About 2 hours away from Richmond is Durham, North Carolina.
Hello NC! (Wow, we finally left Virginia and D.C.!)
Durham County is a major part of North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park (RTP) – Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill. Founded in 1959, the RTP is one of the largest research parks in the world. Forbes also wrote a good piece in February 2014 on the development of RTP and explained why this is becoming the hot spot for researchers and scientists. Since all three cities were close from one another, we planned to do a quick trip to all three during this trip. Durham was our first stop. This could be the geeky part of our trip. Awesome!
Our first stop at Durham was Duke University. Other than the University’s tradition and reputation as a great school, their chapel and garden was a popular spot for locals and tourists. We were curious so we decided to stop by before sunset. As we entered Duke University’s driveway, I could see that they have a pretty cute campus. Stonewalls. I’m into that. We didn’t have time to enter inside the Duke University Chapel, unfortunately, but online resources suggest that it’s a place to check out.
We did, however, have time to thoroughly explore the grounds of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. The summer rain started trickling a little but that didn’t stop us from stepping into this beautiful Garden. Open at 8 am and until dusk every day for FREE. Now, isn’t that a great deal or what!
Founded in 1934, Duke Gardens is a 55-acre public botanic garden on the campus and is now considered as one of the top 10 public gardens in the United States. When we first got the map from the information desk and saw the Gardens divided into four section, we were surprised. We didn’t know it was going to be this big. Our supposedly 30 minute tour in the garden quickly became 90 minutes. We didn’t regret a bit. The Gardens were wonderful. Not only was there a diversity of flowers and plants, the layout of the garden was thoughtful and well presented. Every step inside the garden felt like a step into wonderland and a step away from the stressful real world. I felt peace. If I lived near here, I would come workout here or take a long walk here all the time. I mean, who wouldn’t?
Here are some pictures we took inside the garden. As you can tell, we took a lot.
Oh and there were rabbits! Plural. I got pretty excited.
After hanging out with Nature, we drove down to Downtown. It was a small area with restaurants and shops. This is probably where all the college kids hung out and got their drinks. Families and friends were getting together for dinner. We almost couldn’t find a parking space since the popular corners were already packed. It was early evening and many were hanging out in the middle of Brightleaf Square to enjoy some live outdoor bluegrass songs. I quickly fell in love with this small corner. We sat on one stone brick where I saw a little boy dance along with his father to a jam as if he got nothing else to worry. Many others came prepared with their small chairs, books and snacks. They must be locals who come out to these events in the summer often. When we stepped into the bars everyone was busy watching the World Cups cheering. There was a sense of warmth in this community. I liked it.
Oh and you can’t forget the food. I have heard so much about the Southerns Chicken and Waffle and have always been baffled. The dinner at Dames Chicken Waffle satisfied my hunger and curiosity. I LOVED EVERY BITE. As a tourist, the first lesson you learn is to search which restaurant has the longest line and who has the highest comment and ranking on Yelp. That is most likely to be your dinner. This place qualified under both condition and met our expectations. I am not a fan of late dinners but this one was worth it. Even their special drinks got me happy. I would definitely check it out again the next time I’m there. You should too!
Unfortunately, since we had to drive again to Chapel Hill that night, we couldn’t explore any more. This was fun but after all the driving we did, we wanted to get to our accommodation so that we could rest. The moon was already up. We finished the gelato we got next to the Chicken place and got back on to the road. This is technically only DAY 1 out of the 4 days we were to travel. Traveling also means being smart about your condition. You shouldn’t waste all your energy on day one. The music kept us up for the last 30 minute drive to Chapel Hill.
More on Chapel Hill on my next post! Stay tuned!
Copyright © 2015. Monica H. Kang, All Rights Reserved.