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Top Rated Attractions in Raleigh/Durham

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Sarah P. Duke Gardens

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.

Museum of Life & Science

The North Carolina Museum of Life & Science offers a number of interactive educational exhibits suitable for children and adults. Visitors can walk through a tornado, turn their movements into sound sculptures, and make contact with one of the largest butterfly conservatories on the American East Coast. The museum also features bear, red wolf, and lemur sanctuaries, and a forested tree house learning environment, which gives views of a landscaped forest from 20 feet (six meters) off the ground.

Duke University Chapel

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.

North Carolina Museum of Art

One of the leading art museums of the American South, the North Carolina Museum of Art opened in 1956 as the first in the nation established with public state funds. More than 40 galleries here are home to a permanent collection of paintings, artifacts, and sculptures spanning the history of art from antiquity to the present day. Visitors can see paintings of the European Renaissance, Egyptian funerary artifacts, and contemporary international works of art, among others. An amphitheater hosts outdoor performances, and a museum park features more than a dozen major site-specific works surrounded by forests and fields.

William B. Umstead State Park

Hidden away from the crowded cacophony of the city life, William B. Umstead State Park stretches gloriously across 5579-acres (2257-hectare) crossing the border of Raleigh and spilling onto Cary and Durham. Endowed with tranquil lakes, picturesque pathways and dense drapes of forests, William B. Umstead State Park is a real boon for city-dwellers. An absolute delight for outdoor enthusiasts, numerous trails cut their way through the park's pristine span, offering off-road bicycling opportunities along with hiking and additional trails are also reserved for equestrians. There are numerous picnic spots scattered across the park and there are plenty of and campsites and cabins for those who wish to lodge overnight. A visitor center organizes a series of interactive exhibits, and park rangers regularly scheduled educational programs.

JC Raulston Arboretum

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.

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