More than nine million people visit Durham each year, where they will all find a wealth of things to see and do. Whether you're looking for awarding-winning performing arts, unique visual arts, stimulating nightlife, one-of-a-kind shopping, or scenic natural experiences, Durham has you covered!
Durham is home to DPAC, Durham Performing Arts Center, one of the most popular theaters in the country, as well as the historic Carolina Theatre, drawing national touring acts in music, comedy, and theater. It is also home to the American Dance Festival, the most important modern dance festival in the country, and Duke Performances, curating a season full of eclectic music, dance, and other performances from locally grown and international acts.
It is left as no wonder that Durham is a place replete with performances to captivate any crowd, from its largest, well-known venues to its black-box community theatres. Browse the listings below to find the venues and live events that will knock you off your feet.
Durham is a creative, colorful, diverse community filled with acclaimed visual arts. It is home to both the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, with exhibits that travel the world, as well as a thriving collective of innovative galleries and studio spaces that host events and openings on a regular basis, including those at Golden Belt, a renovated factory-cum-artist collective. It is also home to the North Carolina Central University Art Museum, which explores African-American art. And along its streets and outdoor spaces, Durham hosts a number of public art projects that ensure the area shows off its creative appeal.
Looking for some fun? The kind of old school fun you can have knocking out pins at the bowling alley, spinning your wheels at the skating rink, or catching the latest blockbuster with your family? From billiards to bowling to fun parks, the listings below will help you find all the entertainment and amusements you need for a fun-filled day in Durham. Click here.
Durham is home to museums focusing on art, sports, history, and nature and science. That means you have plenty of opportunities to spend an afternoon exploring new subjects in educational and entertaining ways. Take a look at the listings below to see what Durham's museums have to offer. Click here.
21c Museum is a contemporary art museum featuring permanent, commissioned installations. It presents dynamic group and solo exhibitions by both emerging and established artists, including Bill Viola, …
With a history that begins as a popular home for two tribes of Native Americans and leads to a city praised for its work in technology, education, and healthcare, it is of little surprise that Durham's past is both eventful and noteworthy.
With early development as a rural area with farms and plantations, Durham's antebellum past can be explored at sites like Historic Stagville. Durham would later host the negotiations that brought about an effective end to the Civil War, at Bennett Place, a historic site that can still be visited today. With the war's end came the beginning of the South's industrial revolution, starting with the tobacco and textile industries, which can be explored at Duke Homestead and repurposed mills and warehouses.
Durham is also where the civil rights movement gained significant traction, and is where one of the nation's premier universities made its home. Framed by the structural skeletons of its bygone days, Durham is blazing a path forward making new history, every day.
All of these events contain fascinating characters and stories that can be explored at Durham's historic places, including these state historic sites and the Durham History Hub . Browse the listings below to find the stories that interest you most, and see how today's Durham came to be. Click here.
The creative and scientific elements that make Durham a great place to live and work also make it a great place to learn and play. With miles of trails, several lakes and waterways, plus dozens of parks, outdoor spaces, and museums, Durham has great scenic natural beauty and places to explore science. Unique educational opportunities include the Duke Lemur Center where visitors can explore a species that is native to Madagascar, and the Museum of Life + Science where curious visitors can explore the world through interactive, engaging exhibits. Natural beauty can be admired at a variety of parks and gardens, including the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, whose 55-acres are full of more than 4,500 colorful plant varieties.
A casual night out with friends. A romantic glass of wine. A celebratory night of dancing. When it comes to nightlife, Durham can help you set the perfect evening mood. With four breweries crafting locally inspired beers, bars and lounges serving nationally praised craft cocktails, and music venues hosting nationally touring bands and locally grown acts, the choices will keep you entertained all night. Plus, the combination of friendly locals and college students ensure that sports bars, trivia nights, pool halls, and other nightlight offerings are always a good time. Use our nightlife search to put together your ideal evening lineup. Click here.
Durham is a canvas covered with a unique cultural identity. There is a culture of art and creativity expressed through visuals, performances, and food. There is a palpable sense of history. And there are countless opportunities for nightlife, shopping, and exploring nature. There's so much that even locals are always finding new things to do. So to help you get to know the Bull City, the following list includes must-see features and sites - all those places that you should not miss. Click here.
Some of the best things in life are free, and that's no less true in Durham. There are some of the leading public gardens in the country, historic sites where you can tour structures from bygone eras, and galleries where you can see the newest trends in art - all without spending a cent. Whether you're looking to get the most bang for your buck during your trip or just finding something easy to do with a big group, the following list of free things to do has you covered.
The list of free things to do in Durham is a long one, and it includes many of the most acclaimed and popular things to do in the area. Browse below to learn about the top free things to do in the Bull City, and experience these Durham must sees without worrying about cost.
Bennett Place is the site of the Civil War's largest troop surrender and the place where the Civil War effectively ended when, in April 1865, the Confederacy's General Joseph E. Johnston and the Union's General William T. Sherman met there to negotiate. Today, there are restored historic structures, living history events, and tours.
This national historic site is where Washington Duke began a tobacco empire. The homestead includes the restored Duke family home, tobacco barns, original factory, and farm. It also has a museum that showcases the beginnings of the modern day tobacco industry. Tours are offered daily; please call two weeks ahead to schedule a large group tour.
Stagville was once one of the largest plantations in the South, with 900 slaves and almost 30,000 acres of land. Now, the site has two preserved houses, slave quarters, and a unique barn. Stagville has free daily tours and educational events that focus on both the enslaved population and the plantation owners.
The former home of the Lucky Strike cigarette factory has been transformed into a one-million-sq.-ft. entertainment district, with restaurants, a documentary theater, barber shop, basketball court, open green space, and more. American Tobacco also puts on many events, including art shows, pop-up shops, and free concerts in the summer.
Duke University is one of the most prestigious universities in the country. Its campus centers on the Duke University Chapel. With richly detailed stonework, the neo-Gothic chapel tower soars 210 feet tall and houses the Flentrop Organ (5,200 pipes) and 50-bell carillon, and is adorned with stained-glass windows. (The Duke University Chapel is slated to close to the public for renovations in spring 2015 and will reopen in spring 2016.)
The neo-Gothic grandeur is also contained throughout Duke's West Campus. A walk through the university's stately buildings is a great way to spend an afternoon, especially because it can lead you to other attractions like the Sarah P. Duke Gardens and the Duke Basketball Museum & Sports Hall of Fame, both of which are mentioned below.
The Durham History Hub (operated by the Museum of Durham History), is a museum that uses stories about people, places, and things to foster curiosity, encourage further inquiry, and promote an understanding of diverse perspectives about the Durham community and its history. The History Hub is located in Downtown Durham and features rotating exhibits.
Patterson's Mill is an authentic country store that features memorabilia and artifacts from as far back as the 1870s displayed in the aisles and on the walls. With a permanent collection of historic pharmaceutical goods and tobacco advertisements, in addition to local crafts, antiques, and collectibles available for purchase, this country store is a blast from the past.
St. Joseph's Historic Foundation is dedicated to preserving Durham's African-American heritage and black history at the Hayti Heritage Center, a cultural and educational institution that houses community and artist space, and the Lyda Moore Merrick Gallery, the Rhythm & Blues Gallery, and the 450-seat St. Joseph's Performance Hall.
Housed in a boutique hotel, the 21c's art museum includes both permanent and rotating collections. The works consist of modern and contemporary art from emerging and established artists. The museum is free to the public 24 hours a day. There are tours offered most Wednesdays and Fridays at 5 p.m., as well as additional cultural programming throughout the year.
Although shopping is rarely free, Durham's unique districts offer plenty of sights and sounds, even for those who aren't interested in emptying their wallets. And who knows, maybe you will come across a deal that you can't refuse!
The Brightleaf Square District is anchored by two tobacco warehouses renovated with shops, restaurants, and nightlife. Browse the open outdoor space or enjoy free summer concerts in the cobbled street that connects the square, and soak in the historic Durham architecture that makes the Bull City so visually distinctive.
The Ninth Street Shopping District is a slice of Durham with a college feel. It features unique and independent stores selling books, clothes, memorabilia, records, and other items that are fun to peruse. If you do feel like spending a little pocket change, there's also plenty to eat and drink, with options ranging from college bars and coffee shops to nationally recognized restaurants.
Once a textile mill, Golden Belt has been transformed into a LEED-certified complex of apartments, galleries, studios, and event spaces. Tour the galleries and artist studios, interact with local artists, and explore this creative hub, which also houses a tattoo shop, salon, and yoga studio.
On Thursday nights from 5 to 9 p.m., Duke University's art museum, the Nasher, is free to visit. Housing an impressive collection of contemporary art, as well as European paintings, classical antiquities, and African and pre-Columbian art, the Nasher is chance to glimpse the finest of fine art. The leading-edge exhibits it hosts on a revolving basis only make it more compelling, although admission charges may apply for these special exhibitions (see website or admissions desk for details).
Children under 15 years of age; Duke students, faculty, and staff; Duke Alumni Association members, and members of the Nasher always receive free admission to the permanent collection.
NCCU was the first publically funded African-American liberal arts college in the country, and the school continues that legacy today with one of the state's leading collections of African-American art. Five special exhibits come through each year, and the museum also hosts other notable and historic artwork.
While on campus, stop to admire the statue of NCCU founder, Dr. James E. Shepard, and enjoy inviting lawns and outdoor areas for lounging and people-watching.
Raleigh is known for its Southern hospitality, its passionate and creative residents and plenty of opportunities for learning, enrichment and fun that make for an enjoyable getaway.
Looking for family entertainment? Swing by a family fun center so the kids can let loose, take part in some friendly competition and roll some strikes at a bowling center , or grab some popcorn and settle in for a movie at any of our cinemas , including the Wells Fargo IMAX Theatre at Marbles , which boasts N.C.'s only 3D-capable giant screen.
Don't have little kids in tow? You may want to explore downtown Raleigh's five walkable entertainment districts , filled with music, arts and modern cultural experiences that entrepreneurial residents have created and the entire community has embraced in our historic capital city.
Having the most music in N.C. isn't something that Raleigh, N.C., locals have happened upon by accident. The area's smart, passionate music fans have shaped the growth of this emerging and energizing live music scene. Raleigh plays host to a wide variety of artists in a wide variety of settings. But each concert venue isn't operating in a vacuum—all the venues are working together to form a grassroots, fired-up atmosphere visitors and residents alike can feel and take part in.
You can find a show here every day of the year and from one end of the destination to the other. Big bands, small bands, slow bands, fast bands, hard rock and soft ballads. Large-scale arenas, mid-sized concert halls, mom-and-pop playhouses and undiscovered, only-the-locals-know-about dives. All. Found. Here.
We believe that there's no better way to take in the story of our live music scene than by experiencing the live music that happens here. Just ask William Lewis , executive director of PineCone, Piedmont Council of Traditional Music . By preserving, presenting and promoting traditional music with PineCone, William is helping create a city soundtrack unlike any other.
William is just one of Raleigh's smart and creative innovators , the behind-the-scenes reasons why Raleigh is renowned for its culture and is an enriching and energizing destination for visitors. You're invited to come rock out at any of our 80+ live music venues and experience this first-hand.
Founded as N.C.'s state capital in 1792, Raleigh reaps many rewards for history lovers. Visit the State Capitol building to learn about secret rooms, ghost stories and the principles upon which the State of N.C. was founded... while viewing George Washington in a Roman toga!
Historic Oakwood is a Victorian-style neighborhood and features an old graveyard full of once-prominent Raleigh area figures. Among several historic homes to tour is the North Carolina Executive Mansion, which was constructed entirely of materials from our state.
If you really want to taste the history of the area, stop in a local tavern and try the Cherry Bounce, an alcoholic beverage that played a key role in determining where the state's capital would be relocated.
Raleigh is often dubbed the "Smithsonian of the South" for having more than 40 free attractions , and the high quality of Raleigh's museums certainly adds merit to that distinction. Discover your inner Creative Genius by planning a visit around a blockbuster art exhibition or by exploring one of the country's largest collections of Rodin sculptures at the North Carolina Museum of Art and the state's only non-collecting Contemporary Art Museum (CAM Raleigh) while you're here.
Lifelong Learners , take time to visit the Nature Research Center, a new wing at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences , recognizable by its three-story, multimedia globe called the Daily Planet. Tour the North Carolina Museum of History , which brings our state's diverse history alive with an expansive permanent collection, including the 20,000-square-foot The Story of North Carolina exhibit and rotating special exhibits.
Kids will have a blast at Marbles Kids Museum . Children imagine, discover and learn in dozens of interactive exhibits, daily educational programs, field trips, education 3D IMAX movies at the Wells Fargo IMAX Theatre at Marbles and more.
Many of the area's museums are free , and no matter if your interests skew toward Renaissance art, interactive exhibits or research and fossils, the Raleigh area has got it covered. Look at our calendar of events for special events and exhibitions or at our Deals for money-saving offers surrounding our dynamic museum scene.
You can go solo or with a group, on a trolley or motorized Segway, or how about a pontoon boat or paddleboard? No matter your touring style, there's an option for you in Raleigh, N.C. Check out some of the ways to learn about the area's history, culture, cuisine, nature and wine and spirit scene on one of these unique guided tours.
Enjoy a narrated tour of downtown Raleigh aboard the Raleigh Trolley. The trolley departs from Mordecai Historic Park on Sat. (Mar.-Dec.) at 11am, noon, 1pm and 2pm and lasts approximately one hour. The trolley stops at Mordecai Historic Park, Bicentennial Plaza, Joel Lane Museum House, Fayetteville St. and City Market. Cost: $10 for adults, $4 for youth ages 7-17, children age 6 and under are free. Visit www.raleighnc.gov/museums for more information or call Mordecai Historic Park at 919.857.4364.
Provides personal guides for walking tours and step-on guides for buses in Raleigh and beyond. Theme tours include: Civil War in Raleigh, Victorian homes, colleges and churches, love stories and scandals and more. Tours by appointment only. Reservations must be made 72 hours in advance.
As one of the three corners of N.C.'s Research Triangle Region, Raleigh is certainly known for its smarts. The Research Triangle Park, the 50-year-old, world-renowned business park, and North Carolina State University's Centennial Campus, with more than 25 years of its own innovations, are the Raleigh area's biggest science centers. Lifelong Learners can tour through these and other places to experience science in action when visiting.
Poe Center for Health Education is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educate and empower NC children, youth and their families to make choices that increase positive health behaviors. The Poe Center is available to rent, provide meeting space and field trips for schools, teams, and other organizations.
Founded in 1959 by N.C. leaders in academia, business and government, RTP is the largest, continuously operating research park in North America. Covering 7,000 acres, it is home to more than 200 research, technology and ag-bio companies that employ more than 40,000 knowledge workers. RTP Headquarters is located in Durham and is a 25-minute drive from downtown Raleigh.