Weekend Wanderlust: 48 Hours In Downtown Durham, North Carolina

Are you in hunt of a cool, millennial-driven city that is perfect to explore in a weekend visit? If so, look no further than Durham, North Carolina. 

You may have heard of Durham through the Duke University and UNC Basketball rivalry. If you are from North Carolina and have never visited Durham, you probably have your own preconceived notions about it. Well, after living near Durham for the past 2 years, I am here to put those notions to rest and to give you a comprehensive guide to exploring the city.

Ready to jump in? Let's get traveling.

So if you are thrifty like me, let's get the first question out of the way:
AirBnB or Hotel?
Definitely hotel. The key to Durham is knowing where to go, so it's best to stay in a hotel in the middle of downtown. I was able to manage a discounted stay at the 21c Museum Hotel and it was leaps and bounds better than any AirBnB (or hotel) that I could have ever hoped for. The 21c Museum Hotel in Downtown Durham is perfectly within walking distance of almost everything that you'd want to go to, including several music venues, bars and restaurants.
FRIDAY
3 p.m.- Check in at 21c Hotel
The 21c Museum Hotel has literally thought of everything that is needed to make a vacation. As the name suggests, the hotel also doubles as a museum feature levels of artists installments, as well as unique pieces on every hotel floor level and bedroom.
The room that I stayed in was the Deluxe Suite. At over 500 square feet, I had more than enough room to both work and sleep on my stay. The separate living space definitely would have come in handy if I were entertaining guests or had a traveling partner. I spent most of my time in the living room lounging on the couch either watching something on the HDTV flat  screen (I never get the time to watch TV at my house) or working on my blog for the festival I was covering that weekend. It was so nice and peaceful that I definitely plan on booking the room again just as a blogger's retreat.

4 p.m.- Walk Down W. Main Street
While staying at 21c Museum Hotel, you will be right at the corner of Corcoran St. and W. Main Street which is exactly where you want to be in Downtown Durham. Walk out of your hotel and hook a right onto W. Main Street. If you want more of a historical tour of the city, stop two doors down by the Durham Visitors & Convention Bureau to grab a few brochures (and to charge your phone). Keep walking down W. Main and cross the street to visit some cool shops.

6 p.m.- Dinner in American Tobacco Campus
If you are not from Durham, you probably have no idea what to think when you here "American Tobacco Campus".
Note: If you decide to eat at Cuban Revolution, for the love of all that is holy, do not order the sangria. Of course, it sounds great to order sangria at a Cuban restaurant; however, you will be charged $8 for less than 4oz of seemingly watered down white or red wine and some maraschino cherries. I just saved your night. You're welcome.
8 p.m.- Visit The Vault
Can you believe that there is an old bank vault in the lower level of your hotel building? How cool! My favorite way to start a night out is grabbing a drink from the Counting House bar and heading downstairs to The Vault.

9 p.m.- Uber to Fullsteam Brewery/Motorco
I assume that you are not wanting to party too hard on the same day that you traveled. Fullsteam and Motorco are right across from each other. You can drink some awesome beer at Fullsteam, possibly catch some live talent, play some games, visit one of the food trucks or head over to Motorco for a show and great late night munchies.

12 a.m.- Nightcap at Counting House
Why not take advantage of the fact that your hotel has one of the best bars in downtown? I definitely did.

SATURDAY
10am- Stumble Upon Some Brunch
I honestly find breakfast/brunch to be a bit tricky in Durham, especially in downtown. I always like to at least have the option to have pancakes at any brunch venue that I partake in, so I'm always personally disappointed in places that are "too fancy" for flapjacks. I'll include them anyways, just in case you have sophisticated taste:

  • Dame's Chicken & Waffles- great, but you better get there before they open! ( W Main St)
  • Rue Cler (401 E Chapel Hill St.)
  • Guglhupf (2706 Durham Chapel Hill Blvd)
  • Foster's Market (2694 Durham Chapel Hill Blvd)
  • Brigs At The Park (4900 NC Highway 55)
  • NOSH (2812 Erwin Road)
  • Scratch (111 Orange St)

I ended up eating at Another Broken Egg Cafe and loved it! I ordered the Crab Cavallo (basically an Egg's Benedict with crabcakes and peppers instead of ham) and could not stop thinking about it days later.

12 p.m. -Tour Duke University
The campus is absolutely stunning with its historical architecture woven into sitemap with new facilities. Make sure to also check out Duke Botanical Gardens if the weather is nice.

2:30 p.m.- Afternoon pick-me-up at RISE
If you want the best donuts of your life,you can find them at Rise Biscuits and Donuts
Address: 8900 Renaissance Pkwy

3 p.m. -Regroup in your hotel room
Am I the only one that requires a midday nap? Especially after a good brunch.

5 p.m.- Chill out at Bull McCabe's
Address: 427 W Main St, Durham, NC 27701

6 p.m. View the City from the Rooftop Bar
Address:315 E Chapel Hill St, Durham, NC 27701

7 p.m. Dinner at Counting House
You are on vacation. Treat yourself to a nice dinner and make sure to make a reservation ahead of time!

10 p.m.- Catch a music show at Pinhook
Address: 117 W Main St.

SUNDAY
11 a.m.- Check Out 
Now that you have seen the parts of Durham that I cherish and love, I'll consider you an official Durhamite. Rep you new city by going next door to Runaway and buying some "DURM" paraphernalia.
11:30- Coffee and Pastries at Cocoa Cinnamon
Address: 420 W Geer St.
It's almost time for you to hit the road, jack. Right down the street from Fullsteam/Motorco is the coolest workshop-converted coffee shop ever. Make sure to go to Cocoa Cinnamon and get an Iced Dr. Durham (that's my personal favorite). Take advantage of the wifi while you are at it.

IF YOU PLANNED AHEAD
If you are able to coordinate a trip to Durham in advance, I would definitely plan a trip around a Bull's game or a show at DPAC (Durham Performing Arts Center).

IF YOU NEED TO GO SHOPPING
Need a new outfit? I would definitely suggest Southpoint Mall in Durham or if you feel like driving and need an H&M, Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh (4325 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC).

About Us

Quirky, Brown Love is a media outlet for quirky, brown millennials. EST 2014.

Email Bryanda Law, Editor-in-Chief
editor@quirkybrownlove.com