Durham has something for every cultural sensibility. No matter what you're into, living in Durham doesn't mean settling for second-rate. At the 2,700-seat Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) you can see first-run Broadway shows, concerts, comedy, and other live performances. The Nasher Museum of Art, located on the Duke campus, presents cutting-edge exhibitions as well as an eclectic permanent collection in a 65,000-square-foot building designed by architect Rafael Viñoly. Each year Durham hosts the world-renowned Fullframe Documentary Festival, as well as the The American Dance Festival, one of the best in the country.
If fine arts aren't your thing, you may be interested in the Doughman, a playful, calorie-ridden take on an Ironman triathlon featured on Man v. Food.
Festivals, Events, Series
- Duke Performances
- Carolina Performing Arts
- Carolina Ballet
- Fullframe Documentary Festival
- American Dance Festival
- The Doughman
- World Beer Festival
- CenterFest Arts Festival
The Carolina Theatre
Manbites Dog Theater
- Hayti Heritage Center
- Koka Booth Amphitheatre
- Walnut Creek Amphitheatre
- Red Hat Amphitheatre
- PNC Arena
- Duke Energy Center
Best Music Venues
- Carolina Theatre, 309 W. Morgan St., Durham, 919-560-3030
- Cat's Cradle, 300 E. Main St., Carrboro, 919-967-9053
- Lincoln Theatre, 126 E. Cabarrus St., Raleigh, 919-821-4111
- Haw River Ballroom, 1711 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Rd., Saxapahaw, 336-525-2314
The area has an incredible local music scene and attracts big-name, big-talent acts. If you are looking to get out and hear some good music, be sure to check out the shows at these venues.
- The Regulator Bookshop, 720 Ninth St., Durham, 919-286-2700
- Internationalist Books and Community Center, 405 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, 919-942-1740
- Quail Ridge Books & Music, 3522 Wade Ave., Raleigh, 919-828-1588
If you manage to pull yourself from your casebooks and you long for days of pleasure reading, each of these bookstores has a relaxing atmosphere and offers a wide and cutting edge selection of books and magazines that will help to remind you that yes, reading can be fun.
Best Used Book Stores
- Books Do Furnish A Room, 1809 W. Markham Ave., Durham, 919-286-1076
- Nice Price Books, 811 Broad St., Durham, 919-416-1066
Books Do Furnish A Room has a great selection of used books. Nice Price buys and sells books and music.
Misc., and not to be missed
Durham Farmers' Market, Pavilion at Durham Central Park on Foster Street, Saturday 8am – Noon, April to November; 10am - Noon, December to March; and Wednesdays April to November.
The Durham Farmers' market is diverse and completely local. Shop for produce, meat, cheese, fresh flowers, handmade arts and crafts, and delicacies from area food trucks. It's an excellent people-watching opportunity, too.
Third Friday Durham, throughout downtown Durham and at Golden Belt
Downtown Durham comes alive on the third Friday evening of each month as art lovers gather in galleries and studios. Be sure to check out Golden Belt, a former textile mill that now houses loft apartments, artist studios, and retail establishments.
Duke Lemur Center, 3705 Erwin Rd., Durham, 919-489-3364, firstname.lastname@example.org
Definitely among the more unique ways to spend a day, the center is home to the world's largest collection of lemurs outside of Madagascar and offers everything you need to know about lemurs. Tours are available with a reservation, so call ahead to check times and availability.
Bowling at AMF Durham Lanes, 4508 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd., Durham, 919-489-9154
Bowling is a great idea for section bonding time, and the Law School has a very active faculty/staff/student league.
Blue Point Yoga, 2816 Erwin Rd., Suite 203, Durham, 919-381-6419
Blue Point Yoga Studio is centrally located so that you don't encounter more stress trying to reach a place where you intend to relax. Featuring two beautiful, spacious and bright studio rooms, Blue Point offers group and private instruction at all levels.
Best Day Trips
Founded by Moravians in 1766, this historic town near downtown Winston-Salem is about 90 minutes from Durham. There you will step back in time in restored buildings staffed by living-history interpreters and skilled craftspeople like blacksmiths, cobblers, and bakers. You'll find several dining options including the Tavern in Old Salem, which serves modern American food inspired by Moravian traditions. Old Salem's gardens and the nearby Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) make this a full and fascinating day trip.
This is more of a half-day trip, but it is definitely worth seeing. A better name for this museum might be the "Tobacco is Cool Museum." The homestead is where the Duke family had its beginnings, and it chronicles the history of the family and the tobacco industry. The Dukes were the first to develop the mechanical mass production of cigarettes, and at one time held a monopoly of the tobacco produced in America and sold throughout the world. After visiting the museum, you leave with a new appreciation for the family that built Duke University.
Located right in Durham is the site where Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered to Union General William T. Sherman. The surrender of the armies of the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida constitute the largest troop surrender in the Civil War.
You can get to the beach in about two and a half hours, and believe it or not, there is great surfing here. The water is warm in summer and fall, and most of the tourists are gone after Labor Day. A great place to spend a Saturday, even if you have to lug along a textbook.
North Carolina Zoo
Roughly 90 minutes from Durham is this sprawling zoo. More than five miles of trails wind through African and North American exhibits. Be prepared to walk, and make the trek on a cool day.
North Carolina is known for its pottery, and this is the place to see it. Seagrove is a community of potters who open their studios to visitiors and sell their wares on-site. It's fun to just wander around, but it's also a great place to buy gifts for family back home.
The Outer Banks
Stretching along North Carolina's coast, these barrier islands are home to numerous historical and natural treasures. While you're there, learn about pirate history at the NC Maritime Museum in Beaufort, visit the site of the Wright Brothers' historic flight at Kitty Hawk, or explore the ill-fated Roanoke Colony . You can also hunt for seashells on the miles of shoreline or try to catch a glimpse of the wild horses roaming the island of Shackleford Banks!