What to do without a car in Durham, NC in December?
November 18, 2012 8:10 PM   Subscribe

What should I do during a 4-day trip to Durham? (Bonus: no car.)

I am visiting Durham for four days at the end of December. I will be based near the Duke University Medical Complex. During the day I won't have a car. I might have a bike. Will I be able to get around, carless? What would you recommend for a tourist?

I like: used bookstores, quirky places, coffee shops, historic sites, etc.

Thank you in advance.
posted by melodykramer to Travel & Transportation around Durham, NC (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It's a pretty easy bike ride through campus to 9th street, which is what passes for "college town" in Durham - has The Regulator bookstore and a couple of cute geegaw stores, coffee shops, one decent bar, a place that has pretty good Vietnamese food on...Wednesdays, I think? Durham is pretty hilly so hopefully the bike won't be a fixie. There's also Duke-related transit that can take you downtown, and the Bull City Connector that runs on Main Street, which will take you to the farmer's market, which is year round, and the rest of the Rigsbee/Foster corridor (Fullsteam brewery and Motorco music hall, as well as a couple of other bars). The Pinhook (queer/hipster) and Bull City Brewery are also off main street downtown. Transportation between Durham and Chapel Hill-Carrboro/Raleigh w/o a car is mostly aimed at commuters, but Triangle Transit could get you to either place if you wanted to see them (NC Art Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art in Raleigh; Main St. Carrboro; college town attractions in CH). The Carolina Theater is an old gem downtown that plays arthouse and repertory cinema. Duke Performances might be doing stuff on campus while you're here too. Check the Independent Weekly (indyweek.com) for other goings-on. The stuff out on Erwin Road near the medical center is mostly pretty corporate/chain, but there's a surprisingly delicious/fun wine bar called Six Plates out there.

Also, meetup?
posted by kickingthecrap at 9:07 PM on November 18, 2012

I think the Robertson Scholars bus, running between Duke and UNC all day, is free, if you get tired of the other place.
posted by thelonius at 2:02 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Robertson Scholars bus won't be running during the time of the visit, as it doesn't run during school breaks.

9th St should be reachable by bike or the free Bull City Connector bus. You can also reach the Brightleaf Square area on the Bull City Connector. Very touristy, but worth a visit for Morgan Imports and then for a bite to eat and coffee at Parker & Otis.

Downtown has some great eateries, but might not be as accessible on public transport, strangely enough.

Duke has the Nasher Museum of Art, and the chapel is always worth a look. There's also Duke Gardens.

We'll be in town during that time, so Memail if you have additional questions. Or, just call a meetup :)
posted by research monkey at 6:20 AM on November 19, 2012

I think this is the best guide I've found for Durham. Things that are in Downtown/Five Points, American Tobacco District, Brightleaf District, Central Park District, Ninth Street Area, or Broad Street District should be easily accessible even without a car. The only thing that's missing is the newly opened Pizzeria Toro which is right downtown at Five Points.

I live in downtown Durham, work at Duke, and rarely use my car for getting around Durham, so I think it's doable particularly if you don't mind a small walk or have a bike. The Bull City Connector is probably the most useful bus route for you. It has a stop at Duke Med Center South and then goes downtown via Main Street. It's also free. Once you're downtown most things are easily walkable. The other public transportation option for you is the DATA 6/6b Bus but it costs a $1 and doesn't run as frequently as the Bull City Connector. Google Maps includes Durham's public transportation options so that can help in planning.

Have fun and MeMail if you have any questions!
posted by radiomayonnaise at 6:53 AM on November 19, 2012

Downtown Durham is great, also check out Dames (chicken and waffles) and Whiskey (fancy prohibition-era-type bar).

A meetup is also a grand idea.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:39 AM on November 19, 2012

I don't know much about transportation to and from, but I love this brewery.
posted by hefeweizen at 9:28 PM on November 20, 2012

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