15 Best Things To Do in Durham, North Carolina [Weekend DIY Itinerary to Durham]

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor September 5th, 2020 Posted in North America Travel Blog, Travel Blog No comments

Durham, North Carolina is once-gritty home to the world’s largest tobacco company- American Tobacco. The city regained its reputation thanks to Duke University, a private research university. Durham changed its motto from “City of Tobacco” to “City of Medicine,” due to its high concentration of medical practitioners and researchers.

Former factories and warehouses have been converted into housing, retail, restaurant, and office spaces. It is one of the three cities that make up North Carolina’s Research Triangle, and some of the Triangle’s most interesting and exciting attractions are to be found here. 

Things To Do in Durham, North Carolina
Mikey B.

Best Things to do in Durham, North Carolina

1. Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Things To Do in Durham, North Carolina
Photo by Dave Crosby CC BY-SA 2.0

Sarah P. Duke Gardens is 55- acre landscaped and wooded areas located at Duke University. There are flower beds, a Koi Pond, a lake with a bridge, ducks, and pathways throughout the gardens. People come here to relax and admire the blossoming plants and flowers.

2. Museum of Life + Science


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The Museum of Life and Science is an 84-acre science museum featuring hands-on exhibits for all ages. It includes a science center, a butterfly conservatory which is one of the largest in the world and outdoor exhibits for rescued black bears, lemurs, and endangered red wolves. Other attractions include a Farmyard, Ellerbe Creek Railway, Contraptions, a sailboat pond and many more. 

3. Duke University

Things To Do in Durham, North Carolina
Woubishet Z. Taffese

This popular college university is not to be missed. It has a beautiful Gothic architecture with a historic cathedral and stunning gardens around. Visitors are amazed by its simple yet stunning characteristic. 

4. Durham Performing Arts Center

Things To Do in Durham, North Carolina
Photo by Warren LeMay CC0 1.0

The Durham Performing Arts Center opened on November 30, 2008. It has become the center for live entertainment and hosts over 200 performances a year including touring Broadway productions, high-profile concert and comedy events, family shows and the American Dance Festival.

5. Cameron Indoor Stadium

Things To Do in Durham, North Carolina
Ian Mackey

Cameron Indoor Stadium is an indoor arena located at Duke University. It is the primary indoor athletic venue for the Duke Blue Devils and Duke men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball. Don’t forget to visit this historic stadium when you go to Duke University.

6. Eno River State Park

Things To Do in Durham, North Carolina
Photo by Nathania Johnson CC BY 2.0

Eno River State Park is a 4,312-acre park in Durham North Carolina. It features twenty-four miles of hiking trails, canoe launches, picnic areas, and historic structures. A therapeutic place to relax and enjoy nature. 

7. American Tobacco Historic District


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The American Tobacco Historic District is a historic tobacco factory complex and a national historic district located in Durham. There are a lot of restaurants and some other local businesses. People enjoy walking through the redesigned structures that were once an abandoned tobacco factory. 

8. Duke Lemur Center

Things To Do in Durham, North Carolina
Photo by Rawpixel Ltd CC BY 2.0

Located at Duke University, Duke Lemur Center is an 85-acre land, the largest sanctuary for rare and endangered strepsirrhine primates in the world. It is open to the public through tours but visitors must make an appointment.

9. Bennett Place 

Things To Do in Durham, North Carolina
Photo by Mark Clifton CC BY-SA 2.0

Bennett Place is a reconstructed farmhouse with Civil War significance, where the largest surrender of the Civil War took place, living-history events & nature trails. This is a great place to explore especially for history buffs. 

10. Stagville State Historic Site


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Stagville Plantation is built in the 18th century to the mid-19th century. Stagville was part of one of the largest plantation complexes in North Carolina. It was home to almost 900 enslaved African-Americans in 1860. Tours are available to tell the story of free and enslaved people who called Stagville home.

11. Brightleaf Square

Things To Do in Durham, North Carolina
Photo by Warren LeMay CC0 1.0

The Bright Leaf Historic District is a national historic district with buildings that were built from the 1870s to the World War II period. Usually two- to four-story structures, rectangular with shallow gable roofs and brick exteriors. Today, the square is dotted with cute cafes, restaurants, shops, brewery, arts, and crafts.

12. Duke Homestead

Things To Do in Durham, North Carolina
Photo by Maureen CC BY 2.0

Duke Homestead State Historic Site is a state historic site and National Historic Landmark in Durham, North Carolina. Visitors can tour the early home, factories, and farms where Washington Duke first grew and processed tobacco. 

13. Streets at Southpoint


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Street at Southpoint is a clean and well kept indoor mall with lots of big and small businesses. It is a good place for shopping, eating, and entertainment too.

14. RollingView Falls Lake State Park


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This state park has a view of the clean lake. It has a swimming area, fishing pier, plenty of trails, a barbeque area, and clean washrooms. There are also plenty of tables for picnics for family and friends. 

15. Waller Family Farm


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This farm is the best place to get farm-fresh produce vegetables and fruits. Strawberries are abundant during peak season which visitors love the most. You can pick your products or a ready-made basket.

16. Find accommodation in Durham, North Carolina

Things to do with 3 days in Durham, North Carolina

Day 1 in Durham, North Carolina

Duke University – Visit this historic campus with great architecture and a serene environment. Also, drop by to its stunning cathedral.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens – Have a relaxing afternoon in this garden. It is a great place to get close to nature with areas to do some activities. 

Day 2 in Durham, North Carolina

American Tobacco Historic District – This former huge tobacco factory is now a popular destination. Stroll the streets where a lot of shops and diners are inlined. 

Day 3 in Durham, North Carolina

Eno River State Park This park offers outdoor activities to spend your day with. Hike the twenty-four-mile trails, take a break in picnic areas, and enjoy the sight of historic structures.

Where to Stay in Durham, North Carolina

Where to Stay in Durham, North Carolina if you’re a Backpacker

Red Roof Inn Durham – Triangle Park

Things To Do in Durham, North Carolina

This hotel is non-smoking, with free Wi-Fi access, free parking, flat-screen cable TV, microwaves and refrigerators. The accommodation also offers a 24-hour front desk, luggage storage, and vending machines. Raleigh-Durham International Airport is 14.1 km from the hotel. 

Price: Starts at US$54 + US$7.29 taxes and charges, free cancellation, no prepayment.

Extended Stay America – Durham – University

Things To Do in Durham, North Carolina

This hotel is specially designed for longer stays. Rooms feature a fully equipped kitchen with a stovetop, microwave and a fridge. Also offering a free WIFI, laundry and ironing facilities, and upgraded bedding with extra pillows. Weekly housekeeping services are provided for free and daily provided for a fee. It also has free onsite parking and attractions near the hotel are Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Price: Starts at US$49 + US$6.61 taxes and charges, free breakfast, non-refundable.

Where to Stay in Durham, North Carolina if you’re on a Budget

 Comfort Inn University Durham – Chapel Hill

Things To Do in Durham, North Carolina

This hotel offers modern amenities and comfortable accommodations. It features free WIFI and a spacious outdoor swimming pool. Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, many sports stadiums, beautiful parks, and scenic trails are only minutes away.

Price: Starts at US$89 + US$11.99 taxes and charges, free breakfast, non-refundable.

Candlewood Suites Durham – RTP 

Things To Do in Durham, North Carolina

This hotel features suites with kitchenettes, free Wi-Fi, cable TV with a DVD player, a work desk and ironing facilities, a seating area, and sofa beds. A launderette, barbeque facilities, and a fitness center are available too. Duke University and the University of North Carolina are both within 20 minutes’ drive of the hotel while The Research Triangle Park is 10 minutes’ drive away.

Price: Starts at US$82 + US$10.46 taxes and charges, non-refundable

Where to Stay in Durham, North Carolina if you want Luxury

Home2 Suites by Hilton Durham Chapel Hill

Things To Do in Durham, North Carolina

Rooms at this hotel offer air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, a kitchenette, a dining area and desk, a fitness center and barbecue facilities. It features free private parking, a business center, and a 24-hour front desk. American Tobacco Campus is 10 km away, 8 km from Wallace Wade Stadium, 10 km from Durham Performing Arts Center and 11 km from Durham Convention Center. 

Price: Starts at US$191 + US$25.79 taxes and charges, free breakfast, free cancellation, no prepayment.

Cambria Hotel Durham 

Things To Do in Durham, North Carolina

This hotel features an on-site restaurant, spacious rooms with free WiFi, a cable TV, coffee machine, refrigerator, and microwave. All rooms in this hotel have a hardwood floor, faux brick accents, and a private bathroom with free toiletries. It is located adjacent to Duke University, 4.5 km away from 4.5 km away, and 20 minutes’ drive from Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Price: Starts at US$135 + US$19.25 taxes and charges, Breakfast at US$12,non-refundable. 

Where to Eat in Durham, North Carolina

Gonza Tacos y Tequila

Things To Do in Durham, North Carolina

Serves Mexican, Southwestern, Latin, and Central American cuisines. This restaurant is popular for its phenomenal tacos and excellent interior.

Operating hours:

  • Sun                      4:00 PM – 8:30 PM
  • Tue – Thu            5:00 PM – 9:30 PM
  • Tue – Fri             11:30 AM – 2:00 PM
  • Fri – Sat              5:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Address: 604 Fernway Ave, Durham, NC 27701-3264

Pizzeria Toro

Things To Do in Durham, North Carolina

Pizzeria Toro serves outstanding Italian wood fire pizzas. Try different varieties of flavor!

Operating Hours: Sun-Sat 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM

Address: 105 E Chapel Hill St, Durham, NC 27701-3201

The Refectory Cafe

Serves Seafood, American and Contemporary cuisines. If you are into seafood dishes, then this place is for you. 

Operating Hours:

  • Sun                   9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
  • Mon – Thu       8:00 AM – 8:30 PM
  • Fri                     8:00 AM – 9:00 PM
  • Sat                   9:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Address: 2726 Durham Chapel Hill Blvd, Academy Road intersection, Durham, NC 27707-2870


How to go to Durham, North Carolina from the UK

Via British Airways: (one way)

*From LHR London Heathrow to RDU Raleigh / Durham

Fri, 18 Oct 2019 11:50-15:30

Ticket Price: $2,328

*Prices are subject to change. 


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Written by Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor

Two Monkeys Travel Group – Community Travel Blog is a travel blog and website. We quickly grew into a valuable source of inspiring travel stories, advice, itineraries and travel guides, with the aim of demonstrating how to live a sustainable life of travel, whilst living your own definition of success. If you'd like to contribute and write a guest post, contact us at [email protected]