See the Greatest Show on Dirt at 'Bull Durham' Sites in the North Carolina Triangle

Widely regarded as one of the best baseball films ever made, 1988’s Bull Durham certainly put a small-town minor league baseball team on the national stage and gave millions of viewers lessons on life, love and America’s favorite pastime. If you, like Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon), believe in the church of baseball, follow this three-day itinerary to explore the original film locations of this classic.

Day 1: Historic Durham Athletic Park and Bull Durham Bar

Start your journey at Annie’s personal place of worship: historic Durham Athletic Park. Locally known as “The DAP,” the stadium was home to the real Durham Bulls team from 1926 through 1994. Today, it’s home to the North Carolina Central University Eagles baseball team, so you can still catch a game here during the college baseball season.

In the first few frames of the film, Annie strolls past the brick Imperial Tobacco Company of Great Britain building, which also still stands, on her way to the stadium. Built in 1916 in the striking Romanesque Revival architectural style, the basement of the former tobacco factory served as the locker room in various scenes in Bull Durham. A passageway leading to the locker room still features “The Greatest Show on Dirt!” artwork from the film. Although the building is generally not open to the public, guests have had luck touring the area by simply asking a building employee for a sneak peek.

From there, head to W. Morgan Street, where Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) takes a pensive nighttime stroll near the end of the movie. Most of the tobacco warehouses along the street have been converted to high-end apartments, but nearby are several restaurants worth stopping by for lunch. Just off W. Morgan Street is Rose’s Noodles, Dumplings and Sweets, an East Asian-inspired eatery serving a daily-rotating menu of steamed buns, dumplings, sandwiches and ramen.

Walk off lunch by heading toward N. Mangum Street to have a look at the gorgeous Queen Anne-style home where Annie resided. Known as the James Manning House, it’s now under private ownership and is located at 911 N. Mangum St. Round out the day with a Bull Durham burger at the Bull Durham Bar within the Washington Duke Inn. Although not a film location in the movie, the cozy, dark-toned bar is the ideal setting to relax with a beer and watch baseball games taking place across the country.

Day 2: Durham Bulls Athletic Park and The Green Room

Be sure to check the Durham Bulls’ schedule before your trip, because you won’t want to miss a chance to see them in action. The 10,000-seat Durham Bulls Athletic Park features an updated version of the beloved snorting bull “Hit Bull Win Steak” sign from the movie. Once inside, pick up some swag with nods to the movie such as a Crash Davis doll or a Hit Bull Win Steak T-shirt. While watching the game, sip the German-style Kolsch by Bull Durham Beer Co., described as the perfect brew for a day spent lollygagging at the park. Joe Riggins would not approve.

The Green Room

After the game, look for the stone in the ground outside the ballpark dedicated to Crash Davis that reads: “Led the league in doubles in 1948. Name inspired the movie Bull Durham.” Then head over to the Green Room on Broad Street for a game (or several) of billiards, shuffleboard or darts. The bar was the actual filming location where Crash and Nuke (Tim Robbins) come to blows, and it remains mostly unchanged to this day.

Day 3: Mitch’s Tavern and Bull Durham sites across North Carolina

A central scene in Bull Durham does, in fact, take place in Raleigh. The bar where Annie, Crash and Nuke meet for the first time was filmed at Mitch’s Tavern on Hillsborough Street. In the scene, Nuke accidentally throws a baseball through a glass door that reads “Mitch’s Bar Deliveries,” and a replica of the glass hangs in the tavern today. Tuck into comfort food like gumbo and pulled pork sandwiches with some of the best prices in town.

Other ballparks across North Carolina have cameos in the film, including McCormick Field in Asheville and Fleming Stadium in Wilson (professional baseball is no longer played at Fleming Stadium). Sadly, the batting cages at 401 Par Golf in Garner where Annie offers life and batting lessons to Crash were removed after filming, but the miniature golf course seen in the background is still there and open for visits.

Updated September 21, 2020
About the Author
Shayla Martin

Shayla Martin

Shayla Martin is a Durham-based travel and food writer. She has contributed to The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fodors Travel and more.

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