If you’re staying in Durham for the weekend or thinking of making the big move to the city, then this guide is for you! We’ll cover the most popular Durham attractions and activities, as well as the best restaurants to eat in the area. From taking a walk in Central Park to attending a sports event at the weekend, you’ll see that there are a whole host of things to do in Durham, NC.
Related: Find Rooms for Rent in Durham, NC
Outdoor Activities in Durham, NC
1. Early mornings at Durham Central Park
Looking for a place to get brunch, walk your dog, and shop at the same time? Durham Central Park is certainly the place to go to. Stop by the Farmer’s Market in the park every Saturday, then wander around the tree grove are dedicated to Durham’s sister cities. You can also lay on the grass at the Great Lawn and watch skaters do tricks at the Skate Park. There’s even an interactive pixel wall overlooking the Great Lawn! Talk about a mix of activities in Durham, huh?
- Admission: Free
- Time: Dawn to dusk
2. Have a picnic at West Point on the Eno
West Point on the Eno is a 404-acre park along the Eno River in Downtown Durham. It was once home to the Shocco and Eno Indians and is now a natural and historic city park that’s a fusion of woods, waters, and wildlife. You can check out three Durham attractions here: West Point Mill, McCown-Mangum House at West Point, and Packhouse & Hugh Mangum Museum of Photography.
Another part of the park holds the Amphitheatre at West Point where concerts, festivals, and performances are held. The park also offers picnic facilities that can accommodate up to 75 people with tables, chairs, and grills. Once you’re done eating, take in the natural area along a 5-mile trail!
- Admission: Free
- Time: The buildings are open every Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 PM.
3. Stroll around Duke University Campus
Spend a day like a university student at Duke University! As one of the most prestigious colleges in the country, Duke University boasts an exceptional campus with historic architecture and amenities. You can explore the Sarah P. Duke Gardens or the 7,060-acre Duke Forest, or maybe whip out your camera and take photos of the Duke University Chapel. Either way, this is surely one of the best places to visit in Durham.
Sports in Durham, NC
4. Bike the American Tobacco Trail
What used to be a railroad for the American Tobacco Company is now a 23-mile trail that goes from the western edge of Apex to Downtown Durham. The trail can be used for horseback riding, cycling, skating, roller-blading, and more. So, if you love the outdoors, it should definitely be on your list of things to do in Durham, NC.
- Time: Dawn to dusk
5. Sign up at the Tri Sports Social Club
Tri Sports hosts recreational sports leagues for groups who are 21 years or older. They not only offer sports, but they also run social events where you can meet new and interesting people. If you’re looking for sporty activities in Durham, you should definitely sign up.
Museums in Durham, NC
6. Explore the Museum of Durham History
If you’re interested in learning more about Durham, the Museum of Durham History tells stories about the city’s community, places, and history. With a variety of exhibits and events, the museum is definitely one of the best places to visit in Durham. And, since it’s indoors, it’s even great for rainy days!
- Admission: Free
- Time: 10 AM to 5 PM (Tuesday to Saturday), 1 PM to 5 PM (Sunday)
7. Visit the Nasher Museum of Art
The Nasher Museum of Art boasts more than 13,000 works that vary from antiquity to contemporary art. Additionally, they host temporary exhibitions, events, and even public and private tours. Since the museum is located inside Duke University, it’s also a learning institution that offers programs focusing on visual arts. Don’t forget to grab a snack at the Nasher Café before you leave!
8. Play and Learn at Museum of Life + Science
A quick Google search of “things to do in Durham, NC” will lead you to the Museum of Life + Science. The museum is for all ages with hands-on experiments and interactive exhibits that will surely make you feel like a kid again. One of their most mentioned exhibits that you need to try is the Aerospace exhibit. This top Durham attraction displays NASA artifacts and a three-story glass Magic Wings Butterfly House.
- Admission: Tickets range from $13 to $23 (children ages 2 and under are free!)
- Time: 10 AM to 5 PM
Culture in Durham, NC
9. Experience Broadway at Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC)
DPAC hosts more than 200 one-of-a-kind performances each year, making it the center for live entertainment in North Carolina. Featuring 2,700 seats and cutting-edge sound and video, DPAC holds Broadway productions, concerts and family events. DPAC is also home to the annual American Dance Festival, which is a great way to experience Durham’s culture!
10. Celebrate the OutSouth Queer Film Festival
OutSouth Queer Film Festival is an annual LGBT film festival held and produced by the Carolina Theater every August. It’s also the second largest queer film festival in the Southeast, featuring different shorts, documentaries, and feature films every year. Moreover, the festival celebrates a glimpse of queer life and brings the community together through art.
- Admission: All-Access Passes cost $100 each.
11. Create at Durham Fruit Company
If you’re looking for more attractions in Durham, check out the Durham Fruit Company. Also known as ‘The Fruit’, this 22,000 sqft warehouse complex acts as an art space and creative playground in Downtown Durham. Not only does it host art exhibitions, but there’s also great DJ performances at night!
- Time: Open 24 hours (Monday to Thursday), 6:00 PM to 11:45 PM (Friday to Sunday)
Restaurants in Durham, NC
12. Grab a Steak at Metro 8 Steakhouse
After checking out all the things to do in Durham, it’s time to feast, and Metro 8 Steakhouse is a must! This upscale steakhouse mainly serves American cuisine, and their best-sellers are crab-stuffed shrimp, filet mignon, and lamb chops. They also have dishes for vegetarians and the perfect wine to pair with whichever meal you choose.
13. Have a Picnic
Picnic is a go-to spot for pulled pork, fried chicken, and more in Durham. As a barbecue joint, Picnic offers smoky meat paired with side dishes that will taste “like your best memories at the county fair”. After the main dish, they also offer quality desserts that you shouldn’t miss.
14. Dine at Elmo’s Diner
You can never go wrong with pancakes and milkshakes at Elmo’s Diner! As a local favorite, Elmo’s treats their customers as friends and serves delicious (and fast!) food. Take a seat in one of their booths or grab a coffee at the bar. One thing is for sure, Elmo’s will make you feel right at home in Durham, NC!
- Time: Open every day from 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM
15. Fill Up at Rose’s Noodles, Dumplings and Sweets
One of the best food places to visit in Durham is Rose’s Noodles, Dumplings, and Sweets! This restaurant includes a pastry counter, noodle joint, and dumpling bar in one. They offer desserts, pastries, ice creams, and an East Asian menu, the perfect treat after a day exploring the city.
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