16 Best Things to Do in Durham NC

Durham, North Carolina is known as one of the most amazing places to live, work, and play, it’s no wonder more than 9 million people visit every year.

It is a favorite for tourists who want to see the city and its attractions for themselves.

Whether you like the nightlife, or day trips and adventures, the city has abundant activities to engage and see such as performing arts, sports, fantastic outdoors, shopping, eco-agriculture, or educational and historical sightseeing.

The city is unique with a lot of fun things to do and there’s never a dull moment so plan your trip with this city in mind.

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Bennett Place

Bennett PlaceSource: Wikimedia/Washuotaku | CC BY-SA 4.0 InternationalPin

The beautiful open green space at Bennett Place is one with many stories that visitors and tourists must learn when in Durham NC.

It has historic structures that have been reconstructed and restored to its original state.

Bennett Place witnessed the April 1865 Confederate troop surrender which is considered the largest of its time and the end of the American Civil War.

It was here General Joseph E. Johnson and General William T. Sherman surrendered their armies in many parts of the country.

Today, it has a museum and theatre where “Dawn of Peace,” a short film is shown to visitors.

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Address: 4409 Bennett Memorial Rd, Durham, NC 27705, United States

Eno River State Park

Eno River State ParkSource: Wikimedia/Zanter | CC BY-SA 3.0 UnportedPin

Located 10 miles from downtown Durham is the Eno River State Park which offers the perfect place to run away from downtown’s hustle and bustle.

The Eno River flows 33 miles through the city and terminates at Falls Lake.

It cuts across a historic mill, pine forest, lovely bluffs, and more.

The park has 5 entry points which makes it an easy escape location to unwind and relax.

There are numerous activities to enjoy at the park such as canoeing, fishing, kayaking, overnight camping and hiking.

Address: Durham, NC 27705, United States

American Tobacco Trail

American Tobacco TrailSource: Wikimedia/Ildar Sagdejev | CC BY-SA 4.0 InternationalPin

Explore the over 22-mile American Tobacco Trail which meanders around downtown Durham.

The trails snake further through Wake and Chatham counties making it a large ground to explore for travelers who have the patience and time to get busy.

It was built in the 1970s out of the American Tobacco Company’s abandoned railroad track.

Visitors can get on any of the access points of the trails and bike or walk or even run along its natural beautiful greenways to see and experience nature.

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Learn more about this trail from here.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Sarah P. Duke GardensSource: Flickr/Dave Crosby | CC BY-SA 2.0 GenericPin

Sarah P. Duke Gardens is also another pretty place to spend some time with family and friends.

The garden has a lot of trees and flowers on its 55 acres, and it is used for many activities, weddings, and private events all year round.

It is best to visit this place in early spring when all the cherries blossom but it still gives off beauty any time of the year.

Visitors always enjoy the ambience of the garden and it has the highest of standards for public gardens in the country.

Address: 420 Anderson St, Durham, NC 27708, United States

Museum of Life and Science Durham

Museum of Life and Science Durham Source: Wikimedia/HrAtsuo | CC BY-SA 4.0 InternationalPin

The Museum of Life and Science is located just 5 miles from Downtown Durham and has developed at an exponential rate.

The museum started back in 1946 when some group of persons volunteered and created a small nature centre which offered preschool, story times, and practical nature discovery in the community.

Today, it is 75 years and covers more than 80 acres with over 35 outdoor and indoor exhibits including an aquarium, a zoo, an aerospace museum, a nature preserves, a science lab, an old-time railway, a conservatory, and many more.

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Address: 433 W Murray Ave, Durham, NC 27704, United States

Durham Farmers’ Market

Durham Farmers MarketSource: Wikimedia/ Ildar Sagdejev | CC BY-SA 4.0 InternationalPin

Travellers who intend to spend a Saturday in Durham should endeavour to plan a morning stopover during the weekend at the Durham Farmer’s Market.

The farmer’s market began back in 1999 and has become one of the choice places to learn and experience Durham culture and food.

Here visitors and residents get to buy fresh produce that has been locally grown and made such as bakery items, honey, flowers, artisan foods, and crafts.

There is a 70-mile radius commitment to enable buying local items from farmers and vendors who sell in Durham.

The market runs from 8 am to noon every year from April to November and the best day to visit is Saturdays although there are Wednesday markets in the afternoons which

The best time to visit the Durham Farmers’ Market is Saturday morning, when they are open from 8 am to noon, April through November.

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Address: 501 Foster St, Durham, NC 27701, United States

Duke Lemur Center

Duke Lemur CenterSource: Unsplash/Erik-Jan Leusink (Representative image) | Unsplash LicensePin

As strange as it may seem, in the world today, there are just two places where the endangered lemur can be found, in its indigenous homeland of Madagascar and in Durham, North Carolina.

In 1966, John Buettner-Janusch who worked at Yale University had around 60 lemurs for his biochemical genetics research.

These lemurs were later given to Peter Klopfer, a biologist at Duke University, who kept the lemurs in the Duke Forest.

The lemurs went on to breed more than 14 species in over 50 years within this protected habitat.

So, it is an awesome place to explore and learn about these little creatures and their story.

Address: 3705 Erwin Rd, Durham, NC 27705, United States

Stagville State Historic Site

Stagville State Historic SiteSource: Wikimedia/Cotinis | CC BY-SA 3.0 UnportedPin

Stagville State Historic Site used to be an old plantation and it was the biggest in the state.

It is located on the Bennehan-Cameron family land, the family-owned over 900 slaves back in the day and it has become a historic site to learn about slavery in the community.

There are slaveholding records for visitors to see and also relieve the pain slaves went through during that period.

The plantation has several ancient buildings which include the Holman House located at Horton Grove, the Great Barn, and the Bennehan House.

The main attractions are the four slave quarters on the grounds of the Stagville State Historic Site which shows how slaves lived on the plantation.

Address: 5828 Old Oxford, Highway, Durham, NC 27712, United States

Durham Performing Arts Center

Durham Performing Arts CenterSource: Wikimedia/Discover Durham | CC BY 4.0 InternationalPin

Durham Performing Arts Center or DPAC as it is popularly known is among the best things to do on weekends in Durham, North Carolina.

The 2,700-seat capacity is built in the style of a stadium, it hosts more than 200 events and performances annually.

So, for travelers in town who would love to see the outdoors and some amazing performances then visit the DPAC.

Get on the behind-the-scenes tour which holds monthly and walk the stage just like the performers and stars do.

It is a wonderful experience that can only be felt on a visit.

Address: 123 Vivian Street, Durham, NC 27701, United States

Falls Lake State Recreation Area

Falls Lake State Recreation AreaSource: Wikipedia/Ildar Sagdejev | CC BY-SA 4.0 InternationalPin

This is another great location for the outdoor experience with over 12,000 acres of land and a reservoir, there are also 300 plus campsites, boat ramps, great padding, and five swimming beaches.

If the Falls Lake State Recreation Area is not on any traveller’s itinerary, then the trip is incomplete.

There are numerous biking trails located at one of the access points into the Falls Lake close to the Beaverdam.

There are many hiking trails such as the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail that crosses through the lake and is considered a center of attraction.

Take a trip today and experience this tour.

Address: 13304 Creedmoor Rd, Wake Forest, NC 27587, United States

Duke University Chapel (Durham Cathedral)

Durham CathedralSource: Wikimedia/mattbuck | CC BY-SA 2.0 GenericPin

The Durham Cathedral is one of the most visited sights in the city after Duke University.

This church is located in the middle of the Durham University Campus on the West Campus precisely.

Although the cathedral is also located within the campus grounds, it is always greeted by tourists and visitors all through the year.

It looks more like a middle age castle rather than a modern cathedral.

It is magnificent with beautiful ceilings and pews, and it was used as the Benedictine Monastery with lines that demarcated women from distracting Monks.

Duke University ChapelSource: Wikimedia/Warren LeMay | Public Domain Mark 1.0Pin

It was built in the 30s with a 210-foot tower that has 77 colorful glass windows that illustrate many bible scenes.

When the pipe organ blares up, the sound is extraordinarily amazing.

Visit and see the stone piers, ribbed vaults, pointed arches, flying buttresses and many more.

Address: 401 Chapel Dr, Durham, NC 27708, United States

American Tobacco Historic District

American Tobacco Historic DistrictSource: Wikimedia/Davidwells75 | CC BY-SA 3.0 UnportedPin

The American Tobacco Historic District comprises 17 buildings built as a tobacco factory.

In 2000, the site was listed on the U.S National Register of Historic Places which makes it a top attraction in Durham, North Carolina.

The factory was built between 1874 and 1950s which includes the Blackwell and Company Building with an Italian style design, the Romanesque Revival style Hill Warehouse building, and many others such as the Fowler, Crowe, and Strickland buildings.

It has been redeveloped in a bid to renew the face of downtown Durham. Do not miss the attraction for any reason.

Address: 300 Blackwell St #104, Durham, NC 27701, United States

Durham Bulls Athletic Park

Durham Bulls Athletic ParkSource: Wikimedia/Warren LeMay | Public Domain Mark 1.0Pin

Durham is a place filled with a lot of parks for relaxing and unwinding in nature.

The Durham Bulls Athletic Park is one such ark where visitors can chill with family and friends on a low.

The park is home to the minor league baseball team “Durham Bulls,” and watching the games here as a fan is an unforgettable experience.

It is the same place “Bull Durham” the movie was filmed and has been serving for more than 50 years.

There is a lot of history here to learn and explore.

Address: 409 Blackwell St, Durham, NC 27701, United States

Carolina Theatre

Carolina TheatreSource: Wikimedia/Warren LeMay | CC BY-SA 4.0 InternationalPin

Another one of the top attractions listed on the National Register of Historic Places is the Carolina Theatre which cannot be left out on this list of 15-plus things to do in Durham.

It is one of 13 original theatres still in use today.

This is a perfect place for date nights and a lifetime experience for friends and family.

This 1920s movie hub has an amazing interior and exterior decoration which has played host to special performances, events, daily films showing historic movies and so much more.

Address: 309 W Morgan St, Durham, NC 27701, United States

Nasher Museum of Art

Nasher Museum of ArtSource: Wikimedia/Ildar Sagdejev | CC BY-SA 4.0 InternationalPin

With a high collection of exhibits, the Nasher Museum of Art is another great place to learn the history of the city.

Located on the Duke University grounds, admission is free every Thursday night (5 pm – 9 pm) but every other time visitors are required to pay a fee.

Travellers can see both contemporary and international exhibitions in this futuristic cube-shaped building housing over 10,000 artworks within its walls.

There are four main collections in the museum and it includes Medieval Art, pre-Columbian Art of the Americans, modern contemporary from the African diaspora, and Classical Antiquities.

It is the University Museum with the best art collections in the country.

Address: 2001 Campus Dr, Durham, NC 27705, United States

Durham Central Park

Durham Central ParkSource: Wikimedia/dreid1987 | CC BY 3.0 UnportedPin

Last on our list is the Durham Central Park, this place is packed with a lot of things to do and see.

It is a recreation hub where special events are held and hosts several amazing food spots.

This 5-acre green area is commonly known for hosting movie screenings, concerts, food truck rodeos, and farmers’ markets.

With a 9,000-square-foot pavilion, it is the perfect place to enjoy some of the best outdoor activities in Durham.

There is a play area for children known as “Mount Merrill,” which is interactive with different species of trees.

Other things to do at the park include skating at the skate park, Garden or Eatin, the free-pick public garden, and so much more.

Address: 501 Foster St, Durham, NC 27701, United States


There are so many things to do in Durham, North Carolina and these are but a few of the best activities selected to make any traveller’s trip feel fulfilling with great memories.

For outdoor lovers, it is a great way to explore the many parks, gardens, and trails in the city.

Those who love to learn about the history of the people and places get to explore the museums, and historic sites such as the Bennett Place, American Tobacco Historic District, and so much more.

  • Sarah ThackerPin

    Senior Travel Writer, Travelsc

    Sarah is a writer from Ohio, currently living in West Virginia. As an avid baking enthusiast, she always scopes out the best food in an area and can make gre...

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