Durham is one of my favorite places to visit in North Carolina. The community has such an interesting culture, from the artists, to the restaurants and bars, to the carefully curated shops. In honor of summer, I am sharing a list of the 23 awesome things that you should try in Durham. You’ll see why Vogue named Durham as North Carolina’s hippest city.
21c Museum Hotel: The best place to stay in Durham is the super modern, super swanky 21c Museum Hotel. It is located in the center of downtown Durham and most of the places listed here are in walking distance or a short Lyft ride from the hotel. I had the best time with Angela, Em, and Nikki here, so it is perfect for a girls’ night, but I’d love to have a weekend staycation with DG here as well.
Parker & Otis: One of my favorite places to lunch and then shop is at Parker & Otis. Their grilled pimiento cheese and bacon sandwich is definitely a favorite and the turkey, bacon, and avocado is in a close second. Plus, Parker & Otis has an amazing selection of gifts, including some of my favorite brands like Rifle Paper Co., Voluspa, Mat & Nat, and Collared Greens. I cannot recommend an afternoon here enough. P.S., bonus points for their wine and beer selection!
Picnic: Picnic BBQ is some of the best eastern North Carolina BBQ I’ve had in the Triangle. Y’all know I’m particular about my BBQ, but this drive to Durham is totally worth it for that vinegar based sandwich and those fried okra! Also, their dessert is on point, too!
Geer Street Garden: I love meeting here for girls’ nights after work. Their jalapeno cheddar hush puppies and fried chicken & arugula salad are personal favorites. It is right across the street from Fullsteam Brewery, so it’s a great pit stop for dinner if you make a visit to Fullsteam.
Mateo: One of the top five best meals of my life was at Mateo. This was one of my favorite nights out with my girlfriends ever. We had the best time enjoying the tapas recommended by the staff, and some of the best wine. See more here.
Mothers & Sons: My buddy KP really wanted to have dinner at Mothers & Sons, so we took her for her 40th birthday a couple of months ago. I loved the squid ink tonnarelli and their whole bar set up is so dreamy! See more here.
Dame’s Chicken & Waffles: I am a huge fan of chicken & waffles, so Dame’s has been on my list for quite some time. My buddy KP and I tried it out for dinner, but it’s the perfect spot for weekend brunch as well! See more here.
Guglhupf: This bakery is such a fun place to meet for coffee and brunch. The turkey and brie panini is a favorite. I’ve never had dinner here, but I’ve heard it is delicious.
The Parlour: The place for dessert in Durham is the Parlour for ice cream. I love their salted butter caramel. DG is a big fan of their sundaes, too.
Doyle Vineyards: Doyle Vineyards is located on such a cute property behind Southpoint Mall. Their wine is absolutely delicious and the venue is such a great space for unwinding on the weekends. The owners are the sweetest and are so knowledgeable about their wine selections.
The Durham Rooftop: Having a drink on the Durham Rooftop is one of the best. The view is amazing, and the mid-century mod decor is the stuff dreams are made of for those of you into interior decorating.
Fullsteam Brewery: Fullsteam is a crowd-favorite brewery in Durham. Located right across from Geer Street Garden, there is something for everyone. They have the best food trucks, a dog-friendly tavern, and they support local farmers by using locally sourced ingredients. Their Paycheck Pilsner is a great pick.
Ponysaurus Brewery: I love Ponysaurus Brewery a lot. This was the spot that I used to meet my friend Mary for a Sunday afternoon drink before she moved to Zurich. But I also love hanging out here because of the snacks that you can snag for $1 a scoop. I love the dried okra, and DG’s sweet tooth gets satisfied with their snack mix. Also, for the record, they have bugles as well. I am a big fan of their Biere de Garde and DG likes their Rye Ale. It’s also a great place to take your dogs on a weekend afternoon.
Viceroy: I have not eaten here yet, and I continuously hear great things about their food. However, they have the coolest spots for popping in and having a drink and I really love their decor as well. It’s definitely an intriguing place to stop and have a night cap.
Bull City Olive Oil: I like using unique flavors of olive oil in dishes, and Bull City Olive Oil has the best selection. The Baklouti Green Chili Fused Olive Oil is our personal favorite. Also, Bull City Olive Oil is located in Brightleaf Square, which is a fun place to spend an afternoon, shopping, eating, and drinking in Durham as well.
Chet Miller: Located right near 21c Museum Hotel, I could spend all day in Chet Miller exploring the selection of coffee table books, Veitri dishware, paper products, candles, and additional home decor items. The walls in Chet Miller have various prints of Rifle Paper Co. wall paper, so that really sweetens the deal. Definitely stop by and pay a visit. You won’t leave empty-handed.
Morgan Imports: Morgan Imports is located across the street from Brightleaf Square, and has an awesome selection of, well, everything. The shop boasts locally made items, such as Porch Fly, but also has a great selection of furniture, shoes, kids gifts, and items that you never thought you’d need for your home.
Vert & Vogue: Vert & Vogue has an excellent selection of men’s and women’s clothes and accessories. Their clothes are carefully selected and beautifully displayed. I am particularly fond of their mission to help revitalize Durham and their commitment to creating a greener world, and supporting a variety of causes I feel strongly about as well. Check out their story Vert & Vogue.
Duke Chapel: I remember attending Handel’s Messiah at Duke Chapel when I was a senior in high school with my aunt and being completely blown away at the magnitude of the chapel. I had seen it before, but there was something about seeing it decorated for Christmas and the sheer beauty of the concert. Check the tour schedule here and be sure to make a visit.
Duke Gardens: When DG’s dad came down to visit for the first time, we took his mom and dad here. It’s such an interesting place to spend an afternoon. In the heat of summer, be sure to bring water because you can spend quite a bit of time exploring the gardens.
Durham Bulls Athletic Park: DG and I love attending Durham Bulls games. We try to make it to at least one each summer. Bark in the Park is a fun event for your pups to attend, as well! See the full schedule Duke Gardens.
Durham Performing Arts Center: DPAC offers a great variety of shows, everything from concerts, stand up comedy, to off-Broadway shows. I’d love to have season passes (hint, hint, DG), especially since Hamilton is coming to DPAC in 2018! It is located right beside DBAP, and across the street from the American Tobacco Campus.
Eno River State Park: The Eno River offers a great view of the Piedmont region with awesome hiking trails perfect for taking your dogs. Winston loves this venue to hike because he gets to cool off in the river. It’s pretty shallow so kayaking can be difficult, but it’s a great little day trip.
If you plan a trip to this fun, colorful town, I’d love to hear from you about what you enjoyed and anything that may not be on this list. This former tobacco town has a lot to offer and boasts such an interesting atmosphere! Happy traveling!