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The Ultimate Durham Spring Guide

Estimated Read Time:
7 min

Are you so excited for spring that you wet your plants? Here’s our ultimate seasonal guide for spring – blooming with experiences and things to do that you don’t want to miss.

If you’re trying to count on your hands the number of events and things to do in Durham this spring, you’ll run out of fingers really fast. Don’t be fooled by those other seasons — springtime in Durham is second to none.

As the days lengthen and the weather warms up in March, the whole city bursts into bloom. April brings baseball, festivals and the unparalleled energy of folks happy to enjoy the outdoors. Once May in Durham rolls around, we're in the swing of the season for celebrations and by June, we're swimming in the Eno and looking ahead to summer. Whether you’re visiting for the weekend or just looking for things to do, here’s a roundup of can't-miss activities to do this spring.

Delight in Spring Blooms.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Experience the beauty of spring on a 55-acre botanical garden where birds serenade visitors from treetops. Sarah P. Duke Gardens is lovely year-round, but in the spring, it truly shines.

In addition to blossoming tulips, daffodils, poppies and the iconic tunnel of Akebono Yoshino cherry trees, in the spring, the garden also features a discovery garden, numerous ponds and fountains, picnic-perfect lawns, a bird-viewing shelter and a seasonal café.

Blooming cherry trees line a pathway at a botanical gardens. Pink flower petals cover the ground.

Cherry Blossoms blooming at Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Photo: Discover Durham

Eat outside.

Nothing beats having a coffee, cocktail or beer with a scrumptious meal out in the open air. Luckily, Durham’s outdoor dining scene comes in all flavors with spacious patios, downtown rooftops and grassy lawns.

Dine on a Durham Patio

Spring is here, which means it’s patio season in Durham. Here’s a roundup of restaurants with an outdoor patio, so you can enjoy a little sunshine with your food and drink.

Boxyard RTP is the epicenter of the Research Triangle Park's visitor-friendly spaces. The 15,000 square-foot space includes some of the most creative and innovative new restaurants and retail businesses in the area along with regular performances and outdoor dining and recreation space.

Have a Picnic in a Park

Durham Parks and Recreation manages 68 parks and many of them have picnic tables or grassy spaces perfect for a picnic. Order takeout, and get your picnic on with fresh air, sunshine, and a nice breeze.

Durham picnic spaces can also be found at Durham Central Park, conveniently located next to the Durham Food Hall where you can pick up something to enjoy outside.

Guests sit and enjoy drinks and food on the patio at Parts and Labor Motorco at sunset.

The patio scene at Parts & Labor. Photo: Lissa Gotwals / Discover Durham

Attend a Durham Bulls Game

Grab your tickets and take in a game when the Durham Bulls return to the diamond this spring. With our guide, you can learn the ins and outs of the weekly specials, local vendors, merch, fireworks shows and more. You likely know Durham is the main location in the blockbuster film “Bull Durham” — a career game-changer for Susan Sarandon, Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins — and (we’ll claim this unapologetically) the best sports movie of all time.

You can find backdrops and familiar spots from the cult-favorite movie around the Triangle. Visit North Carolina has a guide of real life locations in “Bull Durham.” Go Bulls!

A family celebrates outside the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

A family enjoys a Durham Bulls Game. Photo: Samantha Everett / Discover Durham

Attend a Festival or Event

Spring has arrived, and the Bull City is gearin’ up for an incredible number of outdoor gatherings and events celebrating music, art, food, beer, heritage and more. We've outlined some of the city's major spring events below, but you can find more great things to do while you're in Durham on our events page.

MARCH EVENTS

Hayti Heritage Film Festival | March 7-9, 2024

As one of the longest-running Black Southern film festivals in the nation, the Hayti Heritage Film Festival is on a mission to create and nurture an ecosystem for Black Southern film to thrive. Join the conversation at panel conversations and workshops and attend screenings.

Third Friday Art Walk | March 22, 2024

Springtime is the best time for Durham's Third Friday, a year-round monthly art walk with galleries and performances open to the public across town. If you can't make the March date, mark your calendar for the third Friday of the month to join in on the fun.

Holi Celebration | March 31, 2024

Celebrate the season in full color at Holi, the Hindu celebration of spring, color and love. Come ready to join the color throwing party and enjoy food from Viceroy and drinks from The Glass Jug.

People participating in a color festival at a Holi Celebration. They're covered in brightly colored powder.

Holi Celebration at Durham Central Park. Photo: Discover Durham

APRIL EVENTS

Durham Bulls Opening Day | April 2, 2024

Early spring is always a time for celebration in Durham as the Bulls season opens. Join a game at Durham Bulls Athletic Park and you'll see the city come together for one of the most beloved events in town. With 75 home games on the schedule, the 2024 season offers plenty of chances to enjoy a game – or a few.

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival | April 4-7, 2024

After a four-year hiatus from in-person programming, Full Frame is returning to Durham this spring. This top international festival for nonfiction film is one of Durham's most well-attended and loved events, and it's a low-key great deal for anyone who wants to network and socialize with the film community or just enjoys seeing documentary films. Be the first to see future Oscar nominees and winners and moving international films here.

Bull City Food and Beer Experience | April 7, 2024

Get ready for a Sunday full of unlimited food and beer sampling at DPAC, Durham Performing Arts Center, the number one performing arts organization in the region. Bull City Food and Beer Experience pairs delicious local restaurants with craft breweries from across the nation.

Bull City Beer Mile | April 7, 2024

Lace up your sneakers and get ready to party at the all-day festival from The Glass Jug Beer Lab and Bull City Running with live music, food trucks and beer mile heats running all afternoon in Durham Central Park. If running and drinking aren't your thing, you're sure to be entertained as a spectator.

Durham Earth Day Festival | April 21, 2024

Calling all earth lovers to enjoy music, food, hands-on environmental education activities and much more at Durham Central Park for the Durham Earth Day Festival.

A group of fellows showing off their lanyards in front of a step and repeat for Full Frame Documentary Film Festival

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Photo: Huth Photo / Full Frame

MAY EVENTS

PLAYlist Concert Series | May 3, 2024

Beginning in May, Durham Central Park and WNCU 90.7 FM present a free concert series on the first Friday of the month in Central Park. The lineup is yet to be announced, but you can expect entertainment across a range of musical genres and a fun, relaxed atmosphere with picnics from food trucks and local vendors, DJs warming up the crowd and great tunes as the sun sets.

Beats N Bars | May 10-11,2024

The Beats N Bars Festival is an annual celebration of urban music culture, including music performances, dance, art and more in a welcoming, friendly atmosphere designed to encourage connection and community-building. Warm up for the festival at the free block party on April 27.

Bimbé Cultural Arts Festival | May 18, 2024

Established in honor of the West African festival of harvest and celebration, the Bimbé Cultural Arts Festival honors African American history, culture, arts and traditions. Get ready to explore cultural traditions through dance, song, and food at this free event.

Durham Night Market | TBD Dates Beginning in May

Gather the family for an evening of art, music, food and drink on the lawn at American Tobacco Campus. This family-friendly event showcasing Durham's creativity has monthly dates in the spring and fall.

Taste of Soul NC | May 25, 2024

Get ready for the ultimate cookout experience with food trucks, DJ sets and live performances in Durham Central Park. Expect bounce houses for the kids and frozen treats to keep you cool as you mingle with the crowd.

Concert goers at Bimbé Cultural Arts Festival hold pink umbrellas over their heads in the sun as they enjoy live music.

Bimbé Cultural Arts Festival. Photo: Discover Durham

JUNE EVENTS

American Dance Festival | June 13–July 28, 2024

2024 marks the 91st season of one of the largest celebrations of modern dance. Held over six weeks every summer in Durham, this season will include 49 performances by 24 acclaimed dance companies and choreographers from around the globe, featuring 11 world premieres, 12 ADF commissions and 12 ADF debuts.

NC Juneteenth Celebration | June 19, 2024

Juneteenth marks the day, June 19th, 1865, when the Emancipation Proclamation was finally read to enslaved Black people in Texas. The NC Juneteenth Celebration takes place on East Main Street in Durham. Enjoy artistic expressions that honor the history of Juneteenth with live music, vendors, kids’ activities and more. Details to be announced.

Dancers performing against a glowing cream backdrop.

American Dance Festival. Photo: alex escalante photography / ADF / Discover Durham

Go for a Hike on Durham's Trails

Spring is the perfect time to take a trip off the beaten path and enjoy the beauty of Durham’s great outdoors. Whether you’re a casual hiker or just on a mission to break a serious sweat, there’s a trail here for you.

Eno River Trail

Step onto the Eno River trail for a free nature adventure. Follow the river bank, journey through the woodlands, or hike a short nature trail for a close look at the Eno River State Park. Download a park trail map for descriptions and distances.

American Tobacco Trail

The American Tobacco Trail is a 10-foot wide, paved, off-road trail that follows the old CSX railroad. Walkers, joggers, cyclists, rollerbladers, and baby stroller pushers can take in the scenery and enjoy the trail.

A paved trail lined by trees. Trailhead signage says American Tobacco Trail.

American Tobacco Trail. Photo: Discover Durham

Tour the City with Wheels

Are you ready to explore Durham and have a wheely good time? Bike borrowing services and scooter programs are vying for you to pedal from one end of the city to the other.

Rent Bicycles and Pedal it Out

When you’re on a bicycle, you can’t help but feel the wind and take in the sights and sounds. Need a bike? We got you. Try renting one from Durham Cycles, Bullseye Bicycle, Bicycle Chain-Durham, the Durham Bike Co-op, or one of our other local bike shops.

E-Scooter Around the City

Need to get around Durham and have a little fun? Electronic scooters are an environment-friendly alternative to driving that are powered by a small electric motor. Rent one and adventure around Durham quickly and easily. For more information, check out the FAQs on the City of Durham website.

A group of people on bicycles. Foreground: a man wearing a helmet and sunglasses smiles at the camera with a dog in a bag.

Cycle around Durham. Photo: Bill Russ / Discover Durham

See Public Art

Any blank space can become a canvas in the Bull City, and it is common to see murals on walls, crosswalks, and electrical boxes.

Mural Guides

Our Public Art & Inspiration Guide is a handy pocket guide to Durham's murals and other public art. Browse the guide online, request a print copy before your trip or stop in the Visitor Info Center at 212 W. Main St. when you arrive to pick up a copy. You can also learn about Durham Black history, culture and artists with our guide.

UHILL Walls

Explore UHILL Walls, a walkable art district with over 40,000 square feet of murals in Durham. Learn about the artists, get the best Instagram pics and enjoy the outdoors while you shop and dine at the locally-owned shops in the complex. Check out this interactive map for mural details and descriptions.

Satellite Park

If you want to see a unique one-of-a-kind art exhibit, check out Satellite Park. In 2018, Mural Durham, an organization that connects Durham through creativity, transformed eight decommissioned satellites to create a one-of-a-kind community park. Each satellite was painted by a different local artist and represents a range of artistic styles and backgrounds.

Buildings covered in colorful murals with a sunset in the background.

UHill Walls. Photo: Discover Durham

Brunch Through Durham

Choose between Parisian brunch hotspots like Rue Cler or Vin Rouge, with can’t-miss beignets at either spot. If cheesy grits is your thing, True Flavors is your destination. Other local favorites include Foster’s Market, GRUB Durham or Monuts, each offering the savory staples brunch is known for, as well as sweet surprises. There are many other great brunch spots in Durham. Find out more in our guide.

A bacon and grits bowl from Foster's Market in Durham foregrounds the storefront.

Brunch at Foster's Market. Photo: Discover Durham

Try Local Beer & Cocktails

Drink Beer at Durham Breweries

We brew it, sell it, and drink it (responsibly) here. With dozens of local breweries, bottle shops, and craft beer-conscious bars and restaurants, you won’t need to settle for an uninspiring beverage. Here’s a guide to some of the breweries in Durham that are brewing up some good flavors.

Sip Craft Cocktails

When life gives you limes, garnish your margarita. There is no shortage of creativity when it comes to creating and pairing cocktails in Durham. Stop by Alley Twenty Six, where owner Shannon Healy was a 2022 James Beard Award semifinalist for outstanding bar program or Kingfisher, which was the second bar in the state (after Alley Twenty Six) to be nominated for the JBF award.

Drink your way through downtown Durham at spots that feature unique pairings like The Waiting Room and Bar Virgile. Named for both the classic gin cocktail and its setting in a former coffin shop, Durham Distillery’s Corpse Reviver Bar and Lounge is designed to showcase Durham Distillery & Conniption Gins at their best. In good company with Durham Distillery, the new woman-owned Liberty & Plenty cocktail bar and distillery shares space with The Rickhouse. Durham Distillery and Liberty & Plenty join the just 1% of businesses that are woman-owned in the distilling industry. Use our guide to Durham's bars and nightlife to find more spots to enjoy a cocktail.

Take Your Drink To Go

Take advantage of Durham's social district by ordering a cocktail to-go from a participating business and bringing it along with you as you walk around downtown. Check for window clings at business entrances to see where outside drinks are allowed. Find more info in our guide to The Bullpen.

A tray of unique cocktails at Alley Twenty Six.

Alley Twenty Six Photo: Discover Durham

Eat Well & Shop Small.

Treat yourself to the fresh, locally grown good stuff — hormone-free meats, artisanal cheeses, organic produce, flowers and more from Durham’s year-round farmers’ markets and Black-owned farms and platforms. (Hours are dependent on the season, so check websites for details.)

Durham Farmers’ Market

Bring the whole family and check out the Durham Farmers’ Market at the pavilion in Durham Central Park every Saturday morning. Enjoy handcrafted vegan pastries and desserts from Bklyn Vegan Bakery, seasonal vegetables, organic eggs, unique souvenirs and more.

Black Farmers’ Market

With music, food vendors, games, dancing, fresh produce and more, The Black Farmers’ Market is the place to be. Once a month (from March to November) you can shop from numerous Black vendors in an inclusive, fun, community-centered marketplace and intentionally keep dollars circulating in the community.

Souvenirs & Crafts

For traditional to unique finds and the perfect souvenirs, head to Durham’s local shops. Peruse through a variety of gifts from around the world at Bull City Fair Trade. Sort through puzzles and home goods at Indio, and thrift through The Scrap Exchange for clothing, books and games. Visit sister stores Chet Miller, Parker & Otis and Tiny for an eclectic selection of just about everything and anything.

Durham Farmers Market

Durham Farmers. Market. Photo: Dan Hacker / Discover Durham

Play a Round of Golf

With Durham's great golf courses and the U.S. Open tournament coming to Pinehurst this summer, there's no better time to brush up your backswing.

Durham also has two options for virtual play opening this spring. In the American Tobacco Campus, State of Golf will offer an immersive opportunity to play the world's most prestigious courses, along with simulators for dozens of other sports and a full-service bar.

In Research Triangle Park, Top Golf will offer high-tech golf games that folks of all skill levels can enjoy, plus food and drink and hitting bays that can accommodate groups of up to six players.

Durham's Top Golf Courses

The Hillandale Golf Course provides a challenge to golfers of all skill levels. An experienced instructor can help you up your game, or you can reserve a tee time just for fun.

Enjoy a relaxing and exciting day with friends, family, or colleagues at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club. For guests looking to perfect their swing, multiple professionals are available for lessons. Tee times are available 14 days in advance for the general public.

Two golfers on a green, squatting to plan their next shot.

Golf in Durham. Photo: Estlin Haiss / Discover Durham

Go For a Swim

Sennett's Hole at West Point on the Eno

There's nothing like a dip in the water surrounded by natural beauty. Six minutes from downtown Durham lies West Point on the Eno, a hidden gem with hiking trails, a photo museum, picnic spots, and Sennett's Hole, a swimming hole. Pack a picnic and follow The Eagle Trail and Sennett Hole Trail to get to Sennett’s Hole for a day of family-friendly fun.

Bobbitt's Hole at Eno River State Park

Looking for an easy and scenic hike for people of all ages? Head to Eno River State Park and follow Bobbit's Hole Trail to Cole Mill Trail for a 2.4-mile loop that features a river and swimming hole. The park also has spots for camping, picnics and fishing.

Little River Lake & Lake Michie

Take a short drive north of downtown Durham to Little River Lake or Lake Michie, where you can push off from the shore in an electric motorboat, rowboat, or kayak, which are available for rent from the City of Durham. There's plenty of fish in the river, so you can also relax and fish from the banks.

Spraygrounds

Put the kids in their bathing suits and head to one of the city-operated spraygrounds, which feature sprinklers built into playground equipment. It’s a great way to expend some energy and cool off at the same time.

Falls Lake & Jordan Lake

Frog Hollow Outdoors will guide you on a kayak or canoe trip on Falls Lake or Jordan Lake. They offer instructions and classes for beginners, and if you’re a seasoned veteran, you can rent their equipment and go out on your own.

People swimming in the Eno River at Westpoint on the Eno. Durham, NC

Swimming at West Point on the Eno. Photo: SP Murray

Get a Cold Treat

When the weather is warm, ice cream is the perfect treat to cool down. Here’s the scoop on some of Durham’s cold and yummy treats.

Ice Cream

The Parlour features seasonal ice cream flavors made with local dairy along with a sizeable selection of vegan offerings. Chill out at Locopops and enjoy the array of gourmet popsicle flavors which range from mojito and mango chili to chocolate brownie. La Monarca is a traditional paletería serving Mexican-style popsicles and ice cream. Fuel up with a homemade ice cream sandwich from Rose’s Noodles, Dumplings & Sweets, an East Asian-inspired eatery owned by a husband-wife duo. Stop by Pelican’s SnoBalls, for New Orleans-style sno-balls in flavors like tutti frutti and cherry cola. Also, the award-winning shop, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, is opening at Brightleaf Square in 2022 and bringing flavors unlike any other shop. And Durham's creative ice cream flavors don't stop there. Use our guide to find your favorite scoop.

Iced Coffee

Iced coffee, iced tea, iced everything. It’s time to bust out the iced drinks in the Bull City, and Durham’s local coffee shops are all serving delicious iced drinks to help us stay cool.

A hand holds an ice cream cone with a scoop of pink and blue ice cream. The background is a colorful ice cream shop.

A treat from La Monarca Michoacana. Photo: Discover Durham

Go on a Walking Tour

Got a couple of hours? How about an afternoon? There’s much to discover in and around downtown Durham.

This self-guided walking tour will take you to the American Tobacco Historic District, a one-million-square-foot entertainment campus, to CCB Plaza, where you can pose with Durham’s 10-foot tall bronze icon known as Major The Bull and over to Historic Brightleaf Square, where you can pick up a local item that’s distinctly Durham.

Cheers to the people, events and places that make the spring in Durham so special. Ready to book your spring getaway? Here’s everything you need to know about where to stay.