• Photo: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock


For a state capital, Raleigh is surprisingly approachable. The hilly but very walkable downtown, smaller than you might think, is not only home to a multitude of government buildings but also to many friendly pubs and cafés. The shaded parks and the quiet Historic Oakwood District nearby add to the city's comfortable feel. Raleigh has both a sense of history and a cutting-edge coolness (that contributes to the constant hum of new apartment high-rise construction). Home to 11 universities and colleges, this bustling, modern city is a great place to get your fill of urban living (and some great food). Take in a play, visit a museum, and stroll along the wide city streets filled with tall and impressive buildings. When you finally feel the need to connect with nature once more, do as the locals do and grab your running shoes or bike and hit the Capital Area Greenway, Raleigh's well-loved series of trails, more than 68 miles in length and still growing.


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