Being a current MQM student and having completed my undergraduate degree at Duke, I have now spent almost five years living in Durham. Throughout my time here, I have done my best to explore the area and to try as many new things as possible. Here are some of my top recommendations:
If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure…
Al Buehler Trail: This trail is less than five minutes from the front door of Fuqua, making it one of my favorite places to go for a run or walk after class. It’s three miles long (just short of a full 5K) and is absolutely beautiful in the fall as the leaves change colors. It goes all the way around the golf course at the Washington Duke Inn, making it an easy escape right on campus.
Eno River State Park: This park is 10 miles from Durham and has something to offer for everyone. Whether you want to hike the trails, swim in the quarry, lounge in a hammock, have a picnic, or fish in the river, Eno is the place to be. My personal favorite spot is Bobbitt Hole—it’s a short walk from the parking lot and is a lovely place to swim in the river or hang out with friends on a warm day.
American Tobacco Trail: The Tobacco Trail goes through the Triangle area along an old railroad line, including right through downtown Durham. It gets a bit crowded on the weekends but, at 22+ miles, there is plenty to explore.
Honorable mentions include hiking the trails in Duke Forest, walking/running the East Campus Loop, and swimming or camping at Jordan Lake.
If you’re looking for a weekend activity…
Duke Lemur Center: Another on-campus gem, the Lemur Center is home to the largest population of lemurs outside of Madagascar. It’s a great place to visit and learn about the adorable species, but be sure to schedule a tour as it’s quite popular.
ZincHouse Winery and Brewery: A recent discovery of my own, ZincHouse opened last year and is just a 20-minute drive from campus. With a wide selection of wine and beer, a variety of food trucks, live music, as well as ample outdoor seating and a great view, it’s a wonderful place to spend an evening.
Durham Farmer’s Market: The farmer’s market is every Saturday morning (and Wednesday afternoons in spring, summer, and fall) in Durham Central Park. It is my go-to spot for kicking off the weekend. Vendors sell produce, prepared food, and crafts—all of which comes from no more than 70 miles away.
Durham Bulls Baseball Game: The Bulls, Durham’s minor league baseball team, plays at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP) downtown, and their games are incredibly fun. It’s a great thing to do in the evening and tickets are relatively affordable. The MQM program staff sometimes plans for students to attend a game as a group. Duke baseball often plays at the DBAP, so if you just want to see the park, those games are the perfect opportunity to do that. All Duke students can attend those games for free!
Honorable mentions include seeing a Carolina Hurricanes hockey game, strolling around the Duke Gardens, or going to trivia at Bull City Ciderworks.
If you’re looking for an artistic afternoon…
Cat’s Cradle: If you are into music, this is place for you! Cat’s Cradle is a small music venue in Carrboro (right next to Chapel Hill, about a 25-minute drive from Fuqua). They host concerts almost every night on their two stages, and it’s such a fun place to see your favorite small artist or to discover someone new. My favorite group I’ve seen at Cat’s Cradle is Richy Mitch and the Coal Miners.
Durham Performing Arts Center: The DPAC is the largest performing arts center in North Carolina, and they host everything from standup comedians to concerts to touring Broadway shows. Right downtown, it’s a great place to see a show.
Nasher Museum of Art: The Nasher is Duke’s on-campus art museum and something that everyone should visit at least once while here. They always have some fascinating exhibits on display and, as a bonus, it is completely free. I’d also recommend checking out the Nasher Café while you’re there, particularly for brunch on the weekend!
There is so much to explore in Durham and the surrounding area, and these are just a few of my favorites. While there is a lot to do at Fuqua and Duke, stepping off campus and getting to know the area has been one of the best parts of my time in North Carolina.