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Things to Do

As a medium-sized city, Durham and the surrounding area has tons to offer for visitors and residents alike. Below is a collection of some of the Duke community’s favorite activities both on and off campus.

To learn more about the city of Durham and view tourist information, check out Duke in Durham. The official City of Durham website also provides information on general city operations.

Discover Durham also highlights a number of small businesses and events in town. Check out their information on Things to Do, Upcoming Events, and Culture & Community.

Other valuable resources include Best of the Bull, Durham Magazine, and Downtown Durham.

Outdoor Activities

State Parks & Nature Preserves

Duke Facilities / Amenities

  • Al Buehler Trail: Cross-country / 5K trail surrounding Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club
  • Duke Forest: Located just west of West Campus, Duke Forest is a research and teaching forest with a variety of trails for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, etc. Also includes the Duke Teaching Observatory, which hosts several public viewing events.
  • Duke University Lemur Center: Home of the largest collection of lemurs outside their native Madagascar, this education, care, and conservation center offers tours in the summer months.
  • Sarah P. Duke Gardens: More than 55 acres of diverse gardens located right on West Campus. A popular Durham tourist destination and a great place for running/dog walking. Free admission.

Other Trails & Outdoor Activities

Arts & Entertainment

  • 21c Museum Hotel: Boutique hotel in downtown Durham that hosts changing contemporary art exhibits open to the public.
  • Carolina Theatre: Local theater hosts several films, musical events, and theater performances in a beautiful historic building.
  • Duke Arts: Several of Duke’s arts departments and organizations host workshops, exhibitions, and other events throughout the year
  • Duke Events: Calendar of all upcoming events across Duke’s campus
  • Duke Music: Performances by Duke’s array of music ensembles take place throughout the year in Duke Chapel or Baldwin Auditorium
  • Duke Performances: Duke hosts a variety of outside artists, musicians, etc. throughout the year, with many events free or at low-cost to current students/postdocs
  • Duke Theater Studies: Performances by Duke’s theater department, often hosted in the Rubenstein Arts Center
  • Durham Arts Council: Durham’s community arts organization hosts several art events throughout the years and amplifies local artists/art organizations in the community
  • Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC): Hosts a variety of Broadway shows, musical events, and other performances throughout the year. Student discounts are often available.
  • Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture: Located on West Campus, this center aims to promote racial understanding and knowledge of the African Diaspora. Jazz @ the Mary Lou is one of many popular events the center hosts.
  • Museum of Life and Science: Features a variety of interactive science exhibits for all ages. Paid admission, but entry is free on community days to Durham County residents.
  • Nasher Museum of Art: Duke’s visual arts museum, highlighting works by artists historically underrepresented within mainstream art institutions. Tours are available and the museum cafe is also highly recommended
  • North Carolina Museum of Art: Located in Raleigh, museum hosts a collection that spans 5,000 years of art history, as well as a popular Museum Park.
  • North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences: Located in Raleigh, this museum is the largest of its kind in the Southeastern US, with a variety of exhibits both permanent and rotating.
  • Raleigh Arenas: List of the major music venues located in the Raleigh-Durham area, most notably PNC Arena


For the latest information about shopping in Durham, check out @shopdurhamnc or @bestofthebull on Instagram. The annual Shop Durham card also provides access to several discounts and special offers for a variety of Durham’s local businesses. 

  • American Tobacco Campus: Converted tobacco warehouse that now hosts office spaces, event venues, restaurants, local retail stores, and more
  • Boxyard RTP: Research Triangle Park (RTP)-based food and entertainment venue built from repurposed shipping containers. Hosts live music and other pop-up events regularly.
  • Bull City Shares: Local Facebook group focused on the intentional sharing of goods and services for no cost. Can be a great resource for “buying/selling” home items, etc.
  • Durham Co-Op Market: Cooperatively-owned local grocery store and cafe located in proximity to West Campus
  • Durham Farmer’s Market: Weekly farmer’s market and craft fair occur every Saturday year-round, with a midweek Wednesday market occurring in summer months. Located at Durham Central Park
  • Durham Garden Center: Locally owned garden shop selling garden supplies and both native and non-native plants. Also a great resource for any plant advice you may need.
  • For Garden’s Sake: Garden/landscaping store that frequently hosts outdoor events/food trucks, most notably its Potting Shed bar
  • Golden Fig Books: Locally-owned bookstore specializing in both new and used books. Bring in your used books for cash or store credit
  • Part & Parcel: Package-free store carrying bulk groceries, personal care products, home cleaning supplies, and more
  • Perkins Orchard: Largest and oldest produce market in Durham open daily with a variety of local produce and products
  • Raleigh Farmer’s Markets: Raleigh hosts more than a dozen farmer’s markets throughout the near, most notably the 75-acre State Farmers Market open 7 days a week
  • The Regulator Bookshop: Local bookstore on Ninth St. with an array of options and meeting spaces for local book clubs
  • The Scrap Exchange: Non-profit organization dedicated to the reuse and repurposing of materials. Hosts a variety of programs and art classes, in addition to the Scrap Thift Store (clothes, furniture, etc.) and the Scrap Reuse Arts Shop (fabric, office items, odds-and-ends)
  • TROSA Thrift Store: Thrift store including a large selection of furniture, antiques, clothes, and other items. Supports the TROSA residential recovery program.

Bars & Venues

Check out the events calendars for many of these businesses, as they often host concerts and other events. In the warmer months, many of these events are outdoors. Additionally, most bars in the downtown area host trivia nights on Wednesdays or Thursdays. 


  • Carolina Hurricanes: Team and schedule information for Raleigh’s hockey team (NHL)
  • Duke Athletics: Site of all of Duke’s athletic teams, schedules, and ticket options
  • Duke Basketball: Information on how to obtain tickets for Duke basketball games for graduate and professional students. Managed by GPSG and the basketball ushers.
  • Durham Bulls: Durham’s local minor league baseball team. Popular event for Duke students and community members, with a variety of special game nights and events.
  • North Carolina Central Athletics: Sports and ticketing information for NCCU’s athletic teams

Other Community Events & Activities

For more community events, check out Durham’s Eventbrite page or the Downtown Durham site.

  • Broken Spoke Farm: Hillsborough-based farm with ice cream, pick-your-own blueberries, and other family-friendly activities
  • Carolina Tiger Rescue: Nonprofit wildlife sanctuary for wild cats rescued from private zoos, circuses, etc. located in Pittsboro (south of Durham). Tours and educational opportunities available
  • Courage Fitness: Popular fitness center and personal training gym in Durham
  • Dance Gumbo: Blog highlighting upcoming dance classes and opportunities available throughout the Triangle area
  • Blue Devil and Durham Toastmasters Club: Duke and Durham chapters of the Toastmasters public speaking group designed to improve members’ public speaking and leadership skills
  • Messina Dance Company: Durham dance company with classes in casino & rueda, and kizomba & semba
  • Triangle Rock Club: Local rock-climbing gym and club
  • Triangle Tango: Site promoting tango classes throughout the Triangle region
  • Waller Family Farm: Pick-your-own strawberry farm open to the public in the spring/summer