48 Hours in Durham, North Carolina

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This past March, Anne and I took a road trip to the South to visit Durham, Charleston, Savannah, and Asheville.  We spent two nights in each city, and started to get the flavor for each place we visited.  It was a lot of driving from Philadelphia – over 2,000 miles in eight days!  I knew early on in our trip that I wanted to write a travel post for each destination, so I started taking notes on the fun and delicious experiences we had while we were away.

This week’s post is dedicated to all things Durham.  I have been here several times, as my older sister went to college in Durham, and decided to stay for a few years after graduating.  It was Anne’s first time visiting, though, so we had a lot of exploring to do!  I’ve broken down my travel guide by category: food, drinks, shopping, and activities.  Please do not hesitate to ask me any questions in the comments section, or add to my list of great things to do in Durham!

48 Hours in: Durham, North Carolina {A Travel Guide}

Food

Elmo’s Diner: This might be my favorite breakfast spot in all of Durham.  The service at Elmo’s is excellent, they provide coloring supplies while you wait for your food, and their well-designed t-shirts are sold in a wide variety of great colors.  I can’t leave without ordering their sunflower seed French toast.  Elmo’s is on my list every time I visit Durham.

Cosmic Cantina: Mexican food is a hot commodity in Durham, and Cosmic is a great stop for lunch.  The service is quick, and the food is even better.  Cosmic is open until the wee hours of the morning – 5 a.m. for those out late!

Geer Street Garden: I’m going to cut to the chase here: Geer Street’s jalepeno-cheddar hushpuppies are a must.  While I’m at it, I’d also recommend their fried green tomatoes.  This establishment has inviting seating both inside and outside.  Anne and I sat at the outdoor picnic tables, which had a very nice ambiance with lots of happy customers and good lighting from stringed lights.

Caffe Driade: This cafe is off the beaten path – literally.  It is tucked into a pretty wooded area between Durham and Chapel Hill.  The inside is quite small, however Caffe Driade has ample seating on the outside patios.  Relax in nature while you enjoy a pastry, sip hot tea, or nurse a fancy coffee drink.

Toast: Another absolute must.  My sister introduced me to this slice of heaven many years ago, and it’s still better than ever.  What steals the show for me is their side salad.  You’re thinking: “A side salad?!”  Yes.  It gets me every time.  Pair it with Pick-Three-Crostini and you’re good to go.  Just make sure to prepare yourself for what will be a very enjoyable eating experience.

Dos Perros: Although Anne and I did not eat at this restaurant, it has an excellent reputation.  We experienced chef Nora Mendez’s cooking at a local event, FARE Project.  The featured short film, Vida Propria, sheds light on Mendez’s journey as an immigrant kitchen worker and mother.

Drinks

Fullsteam Brewery: This brewery, which is right next to Geer Street Garden, is a fantastic watering hole.  Their beers come in half pints (yay!) and full pints.  Three of our favorites were the Fullsteam Amber Lager, Beasley’s Honey Wheat, and The Common Good – a delicious cidery beer that had my name written all over it.  What might be Fullsteam’s coolest factor is their Forager Project.  Fullsteam puts out a call for harvest, community members bring in items such as wild pears or figs, and then Fullsteam makes beer with these goods!  Foragers even get their own shmancy Forager Hat.

The Pinhook: The Pinhook is a great venue for trivia, open mic nights, disco dance parties, and more.  It’s a safe space for LGBTQ folk, and can be BYO food and BYO dog.  Pretty neat.

Whiskey: This is a high-class establishment for 23-year-olds and over.  Whiskey has a dress code after certain hours, and offers all kinds of specialty drinks.  It’s located right next to Toast, so be sure to stop by while you’re in the neighborhood.

Shopping

Cozy: Cozy is situated between Elmo’s and Cosmic Cantina, and is a cute store for jewelry, accessories, clothing, shoes, and knitting supplies.  The workers are quite friendly, and are eager to help whenever possible.  I’ve gotten some nice things from Cozy over the years!

Regulator Bookshop: This is a great neighborhood bookstore.  Regulator has a wide selection of books with a nice sitting area toward the back of the shop.  The service is friendly (this is becoming a southern trend, isn’t it?) and very helpful.  Be sure to check out the basement, which has many books on sale.

The Makery: While Anne and I waited for a table at Geer Street Garden, we wandered over to The Makery for some eye candy.  This little shop is chock-full of locally made gifts and accessories.  They even hosted an Etsy craft party a few weeks ago.

Parker & Otis: Parker & Otis is a restaurant and gift shop in downtown Durham.  Their store is stuffed with fabulous cookbooks, kitchen gadgets, and stationery.  Anne and I picked up some chicken feet gummies that made for an entertaining afternoon.

The Scrap Exchange: This is one stop that is an absolute must for any crafter.  The Scrap Exchange is a warehouse filled with scraps ranging from test tubes to bathroom sinks.  If you’re planning on going, be sure to carve out at least an hour.  This place is large and in charge.

Activities

Eno State Park: Get out of the city for an afternoon and venture around the Eno.  The park is minutes from Durham, and offers wilderness trails, shallow streams, historic mill sites, and an overall fun and quiet time.

Cat’s Cradle: Famous artists such as Nirvana, John Mayer, Iron and Wine, and The Head and The Heart have frequented this Carrboro joint for over 40 years.  Be sure to check out their event calendar if you plan on visiting the area.

Again, please feel free to add any Durham favorites in the comments section!  I’d love to hear about some of your favorite things to do in Durham.  Happy travels!

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One thought on “48 Hours in Durham, North Carolina

  1. Pingback: Travel Guide | Travelguide

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