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The Introvert’s Guide to Durham

Estimated Read Time:
4 minutes

Introverts, do you. Things to do in Durham if you want to charge your social battery.

Posted By Discover Durham Staff

We get it — large crowds — probably not your thing. You're living your best life when you’re getting recharged with a little R&R, spending some reflective time with small groups, or settling in somewhere peaceful and warm with your favorite snacks and activities. We hear you. Durham is undoubtedly full of life, but also offers a break to the overstimulated. This post is for you. Here are six things to do in Durham if you're an introvert. You too can be contemplative like Durham's Chris Charles, part of the Board of Directors for the Durham Art Guild.


noun | in·tro·vert | \ˈin-trə-ˌvərt

1. one whose personality is characterized by introversion, especially: a reserved or shy person who enjoys spending time alone

This time of year is actually perfect for you, right? There are countless opportunities for you to take your own self-guided tour through Durham’s celebrated restaurant, craft brewery, and distillery scene ... or bundle up and spend time outdoors exploring beautiful gardens and hiking along the Eno River. Intellectuals will love various lecture series at Duke and North Carolina Central University, while those with a bit of wanderlust can explore both public art and museum collections.

1. For the pensive artist

The Nasher Museum of Art, North Carolina Central University Art Museum, and 21c Museum Hotel are home to extensive art collections, in addition to rotating exhibits.

Woman looks at art at Nasher Museum of Art in Durham, NC

A woman looks at art at the Nasher Museum of Art. Photo: Kate Medley

Make your own work of art in your own space and at your own pace at The Scrap Exchange, a creative reuse art center with workshops and classes including handcrafted cosmetics, leatherwork, and crochet materials. Our Public Art and Inspiration Guide can also help you explore the city ... by yourself.

2. For the music and theater lover

If you'd like a more intimate experience than the headliners that come through the larger stages in Durham, theater lovers can check out the schedule at the Duke University Rubenstein Arts Center. If a concert is more your vibe, there are plenty of options for a show in a small venue. See local and touring jazz shows and more while seated at a table at Missy Lane's Assembly Room or at Sharp 9 Gallery. Check out our Music Lover's Guide to Durham for even more live music options.

3. For the lone adventurer

Listen to the fallen leaves and branches crunch beneath your feet ... watch your breath plume in clouds of crisp air as you walk through the serene paths around the 28 miles of trails at Eno River State Park. The views of the river are sure to inspire impromptu meditation, reading, or writing from a moss-covered seat in the great outdoors.

Spend a chilly afternoon exploring the 55-acre botanical wonderland that is the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Chances are, the spring and summer blooms that the crowds normally come out to see will be hibernating. This means restorative space, time and silence.

4. Serious R&R

Have a bodywork and integrative rest session at the newly launched Durham Bodywork community clinic, where skilled massage therapists work to release tension in your muscles during a clothed massage session. Afterward, relax amongst pillows, blankets, and bolsters during an integrative rest session to deepen the benefits of your bodywork.

Auroraflow works to make wellness and self-care accessible for historically marginalized groups. Book a massage or energy work session and relax into some serious you time.

For a more traditional spa experience, venture to the spa at the 21c Museum Hotel for a deep tissue massage or an aromatherapy experience. Immerse yourself in a relaxing afternoon, complete with sound baths, massage and salt therapy, at Durham Salt Cave.

5. For the solo gourmand

Plan your entire itinerary around your mealtimes, so you can sample every last bite of this culinary mecca. Select a restaurant from a guide of favorite restaurants chosen by Bull City locals, or dive a little deeper into the Durham food community with a selection of hidden gem dining spots. Hit those spots on off-peak times to enjoy mealtime for one.

Pick up locally-made food products to take home and share (or not share – no judgment) from specialty shops like Parker & Otis, Bulldega Urban Market, Sundries at LocoPops, and Foster’s Market.

What’s more, Durham has no shortage of coffee shops that will help you disappear into a good book.

6. For the intellectual

Peruse new and used books at downtown shop Letters Bookshop and don't miss the second floor where you can find books on music, art and other interests – plus, there's a bar up there serving beer and wine and, on select Tuesdays and Thursdays, join the Silent Book Club for light socializing and communal reading.

Spend a day tucked away in a nook at The Regulator Bookshop, the oldest independent bookstore in the Triangle. The community-oriented space regularly hosts author-led readings and book signings with recommended reading lists from staff, local Durham book groups, and area librarians.

Spend an afternoon at the new Main Branch of Durham’s Public Library. The award-winning LEED Gold-certified design includes 100,000 square feet of resources and special facilities including a sensory calming room, an Innovation Lab for creation including 3-D printing and modeling, graphic design and robotics, a gaming room and much more. Find a good book and settle into a nook or a spot on the outdoor terrace.

Various schools within Duke University host lecture and speaker series that are open to the public, with topics ranging from biomedical engineering and global health, to Duke Law School-sponsored panels discussing the Black Lives Matter movement.

Of course — no pressure ... just know that you can do you in Durham however and whenever you want. Your time, your rules.

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Discover Durham Staff