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Durham Day Trip Pro Tips

Estimated Read Time:
3 minutes

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

Posted By Ashley Strahm on Jul 17, 2020

This is not the summer we anticipated, but it's the summer we have.

Durham's no stranger to innovation in the face of obstacles. We know that there are those of you who will seek opportunities to create memories with your families this summer and intend to do so safely (trust us, we're with you). This Carolina sun and social distance mandates require that we think ahead, so here are some pro tips to get your rediscovery on in a day or less ... with limited exposure.

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.


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.

Pack portable sanitizer bottles to keep hands clean. Pick up an 8-ounce bottle of Durham Distillery FDA and W.H.O. approved hand sanitizer curbside ... we just can't guarantee that the 80% alcohol antiseptic topical solution will smell like their award-winning Conniption Gin.

Local bourbon distiller, Mystic Farm and Distillery also offers a range of hand sanitizing options, both online and for pick up ranging from a 4-ounce aluminum spray bottle to a half gallon pump and beyond.

Don’t forget to slip, slop, and slap. Slip on a Hometown Apparel Durham screen print tee, slop on some SPF 30 (or more!) sunscreen and slap on a Durham Bulls hat (especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. … it gets hot y’all).

Not convinced? Durham County’s Bull City Online Resource Guide has a whole page dedicated to protecting your skin from the sun.

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 Farmer's 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! School’s out, but folks young and old(er) have much to look forward to in the great outdoors. 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 cool

Pair something cool and sweet for your excursions. It's July, y'all. Enjoy open parks and trails with a local frozen treat in hand from some local makers that still offer their summer beverages and desserts to go. (Let’s be honest, Pelican’s Snoballs is only open seasonally; now is definitely the time to enjoy those snocones!)

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 summer selfies. Our murals are always waiting, and now is your time to score some dope summer memories for your social followers with a mural backdrop. Now more than ever, there are opportunities to navigate Durham’s downtown areas at a safe social distance, and stop for a photo by the Durham sign at the American Tobacco Campus.

This is an especially important time to grapple with how to use social platforms to engage in important dialogue. Our downtown area is currently supplemented with artwork from artists of color that support Black Lives Matter and community activism. Take a walk through the Five Points District to honor those messages.

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 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 summer months, we hope you do so safely, with business owners, visitors and local neighbors in mind.

About the Author

Ashley Strahm

Jersey roots, Durham fruits. Lover of all things edible, egalitarian and true. Find me clad in Birkenstocks, seeking Bull City Beautiful stories by trail, wheel and spoke.