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Durham Summer on a Dime

Estimated Read Time:
3 minutes

Striving to stay secure and on a budget this summer? We've got you.

Summer may look different this year, but we're feeling grateful for what we can still experience, despite how odd these past few months have been. Every year, we release a list of summer experiences you can enjoy without breaking the bank, and this year (more than ever), we're being deliberate about staying safe and on a budget.

Let's observe the beauty around us, folks. There's still plenty of it to see.

Outdoor Spaces

The great outdoors are still free, and the open air is a smart place to be. Stretch your legs at the local favorite Eno River State Park, an attraction that has slowly reopened its access points. Per an update published recently, Fews Ford and Cole Mill accesses are operating under normal hours, and all trails and bathrooms located near parking lots are open.

We encourage you to take to the trails and keep moving, rather than congregating in groups. Bathrooms are scheduled to be cleaned throughout the day, as picnic shelters, water fountains, and hydrants remain turned off. Please bring a filled, reusable water bottle with you! You should also note that Cabelands and Pleasant Green accesses are still closed and parking near those gates is not permitted. Swimming in also not permitted at the Eno Quarry at this time. Bring your pup on a leash and enjoy the fresh air! It might be crowded as folks are eager to get outside, so consider visiting during non-peak hours.

Parks, trails and greenways under the management of Durham Parks and Recreation are now open, though the DPR recreation centers are closed. The Triangle Land Conservancy’s Horton Grove Nature Preserve is also open with eight miles of hiking trails waiting for you to explore, including the That Makes Sense Interpretative Trail for kids.

Pack Your Own Picnic

While the Sarah P. Duke Gardens remain closed, the rest of the breathtaking picnic spots in this blog post are still wonderful options for you to roll out a blanket and enjoy the weather.

Pick up an ice cream sandwich from Rose's Noodles, Dumplings and Sweets, or enjoy a snocone from Pelican's SnoBalls for just a handful of quarters. Sweet treats are made even more delightful given the heat wave that's sure to hit during this Carolina summer.

Grab takeout or curbside pickup from a local restaurant for a friend and spread out while catching up in person.



Stay Cool With Virtual Events

You can always find out what’s happening during the summer months in Durham by visiting our event calendar. En lieu of traditionally free summer concerts and gatherings in the midst of the pandemic, we’ve included virtual events for you to enjoy safely from the comforts of your own home.

On Friday evenings, join Living Arts VIRTUAL Dance Wave at 7:30 p.m. for $12 as they share playlists to dance along to with opening and closing conversations over Zoom. If singing is more your thing, the Pinhook Presents: Pants Optional karaoke every Friday night from 8-10 p.m.

Start your Saturday morning off right by going out to the Durham Farmer's Market that’s open once again with social distance protocols in place. Please use designated entrances and exits, wear your mask, maintain a 6-foot distance from those around you, and follow other measures.

Explore Historical Havens for Free

The Horton Grove Nature Preserve and Stagville State Historic Site have self guided history tours you can enjoy with family and friends for free, while Bennett Place, which has recently reopened, is also free to explore.

Greatest Show on Dirt, Dirt Cheap

The Durham Bulls season hasn’t started yet, but you can still experience the sites across Bull City made famous by “Bull Durham,” the greatest sports movie of all time. Visit North Carolina put together a three-day itinerary based on the original film locations including the Durham Athletic Park, Durham Bulls Athletic Park, and a couple other bars and restaurants. Please check directly with each location to see their availability during this time.

Mural Magic

While you’re out and about walking, might as well take a moment to appreciate Durham’s public art. Soak up vibrant, bigger-than-life murals on a stroll through the Bull City – many have a back story about Durham’s colorful past and rich heritage.

Durham’s multifaceted artists have used brick walls and buildings throughout the city as their expressive canvases to give their passion, inspiration, and purposed true meaning. Continue your socially distanced journey and find amazing murals like the “Duke Free Expression Tunnel,” “Durham Blue Legends,” the “Durham Civil Rights Mural.” You’ll have to peek through the courtyard gates in the brick-laden alley of Parrish Street to see the two-story tall bull captured in the “Grab Life by the Horns” mural. Better yet, do it all with a cup of joe or tea to go from Bean Traders, Jeddah's Tea, Foster Street Coffee, Jet Plane Coffee or any number of beverage-makers offering their drinks hot or iced.

Discover some more Instagrammable moments as you pause for a photo in front of the Durham sign at the American Tobacco Campus. What's more: order a cost-effective take-home art kit from the Scrap Exchange, Crafts & Drafts NC or the AR Workshop to make your own work of art.

Shop Local

Under Governor Cooper’s latest order, retail shops can open and welcome customers, so long as they follow sanitization and social distancing requirements. Stroll through the courtyard at Brightleaf Square as you peruse locally made goods at various shops. On the website for The Streets at Southpoint, you’ll find new safety measures, a list of open stores and other curbside pickup options available at the super regional mall. Find more Durham shopping inspiration on our website under the ‘Things to Do’ page.

Bonus: Hidden Treasure

You're going to be looking for shade anyway: how about a moment to sit outside in Durham's "hidden" alleys with a refreshing beverage from local makers: Fullsteam, Alley Twenty Six, The Durham Hotel and Kingfisher all have hidden nooks to take and enjoy a beverage. (Check out partner websites before you visit: some are doing innovative things amidst a changing landscape: Mixers & Mercantile is opening at Alley Twenty Six, with house made syrups and jellies, local products, beer, wine, and more for sale.)

Discover Durham on a dime or dollar this summer; it's worth it.