51 Best Places in Durham, North Carolina #51Scoops

Durham is one of the most up-and-coming cities in the entire country! (Make sure not to pronounce it as “Durh-ham,” but rather, “Durm.”)

The North Carolina city has recently acquired a major food scene and the city is literally growing every day! There’s so much to do in Durham including entertainment, shopping, and tons of nature sites to visit. Check out all that Durham has to offer!

Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC)

Durham Performing Arts Center is in the center of downtown Durham! Also known as DPAC, the performing arts center is always busy. Plenty of plays and Broadway musicals are seen here! Even Hamilton will soon be arriving at this location on it’s national tour this year! The performing arts center also does their own version of A Christmas Carol every year that is always fun to be part of.

Nana’s Restaurant

Nana’s Restaurant is owned by the Howell family, with Chef Howell front and center. The family also own plenty of other restaurants around town as well! Nana’s Restaurant is all about upscale comforting southern food, but with a North Carolina twist! They also change their menu on a weekly basis depending on what  local produce and protein is available to them, as they are always wanting to work with other locals around Durham!

Eno River State Park

Eno River State Park is one of the best places to hike in North Carolina! The river runs throughout the city, and there are plenty of hiking trails to follow along. In the summertime, you’re sure to see plenty of families spending the day in their swimsuits as there are plenty of places in the river to hang out it. Whether you want to get lost in the woods, or sunbathe by the water, Eno River has it all!

Wine and Design

Wine and Design has plenty of locations throughout North Carolina, but their Durham location is probably the best! Need a night out with your girlfriends? Look nowhere else other than Durham’s local Wine and Design! It’s BYOB and you’ll be able to paint a masterpiece with the help of a trained art teacher, while having a blast with your friends!

Cocoa Cinnamon

Why go to yet another Starbucks when you can check out Cocoa Cinnamon instead? This local coffee house doesn’t just have great coffee, but they have yummy treats too, especially when it comes to chocolate! Cocoa Cinnamon uses local vendors. You can sit inside or outside. Plus, they have awesome art hung on their walls, done by some of the lovely people of Durham themselves!

Funny Girl Farm

Funny Girl Farm is a small farm, run by some of Durham’s loveliest people! If you want the best egg you’ve ever had in your life, you need to stop by the farm stand and grab a couple dozen cartons of eggs! Funny Girl treats their chickens so humanely, that they don’t even send off the elderly ones once they stop producing. Also, they have a mobile chicken coop, so they just follow their chickens, wherever they want to go!

Durham Bulls Stadium

The Durham Bulls are a minor league team. Ever heard of the movie, Bull Durham? Well, that’s who these guys are! Their stadium is located in the heart of downtown. Overlooked by businesses and restaurants, the Durham Bulls stadium is one of the most fun places to visit in all of Durham! Just bring your friends and get ready to catch a few fly balls!

Burts Bees Headquarters

Did you know that Burts Bees’ headquarters is located in Durham, North Carolina? That’s right, your favorite lip balm is located right in Durham! They aren’t just a business either. In fact, their headquarters is home to North Carolina’s largest educational observatory bee hive! It’s locate right next to the front door, so anyone walking by can check it out!

The Parlour

The Parlour has the best ice cream in town! Located right in the middle of downtown Durham’s square, they always have a line that groes around the block! It’s totally worth the wait though. With flavors like Vietnamese coffee, salted buttered caramel, Moroccan rose, vegan raspberry brownie, and Honey Chai, there’s no stopping this ice cream shop!

American Tobacco Trail

American Tobacco Trail is a long stretch of paved trail for everyone in Durham to use! The trail runs all throughout the city and has been used for races including 5K’s and Marathons alike! The trail is lined with beautiful houses, parks, and those famous North Carolina tall trees. With easy access, Durham prides itself to being such a fit city, and American Tobacco Trail helps tremendously with that!

Bottle 501

Bottle 501 is both an old school bottle shop, and a place to hang out, all in one! Located on the second floor of a shopping center, Bottle 501 regularly has beer and wine tastings, trivia nights, and regular holiday shenanigans! Plus, they even have a wine machine, so you don’t have to keep going up to the bar to ask for seconds. You can just pour your own drink!

NanaSteak

Nana Steak is owned by the same people who own Nana’s Restaurant! NanaSteak is a little different and focuses on… you guessed it: steak. Regurally known as Durham’s best steakhouse, NanaSteak follows in suit with Nana’s Restaurant. They try to stay true to local products as much as they can, plus they’re food is just simply so, so delicious!

Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Sarah P. Duke Gardens are on the outskirts of Duke University! These gardens are absolutely beautiful and are regularly growing! There’s no admission cost, so you don’t have to worry about that. The gardens include ponds, giant walk-through artwork, places to picnic, tons of flowers, and even ice cream! It’s a great place for anyone to visit!

Dame’s Chicken and Waffles

Dame’s Chicken and Waffles is a total staple in Durham! They do chicken in waffles in ways you wouldn’t have ever thought were possible! From sweet, to savory, this local favorite is kind of renowned, not just in North Carolina, but the entire country! If you ever stop in North Carolina and need a place to eat, you better make sure it’s Dame’s Chicken and Waffles!

Museum of Life and Science

The Museum of Life and Science is a great place for kids and adults alike! There’s animals, tree houses, nature, science experiments, and so much more. Since the weather in Durham is always so great no matter what (most of the time,) it’s awesome that the museum is mostly outdoors!

Bull City Escape

Have you ever wondered if you could escape a room if you needed too? Well, wonder no longer! Bull City Escape gives the people of Durham the opportunity to try and escape from a room within an hour. You and your team need to work together in order to escape. Don’t worry though! They’ll let you out even if you don’t succeed!

The Streets at South Point

One of the most gorgeous malls around, The Streets at South Point is best known for their outdoor mall. Though the mall is half indoors, half outdoors, the outside part is where it’s at. There’s so many wonderful shops, beautiful decorations, and even a two-story Barnes and Noble! On some weekends, they have entertainment. They even have a regular juggler who comes and performs exciting and dangerous stunts!

The Scrap Exchange

The Scrap Exchange is a nonprofit. It promotes creativity and helping the environment! They have a creative reuse arts center has so many things! From a store, to a gallery, they try to inspire the people to reuse materials and turn those materials into art! They even have classes and areas for artists to use, as long as they can help promote helping the environment!

Only Burger

Only burger has multiple locations throughout the Durham area! They first started out as a truck though, so be on the look for that. If you want the best burger of your entire life, Only burger is the way to go! Plus, you can have some of what the south prides itself on: pimento cheese! If you go to Only Burger, make sure to put some extra pimento cheese on your burger!

Duke Lemur Center

Do you remember Zoboomafoo? She’s from the Duke Lemur Center! The Duke Lemur center is “the world’s largest and most diverse collection of lemurs.” You can go here to visit the lemurs and even interact with them! There are plenty of lemurs to learn from and interact with. Plus, you can even finger paint with the lemurs! How cool is that?

Nana Taco

Nana Taco is yet another amazing restaurant from the Howell family! These tacos are creative, delicious, and absolutely amazing. Plus, they have the best queso in the city, not even joking! Of course, they have some regular tacos, but they also have some crazy ones! Our favorite is the fried calamari taco with a spicy sauce and fresh arugula!

Fullsteam Brewery

Fullsteam Brewery is a brewery in the middle of downtown that hosts many events, including a regular running club! The give brewery tours, plus they also have their own tavern! They do everything local, plus you can find their beer all over Durham!

Brightleaf Square

Brightleaf Square has so much to offer! From cute little stores, to delicious restaurants, the place is wonderful! Plus, it’s easy access to downtown Durham. So, if you feel like walking here, you most likely can! It’s a cute little street that is meant for people to walk around and explore!

Runaway

If you want to find something truly local, search for Runaway. The clothing brand does clothes that mean something particularly special to those living in the city. However, it’s great for tourists too! They have a store front in the middle of downtown, plus you can find their stuff online. If you ever visit Durham, make sure to visit this store before leaving town!

Cameron Indoor Stadium

Cameron Indoor Stadium is a place you have to visit in Durham, North Carolina! The historical Duke basketball team plays in this stadium. What’s so crazy is that the stadium itself is the size of a high school basketball court! It’s such a cool place to visit. It’s historical and just a great piece of Durham history that you have to experience for yourself!

SYNC Studio

Need to work out while you’re in town? Great! Head over to SYNC Studio in downtown Durham and take a yoga or cycling class! You can also do other training here. The best part about it is that they make working out fun and in no way make it seem like work! It’s more of a party than an actual workout! Make sure to try it out!

Guglhupf Bakery, Café, and Restaurant

The best bakery in town, Guglhupf has the best baked goods in town! They are also a restaurant. Not only is their dinner menu incredible, but they have the most delicious brunch options! It’s a funky little restaurant that has outdoor seating, upstairs seating, and all other types of seating that you would ever want! Check it out!

Durham Central Park

A small little park in downtown Durham, Durham Central Park is a great place for kids. If you need a little break from the bustle and hustle of the city, this is a wonderful place to visit! They even have an area to walk, so if you need to walk your dog, this is the place to do it!

Duke University

You might call Duke University as the heart and soul of Durham. Known as a college town originally, Durham has evolved greatly in the past few years. However, it all starts with Duke. Duke gives the area a younger and more fun vibe. Plus, the university itself is just gorgeous. With the mix of old and modern architecture, it needs to be on your list of places to visit in Durham!

The Original Q Shack

The Original Q Shack is actually right next to Nana Taco! They have the best barbeque in town. They are inspired by both Texas barbecue, as well as traditional barbecue too! What’s North Carolina known for? That’s right: barbecue! And The Original Q Shack is where it’s at!

Carolina Theater

Carolina Theater does it all! They are actually owned by a non profit who is inspired to keep the theater alive in Durham! Not only does the Carolina Theater hosts musicians, dancers, and comedians, but they also regularly do movies there as well. The stage is beautiful and something you really need to see when you visit the city!

AMF Durham Lanes

No city is complete without a legit bowling alley! Durham has a great bowling alley called AMF Durham Lanes. There, you can bowl, eat, and drink with your friends! Plus, prices are greatly reasonable and it’s just a fun place to go to overall.

Saltbox Seafood Joint

Saltbox Seafood Joint is probably one of the most unique places in all of Durham. It’s a tiny little shack on the outskirts of downtown and it has the best seafood! You need to get there before opening and be ready to wait in line. With a chef who has competed on Iron Chef and makes sure all his fish is fresh, this is the best food that Durham has to offer!

Durham Craft Market

The Durham Craft Market is what it sounds like: it’s a market with homemade crafts available for purchase. It’s a great place to find local goods, made by the citizens of Durham, North Carolina! From art, to pillows, to candles, you can pick what you want at this fantastic local market!

American Tobacco Campus

American Tobacco Campus is next to the ballpark. It’s host to a bunch of local restaurants and businesses that are tried and true Durham at it’s finest! There’s a small river bank that flows through it. Plus, at Christmas time, everything is lit up and there’s even a lighting ceremony. It’s just a great place to go if you want to feel like you’re in the middle of everything!

Bean Traders

Everyone needs a good coffee shop right? Well, Bean Traders is one of the best in all of Durham! It’s a great place to work on your laptop, hang out with friends, and enjoy some amazing coffee! It’s owned by two incredible locals who wanted to bring their dream of owning a lovely coffee shop to the people. And that’s exactly what they did!

Bella Trio Studio

Bella Trio Studio not only does the best hair in town, it’s also located right smack dab in the middle of downtown! They also have a spa! Need a massage? A facial? A moment in the steam room? Bella Trio has it all! Plus, the staff is just simply amazing and will do whatever they need to do to make you feel comfortable and happy with whichever service you choose to have done!

Watts Grocery

Watts Grocery is a restaurant that only uses local products. Best known for their brunch, there’s usually a line out the door of hungry people excited to eat whatever is on the menu! This is southern comfort food at it’s finest!

Vin Rouge

Want to eat French food out of the house of a Parisian grandmother? Well, you don’t need to go to Paris for that! Instead, pop on by Vin Rouge, Durham’s best French restaurant! They have comfort food straight out of the regions of France! It’s a quirky little restaurant that is best known for it’s oasters especially.

Bennett Place

Bennett Place is a historical site in Durham and was the site of the largest surrender of Confederate soldiers that ended the Civil War. It’s a place that holds history and gives people an inside look as to what Durham really looked like back in the day.

Nasher Museum of Art

Part of Duke University, Nasher Museum of Art has some of the best art that Durham has to offer! It’s been open since 2005 and is meant for everyone in Durham to visit, not just students at Duke. They regularly have exhibits and it’s a great place to check out!

Mateo

Tapas are some of the best food around! Who doesn’t want to sit around and try great food? Thankfully, Mateo restaurant has the best tapas in town! The restaurant has the best reviews and has been raved about by locals for a pretty long time now. It’s a wonderful place for a date night, a weekday out, or a weekend with friends!

Mad Hatter Cafe and Bakeshop

This place doesn’t just do cakes. They do baked goods, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They cater and they just bring smiles to everyone who visits! Plus, they have the best cake! You need to try their Black and White cake which is known as their signature cake. It is absolutely divine!

Duke Homestead State Historic Site

Another historical place in Durham, Duke Homestead State Historic Site shows people what Durham was like back in the day. It’s such a fun place to visit. Plus, they even do events for Halloween, Christmas, and so many other holidays! It’s so much fun to feel like you’re back in olden times.

Boiler Room

The Boiler Room at the Power Plant is such a unique place in Durham, North Carolina! It’s such a mysterious place to visit. It’s also a cool place for any sort of event. If you’re looking to have an industrial party, wedding, or birthday, this is the place to do it!

Bull City Ciderworks

Bull City Ciderworks takes it’s name from the city mascot: the bull. They craft their own cider, taken from local ingredients, and used to make something you’ve never tried before! It’s a great place, not just because you can try their product, but the environment is just great. You get a mix of downtown and the farm by visiting this local business!

Durham Arts Council

Durham Arts Council is a “private nonprofit dedicated to supporting the arts in Durham.” They do classes, events, and even tours if you ask nicely. If you want to get yourself involved in the arts, this is the place that you need to visit!

Room 100 at Golden Belt

Not only is Room 100 at Golden Belt open to the public, but it’s also free! this place has great art exhibits, done by locals themselves. It gives you a non-tourist look at what the city of Durham is actually all about. Plus, it’s a fun little place you just have to check out!

21c Museum Hotel

21c Museum Hotel in Durham is such a unique place to visit (and stay in if you want to). It’s a hotel and an art museum all wrapped into one! They do private events as well and it’s open to the public. Check out the calendar to learn about special events occurring soon! They do everything from wine tastings, to drag shows. So they have something for everybody!

Ponysaurus Brewing Company

Ponysaurus Brewing Company is another great place to hang out with friends while drinking some cold ones! Besides having a super cool name, Ponysaurus is all about community and giving their customers an absolutely fantastic experience.

Duke Chapel

Last, but not least, is Duke Chapel! Located on Duke’s campus, this place is the prettiest place to visit in Durham. It’s usually open to the public, and it’s super historic and an experience all on it’s own. Make sure to check it out!

No matter where you go in Durham, it’s certainly a place you need to visit!

Make sure to check out the rest of our “51 Scoops” series!

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Veronica Vivona received her degree in creative writing and sociology from the University of North Texas. In her spare time, she enjoys watching animated movies while painting her nails. She is currently on the lookout for a hypoallergenic dog who needs to be adopted (and who also wouldn’t mind having an overprotective mom).

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Comments

    • Kelly
    • October 9, 2017
    Reply

    Thanks for your interest in Durham, NC! But the correct pronunciation is “Dur-rum”. I lived in Durham for 15 years before moving this summer, and beyond your article, I’ve never heard or seen anyone call it “Durm”.

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