Durham -- A complex of bars and restaurants, the American Tobacco Company, beside the Durham Bulls Triple A Baseball Park (tel. 919/433-1566), is your one-stop choice for an exciting evening of eating, drinking, and catching some live music.

New Bern -- In this historic town in the eastern part of the state, Chelsea, 335 Middle St. (tel. 252/637-5469), has burst on the scene with its innovative New American cuisine. The restaurant is in a building that was once used by the pharmacist who invented Pepsi-Cola. Some of the best and freshest seafood is served here, including a cheesecake made of shrimp, scallops, and other ingredients.

Pinehurst -- It may have opened in 1901, but the Carolina Hotel, Carolina Vista (tel. 800/ITS-GOLF [487-4653] or 910/235-8507), is better than ever. This deluxe golf and tennis resort, set on 10,000 acres, has received a multimillion-dollar face-lift. In spite of all the renovations, the gracious Southern hospitality is still a feature. Even in tough economic times, the 3-night golf packages are still a good value.

Food critics are hailing Elliotts on Linden, 905 Linden Rd. (tel. 910/215-0775), as the best restaurant in North Carolina. That's a debatable point, of course, but English-born Mark Elliott has emerged as one of the state's finest chefs with his inventive fusion cuisine served in an elegant setting that also includes a retail wine shop and a kitchenware store.

Raleigh -- In a restored warehouse from 1931, 42nd St. Oyster Bar & Seafood Grill, 508 W. Jones St. (tel. 919/831-2811), has the town's finest array of raw oysters and clams, plus an array of fresh seafood, much of which can be mesquite grilled. The chefs also serve some of the most tender steaks in the city.

Winston-Salem -- In the heart of the business district, the landmark Adam's Mark Hotel has now become an Embassy Suites, 460 N. Cherry St. (tel. 336/724-2300). The hotel is divided between two towers (one of which is a Marriott). Following a $45-million investment, Embassy Suites is the more elegant of the two properties.

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.