The Ultimate Durham Spring Guide
Are you so excited for spring that you wet your plants? Here’s our ultimate guide blooming with experiences you don’t want to miss.
If you’re trying to count on your hands the number of events, festivals, and attractions in Durham this spring, you’re going to 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, the whole city bursts into bloom. Whether you’re visiting for the weekend or just looking for things to do, here’s a roundup of cant-miss activities to do this spring.
Delight in Spring Blooms.
Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Experience the beauty of spring on a 55-acre botanical wonderland 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, a bird-viewing shelter and a seasonal café.
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 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.
It’s picnic time
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 to the Durham Food Hall. Also, check out one of these new restaurants that recently opened up in Durham — most of them have takeout options.
Attend a Festival.
Spring festival season 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.
Bull City Summit | March 23-26, 2022
In March, Durham will host creatives, musicians, technologists, scientists, researchers, artisans, and entrepreneurs alike as the worlds of music, art, science and technology merge for Bull City Summit.
Bull City Food and Beer Experience | March 27, 2022
Get ready for the 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.
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival | April 7-10, 2022
Every spring, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival celebrates filmmakers and film lovers from around the world with nearly 100 films, as well as discussions and panels.
Durham Earth Day Festival | April 24, 2022
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.
Bimbé Cultural Arts Festival | May 21, 2022
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.
Greek Festival | May 14-15, 2022
Experience the flavors, sounds, and traditions of Greece at the Greek Festival. Savor Greek food and pastries, enjoy traditional music and folk dance performances and pick up a souvenir or two.
That Music Festival | June 24-25, 2022
Get into the rhythm with That Music Festival, a two-day event with a stacked lineup of artists from the Old North State at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
NC Juneteenth Celebration | June 19, 2022
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.
Attend a Durham Bulls game.
Grab your tickets and take in a game when the Durham Bulls return to the diamond this spring. 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!
Hike a trail.
Take a trip off of 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.
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.
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, Pedego Electric Bikes, Bicycle Chain-Durham, the Durham Bike Co-op, or one of our other local bike shops.
Need to get around Durham and have a little fun? Between the Spin, Bird, Lime, and Gotcha scooters, the Bull City has around 800 scooters. 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.
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.
Our Instagram guide highlights murals dedicated to celebrating Durham’s Black history, culture, and artists.
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. Check out this interactive map for mural details and descriptions.
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.
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.
Try local beer & cocktails.
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.
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 is a 2022 James Beard Award semifinalist for outstanding bar program.
Drink your way through downtown Durham at spots that feature unique pairings like Kingfisher 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.
Eat well & Shop Small.
Treat yourself to the fresh, locally grown good stuff — hormone-free meats, artisanal cheeses, 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 coffee from Caballo Rojo Coffee, 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.
Play a round of golf.
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.
Visit a local gallery.
From paintings to pottery, Durham has a diverse mix of galleries showcasing local art. Stroll through the thought-provoking contemporary art museum with a hand-crafted cocktail after dining at the Counting House restaurant at 21c Museum Hotel. Head to the NCCU Art Museum to see leading collections of works by Black artists. Horse & Buggy Press & Friends & PS 118 gallery and 5 Points Gallery have a range of different art styles and media on display. Grab a bite to eat and visit the art galleries and studios at Golden Belt Campus, where artists have transformed a piece of Durham’s industrial past into a creative hub.
Go for a Swim.
Sennett's Hole at West Point on the
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.