Travel Blog: Durham, North Carolina

I’ve traveled the majority of my life and yet, I’ve never hated anything more than feeling like a tourist. Obviously, it’s inevitable—you can’t visit Washington DC without seeing the Mall or London without riding on the Eye or Cleveland without visiting the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. However, I think there’s something to be said for trying the local (or at least more unknown) places.

So, that’s my mission, to bring the local flavor of a city to your visit (which arguably should still include all the museums and sightseeing you want). This week, I’m focusing on Durham, North Carolina!

1. Durham is often known as the “Bull City,” due to the fact that a major tobacco producer in the area utilized bull imagery in his packaging. That being said try anything or go anywhere with a bull in the name, from Bull City apple cider to the Bull City Craft shop! You know it’s truly local!

2. Speaking of tobacco production, although it’s Durham’s legacy, the city has moved toward a greener environment. To do so, the city invested time and money in revitalizing the old factories into American Tobacco Campus, a 1 million square park with restaurants, theaters and a large park which hosts concerts, festivals, and art events!  

3. Durham is one of the more diverse areas of North Carolina, and the music and art festivals reflect that! There are several music festivals dedicated to blues and jazz music, such as the Bull Durham Blues Festival, and film festivals are often dedicated to minority groups, such as the Hayti!  

4. Named Southern Living’s Tastiest Town in the South in 2013, Durham doesn’t joke around about food. Try Mateo for tapas, The Parlor for homemade quirky ice cream flavors, Alley Twenty-Six for its specialty cocktails, Sitar for Indian cuisine and Cocoa Cinnamon for your morning coffee!

5. Take a yoga class from Jessamyn Stanely, the Instagram hit! Although currently on tour promoting her book, check her website for when her next class at Durham Yoga Company will be!

6. Along with making the urban environment greener, Durham’s locals are also dedicated to keeping their green spaces that way. Each summer, they throw the Festival of Eno River, which raises money and awareness on how to protect the local river and its surrounding wetlands. Kayak and listen to music -- all for a good cause!

7. It only happens five times a year, but the Durham Food Truck Rodeo at the Triangle is actually the original event that popularized the food truck! Essentially, it’s a crazy collection of food trucks, music and craft beer that’s friendly for people of all ages -- and dogs!

8. The Durham Farmer’s Market is open 365 days a year, but times are shorter in the fall and winter. Buy flowers from Bluebird Meadow’s stand and then check out whatever’s available at both Tiny Farm and Funny Girl Farm stands. There’s also often food trucks and an art sale across the street from the Pavilion!

9. Need to escape? Try a walk around Sarah P. Duke Gardens, a world-ranked botanic garden with over five miles of pathways and a discovery garden. It’s only an eight-minute walk from Duke University’s campus, so feel free to walk around both of them!

10.  Go to the Chicken Hut! This cash-only restaurant has brought inexpensive but delicious soul food to the people of Durham for 60 years. Known for its fried chicken, you can also get BBQ and other southern staples!

11. For late-night fun, check out Sam’s Quik Shop, which has the largest selection of craft beer in the state, or head to The Pinhook, a local karaoke/open mic bar!

12. Need to add your record collection? Go to Bull City Records, an independent record store in an unassuming low-lying brick building that sells both new and used vinyl. If you like it enough, buy one of their funky t-shirts or even sign up for their “Album of the Month” club!

13. The Mothership is a local store/art space, perfect for finding local products from local artists! They have everything from laptop stickers to dorm art to clothing and jewelry, so you’re bound to find something you love. If you can’t find anything at The Mothership (or even if you can and you just really love local art), you can also check out the Durham Craft Market!

14. Burt’s Bees is headquartered in Durham, and they have the largest educational observational hive on Earth. The hive is open year-round and you can learn all about the bees, the company and there’s also a couple of bee-keepers around to answer your burning bee questions!

15. Check out Liberation Threads, an ethically sourced garment and good store in the heart of downtown Durham. Founded by an African-American physician, Rebecca K., the store focuses on buoying the confidence of women, all while maintaining a transparent supply chain and design-driven fair trade labels.

If you love your hometown or have a city you’re particularly familiar with and want to show tourists what the locals love, please contact me at [email protected] and I’ll happily sit down with you to work out an article that showcases your love for your city.


Image Credit: Feature, 1, 2, 3, 4,