Duke University

The campuses of Duke University (tel. 919/684-8111; www.duke.edu) cover more than 1,000 acres on the west side of the city. The East Campus, which was the old Trinity College, features Georgian architecture, and its redbrick and limestone buildings border a half-mile-long grassy mall. The East Campus has a certain charm, but it's the West Campus (located a short drive away on winding, wooded Campus Dr.) that really steals the show. Its Gothic-style buildings and beautifully landscaped grounds are nothing short of breathtaking.

The highlight of this showplace is the Duke Chapel (tel. 919/684-2572), reminiscent of England's Canterbury Cathedral. The bell tower of the majestic cruciform chapel rises 210 feet and houses a 50-bell carillon that rings out at the end of each workday and on Sunday. A half-million-dollar Flentrop organ with more than 5,000 pipes (said to be one of the finest in the Western Hemisphere) is in a special oak gallery, its case 40 feet high. Renowned organists perform public recitals on the first Sunday of each month. The long nave, with its ornate screen and carved-oak choir stalls, is lighted in soft shades of red, blue, green, and yellow from 77 stained-glass windows. Chapel hours are 8am to 10pm Monday to Friday during school terms, and there are interdenominational services every Sunday at 11am. Summer hours are Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm.

A visit to the West Campus would not be complete without a peek at Cameron Indoor Stadium, since 1935 the home of the Duke Blue Devils basketball team. It's an elegant, intimate place in which to scream your lungs out; indeed, the university's rabid fans take pride in its stature as one of the smallest indoor arenas in the nation. Also on the West Campus is the Duke University Medical Center, which has gained worldwide fame for its extensive treatment facilities and varied research programs.

To arrange special guided tours of the campus and find out more about Duke, call the Admissions Office (tel. 919/684-3214) Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and Saturday 9am to 1pm. We recommend a visit to the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, 55 lovely acres on the West Campus that draw more than 200,000 visitors each year. In a valley bordered by a pine forest, the gardens feature a lily pond, stone terraces, a rose garden, a native-plant garden, an Asiatic arboretum, a wisteria-draped pergola, and colorful seasonal plantings. The gardens are open daily from 8am until dark, and admission is free. Free tours of the gardens are available daily from 8am to dusk, and special private tours can be arranged through the Duke Gardens office (tel. 919/684-3698; www.hr.duke.edu/dukegardens). Private tours last 1 1/2 hours, and the group rate for 1 to 15 people is $50, plus $5 per additional person. These tours must be booked 2 weeks in advance.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.