Durham, a city that was once on no one’s radar is now touted for its food and beverage scene, thriving downtown and dynamic work environment. Now considered the hippest city in North Carolina, the ‘Tastiest Town in the South,” the Bull City, as it is known locally, is a great place to work and live!
The presence of the Research Triangle Park is a contributing factor in the economic success of Durham along with two area research universities – Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill. Nearly 275 companies occupy the Research Triangle Park, among them tech giants IBM, Cisco Systems, and biotechnology company Biogen. Durham is ranked “America’s Leading Creative Class Metro” by The Atlantic.
The city has come a long way from its tobacco roots. Architectural landmarks and historic structures have been repurposed in the magnetic downtown and reborn as the 21C Museum Hotel (former Hill building) and American Underground utilizing historic buildings. Hotels like Unscripted and Aloft add a contemporary flavor along with the modern design of the Durham Performing Arts Center.
Bon Appétit calls Durham, “One of the country’s most vibrant – and most walkable – dining, drinking, and shopping destinations.” Much of the transformation is happening in the evolving downtown where brick warehouses and rustic tobacco factories that once housed the world’s largest tobacco company now have life as the historic American Tobacco Campus with tenants such as Burt’s Bees, Oracle, Red Hat, TiVo and others.
The city has more than earned its rep as a Southern foodie destination. From fish delivered fresh daily from the coast at Saltbox Seafood Joint, sustainable local ingredients like sweet potatoes used to brew beer at Fullsteam Brewery, to award-winning gin at Durham Distillery and whole hog barbeque at Picnic – Durham has it all.
Culinary accolades from national media giants are frequent occurrences. Durham is “the Tastiest Town in the South,” according to Southern Living, the “Foodie Capital of the South,” as told by the New York Post and “America’s Next Hot Food City,” said Zagat.
Tried and true establishments co-exist alongside Bull City Burger’s and Brewery, Mateo, Vin Rouge, Saltbox Seafood and others. Eat hand tossed pizza at newcomer Hutchins Garage, aptly located in a former garage, or for one of many ethnic experiences, go to Tamale Factory and Tequila Bar, or Mi Peru (Peruvian). Later in 2019, Durham Food Hall will debut with food that is convenient but not “fast food” in an open food hall concept.
On the weekends, sample locally grown foods at the Durham Farmers’ Market. Or take a guided walking tour with Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours to visit independently owned restaurants, food shops, markets and bars for exceptional food and drink, and conversations with chefs.
Beer, Wine, and Spirits
Breweries are some of the best in the nation in Durham. Try Fullsteam Brewery, Ponysaurus Brewing Company, Bull Durham Beer Co. and others. If spirits are more to your liking, take a behind-the-scenes tour of Durham Distillery, Durham’s award-winning craft distillery that produces gin and specialty liqueurs. The distillery was recently rated “number two craft gin distillery in the U.S.” by USA Today. Honeygirl Meadery, the Triangle’s first meadery, celebrates the art of making honey wines with seasonal fruits, flowers, herbs, and honey.
Music, Theater and the Arts
Head indoors to hear music at the Blue Note Grill on Tuesdays where you can dance to live blues music, have a brew and barbecue. Venues like Motorco and the Durham Fruit & Produce Company offer musical events and local and regional acts.
Cultural offerings comes in all sizes from the Bulldog Ensemble Theater that promotes the best new American plays to the iconic Durham Performing Art Center. DPAC has become the center for live entertainment in North Carolina with Broadway musicals to music concerts and comedy shows.
Thousands of events and one-of-a kind festivals keep Durhamites busy all year. From Full Frame Documentary Festival, the Hayti Heritage Film Festival, Moogfest Music Festival, Art of Cool Festival, to World of Beer and much more.
Duke University opened a 70,000 square foot arts building, called “The Ruby” to give the arts a prominent new home in the center of campus near the Nasher Gallery of Art. Also on the campus is Sarah P. Duke Gardens, a nationally known garden visited by thousands annually.
Sports Lovers Paradise
Duke and Durham are synonymous with sports. The famed Duke Medical Center and hospital, and one of the most winning teams in college basketball make their home at Duke University. The Duke Blue Devils have dominated the sport for decades, “duking it out” every season with main rival, the UNC Tarheels. Durham ranks number five on “The Best ACC College Towns for Sports Fans.” The major rivalry got a lot of camera time in February when the Duke vs. Tarheel matchup, attended by former President Barrack Obama, went into overtime.
In the spring, baseball fans come out to the watch Durham Bulls minor league baseball in the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The team is the inspiration for the classic movie, “Bull Durham”.
Just this past summer, The Durham Sports Commission hosted the 2019 Youth USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. The national event brought nearly 4,500 athletes and their families to Durham