Nowhere in the South do old and new come together quite so dramatically as in North Carolina's Piedmont, between the coastal plains and the mountains. The contrast is especially marked in cities such as Winston-Salem, where the mammoth tobacco industry is represented by R.J. Reynolds and the Stroh Brewery produces millions of barrels of beer each year. Across town, the streets and buildings of Old Salem have been restored to reflect the life of the Moravians who planned the community in 1753. The landscape here -- red-clay hills, tobacco fields, and peach orchards -- is as varied as the region's industry and agriculture.

The Piedmont is the home of the vaunted Research Triangle, a multidisciplinary scientific institute founded in 1958 by Duke University in Durham, the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University in Raleigh. The region boasts a wealth of other educational institutions, including Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, and Shaw University in Raleigh, founded in 1865 and the oldest historically black university in the South.

The Piedmont is very much the New South, and its residents won't hesitate to brag a bit about the economic miracle that's transformed the area in the past 3 decades. They're especially proud of their big-time sports scene. (College basketball is practically a religion in these parts.) But the cities of the Piedmont haven't lost their manners, and a leisurely pace of life persists in the midst of all the growth and change. Travelers will see that streets lined with gorgeous homes and blooming dogwoods haven't been lost in the name of progress. And outside the cities, there's a lot waiting to be discovered, including some of the nation's greatest championship golf courses.