Local Food and Music Weekend in the Triangle

Heather Jacks | Durham Convention & Visitors BureauLocal Food and Music Weekend in the Triangle

Built in the early 1900s as a tobacco warehouse, Brightleaf Square, in Durham, now houses restaurants and shops, and features a courtyard that hosts seasonal events and concerts

Music and food provide a perfect pairing in the Triangle, thanks to an array of venues and events that provide lyrical and tasty options. The trio of cities that make up the Triangle – Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill – have become known as destinations for great music and food. That’s certainly true come fall when music festivals abound, including Hopscotch, National Folk Festival, Carrboro Music Festival, Wide Open Bluegrass and TerraVITA Food & Drink Festival.

3-Day Itinerary

Day 1: Like any great college town, Chapel Hill is a perfect place for music and farm-to-table food.

Day 2: Head to Raleigh for a taste of history, shopping and award-winning food.

Day 3: Durham, recently named “The Tastiest Town in the South” by Southern Living magazine, brings the weekend to a close.

Day 1: Art, Spirits & Music in Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina sets the stage for varied culture, music and food in Chapel Hill. Try to arrive in town mid-day for lunch at Weathervane. Situated in the original Southern Season gourmet emporium, Weathervane will get your juices flowing for the weekend and the store is a great place to pick up some tasty souvenirs to take home. For a different taste of Chapel Hill, head to Weaver Street Market in adjacent Carrboro. It’s the largest food co-op (membership not required) in the Southeast and a great place to check out local foods – and locals.

Next, spend a few hours exploring downtown’s Ackland Art Museum with its permanent collection comprised of more than 17,000 works of art – including one of the state’s premier collections of Asian art. Or head out to Fearrington Village and enjoy a little personal indulgence at the Spa at Fearrington or wander around the farm admiring the Belted Galloways or gardens.

Back in Chapel Hill, Topo Distillery is an ideal late-afternoon destination, where it’s fun to take a tour and taste the in-house TOPO Vodka, Carolina Whiskey and Piedmont Gin.

Check in at The Carolina Inn in the heart of downtown. Through early October, this iconic inn features Fridays on the Front Porch, with live music, food and beverage specials, and comfortable seating on the shady front porch. If it’s full, The Siena Hotel is an ideal alternative. For dinner, Chapel Hill is the granddaddy of farm-to-table dining and you can’t miss with either Crook’s Corner or Lantern.

After dinner, loosen up with the locals at The Crunkleton, or check out the live music options at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro. Bringing premier live music in an intimate setting to the Triangle from more than 40 years, Cat’s Cradle has been a hotbed of up-and-coming and iconic bands as diverse as Nirvana, Public Enemy, John Mayer, Joan Baez and Iggy Pop.

Day 2: Farmers Markets, Museums & Late-Night Music in Raleigh

Start your festival day with a visit to one or both Saturday farmers markets in or near Chapel Hill proper – Chapel Hill Farmers’ Market and Carrboro Farmers’ Market.

If you’re still hungry or need more caffeine, head to Cary’s La Farm Bakery, an authentic French bakery where Master Baker Lionel Vatinet uses centuries-old baking traditions and techniques in his bustling modern bakery. Another option is Joule, James Beard Award-winning chef Ashley Christensen’s coffee shop with an extensive coffee menu, fresh baked pastries and breakfast indulgences like Short Rib Milk Gravy over Buttermilk Biscuits.

Spend the rest of the morning at the North Carolina Museum of History or get scientific at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Every three to six months, the science museum features a new traveling exhibition, often created by world-class museums.

The Raleigh State Farmers Market is another great place to shop for specialty items from local farms. Plus, comfort food makes for a tasty farm-to-table lunch at the State Farmers Market Restaurant.

Explore the up-an-coming North Person Street Business District for the afternoon and discover new and unique ventures including Raleigh City Farm, an urban farm that is transforming downtown spaces into nourishing farmland, a new way to buy wine at Wine Authorities, Pie Bird savory and sweet pies, Oak City Cycling Project, Slingshot Coffee and more.

Check in at the iconic cylindrical (and recently renovated) Holiday Inn Raleigh Downtown Capital. For dinner, enjoy the diverse food traditions of Laos at family-run Bida Manda.

If you're in need of more helpings of music, check out the offerings at Lincoln Theatre, Kings or Slims after dinner. Or indulge in a nightcap at Fox Liquor Bar, Foundation or Architect Bar & Social House for custom cocktails using fresh and local ingredients.

Day 3: Outdoor Adventure, Dinner on the Porch & Beer in Durham

Start out your day with a peaceful hike through Eno River State Park or a jog on the path around Duke’s East Campus. Then refresh yourself at Guglhupf, where bakers craft German and French artisan breads and more daily. If Sunday brunch is more your thing, Piedmont is the place to head for farm-to-fork fare. The restaurant showcases the Piedmont’s local produce, meats and more in a casual atmosphere.

After lunch, spend the afternoon exploring art at Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art or outdoor art at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, with Japanese-style walking bridges, gazebos, water features and more amidst 55 acres.

Brightleaf Square is the perfect way to while away the rest of the afternoon. Here, turn-of-the-century tobacco warehouses have been converted into restaurants, art galleries, jewelry stores, clothiers and other specialty shops.

Next, check in at the classic Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club or King’s Daughters Inn, which offer the amenities of a first-class hotel with the intimacy of a B&B.

For dinner, tasty Durham options abound. One option is to stay right where you are and book a table at Washington Duke Inn’s world-class Fairview Dining Room. For something a bit more unique, have Dinner on the Porch at Elodie Farms in nearby Rougemont. The farm’s pop-up dinners are on random Sunday nights (check the website for the dates) and feature the finest chefs from the Triangle area.

Afterward, grab bar stools with the locals at late-closing plow-to-pint Fullsteam Brewery – Sundays feature live music from 5 to 7 p.m. and it’s a great place to toast the close of your weekend in the Triangle.

Enjoy all this trip idea has to offer by mixing and matching to your particular interest. Be sure to check days and hours of operation for each venue.

Lynn and Cele Seldon are Oak Island-based travel writers who love covering their home state.

Places in This Trip Idea

Select a pin to see details about a location.

Request your Travel Guide

Download or order FREE guides and maps

Discover Project Project 543

Explore unique spots across North Carolina