When you visit Durham ( www.durham-nc.com), you’ll note the irrepressible energy and unique vibe that has given the city a reputation for creativity, innovative style, forward thought, diversity, stellar performances, amazing food, thrilling sports and exciting outdoor opportunities.
Downtown has the feel of an expansive, open-air market with streets, stairs and doorways leading to best-kept secrets for art, entertainment and dining. Renovated and re-purposed tobacco warehouses hold numerous gems such as restaurants and specialty shops.
A day with the arts may take you to see the grand acquisitions of the Nasher Museum of Art ( www.nasher.duke.edu) or the insightful exhibits of The Carrack Modern Art Musuem, Durham’s community-owned and zero-commission art space ( www.thecarrack.org).
You’ll naturally be drawn to the brilliant performances coming out of the Durham Performing Arts Center ( www.dpacnc.com). There is not a bad seat in the house in this 6,000-square-foot stage venue which has been named No. 2 of the Top 100 Theaters in the World. Smaller, more intimate theaters, such as The Carolina Theater ( www.carolinatheatre.org; ranked No. 88), Manbites Dog Theater ( www.manbitesdogtheater.org) or Common Ground Theater ( www.cgtheatre.com) also offer up top-notch entertainment.
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Batter up! Baseball season is underway and the Durham Bulls Athletic Park ( http://atmilb.com/P8VzCf) just completed a $19 million renovation. Focused on visitor experience, it boasts three new HD video displays, an improved sound system, more comfortable seats, new picnic areas, added concessions and the new PNC Triangle Club luxury suite. DBAP will host the AAA All-Star Game in July.
April 25-26, Durham adds the new Art of Cool Music Festival ( www.aocfestival.org),which will feature more than 30 world-class performances. Twirl into June with the American Dance Festival June 12-July 26; www.americandancefestival.org) and remember that July 4-5 is the Festival for the Eno ( www.enoriver.org/festival). Sept. 5-6 welcomes back the classic Bull Durham Blues Festival ( www.hayti.org/music).
Witness just how beautiful nature can be at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens ( www.gardens.duke.edu) and along the 24 miles of hiking trails through Eno River State Park ( http://1.usa.gov/O2iTk0). Take a break from walking and glide across the river in a kayak or canoe.
The arch-supported, stress-ribbon pedestrian bridge that bows over Interstate 40 (the second of its kind in the country) has completed the American Tobacco Trail ( www.triangletrails.org) between Chatham and Durham counties, adding to the 22-mile long rail-to-trail conversion that’s popular with hikers, runner and cyclists.
Work up an appetite by touring Durham on a 14-person Biker Bar ( www.bikerbarnc.com). It’s a party on wheels and you supply the energy. Relax with a ride with Pedaling Bulls ( www.peddlingbulls.com), a bike taxi and tour company.
For a memorable breakfast, even if you’re on the run, drop by Loaf ( http://bit.ly/1g64j5v) for a country ham and cheese scone. Lunch is inspired at Toast, Durham’s paninoteca – Italian sandwich – shop ( www.toast-fivepoints.com). When your mind is set on a burger, make it over to Bull City Burger and Brewery ( http://bit.ly/1dzsVm5) where locally sourced pasture-fed beef is the mantra. The beers are brewed on-site and they make everything from scratch – even the mustard and mayo. For a fresh pick-me-up, visit The Parlour ( www.theparlourdurham.com) for a hand-made ice cream treat (Can you say “salted butter caramel?”) Wind down after a day of sight-seeing with a cold brew and some comfort food at Geer Street Garden ( www.geerstreetgarden.com). Excellence meets elegance at Blu Seafood and Bar ( www.bluseafoodandbar.com), where patrons are always impressed by the creative menu and the knowledgeable service.
Night time is definitely the right time in Durham. Nightlife sizzles with many options for gathering with friends. Make the rounds at Alley Twenty Six ( http://bit.ly/1ijCzxu) Fullsteam Brewery ( www.fullsteam.ag) and Whiskey ( www.whiskeydurham.com). Zenda Douglas