Durham, one of the three points of the Triangle in NC
What to do in Durham, NC
Living in the Triangle offers so much to do and you can take advantage of just about everything with a less than 30 minute drive. Durham is more fun and interesting than many people realize with Duke University, the arts, great food, music, sports, shopping and kids activities. You don’t have to live in Durham to enjoy the city. Here are some fun things I’ve found to do in Durham. Find out what it’s like to enjoy Durhan and if you have things you enjoy please let me know!
Durham was a tobacco town but not any more! The warehouses have been transformed into living space, offices, shoppes, and restaurants.
Duke University is in Durham. The University offers classes in continuing education.
The Sarah Duke Gardens is a beautiful garden around the campus at Duke. It’s huge, 55 acres. You can take a walking or trolley tour or just walk around on your own. That’s what I like to do. Here is a map of the gardens.
Duke sports are a huge draw in Durham. The Blue Devils win national championships in basketball and football. The rivalry between the area universities make for fun and mostly good-natured discussions.
Some of my favorite restaurants in the Triangle are located in Durham.
Rue Cler is a French restaurant with wonderful beignets. Another French restaurant I like is Vin Rouge. It’s a Bistro with outdoor seating.
If you like Mexican food, Nanataco is a fun restaurant with a more healthy and different menu than the typical chain Mexican restaurant. Nana’s is a fine dining restaurant very popular since the 90’s.
My sister and I love to go out to lunch and have Indian food. Our favorite Indian restaurant for the lunch buffet is Sitar.
In the spring it’s really nice to sit outside on the terrace at Guglhupf Bakery and Cafe .
Mateo Bar de Tapas Is another restaurant that I would highly recommend, great wine and tapas.
Fosters Market is great for weekend morning coffee, biscuit or muffins. If you want a hearty breakfast try Elmos on 9th Street.
I could go on and on about the food in Durham but there is so much else to do we should move on.
If you like concerts and performing arts you should check out the Durham Performing Arts Center and the Carolina Theatre in downtown Durham.
The Durham Performing Arts Center ( we call it the DPAC) is part of the American Tobacco Campus . This area includes the Durham Bulls baseball park and renovated tobacco warehouses with some cool restaurants and businesses along with an outdoor area mall area for concerts and events that are fun for everyone.
The Durham Arts Council is a non-profit that supports art in the community including theatre , music, dance, and visual arts. they offer classes for all ages.
Associated with Duke University, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University is a contemporary art gallery with programs that involve the university and community.
Right before the holidays in downtown Durham is the Holiday Art Walk with music, food trucks, and art and crafts available for sale all around town.
On Saturdays, at the same time as the Farmers Market in downtown Durham, is the Craft Market. It’s always fun to go buy some locally sourced fresh veggies and take a look at local crafts.
Music and Drinks
Do you like music and craft breweries? Motorco and Bluenote Grill (music and BBQ, how Southern) are two places to go for music in Durham. Fullsteam Brewery is popular and right across the street from Motorco. Some don’t have food but there are often food trucks parked nearby and restaurants in the area . Durham is known for it’s Indie music scene.
If you like wine, stop by the local wine shop, Wine Authorities. They specialize in estate wines that are not expensive. I loving the tastings and learning about wine in a snob free way.
Top on the list for kids is the Durham Museum of Life and Science. it’s an interactive museum for kids, has a great gift shop, and a train that is especially popular at Christmas when Santa drives it. One of my favorite parts of the museum is the dinosaur walk. Full-sized fiberglass dinosaurs are hidden in the woods and along a path throughout the park.
There’s also an archaeological dig spot where kids can sift through sand and find sharks teeth and other fossils. it’s really nice to have an outdoor area as well as an indoor area at a museum so that the kids can really run around and get out some of that energy.
There are a lot of parks in Durham. The Eno River State Park is especially fun for kids. they offer classes and nature walks and have festivals along the river too.
I mentioned Sarah Duke Gardens previously and it’s beautiful for adults but it’s great for the kids too because they are wide open for them to run and play. There’s a pond with ducks and big hills to roll down.
If your kids have lots of energy you should check out Skyzone Trampoline Park. It’s indoors and your kids will be so tired when you leave. It’s the perfect thing to do when you need to take a break from looking at houses.
Durham has all of the sports for kids you would expect. The northern part of the County has horse farms offering riding lessons.
There are two big trail systems in Durham other than the typical park and greenways.
Duke Forest is huge, 7000 acres and in in three counties. There are some beautiful areas with a variety of trails. You should take a look at the website for Duke Forest to see what is offered.
The Streets at Southpoint is the biggie mall with Nordstroms, Pottery Barn etc. but it is actually closer to Chapel Hill and West Cary than downtown Durham. Downtown, Brightleaf Square and the 9th Street area have local shops.
Look at Houses!
There are more of the interesting older homes in Durham than you will find in Cary and Chapel Hill. Neighborhoods like Trinity Park, Rockwood, Forest Hills and Watts-Hillandale are walkable to local businesses and restaurants with tree lined streets and charm missing from newer neighborhoods.
There is much more to do in Durham but this should give you an idea of where to start!
By Marianne Howell Wright