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A Labor Free Labor Day

Estimated Read Time:
3 minute

Labor Day may mark the (unofficial) end of summer, but that doesn't mean the good times have to end.

Posted By Discover Durham Staff on Aug 19, 2021

When it's your last three-day weekend marking the end of summer, you've gotta go big and do it right. As we bid the longer days a bittersweet farewell and welcome all things fall (hello pumpkin spice), it's time to plan that final road trip and spend the long weekend resting, exploring, dreaming, and dining in Durham with family and friends.

If you enjoy outdoor activities, live music, cocktails, beer, and top-rated restaurants and accommodations, plan a weekend getaway to Durham and soak up the last rays of summer in those white shorts. Laborious? Nope, not this weekend. We're making things as easy as possible with this list of Labor Day accommodations, events, and fun things to do!

Enjoy Live Music & Shows

From hip hop and soulful jazz to art galleries and Broadway shows, there’s always something happening for the music and art lovers in the Bull City.

Durham Central Park | 501 Foster Street
Kick-off Labor Day weekend at Durham Central Park with talented musicians paying tribute to the legendary Earth, Wind & Fire. The event is free, but make sure to register online to reserve your spot.

Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) | 123 Vivian Street
DPAC hosts over 200 performances a year, including touring Broadway productions, high-profile concerts, family shows, and comedy events. STOMP is playing throughout Labor Day weekend, so get your tickets and see what the noise is about!

Motorco Music Hall | 723 Rigsbee Avenue
Get Sad Y’all is back in Durham
at Motorco on Saturday, September 4! Grab your ticket, break out that old band tee, and sing your heart out to emo and pop-punk tune.

Prodigious guitarist and songwriter Mdou Moctar joins forces with Carrboro supergroup Speed Stick for a night of eclectic sounds on Sunday, September 5 at Motorco.

21c Museum Hotel | 111 North Corcoran Street
Make sure to stop by 21c Museum Hotel, a multi-venue contemporary art museum offering more than 10,500 square feet of art-filled exhibition and event space, a full-service boutique hotel with luxurious guest rooms, and a restaurant. Currently, The Future is Female exhibit is on display, featuring work by Marisa Morán Jahn, Stacey Kirby, and Stacy Lynn Waddell.

Explore the great Outdoors

Durham’s city vibe is paired with easy access to the wonders of nature in the form of lakes, forests, beautiful gardens, and trails. While you're in Durham, our outdoor adventure guide will help you unplug for a few hours and get in touch with nature.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens | 420 Anderson Street
Here's everything you need to know to navigate the 55-acre botanical wonderland of Sarah P. Duke Gardens, one of the most popular gardens in the U.S.

Duke Lemur Center (DLC) | 3705 Erwin Road
With more than 200 animals across 14 species, the DLC houses the world's largest and most diverse population outside their native home in Madagascar. Schedule a tour to learn about lemurs and see them do what lemurs do.

Museum of Life and Science | 433 W. Murray Avenue
With a butterfly house, dinosaur trail, numerous animals, treehouses, and new exhibits, the Museum of Life and Science is home for wonder, curiosity, and discovery. Adults, get a babysitter and grab a ticket to the Beer & Butterflies event on September 3.

Frog Hollow Outdoors | 614 Trent Drive
Get ready for rock climbing, hiking and backpacking, canoeing, and paddling excursions in and around Durham’s waterways and nature areas.

Hiking, Biking & Running Trails
Breathe deep and discover Durham's natural beauty. When it comes to hiking and biking trails, Durham is rich with a variety of options.

Bodies of Water
Head to West Point on the Eno or Eno River State Park and take a dip in the Eno River when you need to cool off. Falls Lake and Little River are great for dock or bank fishing.

See Murals & Public Art

Whether you’re hoping to see some of the well-known murals and landmarks around the city or looking to learn about Durham's history, we’ll make sure you don't miss a thing.

Public Art & Inspiration Guide
No matter where you are in Durham, you are steps away from discovering museum-worthy public art. Travel by foot, bike, scooter, bus, or car on a self-guided tour around the city and county to experience art while learning about Durham, enjoying unique attractions, and sampling local fare.

Mural Stairin' + Drink Pairin'
Whether you're searching for the perfect Instagram background or visiting and looking for something inexpensive and fun to do outdoors, here's a guide to a creative pairing that you can't turn down. Grab a drink from one of the local businesses listed, and then head to the nearby mural for an unforgettable mural starin' and drink pairin' experience.

Durham’s African American Heritage Guide
Markers, murals, homes, and heritage coalesce to honor the stories of our African American community. Check out Durham’s African American Heritage Guide to learn more about the people and events that helped shape Durham into what it is today.

Eat Finger-lickin' good Barbecue

We tend to grill burgers and hotdogs for Memorial Day; turkeys are gobbled for Thanksgiving; and everyone (well, almost everyone) eats barbecue for Labor Day. Ready for a weekend full of smoked meat and beer? Here's a list of some of Durham's best barbecue spots.

Dine outside at a local Restaurant

Craving Italian food, Ethiopian food, Southern food with a Caribbean flair, and more? What about cold and creamy ice cream treats? Here's a list of places where you can feel safe eating outdoors when you're looking for an outdoor spot to meet up with a friend or family member.

Check out the Bars & Nightlife

Durham comes alive when the sun goes down. From late-night eats and dive bars to celebrated craft cocktails and venues with nationally touring acts, the Bull City’s energy will keep pace with you through the wee hours. Here's a guide to the city's vibrant bars and nightlife with the best music, drinks, and atmosphere to keep the party going strong.

Book the best Accommodations

Durham has approximately 70 lodging options (with nearly 9,000 guest rooms), ranging from large conference centers and boutique hotels to cozy bed and breakfasts and locally-owned inns, plus over 1,000 active rentals on Airbnb and VRBO. Find everything you need to know about where to stay, what to explore, and how to discover Durham safely.

For a comprehensive list of all of the Durham events happening on Labor Day weekend, visit our events calendar.

About the Author

Discover Durham Staff