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Raleigh has a sneaky but undeniable charm. New residents come for the tech-driven jobs, but they stay for the small-town touches and welcoming social scene. The city joins neighbors Durham and Chapel Hill to form the Triangle, a cultural supergroup that appeals to families and college students alike.
The city’s support for the arts and education is evident in its museums (most free). The headline grabber is the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Its sharp-toothed dinosaurs remain nightmarish, but the new Nature Research Center is luring hordes of wannabe scientists with its three-story multimedia globe and research labs. For an eclectic array of art, stroll the outdoor trails at the North Carolina Museum of Art.
Chef Ashley Christensen, a 2014 James Beard Award winner, has put Raleigh on the culinary map with a slew of new restaurants serving lip-smacking comfort food. Stick around for great music – dozens of Raleigh’s restaurants host live bands. That’s in addition to the many concert venues. Who said state capitals had to be boring?