10. Release your inner lumberjack at Urban Axes

Urban Axes in downtown Durham is the perfect venue for competitive ax-throwing and might be the most unique activity on the list. You can sign up for a group event, or walk-in sessions are available for $20 per hour. So, if you are looking for a completely unique Durham experience, grab a group of your friends, order some drinks, and see who can hit the most bullseyes!

9. Spend a “spooktacular” Halloween on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill

Halloween is always a fun event, especially because most countries do not celebrate it as intensely as the U.S. does. Halloween in the nearby town of Chapel Hill is an incredibly fun party in which everyone dresses up in a costume and goes to Franklin Street for a bar crawl of sorts. In the past, the MMS program has provided a bus for the students who want to go to this exciting event, so it’s is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Halloween with some local flair.

8. Tour Durham’s many breweries and sample the local beer selections

Durham is a brewery town, no doubt about it. The city is home to a wide variety of breweries such as Durty Bull Brewing Company, Ponysaurus Brewing Company, and my personal favorite, Bull City Cider Works, where your furry friend can join you at the bar for a drink. Whatever your taste in beer, Durham will meet and even exceed your expectations. If you want to go beyond simply drinking the beer, many breweries offer tours of their facilities. So be sure to check their websites if you would like a behind-the-scenes tour of your favorite brewery. 

7. Eat your way through Durham’s expansive culinary scene

If you are not in the mood to cook, Durham is home to an impressive selection of restaurants featuring a variety of culinary styles. To give you a few examples, Dashi is an excellent ramen shop that will even replace its ramen noodles with gluten-free rice noodles at your request. If the lower level is full, you can always enjoy a drink at their upstairs Japanese izakaya-style bar while you wait for a table to open up. Another local favorite is Mateo, which is one of the best tapas restaurants in the nation. It’s guaranteed to have a dish that everyone will enjoy. Besides these examples, Durham has much more to offer, so be sure to try as much food as you can in this culinary-oriented city before you graduate.

6. Shop for fresh, local produce at the Durham Farmers’ Market

The Durham Farmers’ Market is home to a plethora of fresh, locally grown produce and other foods. The best part is that unlike some farmers’ markets in colder climates, this one is open year-round! The market is held at the Pavilion in Durham Central Park on Saturdays and from April through October it’s even open on Wednesday afternoons. However, it’s important that you bring your own bags for your purchases because most stands do not provide them. So, if you are looking to mix up your diet with healthy, locally-grown, in-season foods, then the Durham Farmer’s Market is the place for you!

5. Dramatic much? Attend a show at the Durham Performing Arts Center

The Durham Performing Arts Center, or DPAC, is Durham’s destination for touring musicals and plays. Cost of admission varies depending on the performance as well as the seat you purchase. Shows hosted at the DPAC in the past have included well-known ones like Aladdin and Chicago, as well as lesser-known ones like Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief: The Musical, or even Tap Dogs. Whether you are a devoted thespian or just want to impress a date, DPAC has something for everyone. Check their website frequently for upcoming events.

4. Paint the town at the Nasher Museum

The Nasher Museum of Art is located on Duke’s campus and is home to over 13,000 contemporary works of art from around the world. If that is not enough to keep you occupied, the Nasher also hosts limited-time special exhibits that change every few months or so. To give you an example, the most recent special exhibit was entitled “Across County Lines: Contemporary Photography from the Piedmont” which is the region of North Carolina that Durham and the Triangle area are in. Admission for this wonderful museum is free to Duke students, so there is no excuse to avoid this unique attraction.

3. Put on your hiking boots and participate in a Chapel climb

By now, you are probably familiar with the famous Duke Chapel that dominates most images of the campus. The tower is 210 feet tall with 239 steps leading to a 360-degree view of campus. Needless to say, you will be feeling your legs at the end of this climb, but it’s a must for all Duke students. The views more than make up for the temporary soreness. Unfortunately, you cannot climb the chapel any time you feel like it. A large enough group must sign up for the climb and a volunteer will guide your group up the stairs. The MMS program typically plans a Chapel climb for students at the beginning of the school year, but space is limited. Keep your eyes peeled for the sign-up email so that you do not miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

2. Stop and smell the roses at the Duke Gardens

The Duke Gardens is one of my favorite places on campus. The gardens never fail to be relaxing and are always camera-ready for that perfect Instagram picture. This popular campus attraction is open to the public every day from 8:00 a.m. until dusk and is always free.

1. Cheer on the Blue Devils at a Duke Basketball game

Nothing beats dressing up in Duke’s signature blue and cheering on the team—not only with your classmates, but the entire university. Season tickets can be purchased after successfully camping out for a weekend with other graduate school students. If you do not want season tickets, but still want to see a game or two, walk-up tickets are available for free to graduate students for most games. So whether you are a hard-core Duke fan or just want to test the waters, a Duke basketball game is a must-see event for every MMS student.