Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill Business Travel Guide

Southern Charm Abounds in "the Triangle"

Downtown Raleigh is located near Research Triangle Park, home to more than one hundred cutting-edge electronic and medical research firms

The Best Hotels, Restaurants and Activities for North Carolina Business Travelers

Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill comprise the three points of “the Triangle,” a vibrant thirteen-county hub of New South culture with an Old South pedigree. Located in the middle of the Triangle, the Research Triangle Park is the world's largest research park and anchors the region's fast-growing economy. Now more than 50 years old, Research Triangle Park is home to more than one hundred cutting-edge electronic and medical research firms, including GlaxoSmithKline, SAS Institute and IBM. In November 2012, a new master plan was unveiled with a view toward giving the park a more urban design. A private partnership has been developed to support carrying out the design. In addition, four major universities — Duke, North Carolina State, North Carolina Central and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — contribute their portion to the region‘s international reputation in both the arts and the sciences. The Triangle area is prepared to meet the needs of its visitors, whether they are educators, prospective college students and their parents, or captains of industry.

Facts to Know Before You Go


Rental Cars: Raleigh-Durham International Airport, one of the busiest in the Southeast, offers more than 400 nonstop flights daily outbound to 40 domestic and Canadian airports and direct flights to London, England. The Triangle is most easily traveled by car. There are eight major car rental companies located at the airport. They can be reached by shuttle bus from the green bus shelters marked "Rental Car." Shuttles run approximately every fifteen minutes.

Although Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill each offer bus service, connections are limited between cities and late-night services are infrequent.

This is not the most economical or efficient way to travel around the Triangle, especially if you plan to do a lot of moving about. As for getting into town upon arrival, expect to pay approximately $30 for a trip between the airport and downtown Raleigh or Durham and almost $40 to Chapel Hill.

Shuttles: Shared shuttles may be arranged through Skylink Shuttles ($25 to downtown Raleigh). The company also operates limousines ($45 to downtown Raleigh).

Limousines: Several companies offer limousine service, and prices range from around $45-$75 to downtown Raleigh or Research Triangle Park.


The News & Observer, Raleigh's daily, is the Triangle's largest circulation newspaper and offers daily business coverage. The (Durham) Herald-Sun focuses on Durham and Chapel Hill.

The weekly Triangle Business Journal provides in-depth news on local

The weekly Indy Week covers the political scene with the most comprehensive local events, arts, movie and dining listings in the area.

Bi-monthly Chapel Hill and Durham magazines, and the monthly Raleigh Metro magazine are available at many newsstands and in the guest rooms of most major hotels.

Ready to book a trip now?
Get exclusive savings on hotel rooms.

Where to Stay

The Carolina Inn
211 Pittsboro St.
Chapel Hill, NC 27516

A guest room at The Carolina Inn

Called "the university's living room," this historic inn boasts an elegant brick façade and two-story portico. Located at the edge of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill campus, the inn hints at the old-fashioned charm and Southern hospitality that await travelers within. Guest rooms and suites are furnished in Old South tradition (think floral chintz), but that doesn't preclude business-focused conveniences such as data ports, dual telephone lines and voicemail. Other notable features include an inner courtyard with a lush, New Orleans feel, a lively bar scene, and the Carolina Crossroads Restaurant, serving New American cuisine with a Southern accent.

Hilton Garden Inn Raleigh-Durham Airport
1500 RDU Center Dr.
Morrisville, NC 27560

A guest room at Hilton Garden Inn Raleigh-Durham Airport

Surrounded by woods, this facility offers a rare combination of attractive setting and convenience to the airport. Supremely well situated for business, the inn is just ten minutes from Research Triangle Park and within a half an hour of just about any Triangle destination. Guest rooms are furnished with refrigerators, microwaves and coffeemakers, as well as ergonomic work stations with high-speed Internet access. Other amenities include an indoor pool and an on-site restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner (including evening room service).

Marriott at Research Triangle Park
4700 Guardian Dr. (S. Miami Blvd.)
Durham, NC 27703

A guest room at Marriott at Research Triangle Park

Located just three miles from the airport, this hotel offers the amenities most business travelers require. The facility has a business center as well as seven meeting rooms that comprise 4,300 square feet. Nearby companies include Cisco, IBM, SAS and Northern Telecom. The 223 guest rooms are fully stocked for corporate guests with two phones, voice mail, data ports and high-speed Internet access. The lobby restaurant is convenient for grabbing a quick bite. On-site facilities include an indoor pool and whirlpool.

The Siena Hotel
1505 E. Franklin St.
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

A guest room at The Siena Hotel

The Siena Hotel's imposing Italian palazzo exterior may come as a surprise when you first drive up, given that it is part of a major college town setting. But once you're inside, you will relax in the posh décor and let the attentive staff, who leave Belgian chocolates on your pillow, soothe your travel-worn soul. Rooms include high-speed Internet access and Wi-Fi hookup, as well as some convenient amenities such as multiple phones, voicemail and data ports. Il Palio, the hotel's restaurant, lives up to lavish expectations with a first-rate menu of Italian regional cuisine and an exceptional wine list.

The Umstead Hotel & Spa
100 Woodland Pond
Cary, NC 27513

A guest room at The Umstead Hotel & Spa

The newest luxury hotel in the area, the Umstead provides the Raleigh/Cary side of the Triangle with an answer to the upscale comforts of The Siena, The Carolina Inn and the Washington Duke. This privately owned lodging — adjoining the grounds of SAS Institute — is surrounded by tranquil forests with a three-acre lake. A Dale Chihuly glass sculpture in the lobby complements the hotel's contemporary architecture, and sets the standard for an impressive collection of art adorning the walls of the public rooms. The Umstead's highly acclaimed restaurant, Herons, opens onto an expansive terrace, the perfect setting to sip a beverage and enjoy the lakeside view. On April 1, 2013, the spa at the Umstead will close for renovations, and will re-open no sooner than late summer 2013.

Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club
3001 Cameron Blvd.
Durham, NC 27705

A guest room at Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club

Complementing the mood and architecture of the university. the Washington Duke Inn is an imposing structure built in the style of an English country estate. Ensconced in a wooded grove between Duke University's campus and its championship golf course, the inn is just as impressive inside, where antique furniture and oriental rugs set a clubby, old-money mood. Bedrooms and suites are tastefully furnished and are supplied with modern amenities including separate T1 connections. Fairview, the formal dining room, whose menu and wine list are every bit as lavish as its setting, overlooks the Robert Trent Jones-designed golf course.

For more North Carolina travel,
see our North Carolina Travel Guide or search for hotels.

Where to Dine

Bloomsbury Bistro
509 W. Whitaker Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27608
Dining Room at Bloomsbury Bistro

This lace-curtained bistro in the heart of one of Raleigh's oldest neighborhoods is equally suitable for a business dinner or a romantic night out. Chef/proprietor John Toler's globetrotting, seasonally changing menu leads off with the likes of Louisiana frogs legs over artichoke purée or a gratin of spinach and Brussels sprouts topped with a ragoût of wild mushrooms. Entrées provide comfort fare, with such dishes as pork "osso buco" with mashed sweet potatoes and Granny Smith apples or a stifado of rabbit over orzo with fennel sausage.

Elaine's on Franklin
454 W. Franklin St.
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Dining Room at Elaine's on Franklin

Bold paintings of oversized fruits and vegetables hung on deep midnight blue walls set a vibrant, trendy-casual mood in Elaine's intimately scaled dining room and bar. This is the perfect setting for owner/chef Bret Jennings' striking presentations. His imaginative dishes include sweet garlic bisque with crispy fried North Carolina oysters or a confit of Georgia quail with Anson Mill grits for starters. For main dishes, consider pan-roasted North Carolina striped bass with baby artichokes or grilled Niman Ranch pork tenderloin with bacalo fritters. Whatever you choose, Elaine's outstanding wine selection assures a match.

Four Square
2701 Chapel Hill Rd.
Durham, NC 27707
Dining Room at Four Square

Located in an old Durham neighborhood, this restored Victorian "four square" style home — with a square body, hip roof and dormers — showcases the talents of chef Shane Ingram and his wife Elizabeth Woodhouse. The talented couple's combined résumés include stints at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago and The Inn at Little Washington. The monthly changing bill of fare lives up to expectations, serving up such entrées as roasted squab with root vegetable gnocchi, black cardamom green beans and an orange-cinnamon scented squab reduction, egg-battered Kahuku giant prawn on a wild Hawaiian red rice salad, and grilled veal chop with lobster mushrooms and horseradish jus. Combined with polished service and a first-rate wine list, it makes for one of the very finest dining experiences in the area.

The Umstead Hotel & Spa
100 Woodland Pond
Cary, NC 27513
(919) 447-4000
Dining Room at Herons

One of the Triangle's plushest dining rooms, Herons adjoins the Umstead Hotel's elegant lobby and opens to an expansive terrace with a delightful view of woodlands and a lake. Looking through a cut-glass window to the kitchen, guests may glimpse award-winning chef Scott Crawford making magic from locally grown meats and produce. His five-course tasting menu with wine pairings is one of the most exciting and adventurous culinary experiences in the area. Such delicacies as vanilla poached lobster with parsnip purée, spice-crusted venison loin with black trumpet mushrooms, and roasted pheasant with burnt honey butter are tempting choices on the dinner menu. Crawford offers vegetarians equally enticing dishes such as a butternut squash risotto embellished with pumpkin seeds and golden raisins. The long wine list is daunting, but you can count on the experienced sommelier to guide you to inspired pairings. For business dining to impress clients, little rises to this level.

2514 University Dr.
Durham, NC 27707
The menu at Nana's features seasonal North Carolina produce

Nana's happy colors, bold paintings and quirky light fixtures introduce one of the Triangle's very finest dining experiences. Mediterranean flavors and North Carolina produce are the hallmark of chef/owner Scott Howell's unfussy menu which may include his signature chicken liver pâté, paired with pickled okra and blueberry conserve; braised rabbit leg with house-made gnocchi and Brussels sprouts, pan-roasted red snapper with white beans, or the chef's delectable risotto du jour, always prepared with the freshest seasonal produce. Just one caveat: If you're hoping for quiet conversation, avoid the closely spaced banquettes along the wall.

Second Empire
330 Hillsborough St.
Raleigh, NC 27603
The Dining Room at Second Empire

Set in an elegantly restored Victorian mansion appointed with such details as a hand-carved staircase and white linen draped tables set with Christofle and Villeroy & Boch, Second Empire is one of the Triangle's most beautiful settings for fine dining. Chef Daniel Schurr's cuisine lives up to the mood with lavish fare such as steamed clams from Sneads Ferry, NC; an empanada filled with pan-fried shrimp and chorizo; a classic ballotine of Ashley Farms chicken; and among main dishes, a roasted five-spice duck breast with honey-roasted pear gratin and butternut squash purée;  or a grain-mustard roasted rack of Australian lamb and lamb loin with butter-braised Savoy cabbage. Downstairs, The Tavern offers a more casual menu and a bar for grazing, although the food is still serious, with such dishes as braised short ribs with polenta and Swiss chard. Still, if you're looking for French onion soup or a Caesar salad, here's where you'll find it.

Search for more Raleigh/Durham restaurants.

Off the Clock

City Market
303 Blake St.
Raleigh, NC 27601

The City Market district in downtown Raleigh is a hub of cultural life A hundred years ago, the cobblestone streets of City Market were downtown Raleigh's primary commercial district. Today, the revitalized district is a hub of cultural life, boasting a variety of shops, restaurants and clubs. In addition to a number of art galleries, you'll find stores specializing in everything from imported chocolates to Native American artifacts. Every Wednesday, you'll encounter food enthusiasts browsing the stalls of a bustling farmers market. After the sun goes down, entertainment options range from jazz to comedy.

North Carolina Museum of Art

2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27607

The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh

Raleigh has so many museums, the collection is known as "the Smithsonian of the South." Among them, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the nation's first publicly funded art museum, boasts one of the South's premier collections. The permanent art collection spans more than 5,000 years, from ancient Egypt to the present, with European Renaissance and Impressionist paintings particularly well-represented. Other galleries are devoted to African, ancient American and Oceanic art, as well as Jewish ceremonial art. NCMA's many blockbuster exhibitions attract crowds from all over the region. After an extensive renovation and the addition of a stunning 127,000-square-foot building, the venue is worthy of the works of art inside.

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

11 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC 27601

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh That dinosaur looking at you through the glass dome atop a massive stone building in downtown Raleigh is not a mirage. It's just one of the many impressive displays at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Others include an arthropod zoo, fossil lab, tropical exhibit and the hands-on Naturalist Center and Discovery Room. Especially impressive is the "Mountains to the Sea Exhibit," which begins on the third floor and follows a stream and its environs all the way to the ground floor.

PNC Arena

1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27607
The PNC Arena in Raleigh919-861-2300

Raleigh's 21,000-seat indoor arena hosts headlining entertainers and major sporting events. When PNC is not hosting a home game of the North Carolina State University Wolfpack basketball team, or the Carolina Hurricanes of the NHL, the schedule is booked with entertainers ranging from Van Halen to Barry Manilow.

A Southern Season
201 S. Estes Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

A Southern Season, one of the largest gourmet food and cookware shops on the East coastStunning in its size as well as its scope, A Southern Season is one of the largest gourmet food and cookware shops on the East coast. Hours of shopping entertainment await the serious foodie. You can browse through gift baskets, scores of hot sauces and imported chocolates and display cases groaning with everything from foie gras to imported, as well as locally made, artisanal cheeses to house-made salads and sandwiches. And the wine collection offers many surprises — such as Swiss wines — not found in even larger markets. The cavernous store also offers gourmet wares from Wüsthof cutlery to Vietri tableware. Upstairs, a state-of-the-art cooking school boasts appearances by many of the finest chefs and cookbook writers in the country.

Taste Carolina Gourmet Food ToursTaste Carolina offers "foodie" tours of downtown Raleigh

Now that the Triangle Area has become a center for gastro-tourism, two companies offer "foodie" tours of downtown Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. The tours include an insider's view of locally owned restaurant kitchens, bakeries, chocolate shops and farmers' markets. On each tour, visitors will meet some of the Triangle's best chefs and food artisans, taste their delicious wares, and walk off the calories, to boot! Pig enthusiasts will love Taste Carolina's "Whole Hog Barbecue Bus Tour," which explores North Carolina's obsession with hickory-smoked pulled pork.

Related Content:
Going to North Carolina? Check out our travel guide
For more on what to do, see our destination guide to the Triangle
Search for more Raleigh/Durham restaurants
Search for Raleigh/Durham hotels

Ready to book a trip now?
Get exclusive savings on hotel rooms.

* Images courtesy of

Find Business Travel Guides for cities around the world.

(Updated: 05/24/13 JDM)

Plan a voyage to a tropical paradise aboard one of GAYOT's Best Caribbean Cruises.
Get the 411 on the City of Angels. Find the city's top hotels, restaurants, attractions and more with GAYOT's guide.