As of late, a lot of my friends from out-of-town have been coming to visit me in Durham. I pride myself on being a planner, so the idea of organizing an entire day or weekend in Durham is enough to make my heart race. (Yes, I love planning and organizing things that much. I also love the company.)
Regardless of the weekend and the group of friends that come for a visit, I take them to the same restaurants and show them my favorite places. Surprisingly, it never gets old for me because I have a reason to go back and I can enjoy it all over again.
If you are planning a visit to Durham, have friends and/or family coming into town, or you’re a Durham local just wanting to reignite that Durham love in your heart, I’ve written this article for you. I’ve planned an entire day to take advantage of everything that the city has to offer with a tentative timeline of stops. From great food to adventures outside, Durham truly has it all.
(9 a.m.) Start the day off with some breakfast. I recommend either visiting Foster’s Market or Guglhupf. If you’re stuck between those two choices, why not go to both? They’re neighbors! Pick up a warm breakfast at Foster’s Market and grab some goodies from the Guglhupf bakery. In Durham, you can have the best of both worlds.
(10 a.m.) After you’re fueled and ready for the rest of your busy Durham day, hop into some comfortable shoes and get outdoors. One of my favorite things about Durham is that there are a lot of outdoor public spaces. Another one of my favorite things about the city is they are very dog-friendly. From outdoor patios to parks, Durham is the perfect city to accommodate the good weather, active locals, and furry friends. Eno River State Park and the American Tobacco Trail are great sites to get some exercise and sunshine.
(12 p.m.) Once you’ve enjoyed the outdoors and broke a sweat, hopefully by now you’ve worked up an appetite for even more food. Head on over to 9th Street and enjoy the restaurants and shops. For lunch, try the Blue Corn Café, Elmo’s Diner, Heavenly Buffalos, or Happy + Hale.
(2 p.m.) Just a quick drive away from 9th Street is the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Home to five miles of flowered walkways which can be enjoyed year-round, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens provides public space to any and all who wish to enjoy. My favorite part of the Gardens is the Historic Terrace section. Walk down the steps and stop at the coy pond. Turn around and look up at the steps you just walked down. Take it in. The terraces of flowers in front of you ranging in all colors and the sky above. Bliss!
(3:30 p.m.) Once you’ve taken in every square inch of the Gardens, head on over to Duke University’s campus. You can leave your car parked at the Gardens (pay-to-park) and walk up to the grounds of Duke. Don’t miss out on seeing the Duke Chapel. Most days it’s open to the public, but if there is a private event going on, you won’t be able to go inside.
(4:30 p.m.) Another outdoor stop on the list for the day is to visit the American Tobacco Campus. With a water feature that runs throughout, the campus is comprised of restaurants and offices. It’s a lovely stroll in a district with historical ties that date back to the late 1800’s. Washington Duke (familiar name, eh?), a tobacco farmer, started a tobacco company which later included his sons. The tobacco industry wasn’t too big at the time, but it was expanding and the Duke & Sons company encountered a bit of competition in the field. Duke & Sons joined tobacco forces with four competing companies and became known as the American Tobacco Company.
(5:30 p.m.) A few blocks up from the American Tobacco Campus are the bustling streets of Durham. Take a walk up and down some of these streets. Gaze in the windows and take your time. Find the hidden Durham murals and buy yourself something you normally would never get for yourself. Some of my favorite stores in this area are Dolly’s Vintage and Everyday Magic.
(6:30 p.m.) Throughout the same streets of downtown Durham and the American Tobacco Campus, plenty of delicious dinner options are there to choose from. Here are a few of my recommendations: Luna, Dos Perros, Pompieri Pizza, and Gonza Tacos Y Tequila.
(8 p.m.) After dinner, it’s time to satisfy your sweet tooth! Visit The Parlour for mouthwatering ice cream. My two favorite flavors are the salted butter caramel and the vegan chocolate.
(8:30 p.m.) Depending on the night, sometimes ice cream is the perfect ending. On other nights, it’s just the beginning. With so many breweries in Durham, if you leave town without having a glass of beer…did you even visit? Try Ponysaurus Brewing Company, Fullsteam Brewery, and/or Bull City Ciderworks depending on what you like. And if you’re not a beer person, Alley Twenty Six has exquisite cocktails. Two drinks there that I highly recommend are the gin and tonic and the whiskey sour, say yes to the egg white topping and enjoy!