A Food-Inspired Getaway to Durham

Rally your BFFs and head to North Carolina's Triangle for a getaway centered in Durham, one of the most talked about food cities in the country. Rightfully so, this three-day itinerary is heavy on dining, but you’ll walk (and dance) many of those calories away.

Day 1: City Slickers – and Shoppers

First on your agenda: Check in to The Durham Hotel, your centrally located boutique hotel, and then pick up a detailed walking guide of Bull City from the Durham Visitors Center. During your self-guided tour, you’ll stroll past fountains, unique stores and historic buildings dating back to the 1800s. An array of art galleries will also cross your path, so browse at your leisure. For lunch, try gourmet soups and sandwiches from Toast, a “Best of Durham” winner. Choose from an ample offering of panini, tramezzini, crostini and salads. Since you’re on vacation, add a glass of wine from the menu starring family estate wineries from Italy.


After lunch, get ready for plenty of adorable viewing at Duke Lemur Center (reservation required). The center houses the largest and most diverse lemur habitat outside of Madagascar, and you can even “adopt” a lemur – talk about a memorable souvenir. Take time afterward to gander at the Gothic architecture that spans Duke University’s nearly 9,000 acres. Perhaps you’ll decide to work up an appetite and walk the roughly 2 miles back to the hotel to freshen up before dinner, but be sure to carve out time to soak in the panoramic views with a happy hour cocktail at the hotel’s rooftop bar.

Now it's time to kick the night off right with steamed buns and spicy miso ramen – plus a huge assortment of pastries and sweets for dessert – at Rose's Noodles, Dumplins & Sweets. And your post-dinner plans will be a treat for your ears. Ease into the evening with some roots music at The Blue Note Grill, then kick things up a notch at Pinhook, which features all different kinds of national and local musicians. Don’t forget your dancing shoes.

Day 2: Foodie and Cultural Heaven

Grab a simple, yet delectable, breakfast in The Durham Hotel's colorful restaurant, and plan to take advantage of the hotel’s complimentary Rooftop Vinyasa Yoga class to gear your group up for another fabulous day in Durham.

Begin today’s sightseeing at 21c Museum Hotel, previously named one of the "Best New Hotels in the World" by Architectural Digest in part for its free contemporary art museum open 365 days per year. Works by local and internationally acclaimed artists line the walls of this hip urban locale. Your next destination provides an opportunity to try an entire weekend’s worth of restaurants in just a few hours with the Durham Downtown Tasting Tour. This tour mixes together intriguing Durham stories with samples from some of the city’s best culinary stars.

21c Museum Hotel

Enjoy a taste of New York City tonight in Durham at the Durham Performing Arts Center, ranked one of the best theaters in America. Choose from Broadway shows such as Hamilton and Wicked, or get tickets for celebrated musicians and comedians. For dinner, a craft approach with local ingredients (plus about 10 signature cocktails) is the foundation at Local 22. Or tapas and wine at Mateo are ideal light dinner options after the show. Itching for more late-night action? Check out Alley Twenty Six for specialty cocktails or Motorco for more live music.

Day 3: Explore the Triangle

Time to curate the perfect road trip playlist and head to nearby North Carolina gems: Head east to Wake Forest or west to Hillsborough and Saxapahaw. But first, grab a quick breakfast at a downtown Durham institution – Ninth Street Bakery, known for its organic choices such as rustic pastries and sweets.

When you arrive in Wake Forest, start with a pedicure at Salon Bliss as you reminisce about the best moments of your trip so far while scrolling through your favorite photos. Wake Forest is also a great place to squeeze in a little more shopping.

Opt to spend the rest of your day back in Durham, or continue on to nearby Saxapahaw, which provides two unique ways to wrap up your vacation: a stroll through Woodland Banners Poetry Walk, and dinner at a gas station that doubles as gourmet restaurant Saxapahaw General Store. This farm-to-service station restaurant serves locally braised beef short ribs, duck fat fries, and pan-seared fish at its unlikely setting that received a shoutout from The New York Times as helping revive the town. After filling up your tank and your stomachs, browse the aisles filled with local produce and a carefully curated selection of wines and beers to toast your final night in the Triangle region back at the hotel.

Updated January 28, 2022
About the Author
Shawndra Russell

Shawndra Russell

Shawndra Russell, a travel writer and novelist based in Asheville, loves North Carolina for its craft beer and abundance of outdoor adventures. She's written for Forbes Travel Guide, BeerAdvocate and Travel + Leisure.

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