Why we think it's always finer to be in North Carolina
Places mentioned are in Raleigh, unless otherwise indicated.
Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club, Durham, expensive to very expensive, (919) 490-0999, www.washingtondukeinn.com. Not only does this five-story four-diamond hotel ooze Southern charm, it has the verdant Duke University campus as its home. It also overlooks a lush 18-hole golf course that was recently renovated by Rees Jones, whose father, the late Robert Trent Jones, designed the original layout.
Magnolia Grill, Durham, expensive, (919) 286-3609, www.magnoliagrill.net. Emeril Lagasse has called Ben and Karen Barker, the couple behind this long-standing bistro, the King and Queen of Flavor. In fact, they have their own cookbook, Not Afraid of Flavor, featuring favorite Magnolia recipes like pan-fried pork chops on creamy shrimp hominy and roast saddle of rabbit wrapped in country ham.
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, (919) 733-7450, www.naturalsciences.org. Jaime Pressly touted the other three museums in what Raleigh likes to call the Smithsonian of the South, so we wanted to brag on the fourth. The four stories of fun include a living conservatory that's home to everything from sloths to snakes, as well as a fossil lab where you can chat up paleontologists studying a Pleistocene-era skeleton.