trips planned today
out of 5
Trustscore rating

Best things to do in Durham

Itinerary planner
+ Add destination
2 adults
- +
- +
- +
You have 1 trip in progress.   See all
Where in the world: USA  /  North Carolina  /  Durham

Top 15 things to do in Durham

1. Sarah P. Duke Gardens

A living memorial, Sarah P. Duke Gardens showcases a collection of landscaped gardens. Over 100 flowerbeds with more than 40,000 irises blossomed in the gardens in 1935. These original gardens were washed away in 1936, but Ellen Biddle Shipman redesigned them into an area called the Terraces. The terraced greenery includes a variety of species that release heady scents into Duke University's campus air. This blossoming memorial is open to the public with 8 km (5 mi) of walkways that wrap around different plant life.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Sarah P. Duke Gardens

2. Museum of Life + Science

Museum of Life + Science offers a comprehensive journey through nature and science with hands-on entertainment for children and adults. In the aerospace exhibit, where you can learn about NASA's early endeavors in space flight, you'll see Neil Armstrong's dosimeter and a section of the lunar rover. You can make your own flight simulators and test them out in the Launch Lab. Visit the butterfly house and walk through warm rainforest, where you'll have the chance to witness the delicate creatures emerge from their chrysalis. Move through to the "explore the wild" exhibit for a chance to see black bears, ring-tailed lemurs, and the highly endangered red wolves. Follow the dinosaur trail among life-size models of Brontosaurus, T-Rex, and many more. Kids especially love the fossil dig, where they can grab a shovel and search for coral, shark teeth and other fossils--and they get to keep the treasures they find.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
Learn more about Museum of Life + Science

3. Duke University Chapel

Featuring stained-glass windows, vaulted arches, stonework, and Gothic architecture, interdenominational Duke University Chapel provides a visually pleasing atmosphere for services or quiet reflection. First used for the school's commencement in 1932, the chapel has also become known for its music. Consider taking a tour of the building to see where Washington Duke and his two sons are entombed. Parking is available on campus.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Duke University Chapel
Tours including Duke University Chapel:
Plan your trip to Durham
  • Get a personalized trip
    A full day by day itinerary based on your preferences
  • Customize it
    Refine your trip. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Book it
    Choose from the best hotels and activities. Up to 50% off
  • Manage it
    Everything in one place. Everyone on the same page.

4. Duke University

Duke University is a private research university in Durham, North Carolina. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present-day city of Trinity in 1838, the school moved to Durham in 1892. In 1924, tobacco and electric power industrialist James Buchanan Duke established The Duke Endowment and the institution changed its name to honor his deceased father, Washington Duke.
The campus spans over 8,600 acres (3,500 hectares) on three contiguous sub-campuses in Durham, and a marine lab in Beaufort. The West Campus—designed largely by architect Julian Abele, an African American architect who graduated first in his class at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design—incorporates Gothic architecture with the 210-foot (64-meter) Duke Chapel at the campus' center and highest point of elevation, is adjacent to the Medical Center. East Campus, 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) away, home to all first-years, contains Georgian-style architecture. The university administers two concurrent schools in Asia, Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore (established in 2005) and Duke Kunshan University in Kunshan, China (established in 2013).
Duke is ranked among the top universities in the United States and in the world by major publications. The undergraduate admissions are among the most selective in the country, with an overall acceptance rate of 6.2% for the class of 2026. Duke spends more than $1 billion per year on research, making it one of the ten largest research universities in the United States. More than a dozen faculty regularly appear on annual lists of the world's most-cited researchers. As of 2019, 15 Nobel laureates and 3 Turing Award winners have been affiliated with the university. Duke alumni also include 50 Rhodes Scholars, the third highest number of Churchill Scholars of any university (behind Princeton and Harvard), and the fifth-highest combined total numbers of Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Goldwater, and Udall Scholars of any American university between 1986 and 2017. Duke is the alma mater of one president of the United States (Richard Nixon) and 14 living billionaires.
As of 2021, Duke is the fourth-largest private employer in North Carolina, with more than 43,000 employees. The university has been ranked as an excellent employer by several publications.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Duke University
Tours including Duke University:

5. Eno River State Park

Eno River State Park is a 4,319-acre (17.48 km2) North Carolina state park in Durham and Orange Counties, North Carolina. Together with the adjoining West Point on the Eno city park, the two parks preserve over 14 miles (22.5 km) of the Eno River and surrounding lands.

There are five public access areas with features including twenty-four miles of hiking trails, canoe launches, picnic areas, and historic structures.

Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Eno River State Park

6. American Tobacco Campus

The American Tobacco Historic District is a historic tobacco factory complex and national historic district located in Durham, Durham County, North Carolina. The district encompasses 14 contributing buildings and three contributing structures built by the American Tobacco Company and its predecessors and successors from 1874 to the 1950s. Located in the district is the separately listed Italianate style W. T. Blackwell and Company building (1874-1880, c. 1904). Other notable contributing resources are the Romanesque Revival style Hill Warehouse (1900), Washington Warehouse (1902–07), the Lucky Strike Building (1901–02), and Reed Warehouse; Noell Building (c. 1930); Power Plant and Engine House (1929–39); and the Art Moderne style Fowler (1939) Strickland (1946) and Crowe (1953) buildings.
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000 as the American Tobacco Company Manufacturing Plant.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about American Tobacco Campus
Tours including American Tobacco Campus:

7. Duke Lemur Center

The Duke Lemur Center is an 85-acre (34 ha) sanctuary for rare and endangered strepsirrhine primates, located at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. It is the largest sanctuary for strepsirrhine primates in the world.
The center is open to the public through tours, for which visitors must make an appointment.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Duke Lemur Center

8. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh

By exploring the state's geography, prehistoric past, geology, plants, and animals, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences helps over a million visitors a year learn about the natural world. The museum has four floors of displays, live animals, and hands-on activities. At the Nature Research Center, you can watch scientists working at research labs through floor-to-ceiling glass walls. Researchers also give regular presentations at the center's three-story, multimedia space, which is also used to show spectacular scenes from nature.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

9. Bennett Place Historic Site

On April 17, 1865 Major General William Tecumseh Sherman and General Joseph Eggleston Johnston met at the home of James and Nancy Bennett to put an end to a war that had cost America more than 670,000 lives (approximately 620,000 and 50,000 civilian).

On April 26, 1865 an agreement was reached which surrendered more than 89,270 Confederate soldiers making this the largest surrender of the American Civil War.

This facebook page has been created for the enjoyment and education of the general public. Bennett Place State Historic Site and the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources reserves the right to remove or block any comments or individuals who may be deemed as insulting and harmful to Bennett Place or indviiduals and groups affiliated with Bennett Place. Please keep all comments respectful for everyone. Thank you.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Bennett Place Historic Site

10. Room Escape Games

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
Learn more about Room Escape Games

11. North Carolina Zoo, Asheboro

Spread out across 810 hectares (2,000 acres), North Carolina Zoo is the largest walk-through zoo in the world. More than 1,600 animals from more than 250 species, split into an Africa and North America section, live here. The African habitat houses such creatures as ostriches, elephants, gorillas, and lemurs, while the North American part hosts alligators, bears, sea lions, the largest collection of Alaskan seabirds in the country, and much more. Don't miss the critically acclaimed aviary, with free-flying birds in tropical rainforest conditions. The zoo makes getting around easy, thanks to 8 km (5 mi) of walking paths, as well as trams and air-conditioned buses. Lines for the trams and buses can be long, so wear comfortable shoes.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
Learn more about North Carolina Zoo

13. Duke Homestead

Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Duke Homestead

14. Golden Belt Historic District

Golden Belt Historic District is a national historic district located at Durham, Durham County, North Carolina. The district encompasses 116 contributing buildings in a mixed industrial, commercial, and residential section of Durham. The focus of the district are the Romanesque Revival style buildings associated with the Golden Belt Manufacturing Company plant. Associated with the company are 109 worker's houses built in 1900-1902 and bungalows built in the late 1910s.
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, with a boundary increase in 1996.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Golden Belt Historic District

15. Durham Distillery

Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Durham Distillery