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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.

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North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Explore the natural wonders of North Carolina, from the depths of its ocean to its rocky mountains. Complete with a 20-foot (6-meter) waterfall, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science has much to offer. See North Carolina as it was, in a re-creation of six prehistoric habitats. This is home to the only Acorcanthosaurus skeleton discovered in the world, and Willo, the first dinosaur found with a fossilized heart. The Discovery Room is full of interactive exhibits. Looking for that perfect gift? The Nature Gallery has original nature-themed artwork available. There is a restaurant on site. General admission is free of charge. There is a cover charge for special exhibits. Children under 13 years must be accompanied by an adult. The Discovery Room, Naturalist Center, and Living Conservatory remain closed on Mondays.

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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.

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Kennedy Theater at Duke Energy Center

Kennedy Theater is located in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh. The theater has a seating capacity of around 170 and has state-of-the-art sound and light systems. This unique, black-box structure hosts the nontraditional performances by groups like the Hot Summer Nights and the Burning Coal Theater.

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Durham Performing Arts Center

The Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) is North Carolina’s center for live entertainment and the performing arts. Opened in 2008 as one of the largest centers of its kind in the Carolinas, DPAC hosts hundreds of performances a year, ranging from high profile concerts to Broadway productions, stand-up comedy routines, and festivals. The center is recognized for its contemporary steel and glass design, and features 2,700 seats with intimate sightlines. DPAC’s “Heart of the Arts” community outreach program runs master theater classes for local students, and invites the students to backstage tours, orchestra rehearsals, and post-performance discussions.

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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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