Also known as the research triangle, the three adjoining cities of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill are home collectively to three major universities, some pleasant parks, a handful of good museums and big name research centers.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is one of North Carolina's best-known landmarks (and the nation's tallest lighthouse), a lofty beacon with distinctive "barber-pole" striping. Moved from its original location slightly inland to protect if from the rising Atlantic, the lighthouse is open seasonally to the public. Climb the 268 stairs to the top for views of sand and sea and have a look around the former tender's quarters, now the visitor center and a small museum.
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