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Pull up a bench and revel in nature's beauty in this eight-acre (three-hectare) garden wonderland. This outdoor laboratory for the Department of Horticulture at North Carolina State University is a delight for visitors and locals alike. Sit in the shade of trees from over 50 different countries, wander down the 450-foot (137-meter) long mosaic of the Perennial Garden, or bring a good book and relax in the Reading Garden. The Victorian gazebo in the Klein-Pringle White Garden is a popular choice for local brides and the Japanese and Paradise gardens are must-sees.
Founded in 1934, The Sarah P. Duke Gardens offers 55 acres (22 hectares) of world-class gardens in the center of Duke University. More than five miles (eight kilometers) of pathways lead visitors on walks through four sections of beautifully landscaped terraces, gardens, and arboretums. The Duke Gardens host gardening, photography, and natural history classes, and a summer concert series. A cafe and a visitor center are on the grounds. Walking and trolley tours are given four days a week; reservations are recommended.
This chapel built in the center of Duke University in the Collegiate Gothic style was completed in 1932. Its tower soars 210 feet (65 meters) into the sky, and its founder, James B. Duke, felt that its inspirational presence would influence campus music, faith, and learning. Fine ornamentation, stained glass, and four beautifully crafted organs, including a Flentrop, or "Bach's Organ," draw thousands of admirers to the chapel every year. Free, guided tours of the chapel are offered every Sunday after an 11a worship service.
The Duke Lemur Center is a sanctuary for rare and endangered prosimian primates – mostly lemurs – located a few miles from the Duke University campus. The sanctuary is the largest of its kind in the world, and houses nearly 250 non-primates across 21 species, on 85 acres. The center focuses on conservation, research, and outreach, but provides opportunities for guided tours seven days a week. Visitors can tour the grounds with a staff photographer, paint with lemurs, or experience a day in the shoes of a lemur caretaker. Tours are by appointment only, and should be reserved several weeks in advance.
The North Carolina Executive Mansion, a fine structure of brick built in the Queen Anne style, is the official residence of the Governor of North Carolina and his or her family. The mansion is home to historical artifacts and paintings of local note, and has been a Raleigh social, political, and cultural hub since its founding in 1891. Guided tours of the mansion and its gardens are given in the spring and fall on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and holiday open houses are held in December. Admission is free. but tours must be booked in advance.
Triangle Glides offers Segway, electric bike, and stand-up paddleboard sales, rentals, and lessons. Located inside the historic City Market, the store is a great place to begin a local outdoor adventure. City explorers can choose from a number of guided Segway tours around parts of Raleigh, including downtown, Oakwood, the City Center, and elsewhere. The electric bikes make riding up the city's hills a breeze, and paddleboards are a great way to check out local water features like Lake Wheeler.
Historic Yates Mill County Park is a 174-acre (70 hectares) wildlife refuge and environmental research center with open lands and a small pond offering visitors fishing, hiking, and bird-watching opportunities. Yates Mill is the last operating, water-powered gristmill in North Carolina’s Capital County. Mill tours and corn grinding demonstrations are offered throughout the year, as are seasonal educational and holiday programs. The visitor center sells finished stone-ground cornmeal and vintage postcards as souvenirs.
Stagville was once part of a 30,000-acre (12,140 hectares) slave plantation, one of the largest North Carolina. Today, the Stagville grounds span 71 acres (29 hectares) and are home to Horton Grove, the historic 18th Century Georgian family plantation home, a timber-framed barn, and a graveyard. Visitors can explore the grounds and surrounding structures on guided and self-guided tours, although the buildings are open only to guided tours. Reservations are recommended.