Things to do in Durham, North Carolina
This is your Durham NC travel guide. A comprehensive list of things to do in Durham.
Winter Events In Durham You Can’t Miss….
Here is an interesting fact about Durham, NC: Some of the early Native American tribes that lived in present day Durham were the Occaneechi, Eno, and the Asshusheer. Tuscarora, a nomadic tribe, spent part of the year in Durham County. The Enos were exceptional farmers and all four tribes used tobacco in their ceremonies.
SARAH P. DUKE GARDENS
From butterflies to baseball, Durham has just about anything you could want to do. For example, Sarah P. Duke gardens are spectacular. More than 300,000 visitors from all over the world visit Sarah P. Duke Gardens annually, enjoying over 55 acres of specialized gardens in the heart of Duke University. Admission is free, and the garden’s are open from 8 a.m. to dusk every day or the year!
DURHAM HAUNTED PUB CRAWL & THE SIGHTSEEING BAR WALK
With the popularity of the evening pub crawl, Tobacco Road Tours has now added a Durham Sightseeing Bar Walk each Saturday from 4:30-6:30pm. It’s a laid back tour with 3 new bar stops. Starting in the Brightleaf District and ending on Main Street at Five Points. It’s a great introduction to Durham’s history and bar scene. This is a guide-lead tours with fun stories and facts about Durham. Durham Sightseeing Bar Walk. This tour starts back in March, 2018.
Looking for a ghostly fun time, fascination with the paranormal, ghost haunted account of the “other side” then the Durham Pub Crawl & Haunted Adventure is right up your alley! This is a 2.5 hour tour de force of four historically relevant ghost stories with four cool bars/pubs along the route.
FUN FAMILY ACTIVITY IN DURHAM
Maybe a “family friendly” event is more to your liking? TRT’s Dark & Mysterious Ghost Walk could be for you. A five/six destination 1-mile fascinating walk with all things Durham Ghost Haunted and Paranormal. Great entertainment for ages 8 and up!
DURHAM PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
Next consider catching a show at DPAC, the Durham Performing Arts Center. Since its opening in 2008, DPAC has become established as a premier center for live entertainment in North Carolina. From Greensboro to Durham, Chapel Hill to Cary, to Raleigh and east to the coast, audiences from throughout the region come to the 200 performances the center hosts each season. Annually, DPAC places in the top five theaters in the U.S.
WINTER SHOWS AT DPAC
There is no lack of talent coming to DPAC this summer: Calendar of Events at DPAC!
Check out The Temptations in concert the Bull City Food & Beer Experience this February. Phantom of the Opera will be performed in March and if you are looking for a laugh, Jerry Seinfeld is bringing his unique brand of comedy to DPAC.
Movies, comedians, shows, dance troops, dramas and musicals all take place at the Carolina Theatre – a downtown jewel in Durham’s cap and a more intimate atmosphere. Learn more about it’s history here.
By far a local favorite is Duke Chapel. Duke University Chapel is a chapel located at the center of the campus of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Constructed from 1930 to 1935, the Chapel seats about 1,800 people and stands 210 feet tall, making it one of the tallest buildings in Durham County. It is built in the Collegiate Gothic style, characterized by its large stones, pointed arches, and ribbed vaults. It has a 50-bell carillon and three pipe organs, one with 5,033 pipes and another with 6,900 pipes. A conscious decision was made to place the Chapel at the center of the university and on the highest ridge of Duke University’s West Campus.
Tobacco Road Tours’ Historic Durham Tobacco Empire Tour stops at the Duke Chapel during the 3-hour bus tour selected Saturdays from 1-4pm. This tour often books up one month in advance.
DURHAM BULLS ATHLETIC PARK
Minor League Baseball fan? Then you got to check out the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Durham Bulls Athletic Park is a ballpark in Durham, North Carolina that is home to the Durham Bulls, the AAA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball. Established in 1902 as the Durham Tobacconists and disbanded many times over the years, the Bulls became internationally famous in 1988 following the release of the movie Bull Durham starring Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins, and Susan Sarandon. You can still visit the stadium and many other events take place during the winter and early spring seasons.
Another great asset in Durham is the Museum of Life & Science. The Museum of Life and Science is a science museum located in Durham, North Carolina, USA, featuring an array of largely hands-on exhibits intended to illustrate concepts of natural science.
The museum exists on approximately 80 acres along with the Butterfly House, Farmyard, Grayson’s Cafe, Train,
Explore the Wild nature park, Catch the Wind, and Dinosaur Trail. The museum features both indoor and outdoor learning environments. All ages will love exploring this amazing museum!
Who doesn’t love Lemurs? The Duke Lemur Center is an 85-acre sanctuary for rare and endangered prosimian primates, located at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina and is the largest sanctuary for theyse types of primates in the world. The Duke Lemur Center is open to the public tours, but visitors must make an appointment.
Prefer nature walks? Eno River State Park is a 4,200-acre North Carolina State Park in Durham and Orange County, North Carolina. Together with the adjoining West Point on the Eno City Park, preserves over 9-miles of the Eno River and surrounding lands. There are five public access areas with and twenty-four miles of hiking trails, canoe launches, picnic areas, and historic structures.
AMERICAN TOBACCO CAMPUS
The American Tobacco Historic District is comprised of a million square feet of mixed use and diverse businesses, schools and entertainment treasures in Durham and it the most expensive per square foot real estate in the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, & Chapel Hill). This campus has contributor significantly to Durham’s renaissance in the past 15 years (circa 2015).
American Tobacco Campus is an historic tobacco factory complex and national historic district located in Durham, Durham County, North Carolina. The district encompasses 14 buildings and 3 structures built by the American Tobacco Company and its predecessors from 1874 to the 1950s. Located in the district is the Italianate style W. T. Blackwell and Company building (1874-1880, c. 1904). Other notable contributing resources are the Romanesque Revival style Hill Warehouse (1900), Washington Warehouse (1902–07), the Lucky Strike Building (1901–02), Reed Warehouse; Noell Building (c. 1930); Power Plant; Engine House (1929–39); and the Art Moderne style Fowler (1939) Strickland (1946) and Crowe (1953) buildings.
HISTORIC & TOBACCO EMPIRE TOUR
Now every other Saturday afternoon in downtown Durham- from 1:00pm-4:00pm.
To capture the people, places and events of Durham’s history and tobacco empire, consider a Tobacco Road Tours activity. Highly reviewed and rated, the Historic Durham Sightseeing & Tobacco Empire Tour covers so many interesting and relevant key aspects of Durham. See and learn more in three hours than you could in three days!
Brightleaf Square consist of two historic building known as the Watts and Yuille Warehouses. These historic tobacco storage warehouses are located in downtown Durham, Durham County, North Carolina. Built in 1904, they are identical, two-story Romanesque style brick building structures seven bays wide and twenty bays long. Each unit of the warehouses is 75 feet by 118 feet, for a total of 35,400 square feet on each floor. Each is an example of “slow burn” masonry and wood factory construction. The American Tobacco Company trust beginning in 1897. The buildings have been converted to retail and office use now. Brightleaf Square was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 and the American Tobacco Campus was listed in 2000.
There are seven great restaurants in Brightleaf Square as of 2018. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention Clouds Brewing. With their Raleigh location almost two years old now, they have branched out to Durham with their second location offering the famous Down Pour experience. Clouds Brewing is home to The Downpour; using RFID technology you can start a tab and pour your own beer! The Durham Sightseeing Bar Walk starts at Clouds Brewing.
Of particular note is Stagville State Historic Site, which is one of the largest “plantations” in the Southeast. With buildings constructed from the late 18th century to the mid-19th century, Stagville was part of one of the largest plantation complexes in the American South. The entire complex was owned by the Bennehan and Cameron families and was home to almost 900 enslaved African-Americans in 1860.
The Bennehan House, built 1787 with a large addition in 1799, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973; Horton Grove, an area of two-story slave residences built in 1850, was listed in 1978. The slave residences are well preserved and are the only two-story slave quarters remaining in North Carolina. Significant archaeological finds around the quarters have given archaeologists and historians a glimpse into the lives of the many enslaved people who lived and worked at Stagville and throughout the Bennehan-Cameron holdings.
AWESOME FOOD & DRINK IN DURHAM.
Here are a few stops of the Durham Pub Crawl and Haunted Adventure and the Raleigh Sightseeing Bar Walk.
CONTACT TOBACCO ROAD TOURS
Contact us if you have questions regarding this list. It is written by Tobacco Road Tours staff and is subject to our personal interpretations of the research and information at hand when written in 2018.
Please let us know if the list, and links, were of value to you and your visit to Durham. Thanks, TRT.
Thinking about visiting Raleigh. See our Things to Do in Raleigh page for ideas.