By: Joanna Rutter

If you’re thinking about moving to Durham, check out this series on navigating the real estate market and discovering all that Durham has to offer!

Discover your own favorite Durham restaurants and bars

Make Durham your own by finding your own favorite dinner and nightlife spots outside of the top ten Google Maps results or ho-hum “top ten” lists. 

For instance, I fell in love with Luna Rotisserie for being an easy lunch stop when I worked out of the American Tobacco Campus. Now it’s perfect for dinner before doing something downtown — once you get a seat, the service is freaky fast! There are attractive vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, so it’s my go-to for small groups with different dietary needs. See what I mean?

Others are taking this same approach. I’ve been enjoying Dear Durham on Instagram, who is a new transplant exploring the city with fresh eyes. I love following their adventures!

OK, this one doesn’t count because they have won a ton of awards and everyone knows about them, but it’s for a reason: Zweli’s is the first Zimbabwean restaurant to open in the US. Get the oxtail, piri piri wings, and Dovi (peanut butter) collards. Trust me! You’ll be so full you’ll go home with what my boyfriend and I refer to as Zweli Belly. 

For dessert, though it’s traditional to go to The Parlour for ice cream, I recommend cozying up in Durham’s newer basement bars. Grab a Blue Hawaiian at the Annexe, which comes topped with locally-made Wonderpuff cotton candy. 

Photo credit: The Annexe on Instagram

Popular breweries in Durham like Fullsteam have tried-and-true brews, and out-of-town satellite breweries like Hi-Wire or Clouds Brewing are plenty of fun to visit. I’m a bigger fan of checking out smaller local spots like Moon Dog Meadery for more unique flavors and fewer crowds.

Explore new ways to have fun

If you’re moving here from a bigger city, or for school, you might have some built-in habits for your typical Friday night – hit your favorite bar with friends or go to whatever coffeehouse show is happening on campus. While there’s nothing wrong with those plans, now’s your chance to break out of them and try something new. Why not, right?

For a good laugh or to try your hand at telling jokes, check out Durham’s best comedy events hosted by women. At Durty Bull Brewing, Bo Ma and Ashley Preston host a hell of an open mic on Friday nights! Victoria Quiett and Julie Mitchell just started hosting a mic on Mondays at Surf Club. Both are beginner-friendly; just make sure to sign up beforehand or get there on time to get on the list. Don’t miss Isatu Kamara‘s (NC’s Funniest runner-up) occasional performances at The Durham Hotel’s rooftop, either.

Listen to some fresh jokes at Surf Club’s new Monday mic. Photo credit @kotukusurfclub on Instagram

Get outside

If walking or using a mobility device on paved flat surfaces is accessible to you, the Ellerbee Creek Trail is beautiful for a quick getaway. It’s also very dog-friendly! For longer runs or bike rides, the American Tobacco Trail stretches several miles all the way to Cary. (But why would you want to go there?) 

A portion of the Ellerbee Creek Trail that runs through the 17-Acre Preserve. Photo credit Ellerbee Creek Watershed Association on Instagram

One of the most profoundly beautiful hiking trails in Durham is the Holman Loop at the Horton Grove Nature Preserve. Okay, it’s in Bahama, pronounced buh-hay-muh, by the way. Each trail is named after a Durham family who descended from people forced into labor at Stagville Plantation, where the preserve now stands. Take the time to learn this history and let it motivate you to do your own part in making this city a safe and liberated home for everyone.

Durham has a rich artistic history too, and it’s a legacy you can get in on! Pick up a new craft at Freeman’s Creative, where you can learn to sew your own underwear out of old t-shirts. Get into crate digging for vinyl at Hunky Dory or Chaz’s Bull City Records. Be sure to check out art projects, shows and installations through collaboratives like Blackspace, Badcat Studio, and Be Connected.

Welcome to Durham

Wherever you go exploring, I’m glad you’re here. If I don’t see you in the furniture section at TROSA or run into you at the Scrap Exchange between barrels of googly eyes, I’m sure I’ll spot you in an inner tube in the Eno sometime soon, looking totally blissed out and loving living here.

Keep an eye out for future installments in our series on moving to Durham! Check out part 1 here. Let us know @theraleighdurhamgirl on Instagram and Facebook — how do you like to spend your time in Durham?