things to do in Durham North Carolina. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.

Fantastic Things to Do in Durham North Carolina: Art, Baseball, Craft Beer, and More

Durham North Carolina inspires visitors and residents alike with a vibrant scene of arts, local cuisine and craft beverages, historic preservation and recognition. It is home to a top university, which adds a youthful vibe, but there are so many other things to do in Durham. Let’s go explore!

Durham CVB recently hosted Julie and I in order to discover and explore things to do in Durham North Carolina and share my findings with the McCool Travel network.

Fantastic Things to Do in Durham NC

Durham Bulls Athletic Park

More than just a place to watch a baseball game, the magnificent Durham Bulls Athletic Park is the centerpiece of a downtown revitalization and hosts meetings almost every day of the year.

things to do in Durham North Carolina. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.

Durham Bulls Athletic Park: things to do in Durham NC

The Durham Bulls baseball team is pretty good, though, as they won the Triple-A championship last year. Like in the movie Bull Durham, when a player hits the bull in the outfield, the bull snorts and the player wins a prize (a gift certificate to a local steakhouse).

For more information about Durham Bulls Athletic Park: website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

American Tobacco Campus

Like it or not, the tobacco industry once dominated the Durham landscape. The Duke family, namesake of the great university, earned their fortune in tobacco. The huge factory, once owned by the Duke family and their partners, across the street from the Durham Bulls Park has been repurposed. American Tobacco Campus now houses a eclectic mix of start up tech companies, local eateries, art shops, and more.

things to do in Durham North Carolina. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.

American Tobacco Campus: things to see in Durham NC. Photo by Julie McCool

ATC serves as corporate HQ for Burt Bees, and Burt’s cabin from Maine was actually moved here. Throughout the year outdoor music and other events are hosted in the courtyard.

things to do in Durham North Carolina. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.

Burt Bees HQ, American Tobacco Campus, Durham NC

For more information about American Tobacco Campus: website | Facebook | Twitter

Downtown Durham Art

Snap an Instagram worthy photo with the iconic bull statue in downtown Durham.

things to do in Durham North Carolina. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.

bull statue in downtown Durham

A few steps away is 21C, an art museum with an attached hotel. You gotta see it and definitely visit the bank vault room in the basement.

things to do in Durham North Carolina. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.

Durham 21C Art Museum

The Durham and Unscripted boutique hotels are a homage to midcentury modern design and are hip and cool additions to downtown Durham. Public bicycles are more than just a way to get around town. Single or batches of brightly colored bicycles randomly appear throughout Durham because the bikes do not have to be returned to a station.

things to do in Durham North Carolina. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.

public bicycles in downtown Durham. Photo credit: Julie McCool

Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) is nearby and has the largest performing arts theater between Washington, DC and Atlanta. If you score an extra ticket for Hamilton, let me know and I will meet you there!

Nasher Art Museum

For a more traditional fine arts experience, head to the Duke University campus and visit the Nasher Art Museum. I was surprised to see my high school in a photo during a recent exhibition. So, I can truly say that you never know what you will find. Also nearby is Sarah P. Duke Gardens. The Nasher Art Museum Cafe serves wonderful fresh and tasty dishes.

Well, look what I found at Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University Anyone recognize? Listed as a high school in Miami. 🌴😱🐊Durham, NC – Where Great Things HappenVisit North Carolina

Posted by Charles McCool on Tuesday, January 30, 2018

For more information about Nasher Museum of Art: website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Duke Homestead

Learn about the history of the tobacco industry and the involvement of the Duke family at the Duke Homestead State Historic Site and Tobacco Museum. Free guided tours cover the Duke family history while exploring the property, where they lived before and after the Civil War and during the formative years of their business.

things to do in Durham North Carolina. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.

Duke Homestead State Historic Site

For more information about Duke Homestead: website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Dining

Sampling tasty local food should be high on your list of things to do in Durham North Carolina. The city has a hopping foodie scene with a great range of experiences from artisanal donut shops to swank, romantic venues. We recommend these spots on the casual side of the restaurant spectrum.

Monuts

Donuts are not the only treat at Monuts, but they are definitely worth a try (the lavender was yummy). This popular breakfast and lunch spot also offers sandwiches, salads, coffees, and beer.

For more information about Monuts: website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Cocoa Cinnamon

Continue the treats at one of three Cocoa Cinnamon locations in Durham. The Chapel Hill location combines artisanal coffee roasting with authentic, house-made churros, in a bright and airy communal space.

For more information about Cocoa and Cinnamon: website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Nasher Museum Cafe

As mentioned above, Nasher Museum Cafe is an excellent stop for lunch with a side of art. They serve fresh salads, sandwiches, and daily specials including a wonderful butternut squash ravioli special on the day of our visit.

For more information about Nasher Museum Café: website | Facebook

Jack Tar and the Colonel’s Daughter

When dinner time rolls around, head to the downtown area and you’ll have your pick of several excellent restaurants. We loved the elevated comfort food and luxe diner feel at Jack Tar and the Colonel’s Daughter. Our favorite Southern staple, shrimp and grits, is on point.

things to do in Durham North Carolina. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.

Jack Tar and the Colonel’s Daughter. Photo by Julie McCool,

For more information about Jack Tar and the Colonel’s DaughterFacebook

Craft Beverages and More Food

Fullsteam Brewery

Craft beer leads the menu at Fullsteam Brewery, bolstered by an inventive bar menu. This Durham staple offers a wide selection of excellent brews, 10% local ingredients in every beer. Deliciously unique flavors include the Brumley Forest, featuring black walnuts from the local namesake forest, and Deep Chatham, a paw paw flavored ale.

For more information about Fullsteam Brewery: website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

The Bullpen Restaurant

Elevated ballpark food, crisp brews, and a space right next to the Durham Bulls ballpark welcome guests to The Bullpen Restaurant. The menu features standards like delicious grilled cheese and bbq sandwiches, then goes beyond with excellent fried green beans and a bulgur-based Grain Bowl salad. The beer is also a star, and it comes from the only brewery in an American ballpark.

For more information about The Bullpen: website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Black Twig Cider House

Sample from the largest hard cider menu in the southeast, with 80 to 110 ciders at any time. For a special experience at Black Twig Cider House, try Txotx—a Basque cider that spurts from a barrel that participants catch in their glasses. A lot of fun! Owner Mattie Beason also serves delicious food items from an artisan menu including delicious locally sourced sausage.

things to do in Durham North Carolina. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.

Black Twig Cider House: things to do in Durham NC. Photo by Julie McCool

For more information about Black Twig Cider House: website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Durham Distillery

Inspired by a lifelong love of gin, the Conniption Gin and Navy Strength gins at Durham Distillery are both multiple award winners. In fact the Navy Strength, a 114-proof style, has been the highest rated in the world since 2015. The custom-made, all electric German still turns out up to 1000 bottles of consistent and pure bottles a day.

things to do in Durham North Carolina. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.

Durham Distillery: things to do in Durham. Photo by: Julie McCool

For more information about Durham Distillery: website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Where to Stay in Durham

In addition to the above mentioned boutique properties, Durham offers many other lodging options. Stay at the Aloft attached to the Durham Arts Center after May and you might see Lin-Manuel Miranda (disclaimer: maybe not).

On this trip, we stayed at the King’s Daughter Inn across the street from Duke University. The property earned a AAA Four Diamond Award and locals voted it best in the area for 5 straight years. It is a popular venue for weddings. No two rooms are alike and our large, comfortable room came with a fireplace and cool, art deco tiled bathroom. The made to order breakfasts are fantastic.

The King's Daughters Inn in Durham, NC – Where Great Things Happen Visit North Carolina

Posted by Charles McCool on Monday, January 29, 2018

Choices are hard. Chocolate chip waffle or omelet with homemade sausage and grits? “Or?” Ha!The King's Daughters InnDurham, NC – Where Great Things HappenVisit North Carolina

Posted by Charles McCool on Tuesday, January 30, 2018

For more information about King’s Daughters Inn: website | Facebook | Twitter

For more information about things to do in Durham North Carolina:

Durham CVB: website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Have you been to Durham NC? What other things to do in Durham would you suggest?

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Durham North Carolina USA. Things to do in Durham NC include a vibrant scene of arts, local cuisine and craft beverages, historic preservation and recognition.

8 Great Things to Do in Durham North Carolina was first published on February 9, 2018

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11 Responses to “Fantastic Things to Do in Durham North Carolina: Art, Baseball, Craft Beer, and More”

  1. Eileen Cotter Wright (@Crooked_Flight) February 12, 2018 at 7:11 am #

    Durham is such a cool spot! I went ages ago and loved it, so many hidden corners. I also went to the 21c in Arkansas, they are the most interesting hotels.

  2. Sandy N Vyjay February 12, 2018 at 12:06 am #

    Durham sure promises a lot of experiences that are different from the ordinary. I for one am fascinated by the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and the snorting of the bull. The art museum is another place that seems really interesting. In shore the promise of some really interesting times is what Durham seems to offer.

  3. Meg Jerrard February 11, 2018 at 8:43 pm #

    I’ll have to visit Durham when I get back to NC, sounds like there’s quite a lot of cool things to do. I’m not a big tobacco person myself, but I do find it interesting visiting places of industry which played such a huge role shaping the economic landscape in the past. And it sounds like a really hip spot now that the factory has been repurposed 🙂 The bull statue reminds me to the bull in Chicago! And, so cool that they randomly have bikes laying around – that’s public trust in not locking them up!

    • McCoolTravel (@CharlesMcCool) February 12, 2018 at 10:47 pm #

      Oh, the bikes are indeed locked up. When users are finished, they activate the lock on the back tire and leave the bike wherever they are. Artistic chaos.

  4. knycx February 11, 2018 at 7:08 am #

    I am from Durham England and now I know my city has a namesake in the US! While it’s an historic small town in Europe, it looks like the city is much more action and I am a big Churros fan and your picture got me right there… @ knycx.journeying

    • McCoolTravel (@CharlesMcCool) February 11, 2018 at 5:28 pm #

      You are from Durham England? Nice! I visited a couple years ago and absolutely loved the cathedral and walled areas. It was a pleasantly two days and I did a lot of walking around the river area and around the university. So historic!

  5. Carolina Colborn February 10, 2018 at 11:00 am #

    How interesting how the Duke family dominates Durham! How did we miss this city during our RVing days? We drove I40 from Asheville through Greensboro on the way to the Outer Banks!!!

  6. Leslie February 9, 2018 at 1:11 pm #

    I would add The Bennet Place, site of the largest surrender of the American Civil War. http://www.bennettplacehistoricsite.com. The visitor center is packed with very interesting tidbits of history and the docent led tours are the best way to learn Civil War history.

    • McCoolTravel (@CharlesMcCool) February 9, 2018 at 8:48 pm #

      Thank you, Leslie. I know that Durham has so much to explore and look forward to returning and seeing more.

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