By Christy Evers
Greetings, fellow adventure-seekers! Whether you’re a local looking to shake up your routine or a traveler with a curious spirit, Durham, NC, has got a day trip that’ll leave you smiling from mountains to shore! Known for its rich history, thriving arts scene, and delicious culinary delights, Durham is a hidden gem waiting to be mined. I’ve compiled a list of the top 20 best things to do, see, or eat during your visit to this charming city, and trust me, you won’t want to miss a single one!
USFMAN wanted to know if I had sightseeing recommendations for a first timer to the Durham area. I was so excited to answer this question that I decided to create an entire blog post dedicated to the answer. What can I say, I can’t do anything half way. It’s go big or (ahem) go to Durham! Here’ you go USFMAN, and anyone else who is interested. Buckle up for my top 20 picks of top things to do in Durham, North Carolina.
Have you been to Durham? Do you have a hidden gem that you think should be on this list? Tell me about it in the comments.
Let’s start out your day with some morning Carolina yumminess . . . (Is yumminess a word? If not, it is now.)
1. Rise and Shine at Monuts Donuts: Start your day with a burst of flavor at Monuts Donuts, where creative breakfast and lunch fare are the name of the game. There’s more than just donuts! You can’t go wrong with their quirky selection of scones, muffins, bagels, cakes, jams, specialty drinks and a variety of desserts with vegan options available. If you like what you taste, they have the option to order products and merch from their online store for delivery anywhere in the US!
2. Stroll Through Sarah P. Duke Gardens: For some nature therapy, take a leisurely walk through the stunning Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University. Stroll through 55 acres of specialized gardens in the heart of Duke University. Bonus! Admission is free, and they are open from 8 a.m. to dusk 365 days a year It’s a breath of fresh air amidst the urban hustle and bustle.
3. Get Your Art Fix at the Nasher Museum: Feast your eyes on world-class art at the Nasher Museum of Art. The museum hosts a diverse collection of contemporary and classical pieces, perfect for art enthusiasts. Check the web-site for hours of operation Tuesday-Sunday, they are closed on Monday. Admission is FREE!
4. Experience a Brewery Tour at ZincHouse: ZincHouse Winery and Brewery is a haven for wine and beer lovers alike. Dive into their fascinating production process and indulge in tastings that’ll leave your taste buds dancing.
5. Try Bull City’s Best Burger at Bull City Burger and Brewery: Refuel at Bull City Burger and Brewery, where mouthwatering burgers and craft beers await. Try their “Burger of the Day” for a delightful surprise.
6. Go on a Scavenger Hunt Adventure: Put on your detective hat and embark on a Durham scavenger hunt! These affordable and interactive adventures take you on a thrilling quest through the city’s history and culture. Some that I recommend are; Bricks, Bulls and Beauty where you can walk to the best landmarks and hidden gems while answering trivia questions. Go on a photo scavenger hunt with Books and Basketball at Duke University. Discover the city in a fun way as you compete to become King or Queen of the City with Wacky Walks Durham Adventure.
7. Unleash Your Inner Scientist at the Life and Science Museum: Bring out your inner child at the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science. From butterfly gardens to interactive exhibits, it’s educational fun for all ages.
8. Explore Historic American Tobacco Campus: Wander through the beautifully restored Historic American Tobacco Campus, where old tobacco factories have been transformed into vibrant shops, restaurants, and offices.
9. Lunch with a Side of Art at Mateo Bar de Tapas: Indulge in a lunch at Mateo Bar de Tapas, where you’ll find Spanish Heart with a Southern Soul. Their tapas are legendary!
10. Discover Durham’s Civil Rights History: Take a step back in time and visit the historic Hayti Heritage Center, which honors Durham’s African American history and its role in the civil rights movement.
11. Grab a Sweet Treat at The Parlour: No trip is complete without dessert! Satisfy your sweet tooth with artisanal ice cream at The Parlour.
12. Sip Coffee at Cocoa Cinnamon: Warm up with a delightful cup of coffee from Cocoa Cinnamon, where unique blends and creative concoctions abound. If you’re short on time, no worries! You can order in advance and pick up from your choice of one of their 3 locations.
13. Learn About Duke University’s History: Explore the Duke University campus, known for its stunning Gothic architecture and rich history. Don’t forget to snap a photo at the iconic Duke Chapel.
14. Gobble Up Delicious BBQ at the Original Q Shack: You can’t visit North Carolina without trying its famous BBQ. Head over to The Original Q Shack for some finger-licking-good barbecue.
15. Enjoy Live Music at The Blue Note Grill: Wrap up your evening with live music at The Blue Note Grill, a cozy venue featuring talented local bands and a Southern-inspired menu.
16. Witness the Beauty of Eno River State Park: If you’re a nature enthusiast, a visit to Eno River State Park is a must. Hike along scenic trails, cool off in the river, and relish the tranquility of the great outdoors.
17. Shop Local at the Durham Farmers’ Market: Support local artisans, farmers, and bakers at the Durham Farmers’ Market, where you can find fresh produce, handmade goods, and delightful snacks.
18. Experience the Spirit of Durham Performing Arts Center: Check out the schedule at the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC). Whether it’s a Broadway show or a concert, it’s bound to be an unforgettable experience.
19. Marvel at the Duke Lemur Center: Did you know that the Duke Lemur Center is the world’s largest and most diverse collection of lemurs outside of Madagascar? Take a guided tour to meet these fascinating creatures up close.
20. Toast to a Wonderful Day at The Roof at The Durham Hotel: End your day trip on a high note with a cocktail at The Roof. The panoramic views of the city and a beautiful sunset will leave you with lasting memories. Even better yet, book at stay at this iconic hotel for a memorable stay. Check your dates by clicking here.
Durham, NC, is a city that has something for everyone, from history buffs to foodies and nature enthusiasts. So, pack your sense of adventure and head to this charming city for an unforgettable day trip that’ll leave you craving more! Durham, after all, is where history meets creativity, and you’re about to experience it all. This is where the tar heel meets the road. What are you waiting for? You have to visit Durham!
If you’ve been to Durham and have a favorite spot to see, experience or dine, tell me in the comments.
Do you have any questions about North Carolina? You can ask that in the comments too. Who knows, maybe you’ll inspire my next blog post.
Living smack, dab in the middle of Raleigh and Durham, I’m a travel enthusiast, Travel Agent, and a lover of all things North Carolina! We have it all! Gorgeous beaches, rolling mountains, history, a progressive and modern art scene . . . there’s something for everyone. While I love to travel the world, I still can’t get enough of exploring my beautiful home state!