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A Newbie Guide to Durham, North Carolina

A Newbie Guide to Durham, North Carolina
Written by Duke Stewart

A Newbie Guide to Durham

After living in Korea for the past four years, Christina and I have arrived in our new home – Durham, North Carolina. As part of the area’s famed Research Triangle, there is so much to do here and that made things overwhelming at first. All these wonderful options got me thinking about the need for a more condensed guide for new folks like myself. That’s why I created this newbie guide to Durham, North Carolina for people who’ve just moved here and don’t know where to start!

Christmas at the American Tobacco Campus in Durham, North Carolina

Where to Drink Coffee and More

When I go into town in the morning, one of my first choices for a pick-me-up was Respite before it closed. Their scones took me back to Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands but now that I can’t enjoy them, Mad Hatter’s is my one-stop shop for coffee refills and breakfast. Parker and Otis is another awesome choice that mixes deli, shopping, and great food to go with super awesome coffee. Cocoa cinnamon is another favorite and within earshot of our favorite watering hole.

Scones at Respite in Durham, North Carolina

I’m not alone in saying that weekends mean trips to Motorco Music Hall or Fullsteam for tunes, games and a truly scientific brew. Bull City is perfect when I want some in-house beer along with the best burgers found on this side of the Eno River. Sam’s Quick Stop is the best place to seek out new and interesting brews previously unbeknownst to me. I one day hope to complete a list of places to drink but not in this newbie guide to Durham.

Flight at Fullsteam Brewery in Durham, North Carolina

Where to Eat

When I’m not gulping coffee by the gallon, I’m being social with family at Elmo’s Diner for some of the best brunch in history. Hope Valley Diner is another popular choice with us, thanks to mighty fine omelets and a mimosa. I could go on forever but can’t leave out Guglhupf Café’s bread that’s been on my mind ever since our first visit a couple of years ago. Lunch means a trip to either Watt’s Grocery for some awesome Po Boys or Ninth Street Bakery for sandwiches.

Po Boy at Watts Grocery in Durham, North Carolina

You know I can’t mention food in Durham without talking about the weekly Farmers’ Market that happens every Saturday. The personal vibe here really keeps us coming back but there’s also the food truck gallery across the street where one can eat anything from breakfast pizzas to Korean fusion tacos. Speaking of ethnic food, Durham’s got tons of it! My favorite so far is Pad Thai, a place that truly takes us back to our time in Chiang Mai and other parts of Thailand.

Greens at the Durham Farmers Market

Going Out and Getting Around

I think I initially fell in love with this town after an evening hanging around the Durham Bulls Park and the American Tobacco Campus. That’s not the only thing to do in Durham though, thanks to a vibrant scene headed by Carolina Theater and multiple other venues. There’s also the University and Duke Chapel that everyone talks about. Both are an awesome sight if you’re fortunate enough to walk on campus towards Cameron Indoor or Wallace Wade Stadium.

Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina

Durham is also awesome because of its abundance of the things you can do outside. Personal favorites include the Eno River State Park and Duke Forest but then there’s Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Walk through that collection of trees and flowers that span the globe and the Japanese garden that takes me back to Kyoto. It’s no surprise that many people get married there. We personally sought out the Arrowhead Inn on the outskirts of town and you’ll see why after a walk through their beautiful garden.

Hiking in the Eno River State Park, North Carolina

What did I leave out?

If you’re somehow bored with all that Durham has to offer, then you can spend time enjoying the surrounding small towns like Hillsborough or the scenic beauty at Falls Lake. I love the fact that there are so many small communities and parks that are accessible within a short drive of the city. Durham sits between the coast and of the mountains. It’s hard to get away from Durham but whenever you want, there are tons of things worth seeing and not far away.

Falls Lake State Recreation Area, North Carolina

 

Having walked around downtown Durham quite a few times since moving here, I can see it’s full of awesome street art, history and culture that goes beyond the tobacco industry. Family centered places like the Lemur Center and Life and Science Museum hold fun for all ages! For a history nerd like me, it’s moments staring the NC Mutual Life building that take me back to times when Durham’s “Black Wall Street” rose during the early 20th century. There’s much more but that one stands out above the rest.

NC Mutual Life Building in Durham, North Carolina

I think you can see just how much Durham means to this newcomer but I’d like to hear from you. Is there anything or left out of messed up in this Newbie Guide to Durham? Let me know in the comments section and if you’ve got an awesome suggestion to make, I’ll throw it along with the rest! Thanks for reading and as always, take care.

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A Newbie Guide to Durham by Duke Stewart

About the author

Duke Stewart

As a recovering Expat, I write about Life through Travel and want you there with me through captivating stories followed by guides on how to do the same. My work has been featured in various magazines throughout Korea and in online publications including the awesome Hipmunk.com. I am also a nerd and love to point out a situation's similarities to any of my favorite movies, books, or tv shows. You've been warned:) Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for daily updates.

5 Comments

  • Just moved here and was overwhelmed at where to start with exploring things too! Thanks for the post 🙂

  • Honestly, Durham wasn’t even on my radar! But it sounds like a really cool place. I tend to enjoy ‘tech-hub’ cities, as they tend to have a lot of the cool coffee shops and eateries. I’d like to try some of those walks around the outskirts of town as well! Always love a good green spot in the middle of a city.
    Nathan Anderson recently posted…The Birth of a WandererMy Profile

    • It better be on your radar now, boy! But yeah, it’s pretty rockin’ here man. You’ll be seeing another slice of it in my next post, as I continue trying to blend posts about Southeast Asia and this new piece of heaven. Get out of “boring” New Zealand and come back to the eastern part of the states and my wife and I’ll show you around! That’s a promise.

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by Nathan. I hope you’re hanging in there and not working too hard. Take care, man.
      Duke Stewart recently posted…Five of the Best Cities in New EnglandMy Profile

  • I didn’t have the chance to explore Durham when I was living in NC, but wanted to explore Bennett Place and Duke Homestead.

    • I still haven’t made it to Bennett Place but really wanted to for their Christmas events. The weather here hasn’t really cooperated with outdoor types of things to do but hopefully spring will change that! I forget, where did you live when here? It’s such a big state so I understand not getting a chance to come this way. Thanks for commenting, Jeri! Always good to read your thoughts.
      Duke Stewart recently posted…A Newbie Guide to Durham, North CarolinaMy Profile

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