Sometimes overshadowed by nearby Raleigh, Durham is a hip, energetic destination—whether or not you cheer for the Duke Blue Devils. Repurposed commercial buildings and factories like the Golden Belt, a former textile mill that now houses artist studios and galleries, make the city feel like a mini Brooklyn.
Where to eat
Eat pie for breakfast at Scratch Bakery, or try the whiskey praline doughnut at Monuts—it’s worth the wait. On Fridays, Counter Culture Coffee offers tastings and tours of its roastery. At South American–inspired Luna, don’t miss the spicy bacon collards. Have dinner at 21c Museum Hotel’s Counting House, where contemporary art will give you plenty to talk about over locally sourced cuisine.
Where to drink
The Federal is a favorite dive bar—and score, it has great nachos! Or unwind at Fullsteam Brewery with a pint and bar games galore. Walk across the street to Motorco for live music, or just to hang out on the patio.
What to do
To get the lay of the land, rent a bike from Durham Cycles and cruise along the American Tobacco Trail, a 22-mile route that starts downtown and heads out to the country. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, roam the Durham Farmers Market in Central Park, where every Saturday you’ll find what seems like the entire city loading up on local produce, honey, and craft products like yarn or soap.
The Sarah P. Duke Gardens, founded in 1934, is a must-see, especially this month when the azaleas and dogwoods are in bloom. Watch fat koi weave through giant lily pads at the Terrace Gardens Fish Pool.
The Durham Bulls are arguably the most recognizable minor league baseball team, thanks to the 1988 movie Bull Durham.
Where to stay
The new 53-room Durham Hotel, located downtown in a former bank building, mixes midcentury modern decor with updated indulgences. Rooms are stocked with chocolate, coffee, bath products, and even linens from local makers. Don’t miss the rooftop bar, where you can sip a Rob Roy over the city’s best view.
This article originally appeared in our April 2016 issue.