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Durham on a Dime

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4 minutes

What could be better than spending a vacation in Durham? How about a trip that doesn’t break the bank?

Posted By Ashley Strahm on Apr 25, 2019

Durham offers many family-friendly activities on the cheap, ranging from sporting events to live music, and of course, a taste of Durham’s booming food scene. Here’s a selection of free and inexpensive activities to try.

Durham Bulls

Outfield Reserved and lawn tickets cost only $9.07 per person, and kids under two years of age are admitted free. Families can save even more on Afforda-BULL Eats nights that feature $2 concessions.

August 8 is also bring a book night, where fans can bring a new children’s book to donate and receive a buy-one-get-one free ticket to the game. See the Bulls’ promotions schedule for upcoming opportunities to save bucks while supporting the hometown Bulls.

Preservation Durham Walking & Bike Tours

Preservation Durham offers free 90-minute walking and bike tours on Saturdays from April until November.

  • Explore Durham’s public art on the Murals by Bike tour, the first Saturday of each month
  • Go on a walking tour of Durham’s tobacco history on the second Saturday of each month
  • Learn about Durham’s Civil Rights history on the third Saturday of each month
  • See Durham architecture and urban landscapes on the fourth Saturday of each month

Farmers’ Markets

Spend your Saturday morning snacking on healthy treats (and samples!) as well as fresh pastries at Durham’s three farmers’ markets:

Lunch for Less Than a Ten-Spot

Make lunch the highlight of your day and a load off the bottom line with our compilation of some $10-and-under meals to enjoy in the Bull City.

You're going to want some budget friendly activities and sweet treats to cool down this season, too. For the kids (and kids at heart) and head to a city-operated sprayground, which feature sprinklers built into playground equipment. It’s a great way to expend some energy and cool off at the same time. Pair your chill adventures with equally delightful desserts that won't break the bank.

Outdoor Concerts

Grab your lawn chairs, blankets and coolers — Durham Central Park is just one of many locations that hosts free concerts throughout the summer season; on Fridays you can hear regional and national acts at the Durham Central Park Concert Series. On Wednesdays, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens hosts an affordable Music in the Gardens concert series as well.

What's more, Brightleaf Square is also host to a summer concert series every other Friday evening, and the artist hub Golden Belt will be featuring opportunities to partake in free music and art performances and exhibitions throughout the summer.


The American Dance Festival, held every summer in Durham, hosts free events that are open to the public, like the Movies by Movers film festival, where you can see films dedicated to the celebration of body movement and the camera.

Make plans to attend the revered 40th Annual Festival for the Eno, a must-see for lovers of the outdoors. The Eno is open daily, year-round from 8 a.m. until dark for hikes and outdoor excursions.

Head Outdoors

Gather the family for a lakefront barbecue or kayaking adventure at Lake Michie , or a bike ride on the American Tobacco Trail. If children are too young for a hike or bike ride, enjoy a family stroll through the beautiful, 55-acre Sarah P. Duke Gardens, open to the public free-of-charge (pictured).

The Arts

The Nasher Museum of Art is always free for children 15 and under, and free for everyone all day on Thursdays. Outside of those hours, the cost of admission is $5 per person.

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The always free Third Friday Durham events downtown celebrate local artists and artisans with galleries and shops open late, food trucks, and live music. And finally, at The Scrap Exchange, feel free to create your own work of art during a 1.5-hour Open Studio session in the Make 'N Take Room for only $5 per participant.


Summer cinema is a thing in Durham. Tune in to watch classics at the summer movie series at Ponysaurus Brewing or Golden Belt for their Fourth Friday film series, both of which are free and open to the public.

Discover more free things to do in Durham

About the Author

Ashley Strahm - Content and Automation Manager
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Teller of stories. Eater of food. Lover of Durham. Find me pedaling swiftly, clad in Birkenstocks, schnoodle in tow. We're not in Jersey anymore.