The Durham Staycation Guide
Everything you need to know about where to stay, what to explore, and how to Rediscover Durham safely.
The following information was first included in Durham Magazine’s 2021 Visitors & Relocation Guide. You can also pick up a hard copy at Durham Magazine’s office (1777 Fordham Blvd., Ste. 105). Please consult with each lodging property and establishment mentioned for their latest COVID-19 protocols.
Durham is full of numerous ways to engage, learn, have fun and find community. Maybe you’ve lived here for years and are hoping to get out of the house and try something new, or maybe you need some ideas to impress your friends and family visiting your hometown.
No matter what you're planning, a little staycation is a great way to leave the mess and get some rest without breaking the bank. Your first order of business should be picking the perfect place to stay, and we're here to help you.
Tried & True Favorites
To serve the communities of both Duke University and Durham, the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club first opened its doors in 1988. The Inn features beautiful terraces, an amazing golf course, indoor/outdoor meeting areas, conference rooms, and wedding spaces. From there, you can easily explore Duke’s picturesque campus and numerous visitor attractions – the Nasher Museum of Art, Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Duke Chapel, trails at Duke Forest, and the Duke Basketball Museum and Sports Hall of Fame to name a few – enjoyed by locals and travelers alike. There are plenty of great food options nearby, but The Fairview Dining Room or Bull Durham Bar located at WaDuke never disappoints.
In a home originally built for the CEO of Liggett & Myers, Morehead Manor Bed & Breakfast opened to the public back in 1997. Refurbished with modern amenities, the Colonial Revival-style home is owned by innkeepers Daniel and Monica Edwards. The Manor is Durham’s oldest Black-owned lodging property and located within walking distance of downtown, the Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP), the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC), the American Tobacco Trail, and the historic Brightleaf District.
Boutique Stays at the Center of it All
Conveniently located in the heart of downtown, Durham’s three boutique hotels each offer something unique, situated within just a block of one another. Park your car once and appreciate the walkability of downtown for a full weekend. Stay at the 21c Museum Hotel and stroll through the thought-provoking contemporary art museum with a hand-crafted cocktail in hand after dining at the Counting House restaurant. On the National Register of Historic Places, the former bank building still has a vault you can explore in the basement. The Durham Hotel has a striking mid-century modern design and unbeatable views of the city at The Roof with original food and beverage menus. The Restaurant at The Durham is a new American restaurant that has received national acclaim for thoughtfully curated seasonal offerings. Coffee sodas served at The Coffee Shop are not to be missed before heading out to take on the day.
Featuring a rooftop pool and iconic blue façade and mid-century design, The Unscripted Hotel is the newest boutique hotel to open in Durham. Check their website and plan your staycation around one of the programmed evenings, like “Dine & Vibes” every Friday and Saturday evening with local favorite DJs or weekly happy hours with specialty cocktails at The Studio.
No matter which property you choose, you’ll be just a few steps away from many of Durham’s delicious and unique places to eat, plus one-of-a-kind arts and entertainment venues. Bookmark our Downtown Durham Walking Tour guide to best explore the city, whether you have just a few hours or a full afternoon.
Escape the Bustle
If you take a 15-minute drive north of downtown, you’ll find the historic Arrowhead Inn bed and breakfast positioned on six acres. Reserve a room in the Manor House or escape to the Garden Cottage or secluded North Carolina Cabin. Further remove yourself from the downtown bustle by spending a morning or afternoon outdoors at nearby Eno River State Park, Lake Michie, Falls Lake, or at Historic Stagville – one of three state historic sites located in Durham County. By staying in Northern Durham, you’ll be close to a few local favorite restaurants including Bleu Olive, Gocciolina, Bullock’s Bar-B-Cue, and Picnic.
The following is an addendum to the Durham Magazine article, as Durham has since made waves as a ‘trending destination’ for Airbnb stays during the pandemic.
We asked the co-founders of So Well Appointed, a consulting firm located in Durham that provides design, marketing, and management support for independent short term rental hosts both locally and nationwide, to share a little bit about the short-term rental industry (such as Airbnb and VRBO) in Durham during the pandemic. People are still coming to visit Durham, and short-term rentals seem to be just as popular, if not more so than they were before.
Check out their blog post, Here for the Comeback, which includes 10 of Durham’s best-reviewed properties to consider for your staycation. We also collaborated with Airbnb on a Durham-specific landing page full of suggestions for how to safely explore Durham. You can find all of Durham’s Airbnb listings here.
Ready for rediscovery? Find out more ways to Rediscover Durham.