Spring is here and you’re itching to get outside, but hey, we’re all on a budget here. The good news? Most of Durham’s best outdoor activities are free. Here are some adventures that can be experienced at no cost!
Durham is incredibly lucky to have this beautiful botanical garden. Named one of the top 10 public gardens in the U.S. by TripAdvisor, Sarah P. Duke Gardens is open everyday of the year and is free to all! (Note: you may have to pay for parking depending on the time of day)
Be sure to check out free concerts in the spring and summer! Adult and youth programs like nature storytime and urban farm tours are also available for free!
Mural by Victor Knight off Alley 26
No, we don’t mean actual ponies! The Pony ride is a social, leisure ride that begins at The Bull in Downtown Durham and after winding around downtown will end at the Ponysaurus Brewing Co. tap room and beer garden for pints, dumplings from Chirba Chirba and a chance to win prizes and hang with good folks. Pony ride happens on the second Tuesday of each month.
Admire Some Street Art
We walk past them every day, but how often do we stop and actually enjoy some of the street art around Durham? There’s some fantastic murals that can truly brighten your day. A few are even tucked away so you have to do some searching. Grab your walking shoes and get a few Instagram-worthy shots to show off. Check out a list of Durham murals here.
American Tobacco Campus
American Tobacco Campus
Once a tobacco factory, the American Tobacco Campus is home to the famous Lucky Strike Tower so many identify with Durham. It’s truly beautiful with a river running throughout the campus and a large green space. Play a game of Bull City chess, lounge in hammocks, check out the Burt’s Bees house, relax in the rocking chairs under the Lucky Strike Tower. Check out the free music
concerts on the lawn in the summer!
Eno River State Park
Eno River State Park consists of 4,200 acres of land and the river flows through Durham for 33 miles before ending up in Falls Lake. It’s only 10 miles from downtown Durham but it’s one of the best places in Durham to get away from it all. You can go canoeing, fishing, hiking, and even camp overnight. Be sure to snap a picture on the suspension bridge!
Durham Athletic Park Photo: Katelyn Belch, Best of the Bull
Durham Athletic Park
Check out the historic Durham Athletic Park where ‘Bull Durham’ was filmed. Sports Illustrated named it the #1 sports movie of all time! ? Hey, I’m not going to argue with that. ??♀️ The Durham Bulls played here from 1926 to 1994. The stadium was dedicated by the Commissioner of Baseball, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, on July 26, 1926, who rode a live bull onto the playing field!
Funny Girl Farm’s happy hens
Funny Girl Farm Tours
Funny Girl Farm is right off Erwin Road and you can get fresh produce, pasture-raised eggs and lots of local products at their farmstand. It’s almost like having a farmer’s market everyday! Take a behind the scenes tour of Funny Girl Farm! Prepare to encounter happy free range chickens, friendly farm dogs, and 110 acres of sustainable agriculture. Tours are available on Saturdays.
Preservation Durham Tours
Want to learn more about Durham? Preservation Durham offers free walking and bike tours that introduce downtown Durham’s history and architecture! Tours are Saturdays, April through November at 10am.
Duke Homestead showcases the historic home, farm, and factory buildings of Washington Duke and his family as they lived on the property from 1852 until 1874. Free of charge, open Tuesday through Saturday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
West Point on the Eno
West Point on the Eno is free 404-acre park along the Eno River. Tour three historic buildings, a rebuilt operational grist mill on the site of what was once the largest mill on the river, the house of the one-time mill owners, and the old tobacco packhouse is now home to the Hugh Mangum Museum of Photography.
Explore nature too with five miles of scenic trails along the river for hiking and fishing, an amphitheater used for festivals and concerts, and the river itself, with a natural play space and rapids.
Durham Central Park
Durham Central Park
Hosting events for the community, Durham Central Park offers open fields, gardens, and paths to explore. At the park, you can attend free movie screenings, enjoy picnics, and attend food truck
Home to the biggest surrender of the American Civil War troops, Bennett Place Historic Site offers guided tours. Along with the museum, there are walking trails, outdoor exhibits and a
picnic area for you to enjoy.
Stagville State Historic Site
Offering guided tours of a plantation and its beautiful surroundings, Stagville State Historic Site is a historic house museum made up of buildings from the Stagville Plantation, one of the largest plantations in the American South.
Ellerbe Creek Family Explorers Club
Explore with the whole family at Ellerbe Creek Family Explorers Club! The Club meets one Saturday of every month at different natural areas in the community. It’s open to all families in Durham and surrounding communities. Children and an adult family member attend together.
Piney Wood Dog Park
Take your pup to the Piney Wood dog park. We love this dog park because it has separate enclosed areas for large and small dogs. It works well when your dog has ‘small-dog syndrome’ like mine! There’s also a playground right beside the park so you can take the kiddos and pups together. DPR has 3 dog parks in the area, see them all here.
Play at one of Durham’s 65+ parks
There’s definitely not a shortage of parks in Durham, that’s for sure. You can find a sprayground at the Forest Hill’s park, a performance stage at Burch Avenue Park, and a community garden at Orchard Park. Check out all of Durham’s 65+ parks here.
American Tobacco Trail
Hop on American Tobacco Trail for 22+ uninterrupted miles. It was once a railroad track that was converted into a beautiful trail for biking, walking, and running. You can even ride horses on the trail! See more about American Tobacco Trail here.
Ever dream of living the farm life? The Duke Campus Farm is a one-acre working farm dedicated to catalyzing positive change in the ways we grow, eat and think about food. Get outside and volunteer at Duke Farms for the day! All community members are welcome! (You don’t need a Duke affiliation)