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April 8, 2024

Top Things to Do in the Triangle: Your Ultimate Stress Relief Guide

These days, stress is a constant companion for many of us. Finding ways to relieve that stress can be one of the most difficult, but most important, things we do. So, we put together a guide for the best things the Triangle has to offer that will help you relieve stress, all centered around exploring your city!

From museums to camping to coffee shops, the Triangle really does have it all. So, let’s go exploring, and we bet you’ll start to feel that tension in your shoulders subside a little.

And don’t miss our guides to Wilmington and Charlotte!

Trails and Greenways

If you’ve been in the Triangle, you’ve seen the vast number of trails and greenways available to you. Sometimes, as simple as it is, going for a walk or a bike ride on a trail can do wonders for your stress levels. So, grab your four-legged friend, significant other, neighbor, or co-worker, and explore the number of beautiful trails the Triangle has to offer! You’ll forget you’re in the middle of a bustling, growing city as you walk and ride among the trees and along the water.

  • American Tobacco Trail
  • William B. Umstead State Park Trails
  • Neuse River Trail
  • Eno River State Park Trails

Visit here to find more trails near you!

Playground Parks

This may not be stress-relieving for everyone, but hear us out. Whether it’s letting the kids burn off some energy while you sit outside and take some deep breaths, or jumping on the swings and being a kid again yourself, visiting one of the many playground parks in the area may be just what you need to forget about your stressors. The Triangle has some amazing, brand new, extremely large parks that are just waiting for you to slide, swing, and play, or even just walk around and admire the new scenery, fun art installments, and puppies at the dog parks!

  • Pullen Park – Downtown Raleigh
  • Lake Johnson Park – Southwest Raleigh
  • Pleasant Park – Apex
  • Downtown Cary Park – Cary
  • John Chavis Memorial Park – South Raleigh
  • Holding Park – Inclusive playground in Wake Forest

Visit here to find more parks near you!

Botanical Gardens

Maybe you want to take things a little slower, lay out a blanket to soak up the sun, or admire some of the beautiful flora that North Carolina grows this time of year. If that’s the case for you, the Triangle has multiple options across the area, and they’re all free. Whether you’re closer to Durham, downtown Raleigh, or south Raleigh, fill up your spring cup by visiting one of the area’s botanical gardens and fawning over the colorful flowers and historic sites.

  • Sarah P. Duke Gardens – Duke University
  • JC Raulston Arboretum – Raleigh
  • Historic Yates Mill County Park – South Raleigh
  • WRAL Azalea Garden – Raleigh

Art and History Museums

Clearly, the Triangle has a lot to offer, and it doesn’t fall short in the category of museums, either. Whether you’re into science, different types of art, history, or need somewhere fit for kids, the Triangle has it. And, a lot of them are free! It’s the perfect way to burn some time, learn more about a number of topics, and get more connected to the area you live in.

  • North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) – Free!
  • Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
  • North Carolina Museum of History – Free!
  • North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences – Free!
  • Marbles Kids Museum
  • CAM Raleigh – Free!

Farmer’s Markets

If you’ve never grabbed a coffee and strolled through a Farmers’ Market on a Saturday morning in the Triangle, you are missing out! All of these Farmers’ Markets offer up the freshest local fruits and vegetables, blooming flower bouquets and plants, local artisans, and tons of unique products and items. Plus, you can feel good about supporting local and small businesses and farmers when you go.

  • Durham Farmers’ Market – Durham
  • North Carolina State Farmers’ Market – NC State
  • Cary Farmers’ Market – Downtown Cary
  • Carrboro Farmers’ Market – Downtown Carrboro
  • Midtown Farmers’ Market – North Hills Shopping Plaza

Camping Spots

Spending time outdoors is proven to relieve stress, so camping is the perfect solution for a stress-relieving adventure. Well, maybe not for everyone, but if it is for you, the Triangle has some great camping spots nearby you should explore before the weather warms up too much!

  • Jordan Lake State Recreation Area
  • Umstead State Park
  • Eno River State Park
  • Uwharrie National Forest – farther south past Sanford!
  • Kerr Lake State Recreation Area – if you want to journey farther out!

Grab a Treat with a Friend

The food and coffee scene in the Triangle is pretty superb, if we do say so ourselves. Social connection is so important in reducing and relieving stress and doing it over a cup of coffee or brunch, on a nice patio just adds more joy! While we can’t include every restaurant or café worth stopping by, here are some if you don’t know where to start!

  • Sola Coffee Café – Juices, coffee, breakfast, and lunch in North Raleigh
  • 321 Coffee – Coffee shop and roaster in Raleigh, NC staffed by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the State Farmers Market and in Durham
  • Sassool – Mediterranean cafe and gourmet food market in Cary and North Raleigh
  • Happy & Hale – Bowls, salads and smoothers in Durham, North Hills and Raleigh

Day Trips from RDU

Spontaneous adventures and weekend trips may not feel like a stress reliever for everyone, but sometimes getting away from your stressors and experiencing something entirely new is just the right medicine! There are so many places to explore in North Carolina, and with the mountains and beach both within driving distance, you might have a hard time picking where to visit first. We put together some comfortable day trips within around two hours from the Triangle, and our favorite activities in each one!

  • Asheboro – Visit the North Carolina zoo, go ziplining, or visit the North Carolina Aviation Museum!
  • Pittsboro – Stroll through Fearrington Village for fine shops and a gourmet restaurant.
  • Hillsborough – Visit the downtown historic village, or get outside in the Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area.
  • Wilmington – Do we really have to explain? Let’s go to the beach!
  • Fayetteville – Visit the Cape Fear Botanical Gardens, or go for something adventurous like ziplining among the trees!
  • Lake Norman – their website says: A popular haven for city dwellers seeking lakeside liberation. Stress = relieved.

So, where will you go first?!

Here’s to exploring our city and our state, leaving our stressors behind, and prioritizing our mental health!

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