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The city of Durham, located in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, was once a booming part of the tobacco industry, as well as the site of a prominent Civil Rights movement. Now, it is not only home to Duke University, but with a revitalized downtown district, is also filled with restaurants, shopping, sporting events, attractions and culture. It is also home to a diverse music scene and serves as the venue for many annual events including the Bull Durham Blues Festival and the American Dance Festival.
Take in a Show at the Carolina Theatre
If you’ve always loved the charm and ambiance of the old theatres from the 1920’s, you’ll love experiencing it in person at the Carolina Theatre in downtown Durham. Restored to its original 1926 décor, the Beaux Arts-style theatre hosts live music, stand-up comedy, theatrical performances and special educational series. There are also two cinemas on-site that show both new releases and classic films, as well as serve as the backdrop for several annual film festivals.
Fan-Out at the Duke Basketball Museum and Sports Hall of Fame
Sports lovers, you’ll definitely want to make a stop at the Duke Basketball Museum & Sports Hall of Fame, where you can see trophies, videos and other memorabilia from one of the most well-known men’s basketball teams in the country. The team, known as the Blue Devils, have won four NCAA Championships and over 20 ACC tournaments. Other achievements highlighted in the museum include Hall of Fame Coach Mike Krzyzewski and dozens of All-American players, including nine that were named National Players of the Year.
Paint With a Lemur
The Duke Lemur Center is home to the world’s largest collection of lemurs outside of their original home in Madagascar. In addition to promoting conservation, the Center also focuses on education, research and public outreach. You have to have a tour reservation, so be sure to make one in advance of your visit. There are several tour options to choose from including the general “Lemurs Live” tour, the “Little Lemurs” tour and the premium tours which include going behind the scenes, being a lemur keeper for a day and even painting with lemurs. Yes, lemurs love to paint and after choosing three colors of paint and watching the lemurs go to work, you get to take the masterpiece home with you!
Stroll Through the Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Duke Gardens, a 55-acre public garden that sits on the campus of Duke University, was named as one of the top 10 public gardens in the country by Tripadvisor and won an award for Garden Excellence by Horticulture Magazine. It is open to the public 365 days a year and features a variety of native plants, an arboretum, terraces, water features and an organic food garden. There’s also a café where you can grab a bite to eat and a gift shop for finding a souvenir to take home. Although you can tour the gardens by foot or trolley, the trolley tours do require reservations, so make sure to call in advance.
Go Shopping at The Streets at Southpoint
The Streets at Southpoint isn’t just your average shopping mall, it’s a destination in and of itself. In fact, it was named one of the country’s “Ten Great Places to Spend it All in One Place” by USA Today. No matter what the weather is like, you’ll be able to enjoy an afternoon of shopping since there is both an indoor section and an outdoor section that resembles a town “Main Street.” You’ll also find over 100 stores, more than 20 restaurants and a movie theater with IMAX screens. The mall also practices sustainability by conserving energy and water and composting food garbage, and also offers a wide variety of amenities to shoppers including complimentary wheelchairs, mobile device charging stations and even a jump start for your car if it won’t start.
See Where the Civil War Ended
Bennett Place State Historical Site is not only the site of the largest troop surrender, but it is also the site where the Civil War effectively ended when Confederate General Joseph E. Johnson met with Union General William Sherman and surrendered his armies. Visitors can see restored historic structures, tour the site and participate in special living history events, all free of charge.
Visit One of the Largest Butterfly Houses on the East Coast
The Museum of Life + Science spans a whopping 84 acres and is considered to be one of the top family-friendly museums in the Southeast. With a wide variety of both indoor and outdoor exhibits, there is something to satisfy everyone’s curiosity, young or old, including a dinosaur exhibit with life-size dinosaurs, one of the largest butterfly houses on the East Coast, and Hideaway Woods – a nature environment that features a stream, sculptures and eight tree houses, spread out across two acres. The museum also has a gift shop to grab a souvenir for the little ones and a coffee bar to grab a latte for mom and dad.