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Durham Day Trip Pro Tips

Estimated Read Time:
3 minutes

Tips to help you and your crew stay safe on your adventures in Durham.

Posted By Discover Durham Staff

Finally, the sun is shining, the temperature is rising, and the flowers are blooming in the beautiful Bull City. If you’re anything like us, you're looking forward to short sleeves, ice cream, and more outings with family and friends.

Yes, exploring Durham is a little different if you're committed to social distancing and avoiding large crowds, but if you plan ahead, you can get out and have fun safely in Durham. Whether you're a visitor adventuring around Durham for the first time, or a resident ready to have some fun, here are some pro tips to get your rediscovery on in a day or less.

Stay safe

Be cognizant of changing protocols at various partners and locations. Durham has hundreds of eateries and restaurants, and each are navigating uncharted territory, figuring out how to care for both customers and staff while they adjust to COVID mandates and safety measures. They're still creating beautiful, delicious food that makes it all worth it, though. Look for Back on the Bull branding at businesses that have completed the safety checklists; you should see a familiar face on windows and doors, beckoning you to offer your patronage.


Dine outside when possible. Durham has plenty of restaurants with outdoor patios. If you're looking to meet up with a friend or family member and enjoy some cooking that's not your own, here's a list of places where you can feel safe eating outdoors and savor the flavor with a bit of elbow room.

Always, always wear a face covering where social distancing isn’t possible. That should be all we have to say on this, but alas. For those of you who are new to the Bull City way of doing things, we’ve been donning face coverings (many from local, women, and BIPOC makers!) since this whole COVID thing happened. While we’re at it, though, wear a mask, wash your hands and please, wait six feet apart from other visitors.

Stay Saucy

Spend your Saturday mornings snacking. Hey, we’ll admit it; we’ve been snacking on some less-than-healthy treats during these stay-at-home months. Start your Saturday morning off right with some healthy treats by going out to the Durham Farmers' Market that’s open once again with social distance protocols in place. Please use designated entrances and exits, wear your mask, maintain six feet of distance from other shoppers, and follow other safety measures.


Enjoy a socially-distanced picnic. While the Sarah P. Duke Gardens remain closed, the rest of the breathtaking picnic spots in this blog post are still wonderful options for you to roll out a blanket and enjoy the weather. Grab takeout or curbside pickup from a local restaurant for a friend and spread out while catching up in person. Don't forget to be considerate of partners and the environment by cleaning up after yourself. Composting and recycling receptacles are available near most restaurants.

While you're at it: pack a Durham-themed blanket for impromptu picnics with takeout. Who says you can’t look stylish while you’re sitting cross-legged in nature balancing a plate on your knee? Blankets from Hometown Apparel, Bull City Apparel & Customs, or Runaway are a great way to sit in style.


Insider tip: Runaway blankets live up to their namesake and literally run out the door when they hit their online store so keep your eyes posted for the next drop (they’re divine as throws in the cooler months).

And one more thing: Order meals ahead of time to beat the rush. This is a pro tip on multiple levels! Many of Durham’s staples are open for curbside pickup and delivery, but they’re also in high demand (chicken and waffle sandwiches, anyone?). Beat the lines by using mobile online ordering to schedule your pick up time. Calling ahead works too, but be kind: most restaurants are operating at limited capacity with fewer staff members to prepare delicious food and cover the phones.

Get out there, kids! Looking to get outside? Stretch your legs at the local favorite Eno River State Park, an attraction that has slowly reopened its access points. Fews Ford and Cole Mill accesses are operating under normal hours, and all trails and bathrooms located near parking lots are open. We encourage you to take to the trails and keep moving, rather than congregating in groups.


Bathrooms are scheduled to be cleaned throughout the day, as picnic shelters, water fountains, and hydrants remain turned off. Please bring a filled, reusable water bottle with you, and bring your pup on a leash and enjoy the fresh air! It might be crowded as folks are eager to get outside, so consider visiting during non-peak hours. Our website is full of ideas for things to do and outdoor activities.

Stay hydrated

Pair something cool and sweet for your excursions. Enjoy open parks and trails with a local frozen treat in hand from some local makers that offering beverages and desserts to go. (Now is definitely the time to get those snocones from Pelican’s Snoballs!)

Buy an insulated water bottle to ensure you stay refreshed while you’re out exploring. Local retailers like Hometown Apparel and Bulldega have tons of insulated water bottles to keep you hydrated and equipped with Durham swag while you’re out on summer excursions. Be sure to check out online retailers who also provide shipping or curbside pickup.

Need a refill? Breweries and outdoor dining spots around town often have sanitizer equipped water jugs that can be used to fill up between stops. Make time to stop and take a beverage break (and plan a pee break while you’re there!) Use this link to find a public toilet near you.

Take those selfies. Our murals are always waiting, and now is your time to make some memories for your social followers with a mural backdrop. Check out our new mural guide which highlights public art dedicated to celebrating Durham's Black history, culture, and artists. Not only do these murals add vibrant colors and energy to this city, but they also tell stories that need to be told.

There are plenty of opportunities to navigate Durham’s downtown areas at a safe social distance. Make sure to get that selfie by the Durham sign at the American Tobacco Campus.

Stay Curious

Craft on a budget. Partners like Crafts and Drafts NC, the AR Workshop and the Scrap Exchange are still offering budget-friendly craft kits that you can take home and enjoy when the weather gets a bit too hot, and your adventures are coming to a close.

Back home? Keep the party going. We've got a whole list of Durham-themed socially distanced activities to take part in. Durham rediscovery doesn't have to end when you get back home!

However you spend these next few months, we hope you do so safely, with business owners, visitors and local neighbors in mind.

About the Author

Discover Durham Staff