Littered with cozy coffee shops and locally owned restaurants, Durham, North Carolina offers residents and guests endless opportunities for family-friendly dining.
The city also offers an electrifying evening ambiance with its collection of bars and clubs that give couples and singles something to enjoy.
Besides delectable food, never-ending entertainment, and a dash of history, Durham is home to many tourist attractions that attract over nine million people annually!
With a strong community of local and international artists, chefs, and athletes, Durham is a powerhouse of memorable experiences.
But Durham offers much more than that.
The city’s location makes it possible for visitors to explore scenic outdoor locations just a stone’s throw away from the city.
If you’re ready to visit Durham, North Carolina, include this list of exciting places to go when you map out your journey!
1. Whistle Stop Tours
Durham’s colorful history was built on the tenacity and grit of all of the forefathers who worked hard to make the City what it is today.
To commemorate the contributions of all of the hardworking locals who fought for a better Durham, the City hosts The Whistle Stop Tours.
This guided tour takes visitors through the key historical landmarks throughout the City, such as the Hayti Heritage Center and the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice.
The tours come alive with the help of historians, performers, and storytellers who all contribute towards preserving the City’s history.
The Whistle Stop Tours can also accommodate special group bookings, with bus rentals available upon request.
Enjoy a vivid retelling of Durham’s beautiful history through the lens of its loving and proud locals.
Address: Durham, NC, United States
2. Museum of Life and Science
It was in 1946 that the beginnings of the Museum of Life and Science took root at C-36 Lavender Street.
A group of volunteers came together to hatch a plan that would provide children with hands-on experiences that would teach them about science, nature, and the Durham, North Carolina community.
That was over 70 years ago.
Today, the Museum of Life and Science offers Durham attractions and learning opportunities for visitors of all ages.
Just five miles from downtown, the Museum sits on 84 acres of wide, open space.
Inside the modern buildings, guests can find various exhibits that ignite curiosity and wonder.
Some favorite things to see include the Dinosaur Walk, Hideaway Woods, and Butterfly House.
The Museum also houses a miniature CP Huntington locomotive train that guests can ride to take a 10-minute tour of the Museum’s sights and sounds.
The Aerospace exhibit also gets quite a bit of buzz, thanks to its detailed explanations and realistic replicas of space travel gear and equipment.
Address: 433 W Murray Ave, Durham, NC 27704, United States
3. Duke Lemur Center
There are only two places to go in the world where you can find the endangered lemur.
The first is its endemic homeland of Madagascar, and the second would be Durham, North Carolina, strange as that might seem.
In 1966, two researchers took the opportunity to work together to expand their studies.
John Buettner-Janusch of Yale University had in his possession a group of about 60 lemurs which he used to study biochemical genetics.
He handed the lemurs over to Peter Klopfer, a Duke University biologist who placed the lemurs in Duke Forest.
Fifty years later, the lemurs thrived in the protected habitat, proliferating to hundreds of individuals across 14 different species.
The 100-acre Duke Lemur Center sees over 35,000 visitors each year and has helped protect the endangered animals from extinction.
Today, the Duke Lemur Center is one of the most interesting things to do in Durham and offers different tour packages that take you through the forest and even behind the scenes.
One tour option lets you get up close and personal with the animals, as well as the intricate process of the research that happens behind the curtains.
Address: 3705 Erwin Rd, Durham, NC 27705, United States
4. Satellite Park
Looking for unique and fun places to visit in Durham?
In the 1990s, Duke University used a series of satellite dishes that delivered educational programming for kids to Duke Cable Television.
Presently, the satellites have been retired with the dawn of newer technologies that allow faster, more efficient, and more reliable program signals.
But despite being decommissioned, the satellites have found a new purpose as one of the many artistic Durham attractions for visitors hoping to add a pop of color to their Instagram feed.
A group of local artists got together to design and paint the gargantuan satellite dishes, breathing new life into the defunct installation.
Now, the Park is one of the most unique things to see in all of Durham.
Today, the Satellite Park sees thousands of guests come and go each year, offering a beautiful backdrop that captures the artistry and imagination of the local creatives who designed the archaic dishes.
The Park also serves as a testament to Durham’s readiness to embrace change, creativity, and purpose.
Address: 404 Gattis Street, Durham, NC, United States
5. Nasher Museum of Art
The 63,000-square-foot Nasher Museum of Art is Duke University’s crowning glory.
Designed by Rafael Viñoly, this sprawling art space touts a collection of permanent exhibits dating back to the Medieval period.
It also houses noteworthy pieces from pre-Columbian America.
But more than just their historic pieces, the Nasher Museum of Art also boasts many other things to see like a collection of contemporary art.
Their Contemporary Collection features pieces from local artists and places emphasis on the proud history of Durham, North Carolina.
If you’re done with your stroll through the Museum and you’re looking for other things to do in Durham, a quaint cafe rests just within the property.
Here you’ll find a wide assortment of hot and cold beverages and bespoke bread and pastries that have earned their own popularity and patronage.
If you’re visiting in groups, you can take advantage of the Museum’s tour packages.
Discounts are available for schools and educators hoping to bring their students to learn art and culture through the Museum’s exhibitions.
Address: 2001 Campus Dr, Durham, NC 27705, United States
Looking for more thrill? Why not explore North Carolina, Asheville, and Boone? If you plan the trip, here are some fun things to do in North Carolina, some top things to do in Asheville, NC, and some cool things to do in Boone, NC!
6. Xtreme Park Adventures
For the fun-loving, extreme sports enthusiasts, there’s Xtreme Park Adventures.
This sprawling open, outdoor space houses loads of fun activities and cool things to do for teens and young adults.
A favorite location for summer camps and corporate team building, Xtreme Park Adventures also hosts a range of sporting activities for registered visitors.
Presently, the Park offers sports like laser tag, rock climbing, ATV riding, and airsoft.
They also offer other activities including ropes courses, escape rooms, gem mining, paintball, ziplines, and outdoor quests.
If you’re hosting an event, the Xtreme Park Adventures venue offers comfortable amenities and party rooms for your exclusive functions and get-togethers.
And just in case you forget to pack your snacks, the Park has its own in-house food service that lets you enjoy filling sandwiches and meals without having to break the bank.
Address: 7460 Wake Forest Rd, Durham, NC 27703, United States
7. Beyú Caffé
Opened in 2009, Beyú Caffé has become a fixture on the Durham City food crawl and is near another iconic landmark – the Civil Rights Mural.
Big on coffee, this cafe-slash restaurant offers some of the most beloved caffeinated brews in the City.
Incorporating the art and culture of the Durham, North Carolina locale into their ambiance, the Beyú Caffé infuses each cup with gastronomic artistry.
But more than just their coffees, Beyú Caffé has earned popularity for their hearty, southern cuisine that they serve all through the day.
The restaurant serves delectable dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, earning the establishment a steady influx of diners regardless of the time.
And if that isn’t reason enough for you to pay Beyú Caffé a visit, it’s worth mentioning that the resto also hosts live Jazz and live Latin music performances on selected days throughout the week.
This gives a chance to local artists who want to gain a little extra exposure on a routine basis.
Address: 341 W Main St, Durham, NC 27701, United States
8. The Streets at Southpoint
If you’re in the mood for a lazy afternoon stroll with a little retail therapy, The Streets at Southpoint Mall would be the place to go.
This expansive mall complex houses some 173 stores, combining comfort, convenience, and lifestyle into one.
The Streets at Southpoint Mall offers loads of shopping opportunities featuring some of your favorite brands, as well as endless dining options for when you’re feeling tired from all the spending.
For kids and teens, the Mall offers a movie theater and wide open spaces for pictures and play.
As a favorite hang-out spot for locals looking for laidback stuff to do, Southpoint Mall provides lots of comfortable seating spaces littered throughout the property.
This means you can grab a cup from your favorite cafe or some takeout to satisfy your food cravings and enjoy the spoils of your little excursion as you bask in the comfort of the Mall’s ambiance.
Address: 6910 Fayetteville Rd, Durham, NC 27713, United States
9. The Pinhook
This isn’t like the other places to visit in Durham.
The offbeat crowd that gathers at The Pinhook represents some of the most artistic members of the Durham, North Carolina community.
This unconventional bar aims to represent the voice of the marginalized, expressing some pretty opinionated political themes which they convey through art, music, and dance.
All year round, The Pinhook offers endless shows, musical performances, and entertainment programs that give a voice to local artists hoping to break into the Durham, North Carolina scene.
They also have karaoke nights that let visitors take to the stage and enjoy their own few minutes of applause and cheer.
Food at The Pinhook definitely isn’t substandard.
Offering a diverse selection of food and drinks, the bar makes sure you’re fully satisfied before you step out of its doors.
Address: 117 W Main St, Durham, NC 27701, United States
10. Durham Central Park
There’s always something brewing at Durham Central Park.
As the heart of the City’s lively cultural scene, Central Park hosts dozens of fun events for locals and guests to enjoy.
Their longest-running event is what they call their Food Truck Rodeo which always draws in crowds by the hundreds.
The Food Truck Rodeo brings together local food and drink vendors who take to the park to offer their best products.
Only available four Sundays throughout the year, the Food Truck Rodeo gives an opportunity for home cooks and up-and-coming food business owners to showcase their culinary prowess.
But more than just the food truck bonanza, Central Park also hosts a range of music festivals, entertainment events, and farmer’s markets so everyone has a reason to pay the Park a visit.
Because events change depending on the season, it would be ideal to check the official Durham Central Park website to find out what special events you’ll find when you get there.
Address: 501 Foster St, Durham, NC 27701, United States
11. Durham Civil Rights Mural
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The people of Durham, North Carolina have come a long way from what it once was.
And thanks to the City’s dedication to preserving its history, locals and visitors never have to wonder where and how the City began.
Today, one of the most iconic landmarks throughout the city is dedicated to making sure that the unsung heroes from the City’s civil rights movement are never forgotten.
The Durham Civil Rights Mural features artwork from over 30 local artists who collaborated to shed light on the history of the City.
The 2,400 square foot wall beautifully depicts in colorful detail all of the hardworking black men and women who fought for equality and equity throughout the City back in the day.
Needless to say, the bright artwork is a necessary stop for sightseeing around the city.
There are lots of ways to enjoy the view at the Durham Civil Rights Mural.
But one of the most noteworthy ways would have to be the dedicated bike tours that pass along the Mural and many others in the vicinity.
Address: 110 Morris St, Durham, NC 27701, United States
12. Mystic Farm & Distilling Company
Ever wondered how bourbon is made?
Mystic Farm & Distilling Company is here to answer all of your burning questions.
Nestled on 22 acres of wide, open farm, the Mystic Farm & Distilling Company has been making its own bespoke bourbon for over a decade.
Their award-winning Broken Oak Bourbon has earned them quite a reputation across the bourbon scene.
Paying a visit to the Mystic Farm gives you access to exclusive tours of the farm and a behind-the-scenes look at how their award-winning products are made.
Of course, free samples are available throughout the duration of the tour.
Quiet, calm, and laidback, the Mystic Farm tour is the perfect experience for couples or adult groups who want to unwind during their Durham, North Carolina trip.
The peaceful property offers loads of fresh air and warm sunlight that adds character and class to the overall experience.
Address: 1212 N Mineral Springs Rd, Durham, NC 27703, United States
13. Durham Farmers’ Market
Operating since 1999, the Durham Farmers’ Market provides a venue for local farmers to showcase their products and for locals to purchase fresh, affordable produce and finds.
The Market was opened to increase accessibility for locally-grown and manufactured products for everyone in the community.
As you might know, Durham is home to dozens of family-owned and operated farms.
Many grow produce and fruits, while others venture into animal products like cheese and milk.
Some vendors showcase an assortment of plants, herbs, and spices that add color and excitement to every market visit.
If you’re planning a trip and you’re trying to find more things to do in Durham, make sure to check their Farmers’ Market schedules so you can make room in your itinerary.
The market features some 65 vendors from all over the city, so you’ll be sure to find something that’s perfect for your preferences.
Address: 501 Foster St, Durham, NC 27701, United States
14. NC Comicon and Comiquest
The annual NC Comicon and Comiquest event draws in thousands of guests from all over North Carolina and the country.
Held in the Durham Convention Center, this two-day comics and film festival gives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for fans to gather together, meet new people, and share their love for film and comics.
Organizers typically invite celebrity guests that enrich the experience and provide forums and photo-ops for their adoring fans.
The event also provides an avenue for enthusiasts to showcase their cosplay chops with other like-minded individuals.
The annual event brings loads of fun and enjoyment for the people who visit.
Aside from the main event, NC Comicon also offers tons of prizes, raffles, and booths that let visitors thoroughly explore their interests.
Address: 301 W Morgan St, Durham, NC 27701, United States
If you’ve got little kids in tow, make sure to stop by Tiny.
Advertised as ‘the cutest little kids boutique you ever did see,’ Tiny offers a collection of children and baby products from some of the best-known brands.
The owners carefully handpick what products to include in their line-up, which allows them to achieve a muted, minimalist, modern, yet fun and interesting aesthetic.
Kids can easily get lost in the broad selection of toys and trinkets available in the store.
If you’re expecting a baby, you can also expect to find everything you need with a short trip to Tiny.
From books to toys to breastfeeding essentials and more, Tiny has everything you and your kids could ever ask for.
They also boast some of the friendliest staff in all of Bull City — a solid reason for many patrons to keep coming back.
Address: 770 9th St, Durham, NC 27705, United States
16. La Mala
Looking for romantic things to do in Durham, North Carolina?
La Mala is a top-rated restaurant and bar that features modern Mexican cuisine and cocktails.
The dark, contemporary interiors give the hot spot unique aesthetic appeal.
Walls are painted with beautiful murals that showcase, once again, Durham’s love for art and culture.
La Mala opens at 4 PM on weekdays, making it the go-to for nine-to-fivers hoping to relax tonight after a day of work.
It’s also a favorite date spot for couples who want to enjoy great food and a calm, relaxed ambiance.
Offering a broad selection of cocktails, drinks, and dishes, La Mala’s menu has earned a reputation as one of the best on the nighttime scene.
So if you find yourself around E. Main Street during your Durham trip, make sure to drop by La Mala for some contemporary cocktails and rich, Mexican food.
Address: 110 Corcoran St, Durham, NC 27701, United States
Planning a trip to Charlotte, Cherokee, or Fayetteville? Check out our list of some of the best things to do in Charlotte, NC, some fun things to do in Cherokee, NC, and some top things to do in Fayetteville, NC!
17. Bad Machines
Do you love craft beer and esports?
Then Bad Machines is the place to be.
Recognized as one of the first esports bars in all of North Carolina, Bad Machines gives a space for esports enthusiasts to come together, enjoy a drink, and take part in live matches.
The clever bar concept was developed specifically for the ever-changing cultures not only in Durham, North Carolina but all over the rest of the globe.
As a response to the growing popularity of esports, the owners decided to provide a venue for local players to meet, make friends, and enjoy good food.
Drinks at the Bad Machines bar are inspired by some of the most popular video games of our generation.
They also offer non-alcoholic alternatives if you want to keep your head on straight so as not to mess up your esports performance.
Address: 108 E Main St, Durham, NC 27701, United States
18. Bull City Bake Shop
At Durham, North Carolina, there’s always room for dessert.
Every turn around the City reveals bakeshops that never seem to run out of patrons.
Of all the pastry providers throughout the City, Bull City Bake Shop often gets the most attention.
Their decadent list of pastries, cakes, and bread make the Bull City Bake Shop a must-try for both locals and visitors.
Their sinfully delicious cinnamon rolls have gotten much love from buyers who can’t help but keep coming back for more.
The store’s cake pops and cookies don’t lag too far behind in terms of popularity.
The black woman-owned bake shop has become a fixture in the community.
Their friendly staff and fresh baked goods should be reason enough for Durham, North Carolina guests to drop by for a treat.
Address: 3604 Witherspoon Blvd #109, Durham, NC 27707, United States
19. American Tobacco Trail
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Durham, North Carolina is the American Tobacco Trail.
This 10-foot-wide paved trail runs alongside the CSX railroad and provides a path for biking, hiking, and running enthusiasts to get out and explore.
Extending 11 miles, the trail offers fresh air and friendly faces that make it the perfect place to unwind and have fun.
The trail extends well beyond Durham, but the Durham section often gets the most foot traffic.
You can also take a detour off to Riddle Road Spur which provides a slightly more challenging terrain for people who want to burn more calories.
After your visit to the trail, you can walk around the vicinity to find various points of interest that have popped up since the trail became popular.
These days, it’s not hard to find food stalls and crafts kiosks just within a stone’s toss from the iconic trail.
Address: Durham, NC, United States
20. Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Wondering what to do in Durham, North Carolina to get a whiff of fresh air?
Considered the golden standard for public gardens in all of the country, Sarah P. Duke Gardens is an expansive public-access garden that’s absolutely free to visit.
Seeing some 600,000 visitors each year, the Garden spreads out across 55 acres of land adorned with beautiful flowering flora.
Operating 365 days a year, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens provides the perfect backdrop for all of your Instagram-worthy travel photos.
The Gardens are painstakingly maintained by volunteers from Duke University which also funds all of the needs that the Gardens require for proper upkeep.
At night, strategically located lights bring life to the Gardens and enchant the place with dazzling, dynamic visuals.
The tourist attraction is divided into four distinct areas that showcase distinct aesthetics and plants that set each area apart from the rest.
Address: 420 Anderson St, Durham, NC 27708, United States
21. Eno River State Park
Recognized as one of the most iconic points of interest in Durham, the Eno River State Park is a fun sightseeing opportunity you shouldn’t miss.
The protected wilderness park has endless networks of walking trails and provides opportunities for fishing and paddling.
Walk a little further into the Park, and you’ll find another one of Durham attractions called West Point on the Eno.
The location is home to various tourist attractions including a historic mill and farmhouse surrounded by beautiful landscapes that envelop the Eno River.
Aside from all of that, Eno River State Park also provides opportunities for birdwatching, picnicking, and camping.
So if you’re planning a trip to Durham, North Carolina this weekend, packing a tent and pitching it up at Eno River State Park can help you cut back on the cost of accommodations.
Address: 6101 Cole Mill Rd, Durham, NC 27705, United States
22. Forest Hills Park
If you’re not big on outdoor activities but still want a breath of fresh air, a trip to Forest Hills Park should do you some good.
The beautifully maintained park touts perfectly manicured gardens, shaded playgrounds, and lots of park benches and huts that you can stay in for a quiet afternoon with the kids.
Sports enthusiasts can also enjoy a laidback game of pickleball or tennis with locals who hold routine matches throughout the week.
But more than just the sports and playgrounds, Forest Hills Park makes the perfect venue for a picnic.
The Park touts a handful of picnic shelters and tables that are free to use for all who visit.
So if you were hoping to enjoy a wholesome family lunch for family members of all ages, then Forest Hills Park would be the best place to do it.
Address: 1639 University Dr, Durham, NC 27707, United States
23. Rolling View State Recreation Area
Wondering what to do in Durham, North Carolina during those hot summer days?
Rolling View State Recreation Area has just what you need.
This water park takes advantage of the beautiful sandy lakefront that’s yet another tourist attraction in Durham.
Complete with hiking and bike trails, the Rolling View State Recreation Area is best known for its boating activities.
Here, visitors can rent canoes, paddle boats, and motorboats to explore the wide open lake.
Management also allows guests to take their lunch with them on the boat so they can enjoy a laketop picnic.
As a budget-friendly tourist hotspot, Rolling View State Recreation Area gets quite a lot of visitors all year round.
Make sure to arrive early so you can make the most of the Park’s wonderful experiences and activities.
Address: 4201 Baptist Rd, Durham, NC 27703, United States
Durham, North Carolina isn’t called the ‘Tastiest Town in the South’ for nothing.
The city has often been dubbed a foodie’s paradise with its near-infinite range of dining options.
While every restaurant in the City deserves a visit, QueenBurger is one you shouldn’t miss.
Locally owned and operated, QueenBurger uses local grass-fed beef and homemade toppings for all of its burger options.
Their low prices and generous services have made them a go-to for locals who want to enjoy a big meal without spending too much.
QueenBurger’s rustic burger options paired with a locally crafted beer from vendors just a stone’s toss away can make the perfect combination to fill you up as you explore the City.
Don’t forget to tag their Instagram when you post your QueenBurger experience.
Address: 359 Blackwell St Suite 125, Durham, NC 27701, United States
Planning a roundtrip around North Carolina? Why not check out Greensboro, Raleigh, and Wilmington? If you plan the trip, here are some of the best things to do in Greensboro, NC, some fun things to do in Raleigh, NC, and some cool things to do in Wilmington, NC!
25. Bull City Food and Beer Experience
This annual event happens every March and aims to encapsulate the flavors of Durham City.
The Bull City Food and Beer Experience includes entries from some 30 local restaurants and over 50 beer breweries from around the City.
These vendors all come together under one roof to showcase their best products and prove why Durham City gets the name ‘Tastiest City in the South.’
The event also works to provide guests with a quick look into the Durham City culture.
Booths, giveaways, pamphlets, and locals work hand in hand to embody the friendly, hospitable nature of Durham and its colorful history.
Tickets for the Festival go on sale months before schedule.
So before you head to Durham, North Carolina, make sure you buy your tickets in advance unless you want to risk missing out on one of the City’s most highly anticipated events.
Address: Durham, NC, United States
Start Planning Your Trip To Durham, NC
If you’re planning a trip this weekend or your next vacation, why not try Durham?
Offering loads of fun, wholesome, interesting activities for the entire family, Durham readily welcomes tourists of all ages with their endless list of attractions, restaurants, events, and more.