I’ve teamed up with Offline Media to bring you a fall travel guide for all the places around Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill that make it feel like you’re getting away, without actually traveling too far out of the way! And let’s be real, I used my love of history to compile this list. #historynerd
I decided to break this list down by city/town. If you’re from North Carolina, I’d love you to visit these places and tell me what you think! If you’re from out of town, this is a great time to visit North Carolina and check out all the gorgeous landscapes we have. Even if you don’t love history, I’ve combined some things that I think encompass a lot of interests.
Celebrate Fall with 15 Day Trips in the Triangle
Mordecai Park is simply stunning this time of year. The grounds are ready for fall and perfectly shaded. Explore on your own or head over to the Visitor’s Center to purchase a ticket for the guided tour. You’ll get to see the birthplace of Andrew Johnson, the Badger-Iredell Law Office, St. Mark’s Chapel, the Mordecai House and the outbuildings, four acres of beauty located in the heart of Raleigh!
Oakwood Cemetery is one of my favorite places in Raleigh. I love the history (it’s over 150 years old!), both for Raleigh and for North Carolina as a whole. It was initially founded as a cemetery for Confederate soldiers, but later expanded into the cemetery we see today. Oakwood often hosts events and tours, but it’s also easy to show yourself around and there are maps available online if there is something in particular you’d like to see. The scenery is gorgeous in the fall with the rolling hills and foliage, and it makes for a great afternoon of exploring. Learn more about the 150th anniversary celebration here.
North Carolina State Capitol
The North Carolina State Capitol building on Fayetteville Street is definitely iconic. The rotunda pays tribute to famous North Carolinians, including Virginia Dare from the ever mysterious Roanoke Colony. Around the exterior, “Union Square” offers several monuments dedicated to soldiers and volunteers for their contributions to various war efforts, to those three Presidents who were born in North Carolina and other eclectic monuments, the first of which is dedicated to George Washington. Spend time exploring these various offerings—I never grow tired of checking this space out!
Joel Lane Museum House
Fall is the perfect time to visit the Joel Lane Museum House in downtown Raleigh, especially since it will be closing for renovations in December! Joel Lane is considered the “Father of Raleigh” and the house is a beautiful tribute to Lane’s contribution to the City of Oaks. The Joel Lane Museum House is open Wednesday–Saturday with guided tours available. We’re celebrating 250 years of history at the Joel Lane house this year!
Dorothea Dix Park
I love spending an afternoon at Dorothea Dix Park exploring but also looking at some of the gorgeous homes on the property. This is a great place to take your pups for a walk and enjoy the brisk weather. Be sure to stop at the Farmer’s Market on your way out!
Raleigh Rose Garden
The Raleigh Rose Garden is a beautiful place to visit, no matter what season. The grounds are well maintained and make it the perfect place to relax with a nice book. We usually pick up take-out and hang out on the grounds for a couple of hours. You feel like you’re getting away from all the hustle and bustle of downtown Raleigh, while being able to stop at a nearby coffee shop.
Now is the perfect time to visit Pullen Park, and be sure to try the pedal boats! It’s such a nice way to spend an afternoon! Try to go when there is a concert in the park. We definitely enjoyed listening to local musicians while pedaling around the pond.
Yates Mill is a true gem in Wake County. There is so much to do on this park of approximately 170 acres. You can check out corn grinding demonstrations, history tours or attend the open house on Saturdays. Spend the day here fishing and exploring the property on your own, too.
Bennett Place was where Union General William T. Sherman & Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston signed a peace agreement in April of 1865. If you’re a history nerd like me, you need to check out the farmhouse where they signed the agreement, it’s decorated the same as it would have been during that time. It even includes three rooms that are period-appropriate decorated! Even if you’re not into history, it’s still a gorgeous place to visit in the fall. There are monuments and exhibits, but also nature trails and picnic areas. You can also take yourself on a self guided tour of the farm or follow a guided tour, which lasts about an hour and is free to the public!
Being the granddaughter of eastern North Carolinian farmers, I have a huge soft spot for old tobacco farms. The Duke Homestead recently underwent some construction and renovation, and is a great spot to visit in Durham. The property holds the historic home, farm and factory buildings Washington Duke and his family used in the beginning of the tobacco empire. There are guided tours of the property that last approximately 45 minutes, or you can go enjoy the picnic area and walk the grounds yourself. There is also a 17-minute film about the history of the Duke Family, tobacco in North Carolina and Durham.
The iconic Duke Chapel never gets old and makes for the perfect place to have a picnic on the lawn before exploring around the grounds. There is a calendar available online if there are any services or events you’d like to participate in, or you can take an indoor tour at 12:15 on Sundays. The tour is approximately 45-minutes long and is a great way to learn more about the structure built in 1930.
Patterson’s Mill Store
This place is seriously SO cute. We stopped to pick up a drink on our way to Fearrington Village, and couldn’t get over how it felt like we had stepped back in time. This former doctor’s office/pharmacy is like a mini-museum with great hidden treasures. It’s located in such a beautiful spot right outside of Durham and Chapel Hill. This would be a great stop on your way to some of the other venues on the list!
Horace Williams House
This beautiful house in Chapel Hill boasts a variety of offerings for you to explore. The setting is perfect for enjoying a day looking at the changing leaves and a crisp fall breeze. This is the home of Preservation Chapel Hill and has great art exhibits to catch. Be sure to check the hours before going, it’s only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Also, check out the Voices from the Grave event on October 21! This tour provides a history of Chapel Hill & a haunted cemetery tour, just in time for Halloween.
Ayr Mount House
Ayr Mount in Hillsborough is the stuff dreams are made of (especially if you love historic houses like I do!). The house was built in 1815 with a nod to Scottish architecture during the time. Take a tour of the house to see the gorgeous interiors and pack a lunch to enjoy on the well maintained grounds. Wear your walking shoes if you want to explore the grounds and trails, this is a great place to spend a day relaxing, strolling, and basking in history!
Fearrington is truly the perfect getaway without going too far from the Triangle. Located just miles outside of Chapel Hill, Durham and Pittsboro, this former working dairy farm has great Southern charm. You’ll be greeted by goats and Oreo cows upon your arrival in this historic homestead. The Oreo cows are a rare breed of Scottish cows called “belties” that were brought to Fearrington in 1982. Fearrington started out with 6 but now have over 30! These are definitely a popular attraction at Fearrington Village. You’ll also be on the property of a gorgeous spa, great restaurants and shopping options, plus a beautiful inn. I love strolling the grounds and enjoying a cup of coffee overlooking one of the pastures.
And there you have it! These day trips won’t break the bank and are close enough to spend a whole day without having to rush back home.