Hey y’all! Hope you’re having a great week. A couple of weeks ago I asked my Instagram followers what kind of blog content y’all would like to see. I had a request for “favorite things to do in Durham.” I’ve lived and worked in the Durham area for over five years now. Also, I’m in a season of life where it’s not feasible for me to travel to lots of different destinations frequently. Therefore, I’m all about learning to love where you live and taking advantage of fun local activities that don’t involve the expense of plane tickets and hotel rooms. So today I’m excited to share my top 10 things to do in Durham, NC. Note that these are in no particular order. Here we go:
1. Catch a Durham Bulls Game
A Durham spring and summer is not complete without at least one trip to a Durham Bulls game at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP) downtown. The Durham Bulls are a AAA minor league affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. If you’re not familiar with baseball, AAA is one step below Major League Baseball. So some of the players that you will see playing for the Bulls will be making it to the majors soon, which is cool. Also, since the Durham Bulls are just one step below the majors, the DBAP is larger than a lot of minor league ballparks.
Even if you’re not a big baseball fan, the atmosphere at Durham Bulls games is still amazing. They have different promotional events throughout the season. For instance, there’s usually fireworks after Friday and Saturday night games, and discounted concessions on Thursday nights. My favorite promotion is Wool E. Bull’s birthday party. Wool E. Bull is the Durham Bulls mascot and he’s super cute. Once a year, they designate a game as his “birthday party.” Mascots across the state come for on-field shenanigans and a meet & great. And there’s birthday cake too!
The Tampa Bay Rays mascots made an appearance at a Bulls game a couple years ago.
Wool E. Bull greets fans in the Team Store during the 3rd inning of every game!
Sir Purr of the Carolina Panthers came to Wool E. Bull’s Birthday Party a couple years ago.
For more info about the Durham Bulls and to buy tickets, click here.
2. Enjoy Homemade Ice Cream at The Parlour
I don’t know how I lived in Durham for over four years before finally making it to The Parlour last spring. It’s the most adorable old-fashioned ice cream place, located right in the heart of downtown Durham. The ice cream is absolutely delicious. I recommend the cookies & cream. And although I don’t typically drink non-diet soft drinks, I couldn’t resist grabbing a Coca-Cola in a glass bottle at The Parlour.
These photos from The Parlour are by Amelia Cassar Photography. For more, check out this post.
3. Have a Poolside Patio Brunch at Unscripted Hotel
There’s a charming boutique hotel in downtown Durham called “Unscripted.” It’s actually a newly renovated retro hotel. The rooftop of this hotel features a pool and a restaurant/bar called “The Patio.” Note that The Patio operates seasonally, typically April-September. You don’t have to be a hotel guest to enjoy a poolside meal or cocktails here. Although I’ve only been to the Patio at Unscripted once, it immediately became one of my favorite Durham places, and I can’t wait for a return trip once it reopens for the season. I highly recommend the avocado toast. You can learn more about The Patio and Unscripted Durham here.
(Photo from Unscripted Durham originally featured in this post.)
4. Have Lunch at Parker & Otis
Parker & Otis is another favorite downtown Durham place to grab a bite to eat. It’s actually a restaurant and store in one. You order at the counter, and then they bring your food to you. Parker & Otis has breakfast and lunch, and you can also grab an early dinner Monday-Saturday. My personal favorite is the three way salad plate. The pimiento cheese is an absolute must, and they also have a really good pesto pasta salad. The dining area is directly adjacent to the cutest gift shop. They have children’s books and toys, candy, greeting cards, cookbooks, seasonal decor, and even Kate Spade gift & stationery items. Check out more about Parker & Otis here.
5. Window Shopping at Southpoint Mall
Although most of my Durham favorites are downtown, that’s not the only place to have a great time in Durham. One of my favorite things to do in Durham is spend time at Southpoint Mall, located conveniently off I-40. Even if I don’t purchase a single thing, it’s fun to browse the different stores. Part of Southpoint is a set up in a traditional two-story indoor mall format. An outside area lined with more stores is directly adjacent to the inside of the mall. The outside store area is called “Main Street.” There’s also a California Pizza Kitchen, The Cheesecake Factory, and a movie theater in the Main Street area. I think the entire set up of Southpoint is very aesthetically pleasing. Here’s some noteworthy stores Southpoint Mall features: Nordstrom (aka best store ever), Lilly Pulitzer, Vineyard Vines, J.Crew, Madewell, Ann Taylor, LOFT, Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, West Elm, Kendra Scott, Barnes & Noble, Apple.
6. Partake in Tacos and Margaritas at Gonza
Gonza Tacos y Tequila is another one of my favorite Durham restaurants. The tacos and margaritas (if you’re 21 & over) are amazing! I’m a salsa snob when it comes to Mexican restaurants, and Gonza does not disappoint! The downtown Durham location has a lovely outdoor seating area compare with twinkly lights, which is perfect for a nice warm day. Now that spring is almost here, I’m looking forward to some al fresco meals at Gonza. For more on Gonza, check out this post I wrote last summer.
7. Hang Out on The Roof at the Durham Hotel
Downtown Durham features an amazing rooftop bar on top of The Durham Hotel. The Durham is another one of Durham’s boutique hotels. The Roof at the Durham is much higher than Unscripted’s patio rooftop, so you get an even better birds eye view of Durham from here. This is the perfect place to catch a sunset with the Durham skyline in the background The cocktail menu is very good and changes often There’s also a small food menu as well. I definitely plan on some get-togethers with friends at The Roof when it’s consistently warm at night. Learn more about The Roof here.
Some views from The Roof at the Durham. Outfit originally featured in this post.
8. Eat at Lilly’s Pizza
Although I’ve rarely met a pizza I don’t like, Lilly’s Pizza in downtown Durham is especially exceptional. There’s just something about a local pizza place that makes it a notch above. Lilly’s offers a variety of specialty pizzas, plus a “build your own” option. You can get a small personal pizza (which is actually still big enough for me to get two meals out of) or a large pizza to share with the whole table. All pizzas feature Lilly’s signature hand-tossed crust. I also really like that you can choose between thin and thick crust at Lilly’s. Even though I like a good trust, the toppings are my favorite, so I always get thin crust. Read more about Lilly’s here.
9. Catch a Broadway Show at the DPAC
The Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) is a beautiful facility in the heart of downtown. It hosts a variety of performances throughout the year, the most noteworthy being their Broadway musical tour series. The first show I ever saw at the DPAC was Legally Blonde the Musical. I most recently saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory there. Check out the the outfit I wore in this post. For a complete list of DPAC performances, click here.
10. Take a Stroll around American Tobacco Campus
The American Tobacco Campus is a beautiful area of downtown that’s home to multiple restaurants and event venues. Open grassy areas, walkways, and fountains make for beautiful scenery. This is a perfect place to enjoy a leisurely walk or take photos. I actually shot here last summer with Amelia Cassar Photography. You can check out some more pictures from our shoot in this post.
I hope that y’all enjoyed learning more about my top 10 things to do in Durham. If you’re planning a visit here soon, then definitely consider these for your to-do list. And I especially hope you found this helpful if you’re new to the Durham area or planning to relocate here soon. Also, all of these places are within the Durham city limits. There’s even more things to do a short drive away in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Hillsborough. I’ve touched on some of my favorite places in the surrounding areas on the blog already, and I will definitely be sharing more in the future!
Hope y’all have a wonderful Friday and weekend!