Nearest big city: Durham
Home to North Carolina State University, Raleigh is part of North Carolina's famous Research Triangle. The Triangle hosts a number of tech and medical companies, including Pfizer, which conducted some of its COVID-19 vaccine trials at facilities in the area.
Raleigh offers more than just a state capital and research hub. It’s known as the City of Oaks for its abundant trees. It’s also becoming a foodie hotspot: Visit Poole’s Diner, owned by James Beard award-winning chef Ashley Christensen, and savor her famous chicken biscuits with pickled green tomatoes and honey — don’t skip the side of macaroni au gratin. Afterward, stop by the tasting room at the Lonerider Brewing Company to sample hand-crafted ales.
Raleigh is also proud of its diversity. Learn about different cultures that make up the city at the African American Cultural Festival and the La Fiesta del Pueblo, which celebrates the Hispanic heritage. Or, let your rainbow flag fly at the Out! Raleigh Pride festival (the Pride Month event has been cancelled the past two years due to COVID-19 but is scheduled to resume in June 2022). — Leslie Cook
Raleigh, North Carolina