground and nature park, petting zoo, and tropical butterfly house, where one can walk among hundreds of dazzling butterflies. Fascinating for both young and old, the Museum is a fantastic place for children to spend the day, and even has an indoor playpen for toddlers.
For music lovers, Raleigh is the host city for the World of Bluegrass festival, and Hopscotch Music Festival, which began in Raleigh in 2010. Hopscotch 2013 saw 175 bands—everything from hip-hop to classical to punk rock—perform over three days in over 15 venues, including the new Red Hat Amphitheater. Raleigh is also home of the North Carolina Symphony, the nation’s first state funded symphony.
Those who appreciate independent and underground artists will not be disappointed; venues all across the Triangle regularly bring in the best of local and national talent, allowing one to catch a great show any night of the week.
The Durham Performing Art Center, #1 in attendance for its size and #4 among all theaters in the United States, regularly draws big name acts, including Jerry Seinfeld, BB King, Neil Young, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Patti LaBelle. The DPAC’s SunTrust Broadway Series has been bringing direct-from-New York broadway shows such as The Book of Mormon, Wicked, Avenue Q, and The Lion King to Durham since the theater’s opening in 2008. Coupled with Raleigh’s PNC Arena, the Triangle is always bringing the biggest talents.
Durham and Chapel Hill are also home to many smaller theaters, including PlayMakers Repertory, Manbites Dog Theater, Common Ground Theater, and Theatre in the Park, all of which continue to bring unique and groundbreaking productions to the area.
Fans of dance will be thrilled by the American Dance Festival, an annual summer event of dance training and performances that brings international performers and pioneers to the stage, often to debut new works. Encapsulating many genres from classical to modern, the festival is another fine example of the Triangle’s deep appreciation for the arts.
Each city also has monthly events on Fridays, highlighting local shops and galleries, and often providing food and live entertainment.
Food & Drink
The Triangle is a haven for food lovers. In addition to Durham’s national recognition, Chapel Hill was named Bon Appetit’s “Foodiest Small Town” in America. And with one restaurant for every 500 residents, Raleigh more than holds its own as a go-to destination for all varieties of cuisine.
Durham was also a catalyst for bringing food trucks to the Triangle, allowing chefs to take their talents to the streets. Burgers, dumplings, Korean barbecue, and gourmet ice cream are just a few of many delicious options. Regular food truck festivals allow one to sample the greatest of local offerings while enjoying music, movies, and more.
Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill all have active farmer’s markets. Operating daily in 30,000 square feet, the State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh is one of the premier markets in the nation, and weekly markets in Durham and Chapel Hill bring local produce and goods to shoppers. With such a vibrant scene, one can easily find fresh, healthy homegrown foods year round at great prices, all while supporting local growers and merchants.
But it’s not just food; with more than 25 breweries, the Triangle is also a great place for beer lovers. After the “Pop The Cap” campaign successfully paved the way for high volume beers, the door was opened for many craft brewers to set up shop. Bars across the Triangle now serve a revolving selection of local brews on tap, making the area an exciting place for locavores.
For coffee drinkers, the Triangle holds its ground. Durham’s Counter Culture Coffee was #1 on SAVEUR magazine’s list of coffees to try. With an abundance of both local and national cafes, one never has to go far for a delicious cup.
When making the decision to relocate, the reputation of local healthcare institutions is always an important factor, and the Triangle has some of the best in the nation, with three Level I trauma centers operating with the highest treatment capabilities; Duke University Medical Center, UNC Health Care, and WakeMed Health and Hospitals.
An easily accessible and convenient highway system means that one rarely has to travel more than 45 minutes to get from one city to another, and the recently constructed Triangle Expressway has made commuting even faster. Other major thoroughfares include I-40, I-85, NC 147 and I-540.
The Triangle Transit Authority provides affordable and reliable public transportation to each of the three cities, and local bus services mean that one does not need to own a vehicle to get around. Amtrak stations in both Raleigh and Durham provide train access to cities such as Miami, Washington, DC, and New York, as well others across the country.
Raleigh-Durham International Airport, one of the nation’s fastest growing airports, provides 352 daily flights to 38 domestic and international cities, including major travel hubs Atlanta and Dallas/Forth Worth.
Compared to much of the South, and even the majority of North Carolina, the political climate of the Triangle leans decidedly more moderate to liberal. The large university presence and abundance of international students makes for a welcoming, diverse, and open minded community. Raleigh has an active LGBT Center, and the Triangle has a large number of safe spaces for members of the LGBT community.
Acceptance of beliefs is not distinct to politics; the Triangle is also religiously diverse. This is noticeable even in the school system, as Raleigh is home to the Al-Iman Islamic School, the An Noor Quran Academy, the Jewish Academy of Wake County, and the Raleigh Christian Academy, among others.
In all, there are more than 700 places of worship in the Triangle, and they cater to more than 60 different denominations.
In addition to its close proximity to the mountain and coastal regions of North Carolina, the Triangle is conveniently located for easy travel to several exciting destinations.
Located 2.5 hours away, Charlotte is the state’s largest city, and home to both NBA and NFL teams; the Charlotte Bobcats, where fans can catch owner Michael Jordan sitting courtside, and the Carolina Panthers, winner of four division titles. NASCAR also maintains offices in Charlotte, and the nearby Charlotte Motor Speedway is considered one of the busiest sports venues in the country with over 380 events a year, including the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR’s longest race.
If you’re looking to take things at a slower pace, Apex, Pittsboro and Hillsborough provide relaxed bucolic charm just on the outskirts of town. Popular with writers, artists, and those just seeking a quieter life, the towns have all of the essentials--organic markets, restaurants, galleries--without any hassle.
Though other areas make the claim, it can be said without any danger of overstatement or exaggeration that the Triangle truly has something for everyone. With its world class education, health care facilities, entertainment venues, restaurants, recreational opportunities, reputation for safety, and ever growing job market, the Triangle is perfect for students, job seekers, professionals, and families.