A Local's Guide on Things to Do in Durham

Living in Durham means endless opportunities for learning, exploration, and community.  Durham has a rich history, vibrant culture, and an exciting arts and music scene that boasts its diversity. In addition, it is home to plenty of locally owned restaurants and shops. The city is also home to world-class universities and award-winning parks.
Its strong economy and access to higher education make the city a popular destination. With a mild climate and location central to both the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains and the eastern NC beaches, it's easy to understand why so many people choose to call Durham home. Read on for the top things to do in Durham from a local's perspective.

Delve into Durham's culture

When it comes to cultural activities, there are many things to do in Durham, from museums to performing arts venues that educate and inspire.
The Nasher Museum of Art, located on the Duke University campus, is a world-renowned institution and home to a wide range of exhibits. The museum's permanent collection includes works by some of the most important artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. These include Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, and Willem de Kooning. The museum also has a strong collection of ancient art from around the world, including Greek, Roman, and Egyptian artifacts.
The Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC), hosts a variety of concerts, plays, and other performing arts events. Its state-of-the-art facilities and a 2,700-seat capacity theater enhance the experience that audiences take from performances. Hosting everything from Riverdance to hit Broadway musicals, DPAC is a must for anyone who loves the performing arts. 
While it might not have quite the same capacity, the Carolina Theatre is a historic venue that is known for its architecture, with a beautiful exterior and a grand interior that includes a lavish lobby and an ornate auditorium. Set in the heart of downtown, the Carolina hosts a variety of concerts, plays, and other performing arts events.
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Culture is about much more than just art and theater, Durham takes pride in its history and diversity. Take a stroll through downtown Durham’s Parrish Street, the home of Durham’s Black Wall Street. Black Wall Street was the hub of African-American business and banking in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Today, historic Parrish Street, is at the center of downtown revitalization. Walk one street over from Parrish Street to some of Durham’s current black owned businesses; for great coffee and southern food check out Beyu Caffe and for fun slushie drinks (21+!) check out The Slush Durham.
For a taste of history that is truly unique, the Bennett Place State Historic Site memorializes one of the most pivotal moments in US history. This is where Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and Union General William T. Sherman met in 1865 to negotiate the largest surrender of the Civil War. The property includes a visitor center and museum, the Bennett House where the surrender took place, and a number of walking trails with historical markers.

Explore Durham's wild side

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Durham has plenty of opportunities to learn about the natural world or simply relax in a quiet outdoor setting. For an educational experience that gets up-close and personal with endangered animals the Duke Lemur Center offers educational programs and tours of its facilities. Dedicated to the study and conservation of endangered primates, the center is home to a wide variety of lemurs, lorises, and bushbabies. Outdoor enclosures allow visitors to see lemurs and other primates in a setting that is similar to their natural habitat.
The North Carolina Museum of Life and Science, invites visitors to learn in fun and engaging ways with a wide range of interactive, hands-on, science, and nature exhibits. With indoor and outdoor areas to explore, the museum is located on 84 acres with wooded areas, gardens, and wetlands.
When you are ready for a little personal time in nature, take a stroll through the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Home to a wide range of annuals, perennials, and herbs, the gardens are laid out in a number of different styles, including formal, informal, and naturalistic. The walking trails and beautiful outdoor spaces are perfect for relaxing and observing nature. For something a little more invigorating, check out Eno River State Park, where you can hike, fish, picnic, and birdwatch. The park also has opportunities for camping, canoeing, or kayaking on the Eno River, and for exploring historical sites such as Cole Mill.
Photo courtesy of the Duke Forest and Duke University 
For more hiking options, visit the Duke Forest. This beautiful natural area has trails suited to hikers of all skill levels, ranging from easy paved trails to more challenging, off-road excursions. In addition to natural features such as streams and wetlands, an assortment of wildlife including birds, deer, and squirrels make their homes among the forest's pine, oak, hickory, maple, sweetgum, dogwood, and other trees.

Treat yourself to the best of Durham

There is always time for shopping, and Durham has plenty of exceptional opportunities.
Walk through Durham’s 9th Street, adjacent to the Brightleaf district and a hub for the Duke University community. There you will find a strip of amazing small businesses including the Regulator Bookshop, Tiny, and Vaguely Reminiscent- the best gift shop in town!
The American Tobacco Campus is a historic tobacco factory that was transformed into a hub for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Known for its beautiful architecture, it is a mix of historic and modern buildings. Home to restaurants, shops and offices, the campus hosts popular local businesses alongside national retailers. Open areas and green spaces play host to events throughout the year, including the famous ATC Christmas Tree Lighting and the Durham Night Market. Don’t forget to check out the Durham Bulls Stadium right next door!
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The Brightleaf District is another repurposed historic structure with a connection to the area's tobacco history. This former warehouse district has been transformed into a hub for shopping, dining, and entertainment. It holds a diverse mix of businesses, cultural events and activities, including concerts and festivals.
If you are looking for something fresh, the Durham Farmers' Market features a wide range of locally grown produce, meats, baked goods, and specialty foods. You can also find artisanal products such as handmade crafts, soaps, and other personal care products.The Winter market is open Saturdays from 10am-12pm!

When you’re ready to call Durham home

There is nothing more important when looking for homes for sale in Durham than having an agent who understands the local market, trends, and community. An experienced and knowledgeable agent at Spotlight Realty, can ensure you find the home that meets all of your needs.

*Header photo courtesy of Unsplash

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