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24 Hours in Durham

Insider Guides
by Duke Stewart Aug 2, 2016

SPENDING 24 HOURS IN DURHAM is going to put your stomach and liver through their most grueling test. Between all the rich food and hoppy booze, pack an extra Lipitor and cash for cabs or else you may die in Durham today.


Rent a bicycle from Bullseye Bicycle. Start your morning on 9th Street at Elmo’s Diner for a big Rachel Ray-approved breakfast. If you hate her because Anthony Bourdain said so, Mad Hatter’s is a few blocks away and has a good breakfast and coffee menu that the travel gods should approve.

If it’s Saturday morning head to the Durham Farmer’s Market inside Central Park. Buy produce and local art if you want, but walk down to Rise for a biscuit and donuts (not optional). Do that before gorging on multiple meals from the food trucks (open 10am) and you won’t need to eat anymore for the weekend.

Summer visitors will want to escape the Central Piedmont heat.  Eno River State Park has trails leading to a swimming hole.  Swim and then eat more at Picnic because it’s close to the Eno.

Late Morning to Early Afternoon

Wait like a fiend until Bull City Burger and Brewery (Parrish St.) opens at 11:11. You could always walk around Black Wall Street on Parrish, before venturing a few blocks down West Chapel Hill to stare at the iconic North Carolina Mutual Insurance building for a while.

Head downtown to the 21c Hotel Museum. There you can walk the food off and stare at the latest exhibition, wondering what the hell the artists were thinking. Walk out of 21c and right around the corner to 9th St. Bakery to smell the bread and eat again if your body can handle it.

From here, you can sleep it off on a nearby bench or decide to keep pushing on for the rest of the day at Ponysaurus Brewing. Drink some high-quality beer and eat a breakfast pizza slice or two from the Pie Pushers truck that’s always camped outside.


Stop drinking beer and leave the bike for a tour of Durham Distillery, where it’s time to switch to gin. Listen to the nice owner describe his passion for making the stuff. Opt for Navy Strength(114 proof) and try to not wobble out of there.

At one point during the tour, you might’ve heard about the tonic syrup and where it came from. Alley Twenty Six is that place and worth at least an hour or two, so become a member and eat from their always-changing kitchen lab. Even though it’s relatively out of the way on Hillsborough Road, you should definitely get some sugar flowing through the bloodstream with one of the delectable creations coming out of Loco Pops.

Enjoy the much-needed energy boost and walk around the Duke Wall, saying hello or shouting obscenities at Duke students. Or you can walk 10 minutes up Rigsbee and hit passersby with a ping pong ball while consuming more beer at Fullsteam. Please drink some water in between Rocket Science IPAs because you’re just getting started.


If you’ve had enough and want to drink beer in your hotel room or on a bench, find a local beer and cigar at Sam’s Quik Shop. Don’t give into common sense and push on toward the American Tobacco Campus. There you can have dinner and more booze at Tyler’s Restaurant and Taproom or at Tobacco Road Sports Café that overlooks the Durham Bulls stadium.

Hopefully, the spirit of Crash Davis shined brightly on this day and the Bulls won, though you might’ve left early to enjoy a bowl of ramen and hot sake from Dashi. Afterward, sit on the rooftop of The Durham Hotel eating oysters or don’t, and stumble your way down to Mateo Bar de Tapas. Dress accordingly and book in advance because the food will demonstrate exactly why on both counts.

The day’s not over before you shoot some pool in The Fight Club-esque Green Room. Earn the bartender’s trust by not putting your drink on the tables. If you don’t want to meet anyone over billiards, join whatever is going on at Pinhook and help them close the place down.

After all that, it’s okay to call it a night in Durham. If you didn’t do everything here, consider yourself human. Any person who could complete all this in a day should check in immediately to a rehab unit.

Tips for Durham

  1.  It’s pronounced “Durm” with one syllable. Don’t try to be all fancy here.
  2.  Explore Durham’s diverse and vibrant history, from its tobacco origins through the civil war and up to the civil rights era.
  3.  Street names change all the time. Don’t worry if you get lost at least once.
  4.  Don’t assume everyone is a Duke fan because you’re in Durham. You’re still in the state of North Carolina, where everyone roots for the Tar Heels and even Wolfpack over Blue Devils.
  5.  Find a park and do something in it. There are tons in the Durham County area.
  6.  Eat barbecue. Honorable mentions include The Original Q Shack and Hog Heaven.
  7.  Pick up a free copy of Indy Week and stay up to date on how the left is winning or losing at any given issue. If you don’t like print, Bull City Rising has wonderful writers who go even deeper against the establishment than the anti-establishment IW.

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