YOU GUYS. I’ve been wanting to create this post for the longest time and I’m beyond excited to be partnering today with the Durham Visitors Bureau to bring you 24 Hours in Durham, NC!
For those of you who don’t know, I have been living here in Durham for the past 3 years while my husband was completing his graduate degree. We’ve literally watched Durham BOOM in front of our eyes these past few years— with new restaurants, breweries, and boutique hotels going up everywhere we turn. It’s truly transformed into this incredibly hip city that does a fantastic job of embracing it’s heritage and merging the old with the new. Vogue even named it the hippest city in North Carolina!
Needless to say, we have absolutely fallen in love with Durham over these past three years. We are constantly amazing by the food scene, the unique breweries, the amazing community, and that gritty vibe that Durham locals embrace so much (keep it dirty, Durham 😉 ). In fact, we love Durham so much, that we got married here 9 months ago and invited all our friends and family to come enjoy our little gem of a city!
So today I’m bringing you a 24 hour travel guide, with some of our favorite restaurants, hotels, and things to do in the Durham area. Ohh and Durham is especially fun in the summertime because of all the outdoor activities right at your fingertips! Just see for yourself below!
Where to stay.
The Durham Hotel is only a few years old in the downtown area, but it has quickly made a name for itself as one of the best places to stay, eat, and drink in Durham. The hotel styles themselves as a mid-century modern boutique hotel, with gorgeous rooms, a fantastic cafe and restaurant with a James Beard Award Winning chef, and a stunning rooftop bar with one of the best views of Durham.
We’ve stayed a few nights at The Durham during our wedding weekend and were in love with their stylish, yet extremely comfortable rooms (I love their beds!) and fabulous amenities.
We also frequent The Durham for their food and drink options during all hours of the day. I love stopping at The Durham for a cold-brew (I think it’s the best in the city) and one of their amazing ginger scones in the morning, for an artisan greek salad at lunchtime on the terrace, or for an evening cocktail on the rooftop.
Speaking of their rooftop… Thursday through Sunday mornings, The Durham offers free rooftop yoga for all guests and a drop in rate for non-guests.
I’ve gone to their yoga classes a few times since they opened and it is one of my favorite places to do yoga in the city! It’s such a fantastic way to start your day— so calming and relaxing, and with the best views in town.
Also try: The 21c Museum Hotel, Unscripted Durham
What to do.
The gardens encompass 55 acres of land filled with a variety of plant life, flowers, walking paths, ponds, and fountains. Every time I visit, I always stumble upon something new and fascinating, and never cease to be in awe of the beauty I’m surrounded by.
The gardens are free to all visitors and are open every day from 8 am to dusk.
Next on my list is wandering through the American Tobacco Campus.
This area of this city— which is directly next to the Durham Bulls Baseball Stadium— is comprised of old tobacco warehouses that have been transformed into hip restaurants, bars, and a scenic outdoor event space that is constantly used for free concerts, city events, and family activities.
Whenever I’m downtown, I always find myself strolling through the American Tobacco area, seeing what events might be in store that day or just enjoying the beautiful walk down the waterfall path. It’s definitely a must-see in the area!
Later in the afternoon, be sure to explore the free art galleries at the 21c Boutique Hotel & Museum.
The 21c is another one of my favorite boutique hotels in downtown Durham and I honestly find myself here ALL the time with friends, having a drink at their adorable hotel bar and walking around their free art galleries (which are updated every few months).
The museum is comprised of mostly modern art, but they also have specific galleries that reflect the transformation of Durham and respect the integrity of the building’s previous purpose: an old bank in Durham built in 1937! They even have an original bank vault in the basement that they transformed into a cocktail lounge— it is seriously SO cool.
The museum offers free guided tours on Wednesdays and Fridays at 5 pm.
Also try: Durham Bulls Baseball Game, Hiking at Eno River State Park (see below)
Where to eat.
One of my favorite cafes for both breakfast and lunch is Scratch Bakery. Their menu is very unique and offers a variety of choices for all kinds of eaters.
I love ordering their avocado toast with buttermilk radishes for breakfast and the rice bowl with kimchi, pickled daikon, and a sunny egg for lunch (pictured below).
The Parlour is a handmade ice cream shop that offers a variety of always-changing flavors, including multiple non-dairy options for vegans. My favorite flavors are their cookies & cream, vietnamese coffee, and their vegan chocolate. But honestly, nothing disappoints here!
We love The Parlour SO much that we even had their food truck at our wedding as our dessert— it was such a hit!
One of the hottest dinner spots in the city is definitely Mateo. Mateo is a Spanish tapas restaurant right in the heart of downtown that blends Spanish small plates with a Southern inflection.
From the moment you walk in the door, you know you’re in a special place. The decor is stylish and rustic, the menu is eclectic, and the wine list is top notch!
We ate a variety of dishes during our evening at Mateo, but our favorites were their roasted beet salad, their romanesco zucchini, their delicious pan con tomate (like Spanish bruschetta), and of course, their patatas bravas. All with a big glass of Spanish red wine of course!
Also try: Bull City Burger, Dos Perros, Parker & Otis, Dashi Ramen
I hope you get the chance to visit this fabulous city! Thanks to the Durham Visitors Bureau for sponsoring this post and letting me share my favorites from the city I call home!