Archives for category: Lifelong Learner

In just over a week, the new wing of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences opens with a 24-hour kick off party. The new wing, called the Nature Research Center, will be a one-of-a-kind, 80,000 square-foot building in downtown Raleigh, where research scientists can work in public view and hopefully inspire science educators and students, all led by the Center’s director, Dr. Meg Lowman.

While the current Museum of Natural Sciences does a great job of teaching visitors what scientist know, the goal of the new wing will be to answer the question, “How Do We Know?” The Museum has come up with some unique examples of this new research into figuring out how we know what we know. Below are a few examples (and for more, visit the Nature Research Center website).

Dinosaurs Taste Like Chicken

“Some of the world’s leading paleontologists are attempting to recreate a dinosaur — or something a lot like a dinosaur — by starting with a chicken embryo and working backward to engineer a “chickenosaurus” or “dinochicken,” project leader Jack Horner told Discovery News. Such “reverse evolution” has been successfully performed in mice and flies, but those studies focused on re-introducing just a few bygone traits. The dinochicken project instead has the goal of bringing back multiple dinosaur characteristics, such as a tail, teeth and forearms, by changing the levels of regulatory proteins that have evolved to suppress these characteristics in birds. “Birds are dinosaurs, so technically we’re making a dinosaur out of a dinosaur,” said Horner, a professor of paleontology at Montana State University and curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies.”

Excerpt from “‘Dinochicken’ Scheme Puts Evolution in Reverse” by Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News.

One Fourth of All Animals are Beetles

Beetles are the dominant form of life on earth: one of every five living species is a beetle, and one fourth of all animal species are beetles. Coleoptera is the largest order in the animal kingdom, containing a third of all insect species. Aristotle described beetles as insects with wing cases, thus Coleoptera, from the Greek koleon “sheath” and pteron “wing.”  There are about 300,000 known species of beetles worldwide, 30,000 of which live in North America. Various species live in nearly every habitat except the open sea, and for every kind of food, there’s probably a beetle species that eats it. Beetles first appeared during the lower Permian period, about 240 million years ago.

Spider Silk is 5 Times Stronger Than Steel

Spider silk may seem fragile, but it actually has a tensile strength that is a whopping five times more than steel! Scientists have been trying to replicate and harness the properties of the elusive material for years and now researchers from the Technische Universitaet Muenchen and the University of Bayreuth have actually unlocked the secret of how spiders construct the elastic fibers. Armed with this new knowledge, they’re planning to build an artificial spinning apparatus that will mimic a spider’s silk glands, which could eventually lead to a material that could have an unlimited number of applications from medical to construction.

Interesting, huh? Be sure to check out the Nature Research Center website for even more “How Do We Know?” facts and information on the new wing of the museum. If you’re planning on heading to Raleigh for the 24-hour party next week or are coming in the next few months, be sure to check out Raleigh’s New World for details, plus tons of great deals on hotels, restaurants, and things to do in town.

All information in the blog post was provided courtesy of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

From tours to museums, from kid-friendly activities to some of the best shopping around, Greater Raleigh has something unique for everyone. We’ve had some fun and come up with 24 fun things to see and do, which we hope will help you when planning your visit. We know there’s so much more in the Raleigh area, so tell us your favorites here, on Facebook or Twitter.

  1. Take a tour – The Raleigh area has numerous guided tour options to fit your interest or age!
  2. Be part of “Raleigh’s New World” – Explore the area’s newest museum, the Nature Research Center, which happens to be in the shape of a three-story globe!
  3. Get your glide on – Triangle Segway offers motorized segway tours on a daily basis–a perfect way to explore downtown Raleigh.
  4. Get an outdoor education – Greenway trails, nature programs and wildlife watching at Walnut Creek Urban Wetland Educational Park, Raleigh’s newest environmental park.
  5. Take in a movie – The Wells Fargo IMAX Theatre screens documentaries and feature films on one of the biggest movie screens around.
  6. Get contemporary – The Contemporary Art Museum (CAM Raleigh) is the state’s only non-collecting contemporary art museum and has a rotating schedule of new exhibits.
  7. Be fashion-forward – Check out The Curatory, where Raleigh Denim jeans are handcrafted and individually signed before being shipped to high-end boutiques and department stores.
  8. Grab a local brew – The Raleigh area is home to nine craft breweries, many which offer free tours and tastings.
  9. Check the calendar – The Raleigh area is known for unique festivals and events no matter what time of year you’re here.
  10. Eat at Big Ed’s City Market – Pancakes as big as hubcaps and Southern cooking done right at this City Market eatery.
  11. Be a chocoholic – Admire the beauty of Escazu Chocolates before learning about the bean-to-bar chocolate process.
  12. Discover why one person’s trash is another’s treasure – Peruse the hundreds of vendors at the Raleigh Flea Market, a weekly, weekend shopping paradise at the N.C. State Fairgrounds.
  13. Feel the “need for speed” – Test your need for speed at Rush Hour Karting in Garner where these suped-up go-karts reach speeds of 40 mph.
  14. Take an underwater adventure – Fantasy Lake Scuba Park in Rolesville is the largest scuba diving park on the East Coast.
  15. Be a Music Maniac – Concerts abound at one of the area’s live music venues. No matter your musical taste, or where you like to hear live music, we’ve got your ticket ready.
  16. Be “second” best – The Mortex Factory Outlet in Wendell is a local secret and the best place to buy “seconds” in college sports clothing.
  17. Discover art and nature – The N.C. Museum of Art is home to the country’s largest art park containing more than 15 large-scale works of outdoor art.
  18. Ride a historic carousel – Take a spin on the recently restored 1911 Dentzel carousel at Pullen Park.
  19. Pay homage – Explore the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Gardens, the first public park in the United States devoted exclusively to Dr. King and the Civil Rights movement.
  20. Go sesquicentennial reminiscing – The Historic Oakwood Cemetery is the final resting place of more than 1,500 Confederate soldiers.
  21. Grind some corn – Take a walk around Historic Yates Mill County Park, a water-powered grist mill from 1756 that still grinds corn with traditional methods.
  22. Tour this old house – The Joel Lane Museum House is Wake County’s oldest home and offers tours and special events.
  23. Imagine – The perfect word for Marbles Kids Museum where kids can learn and play through interactive exhibits, educational programs and special events.
  24. Experience a culture capital – The Raleigh area is known for an outstanding performing arts scene so check the calendar for performances by the Carolina Ballet, N.C. Opera, N.C. Symphony, N.C. Theatre or one of the many local theatre companies.

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On July 5-14, 2012, Dr. Meg Lowman, director of the new wing at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, will lead a group of educators and naturalists on an amazing, nine-day trip to the Amazon rainforest. The best part: and the museum are giving you a chance to go along!

Now through Tuesday, May 15, enter to win a spot on this rainforest expedition and become part of a team of educators and naturalists studying in the Amazon basin of Peru. The sweepstakes prize includes the workshop cost, in-country air and international air round-trip to Lima.

The winner of the “Raleigh’s New World” prize package can:

  • work side-by-side with scientists in one of the most biologically diverse environments on the planet
  • ascend over 115 feet on a ¼-mile Rainforest Canopy Walkway, one of the few of its kind in the world
  • interact with indigenous people and see how they use the forest for medicine, food and shelter
  • get up-close with as many as seven kinds of primates at Monkey Island’s conservation project
  • use hand lenses, binoculars, maps and taxonomic keys for identification of insects, butterflies, plants, birds and more

You just need to be a legal U.S. resident, be 18+ and have a valid passport, and you could be selected the grand prize winner on May 16! (See official rules for full details.) This dynamic journey is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a Lifelong Learner.

Enter now, and remember to get a jump-start on your nature research experience at the grand opening of the new wing at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, April 20-21, in downtown Raleigh.

Day 11 and counting down to the opening of the new wing at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

We are hoping that you are planning a trip to Greater Raleigh for opening weekend, April 20-21. If you haven’t taken note yet of the great hotel deals that are available (for opening weekend and beyond), listen up:

The Embassy Suites Raleigh Crabtree is offering $24 off standard rates, applicable to $100-$195 standard suites only. Click here to book now.

Hampton Inn Raleigh-Cary has $24 off their best available rate for visitors of the Nature Research Center from March 27-May 15. Use code “Raleigh’s New World”; call 919.859.5559 or click here to book.

The Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, near N.C. State University, will provide a FREE hot breakfast, FREE Internet access and an additional 2,400 Priority Club Points when you book a stay. Click here to book.

The Homewood Suites Raleigh is discounting its room rate by 24%, plus get their complimentary hot breakfast buffet, shuttle service within a three-mile radius, wireless Internet and more. Click here to book.

The Residence Inn Crabtree Valley has a $24 discount which can be applied toward room and tax, room service or the market. Excludes alcohol; a two night stay is required. Click here to book.

You can stay green at the Residence Inn Raleigh Midtown. The hotel will donate $2.40 to Marriott’s Carbon Offset Program to benefit the rainforests, and you will receive an “eco-friendly” Residence Inn duffel bag. Click here to book now.

What in “Raleigh’s New World” are you waiting for? Make plans to spend the weekend in Greater Raleigh today!

Greater Raleigh may not be known (yet) as a “celebrity hangout,” but we do have our share of famous faces with ties to North Carolina’s capital city. In honor of the 24-hour grand opening of the Nature Research Center, the new wing at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, here are 24 celebrities with Raleigh area connections.

  1. Scotty McCreery –The “I Love You This Big” Garner native recently won the Academy of Country Music’s New Artist of the Year, following being crowned 2011 American Idol, and has announced his intent to attend  N.C. State University.
  2. Clay AikenAmerican Idol runner-up Clay Aiken was born and raised in Raleigh and has become a successful singer, songwriter, Celebrity Apprentice reality star, Broadway actor and author in his days since the show.
  3. Emily ProctorCSI: Miami wouldn’t be a CBS hit without this super sleuth and Raleigh native.
  4. Michael C. Hall – The Golden Globe Award-winner stars in the Showtime hit show Dexter.
  5. David Sedaris – Grammy Award-winning writer and humorist uses experiences from growing up in Raleigh as fodder for his books and writings.
  6. Amy Sedaris – The younger sister of David Sedaris, Amy is an actor, comedian and author in her own right.
  7. Evan Rachel Wood – This young Hollywood film star made many appearances on the Raleigh stage as part of Theatre In The Park productions with her father, Ira David Wood.
  8. Josh Hamilton – This major League Baseball all-star outfielder for the Texas Rangers chronicled his struggle with alcohol and drugs in the autobiography, Beyond Belief.
  9. Kristi Yamaguchi – Gold Medal-winner for figure skating in the 1992 Olympics made Raleigh her home while her husband, former hockey player Bret Hedican, played for the NHL Carolina Hurricanes.
  10. Sharon Lawrence – This primetime television actress is most famous for her role on NYPD Blue.
  11. Hildi Santo- Thomas – Award-winning interior designer best known for her creative designs on Trading Spaces.
  12. Lauren Kennedy – This Broadway actress performs the theater series, Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy, each summer at downtown Raleigh’s Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts.
  13. Liz Vassey – Raleigh-born actress known for her roles on All My Children and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
  14. Andy Griffith – While not officially from Raleigh, a famous statue of Andy and Opie from the Andy Griffith Show is permanently displayed at Pullen Park in West Raleigh.
  15. Rhoda Griffis – Stage and screen actress who recently had the part of Registration Woman in the blockbuster movie The Hunger Games.
  16. John Tesh – This musician and songwriter is an alumni of N.C. State University.
  17. Zach Galifinakis – Before he had a Hangover, he partied on Hillsborough Street as a student at N.C. State University.
  18. Colin Firth –Academy Award-winner actor who has now acted in two films shot in the Raleigh area, Arthur Newman, Golf Pro, and Main Street.
  19. Jan Karon – Before making the western part of North Carolina her home, this author spent a few years living and working in Raleigh.
  20. Philip Rivers – Football quarterback for the San Diego Chargers played college football for N.C. State University.
  21. Justin Vernon – Singer, songwriter for the Grammy Award-winning group, Bon Iver, spent time at the start of his musical career in Raleigh.
  22. Kooley High – The six members of this hip-hop group met while attending N.C. State University.
  23. Tift Merritt – This singer, songwriter spent much of her childhood in the Raleigh area and began her musical career in the band, The Carbines, which played in small Raleigh venues.
  24. Mary Schweitzer –A paleontologist with dual appointments at both the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and N.C. State University, she led the team which discovered blood cells in dinosaur fossils and soft tissue remains in a T-Rex.

In anticipation of the opening of the Nature Research Center at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, we pulled 24 videos from our video gallery and other sources that we think will help you plan your trip. The new wing opens on April 20 with a big party, but remember you can plan your trip anytime. Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and for more information on the opening of the new wing, check out

1. Greater Raleigh Video

This is a great starting point for those who have never been to Raleigh or are looking to plan a weekend here. Shot as a day-in-the-life of a Raleigh-area visitor, it gives a general overview of lots of things to see and do in Greater Raleigh.

2. N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences

While the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences is expanding, there is still a great deal already there. The current museum does a great job of teaching visitors what we know about natural sciences as it relates to North Carolina.

3. Downtown Raleigh Entertainment Districts

If you’ve never been to downtown Raleigh this is a good overview of the various districts that make up the downtown area.

4. R-Line

A lot of visitors to the downtown Raleigh area, and even many residents, are unaware of the FREE R-Line circulator bus that runs every 10-15 minutes, check out this video to find how you can use to get to the Nature Research Center.

5. Greater Raleigh Visitor Information Center

Stop by the Visitor Information Center and pick of the Official Visitors Guide to Raleigh and Wake County when you’re in town.

6. N.C. State Capitol

When you’re downtown by the Museum it will be hard to miss the State Capitol, one of the finest examples of a major civic building in the Greek Revival style of architecture.

7. N.C Museum of History

Right next door to the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences is the N.C. Museum of History, another great free museum you’ll want to check out.

8. North Carolina Museum of Art

Just a few miles down the road from downtown Raleigh is the North Carolina Museum of Art. This video gives good insight into some of the collections you’ll find at the recently expanded location.

9. Greater Raleigh Shopping

The Raleigh area is a stylish destination with unique shopping areas, independent boutiques and designers making a name for themselves on a national level (check out this blog on 24 stylish finds for fashionistas.)

10. Raleigh Denim

This is a really cool piece done about a local Raleigh company, Raleigh Denim, and their creation process for their hand-made jeans.

11. Greater Raleigh Beer Scene

Greater Raleigh has a great number of breweries and wineries for you to visit on your next trip to the area.

12. Nightlife

If you’re looking for something fun to do at night on your next trip here this video gives a good overview of some of the places you’ll want to drop in on.

13. Greater Raleigh Dining

The Raleigh area has tons of signature dishes you’ll want to try when you’re in town. The hardest part will be narrowing down your choices.

14. Outdoor Activities

15. Live Music Venues

Greater Raleigh is the live music capital of the state, and Music Maniacs will definitely want to see their favorite band while in town.

16. Hopscotch Music Festival

Every year, Hopscotch Music Festival grows bigger and bigger, so if you’re in town for it, stop by the nearby Nature Research Center.

17. Raleigh Parks and Recreation

With more than 150 parks, gardens, lakes and greenways in Raleigh alone, there are plenty of places to enjoy the scenery and see why the area is called “The City of Oaks.”

18. Kids Activities

If you’re planning a trip for your family to visit the new wing, you’ll obviously want to know about other family-friendly activities.

19. Special Events in Greater Raleigh

All year-round there are a number of major events happening in Greater Raleigh. Plan your next trip to Raleigh around a big festival or show.

20. First Friday

On the first Friday of each month, downtown Raleigh hosts “First Friday,” a self-guided gallery walk where you’re sure to find an unexpected surprise, like a local band playing in a gallery.

21. Downtown Raleigh Visual Arts

22. Mordecai Historic Park

A few blocks from the N.C. Museums of Natural Sciences and History is Mordecai Historic Park, home to several historic buildings from North Carolina’s past, including  the birthplace of Andrew Johnson – 17th president of the United States.

23. Civil War and Greater Raleigh

As North Carolinians and Americans all over commemorate the sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary, of the American Civil War, Lifelong Learners will want to learn more about Raleigh’s involvement.

24. Performing Arts

Whether it’s smaller theater events or nationally-acclaimed performances, Greater Raleigh has anything a Creative Genius might want to see on stage.

Greater Raleigh is known for a lot of things–museums, historic sites, performing arts and green space, but what you may not know is that the Raleigh area is a stylish destination with unique shopping areas, independent boutiques and designers making a name for themselves on a national level. In honor of the 24-hour opening of the Nature Research Center, here are 24 stylish finds for Fashionistas.

  1. Raleigh Denim – Husband and wife team Victor and Sarah Lytvineko make The Curatory their home base to hand sew and personally sign designer jeans made from North Carolina textiles.
  2. Stitch – Holly Aiken’s flagship store where this N.C. State University grad makes and sells her one-of-a-kind vinyl bags of all shapes and sizes.
  3. GreenPea Baby – Downtown Apex is stylish for all ages, even babies can go green with everything from cloth diapers to organic clothing.
  4. Moon and Lola – Unique pieces of jewelry are handmade locally, and in late spring, a Moon and Lola retail store opens in downtown Raleigh.
  5. NoFo – Eclectic food served downstairs while upstairs is full of unique gift items, home goods and clothing.
  6. Flea Market at N.C.State Fairgrounds – Hundreds of vendors set up shop on Saturdays and Sundays selling everything from doorknobs to vintage jewelry.
  7. Vermillion – Located in trendy North Hills, this couture boutique gives you the personalized shopping experience of New York or L.A.
  8. GC5 Vintage and Gifts – Go retro in this Wake Forest gem specializing in vintage furniture, gifts and jewelry.
  9. The Cotton Company – Rows and rows of local artisans make this old cotton warehouse the perfect destination for shopping.
  10. Museum stores – The N.C. Museum of History and the N.C. Museum of Art gift shops feature pottery, artisan jewelry, books and gifts–many from North Carolina artists and craftsmen.
  11. Feelgoodz – These natural, rubber and sustainable flip flops will become your go-to summer shoe. Check out their new store on Wilmington Street in downtown Raleigh.
  12. Designbox – This downtown Raleigh shop showcases local inspiring design and craft, as well as innovative brands, ideas and products, including Terra Ideas, which takes recycled materials and turns them into handbags coining the term “wearable eco-art.”
  13. Zest Café and Home Art –This North Raleigh favorite offers fun and functional gifts.
  14. Shop ’til you drop – The Raleigh area is home to 11 of the best shopping spots in the state with favorite national retailers to independent boutiques.
  15. Artspace – More than 40 artists have studios in Artspace and while you’re picking out that new painting or sculpture you can have a conversation with the artist.
  16. Saks 5th Avenue – We’ve got the state’s only Saks 5th Avenue, and you can find this upscale retailer at Triangle Town Center.
  17. H&M – Can budget clothing be trendy? It can if you’re shopping at Fashionista favorite, H&M, in Crabtree Valley Mall. This is the only H&M in the Carolinas.
  18. Art to Wear - Art meets design to create an eclectic fusion of fashion at this annual fashion show, a collaboration between the N.C. State University Colleges of Textiles and Design.
  19. Five Points – Antiques abound in this small district filled with old items from books to paintings to furniture.
  20. Scout and Molly’s – From designer jeans to the season’s must-have accessory, this Cameron Village boutique is a must for any Fashionista.
  21. Woof Gang Bakery – Even your four-legged friend can be a Fashionista. This boutique for dogs features food and treats as well as clothing and accessories.
  22. Vestique – Two N.C. State graduates started their own boutique featuring one-of-a-kind garments for all styles, shapes and sizes. All items are under $100.
  23. Ten Thousand Villages – This fair-trade retailer offers gifts and handicrafts by artisans from more than 30 countries.
  24. Galatea Boutique – Offering clothing to fit every Fashionista, no matter the age, size or style.

In addition to the 24-hour grand opening of the new wing at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, there are a slew of other events going on surrounding it. For example, the weekend will start off with a big gala on Thursday for the VIPs (as well as an after-party that is easier on the wallet).

Here are a few celebrities we would like to see show up for the festivities. What about you? Who would you add to this list?:

1 Steven Hawking, arguably the most well-known scientific figure of our day.

2 Coming in second, Bill Nye, the Science Guy;

3 Coming in third, Jack Hanna; he’s like a scientist;

4 The Duggar family (there are practically 24 of them, aren’t there?)

5 Keifer Sutherland, coz hey, that number is tattooed on his forehead for the rest of his life;

6 Kobe Bryant (number 24 for the Los Angeles Lakers); it’d be good to have an out-of-towner plus we’d be able to see him above the crowd;

7 Clint Howard (April 20th is his birthday) and he always has to play those cheesy bit parts in big brother Ron’s movies;

8 Speaking of Ron Howard, we should invite him since he was Opie, who visited Raleigh back in the day;

9 Carl Sagan, if he wasn’t dead;

10 Jane Goodall; it seems like the kind of thing she would enjoy;

11 Peter Segal and Carl Castle from “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” on NPR; maybe we would make this week’s limerick;

12 David Letterman; because Raleigh never makes Top Ten lists (<:

13 Jason Wu; we can find out if there is anything left after that Target thing;

14 and 15 Any living astronaut, like Buzz Aldrin or Neil Armstrong; since they have seen the real thing they could tell us how realistic our globe is;

16 The entire cast of Big Bang Theory;

17 Speaking of TV, Michael C. Hall so we can see if he still talks to us little people;

18 Speaking of cable TV, Jon Hamm, just because;

19 John Tesh, an alumnus of N.C. State; we’re sure he’d be happy to make a return visit to Raleigh;

20 and 21 Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin; Tina would be great and so would Alec as long as he didn’t crack on us on Twitter;

22 Lupo, William and Kate’s dog. We’ll just watch to make sure he doesn’t lift his leg on Antarctica.

23 Musician Thomas Dolby who became famous for recording the classic tune, “She Blinded me with Science”; we have a feeling he’s not doing anything right now;

24 Mike Myers; the globe would make a great location shoot for “Wayne’s World: The Comeback”

Make your own list, then fire off those Twitter invitations. In the meantime, go to for information, then bring your star power to Raleigh!

Join us for the much-anticipated opening of the [1] new wing of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh. Lifelong learners can spend part of the day soaking up all the science and technology they want to, then continue learning at these other great mind-stretching options in Greater Raleigh.

Home tours at [2] Mordecai Historic Park and the [3] Joel Lane Museum House are led by costumed docents.

Head over to the official [4] Visitor Information Center, located in the corridor between the [5] Raleigh Convention Center and the [6] Raleigh Marriott City Center, a good place to grab a few brochures, an [7] Official Visitors Guide with more information for Lifelong Learners.

Move to the [8] Raleigh City Museum in the historic Briggs Hardware building and view special shows that bring the area’s history to life.

Make an appointment to tour the [9] N.C. Executive Mansion, the private residence of the Governor of North Carolina.

Cross the road and stroll down the tree-lined streets of [10] Historic Oakwood, one of downtown Raleigh’s oldest neighborhoods with grand Victorian houses and colorful gardens.

The historic [11] Oakwood Cemetery, established in 1869, is the final resting place of 1,500 Confederate soldiers, five Civil War generals, seven governors and numerous U.S. Senators.

Speaking of the Civil War, stop by [12] to learn more about Raleigh’s role in the War Between the States and the tour of war-related sites.

Grab a picnic lunch and make your way to [13] Historic Yates Mill County Park. This 174-acre park is home to a fully-operable 1756 gristmill that still grinds corn throughout the year.

You can’t visit North Carolina’s capital city without a trip to the [14] N.C. State Capitol, which turned 170 in 2010. This is one of the nation’s best-preserved examples of a major civic building in the Greek Revival style.

Across the street is one of the state’s most celebrated museums, the [15] N.C. Museum of History, which brings our state’s diverse history alive with an expansive permanent collection and rotating special exhibits.

Want a unique way to tour the historic sites of downtown Raleigh? Scoot along on a motorized Segway with [16] Triangle Glides, sit back and relax on with a guided tour on a Raleigh rickshaw or feel like you’re in the old South with a horse-drawn carriage from [17] J&L Carriage Company.

Take a stroll through the historic downtowns of [18] Wake Forest, [19] Apex, or [20] Cary. Charming streets with locally owned restaurants and specialty stores feel like a simpler time.

And if you need a Mayberry fix, [21] Pullen Park has the original TV Land statue of Andy and Opie from the popular Andy Griffith television show.

Thirsty after all of your touring? Stop in at [22] Isaac Hunter’s Oak City Tavern where they concoct The Cherry Bounce, Raleigh’s signature beverage which is said to have played a part in the founding of Raleigh as North Carolina’s capital city.

Take a short drive from Raleigh to the [23] North Carolina Railroad Museum and [24] New Hope Valley Railway where you can take a self-guided tour of antique railroad equipment and take a train ride on this historic railroad.

We hope you’re making plans to attend the 24-hour grand opening of the Nature Research Center at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, the weekend of April 20, and while you’re in the area take some time to taste some of the area’s stellar culinary delights. In honor of the 24-hour opening here are 24 Signature Dishes the Raleigh area is known for. If you have your own suggestions that should have made the list, be sure to tell us here, on Facebook or Twitter.

  1. Chocolate Chess Pie at the Angus Barn. This simple southern sweet is famous from coast-to-coast and has won numerous national awards.
  2. Macaroni and Cheese from Poole’s Diner. When you walk into Poole’s Diner, there is no doubt that you’ll see most tables with an order of this classic comfort food.
  3. Fried Chicken and Waffles at Beasley’s Chicken + Honey. Chicken and waffles may sound like an odd combination, but you don’t know what you’re missing until you’ve tried Chef Ashley Christensen’s version.
  4. The Dirty South at Chuck’s. This is one of the best burgers you will ever eat topped with chili, crispy onions, local cheese, slaw and mustard. Be prepared to get messy.
  5. Crack Fries at Market Restaurant. Hand-cut fries tossed in truffle oil and sprinkled with asiago cheese. Need we say more, we guarantee you’ll be addicted.
  6. Steamed Oysters at Shucker’s Oyster Bar and Grill. Shuck your own bucket at this local hotspot in Wake Forest.
  7. Barbecue from Clyde Cooper’ s BBQ. This Raleigh institution has been serving Carolina-style pork barbecue since 1938.
  8. The Beaufort Bar from Escazu Chocolate. This traditional bean-to-bar chocolate-maker is well known for this dark chocolate and sea salt–a perfect combination of sweet and salty.
  9. Pancakes at Big Ed’s City Market Restaurant. These pancakes are as big as hubcaps and made from pound-cake batter. It’s a good idea to start with just one.
  10.  Hot Dogs at the Roast Grill. The sign says “Hot Weiners,” and that’s all this 72-year-old restaurant serves. Hot dogs are grill-blackened and Southern-style, and don’t ask for ketchup, it isn’t available!
  11. Shrimp Hushpuppies from Peak City Bar and Grill. Shrimp mixed with hushpuppy batter is a favorite at this downtown Apex restaurant.
  12. Eclectic fare at Knightdale Seafood & BBQ. Known for its home-style cooking and oyster bar, they also serve unique dishes like alligator tail and ostrich burgers.
  13. Malai Chicken Tikka at Saffron Restaurant. Located in Morrisville, Saffron’s award-winning chef offers diners a gourmet Indian dining experience.
  14. Baked Goat Cheese Salad at Cattails Restaurant. This gourmet restaurant serves upscale cuisine overlooking Five County Stadium, home to the Single-A Carolina Mudcats baseball team.
  15. Meat-and-Three at Toot-N-Tell Family Restaurant. This Garner landmark is the real deal serving traditional southern fare including a Meat-and-Three plate.
  16. Chicken Schnitzel from Klara’s. This traditional chicken dish is just one of the authentic Czech dishes served in the heart of downtown Cary.
  17. Smokehouse Ribs at Aviator Brewing Smokehouse. St. Louis pork ribs marinated in Aviator Brewing Company’s Hot Rod Red. Served with two sides OR one of their very own microbrews.
  18. Cupcake from the Cupcake Shoppe. Offering 12-15 specialty flavors daily, there’s no doubt that you’ll satisfy your sweet tooth.
  19. Cornmeal-Crusted Catfish at 18 Seaboard. Chef / owner Jason Smith grew up in Raleigh, and this signature dish is served with a country ham grit cake and tomato relish.
  20. Pimento Cheese at Side Street Café. Mama’s creamy, sharp pimento cheese on your choice of bread is the perfect choice for lunch.
  21. Grilled Cheese at Rockwell’s American Grill. You don’t always need soup to accompany a grilled cheese in Cary.
  22. Sushi at Mura. Mura in North Hills provides the backdrop for some of the best sushi in town, both traditional and specialty rolls.
  23. Klausie’s Pizza Food Truck. Food trucks don’t have a brick-and-mortar location so you have to know when and where they’ll be, but following Klausie’s on social media to find out where you can find a slice is well worth the effort.
  24. The Raleigh Times Burger. Rated one of the best burgers in Raleigh by numerous local and national publications.

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