End of April in Durham, NC
April 12, 2016 2:42 PM   Subscribe

I'll be in Durham, North Carolina from April 26 - May 1, staying downtown. I don't drive. What should I check out while I'm in the area?

I'd appreciate any suggestions for food, drink, shopping, and experiences unique to the area. No dietary restrictions to speak of, and I enjoy all the booze. This question was helpful, but I'm looking for any updates you may have. Thank you!
posted by nathaole to Travel & Transportation around Durham, NC (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: On April 30th, Counter Culture Coffee is having a grand opening in their new HQ, which seems like it'll be cool. It's a pleasant 15 minute walk from downtown.

Closer to your visit (~a week out) Offline will have a list of interesting Durham things to do.
posted by Maecenas at 3:18 PM on April 12, 2016

Best answer: Oh and Ponysaurus is a great, new-ish brewery/bar that is also walkable from downtown.
posted by Maecenas at 3:20 PM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Mateo tapas! It's delicious and popular--get a reservation. Bull City Burger and Brewery has good burgers and beer. A little further away from downtown, Burger Bach (pronounced batch) also has good burgers. I've only been to Bar Virgile once, but it had some really nice cocktails and what looked like interesting food. If you don't mind a hotel bar/restaurant, Counting House at the 21c Museum Hotel has interesting cocktails and decent food. I really like the food at Local 22, too--it's a bit of a walk from downtown, but worth it. Gonza Tacos Y Tequila is close to downtown and very delicious.

You should definitely take a walk through the American Tobacco Campus, too. They have some really neat lighting and waterworks, so go at dusk. The restaurants right in the campus are OK, but not great. Tyler's Taproom is good for beer, but the food is so-so. Basan, the sushi place right next to the ballfield, is very good.

Pleiades Gallery is a neat little art gallery downtown. There are probably more that I haven't discovered. I'm not sure what's playing at the DPAC, but it is a great venue for theater and probably music.

Have fun!
posted by tybstar at 3:35 PM on April 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I was there recently, and loved the Scrap Exchange, a GIANT creative reuse store. It is probably not within walking distance, but would be Uber-able.
posted by booksherpa at 4:16 PM on April 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: An absolute ton of stuff has opened downtown since the end of 2012. But Downtown Durham is tiny and you can walk around it in an evening. Ideally while eating ice cream from the Parlour, or working up an appetite for same. Then you can decide where you'd like to return to. e.g., Daisy's Vintage, Vert and Vogue, Carolina Soul Records, Letters Bookshop, and the new WITCH STORE at the corner of Church and Parrish. Plus all the restaurants: Pizzeria Toro, Toast for the best lunch, Dashi for ramen (and Japanese bar food upstairs at their izakaya), the rooftop bar at The Durham, the new sushi place across from the Durham, Dame's chicken and waffles, Luna for really yummy Southern/South American food (one of the few places downtown I would recommend for vegetarians)--that's in the Gluten district near Scratch and Loaf which are both phenomenal bakeries. A delightful new bar, Arcana, just opened off Main St. (you have to enter from the parking lot in the back). And there are a couple of other bars down there as well. The Atomic Fern seems very Metafilterish to me. I mean that in a good way. All that along with the aforementioned Bar Virgile, Mateo's, Counting House, etc., is within the downtown loop. As is the Pinhook (queerish bar that has dance nights and shows), the teensy Carrack Art Gallery (which might have an opening? they sometimes have music at night too), and the Carolina Theater (which is a great place to see a movie).

Just north of the downtown loop, and still within easy walking distance, is the farmer's market (8-12 Saturday AM, featuring food trucks, representatives from the Gluten District, and sometimes rescue puppies! and a new branch of Rise biscuit and donut bakery on the way), a shitton of condo construction, and a bunch of service stations/garages that have been converted to things like Fullsteam Brewery, Cocoa Cinnamon coffee shop, Geer St. Garden, the Bar (Durham's official gay bar), Surf Club, and Motorco, which for my money is the best place to while away a nice Saturday afternoon or weekday evening in Durham (they have a giant patio and serve really quality bar snacks, and often have shows in the mainroom). You can also check the Independent Weekly--indyweek.com--to see what's going on that weekend. The Durham Distillery also just opened up there off of Geer St.--I haven't been but I think they do little tours (it's very tiny). The Durham Yoga company (where Jessamyn Stanley teaches! but only on Tuesdays) is also up there if that's of interest.

Just south of the downtown loop is the American Tobacco Campus, DPAC, and the Bulls park. It's fun to go to Bulls games on weekends even if you don't care for baseball because they are super mellow and sometimes there are fireworks! The American Tobacco Campus scene is a little corporate for me but sometimes there's good programming at the Full Frame theater (the documentary film festival was last weekend).

Just west of downtown is the free and tiny Museum of Durham History, which is worth swinging by if you're into that sort of thing, and then past some more condos (and Gonza, which is a fun place for a cocktail) is the Brightleaf area. Parker and Otis has really good lunch (sandwiches) and an excellent lanai for reading/working/eating. The Fed nearby on Main is the best "dive" bar in Durham with bar food that's much better than it has to be. Also the baked goods at Rose's Meats and Sweets right there are exceptional. Inside Brightleaf Square is a decent (mediocre) branch of local record shop schoolkids and a fun (also pretty mediocre) used book store. P&O and Morgan Imports are both outstanding tchotchke emporiums. If you skew more on the designery end of things Vert and Vogue has an original location in Brightleaf and one downtown near Toast. Duke's East Campus (the Chapel and the stadiums are on the West campus which is another 3 or so miles) is further west on Main. Walkable, but not much worth seeing unless you're looking for a place to run, in which case the East Campus loop is 1.7 miles.

And just east is Old Havana for Cuban food, the Ponysaurus brewery, the current location of Bull City Ciderworks (they're shutting down on the 30th, actually. The City is planning new police HQ in that location. If you want to protest those plans you can join those advocating for a people's budget at City Hall just up the road from Bull City Burger) and Unexposed microcinema. East is the direction most likely to be uninhabited later in the evening, just so you are practicing situational awareness.

The Scrap Exchange would be a really long and not very pleasant walk but it is a very special place.

I don't have anything on my calendar for that weekend yet so I don't have any more specific suggestions (thanks for the heads up about the Counter Culture opening!).
posted by kickingthecrap at 8:34 PM on April 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! I so appreciate you taking the time to provide such thorough and thoughtful responses. I can't wait to check out all of these gems.
posted by nathaole at 8:51 AM on April 19, 2016

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