Sometimes winter in Durham can mean it’s a great day to head to one of the 68 parks in the area; sometimes winter feels like winter and sends us indoors. On those days, here’s 32 things to do.

21c museum and hotel free things to do in durham nc
21C Museum & Hotel Photo: Gabriel Guillory

(1) Explore a museum 

Here’s some to check out:

  • Nasher Museum
  • 21C Museum and History
  • Durham Museum of History

Check out our guide to 5 Must-See Local Art Exhibits and Museums in Durham, NC here.

(2) Play retro video games

Quarter Horse, the arcade/bar hybrid in Downtown, features classic arcades and pinball machines.

(3) Play detective at NC Escape

Test your skills at one of NC Escape‘s 3 unique rooms. Save 20% off weekend games with your Shop Durham card.

(4) Drink beer at a brewery

Here’s a list of Durham’s local breweries. A few of our favorite rainy day breweries with spacious indoor setups include Fullsteam, Durty Bull, and Ponysaurus.

museum of life and science zombie prom
Museum of Life and Science

(5) Take the family to the Museum of Life and Science

The Museum of Life and Science has a great indoor setup with a playground, giant blocks, reptiles, a weather exhibit, and more.

(6) Take an adults arts & craft class

Check out Scrap Exchange in Lakewood for all kinds of creative classes. Or check out our round up of 8 Local Spots to Learn and Create Something New, featuring everything from sewing classes to music classes.

(8) Go shopping at Southpoint Mall

The Southpoint Mall is great place to stretch your legs and grab some grub at the food court (American Meltdown is now there!) or catch a movie. There’s also a indoor play area geared towards smaller kiddos.

(9) Get lost in a book at the Durham County Library

Our favorite branch is the Southwest Regional. We’re eagerly awaiting the renovated downtown Main library!

(10) Hunt for treasures at Once and Again Consignment

You can find endless treasures at this consignment shop off 15-501. There’s various booths filled with both antique and new items.

(11) Throw Axes at Urban Axes

Durham’s first indoor axe-throwing facility lets you throw axes and drink beer. Pro Tip: If you’re struggling, use throw with both hands from over your head. There’s walk in hours or you can book a group.

(12) Sip some cocktails at Alley Twenty Six

Alley Twenty Six is an award-winning Durham favorite. Go to for a round of ‘Best of the Bull’ cocktails! Available only with your Shop Durham card. They will all showcase, local (or NC state) spirits and local ingredients, grown or foraged.

(13) Get work done at a coffee shop (local coffee shops to work from)

Here’s our Best of the Bull guide to local coffee shops to get work done in Durham that aren’t your house or your office.

(14) Recharge with some yoga

There’s so many great yoga studios in Durham like Community Power Yoga, Global Breath, Yoga off East, warm up with some hot yoga at Arrichion. We love doing yoga with La Vita Yoga at Bull City Ciderworks on Sunday mornings. Bonus: your class includes a cider afterwards.

(15) Pick out some plants at Durham Garden Center

Whether you’re a gardener or a plant enthusiast that can’t keep anything green alive, Durham Garden Center is for you. Not only are they super friendly and helpful when you pop in, they also host educational workshops and many of them are FREE! Bonus: Use your Shop Durham card to get 10% off your purchase.

(16) Take your pup to Barley Labs

Why not grab a beer and bring your pup along? Or it’s really just an opportunity to pet all the dogs if you don’t have one of your own. Barley Labs is Durham’s first and only dog-focused bar. BONUS: Get 10% off non-alcohol purchases on Wednesdays and Sundays with your Shop Durham card

(17) Go on a Durham Distillery Tour

Durham Distillery is home to award winning Conniption gins, cold distilled cucumber vodka, and decadent Damn Fine liqueurs. They were even named the No. 1 Craft Gin Distillery in the US! Their tours are perfect for date nights or just a fun evening with friends! Bonus: You can get 50% off distillery tours with your Shop Durham card!

(18) Roller Skate at Wheels Fun Park

Wheels Fun Park has an indoor climbing gym, games, mini-golf, go-karts & a roller rink. 

Also See: 13 Lunches for $10 and Under in Durham

(19) Bring the kids to Notasium

Notasium is an indoor music-based play space. There’s a climbing wall, interactive music exhibits, and a bounce house. Free wi-fi for you and a small coffee bar. Bonus: Get free open play with a trial music lesson using your Shop Durham card.

(20) Take a Durham Parks & Recreation Class

Durham Parks and Recreation has tons of great programs and class for kids of all ages to take advantage of. Like sewing, dance, tumbling, art, cooking and more. There are also workshops for teens and themed preschooler play days. 

(21) Find a bargain at the Durham Green Flea Market

The Durham Green Flea market has an indoor area with lots of bargains to be found and great food. Stop by Saturday 7–4pm and Sunday 7–4pm

Parker and Otis durham nc coffee shop
Parker and Otis

(22) Find something unique at Parker and Otis

Life would be much duller without Parker & Otis. I always find something so very ‘Durham’ here and a greeting card that makes me laugh out loud. This is the perfect place for an afternoon pick-me-up and to find a gift for someone you love (or yourself!).

(23) Watch a movie at Carolina Theatre

Yes, this historic theatre serves popcorn, wine and beer.

(24) Browse a local bookstore

Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift or a great read, Durham has fantastic bookstores. Check out our guide to Durham’s best bookstores here.

(25) Check out a tuba museum, V & E Simonetti’s Historic Tuba Collection

Check out the number one tuba museum in Durham. Vincent Simonetti has been building this collection since 1965. The museum offers tours of 5 rooms packed with tubas dating back to the 1830’s. You may not be musically inclined but it’s so fascinating! 

(26) Check out the championship trophies at Duke Basketball Hall of Fame

Check out decades of Duke University’s athletic achievements showcased with visual and audio exhibits, theatre and trophies of national championships at the Duke Basketball Hall of Fame.

duke chapel duke university durham nc
Duke Chapel

(27) Visit Duke Chapel

Duke Chapel is at the very center of the Duke University. You have to see its breathtaking beauty in person to truly appreciate it. It’s doors are open for you to visit 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Walk over to the Brodhead Center afterwards for lunch or dinner. It’s food court style with tons of great options. Not just for students!

Also See: How to Do Durham in One Day

(28) Take a behind the scenes tour of DPAC

The second Monday of each month you have an opportunity to tour DPAC! Check out behind-the-scenes, where the stars prepare for show time, and even the view from the stage. The tour begins at 11:00 a.m. and lasts approximately 45 minutes. Learn more here

(29) Laugh it up at the Bulltown Comedy Series

Every time I go to Bulltown Comedy Series at Fullsteam I tell myself I need to come more often. Even when I’m not sure who the performer is, I have a good time. Admission is free, it’s on the third Tuesday of each month.

(30) Storytime at one of the Durham County Library branches

Most Durham County Library branches offer storytime for babies, toddlers and families. These aren’t your traditional book-only storytimes, instead they incorporate music, puppets, toys and learning throughout the session. 

Sync Studio Fitness at the Cube fitness studios durham nc
Fitness at the Cube Photo: Rebecca Fiorentino

(31) Warm Up at a Local Fitness Studio

One of the best ways to warm up in this chilly weather is to get your sweat on at a local fitness studio. Sync Studio and Fitness at the Cube offer some awesome unique workouts.

(32) Play games, drink beer, and eat pizza at Boxcar

With a space spanning over 10,000 square feet, Boxcar Bar + Arcade includes a full bar (including 24 American craft drafts), 70+ arcade games, and a pizza kitchen. Draft beers are plentiful, and regular drink specials mean you’ll always have spare change for the arcade games.

Note: The space is dog-friendly and kids are allowed until 9pm

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Katelyn Belch
Author: Katelyn Belch

Founder of Best of the Bull and Shop Durham. It’s my chief goal to keep you in the know about all things Durham.