Lora tells us about her favorite spots in Durham
I am a sucker for a good environment. I grew up in a small town, but always had my heart set on the trendy, city life. Durham sits at the beautiful crossroads of history and progress. As new construction gets underway in the heart of downtown, the only direction Durham has to go is up!
There are so many great places to go in Durham … sadly I had to narrow them to a few:
AMERICAN TOBACCO CAMPUS
Originally the Lucky Strike Factory in the late 1800’s-early 1900’s, the American Tobacco Campus underwent a massive redevelopment project starting in 2005. Now, the factory has transformed into a one million square foot housing, office, and entertainment district.
Whether it is a beautiful, summer afternoon, a cool evening, or the holiday season, expect the walk-through ATC to be nothing less than gorgeous. Lay out on the grass by the water tower, sit by one of their two fire pits, or watch a basketball game or roller derby practice at The Cage.
If you enjoy long walks (or even a bike ride…) keep heading south of ATC and trek the 7-mile American Tobacco Trail, one of Durham’s Rails to Trails projects.
TOBACCO ROAD SPORTS CAFE
You want to see the big game… up close, personal, on the screen. Options are endless, but you don’t have to stray too far from the American Tobacco Campus to get to one of my favorites.
Tobacco Road Sports Café is the perfect environment for any sports fanatic. All of the tables, booths, and recliners face a huge wall of television screens. Head out to the patio to get a stellar view of Durham Bulls Stadium. Add the appetizers, entrees for any taste bud, and your favorite beverage and you have one of the best watch parties in Durham.
MAD HATTER BAKESHOP AND CAFE
Situated west of Downtown off of Main Street, Mad Hatter Café is a hot spot to study, work, or simply relax. They make it easy too, with enough outlets along the walls and pillars for pretty much every seat. Windows surround most of the seating area to let plenty of sunshine in.
If you are a fan of organic and farm fresh, this is the place to go any time of the day. My favorite is the Hatter Breakfast – eggs, bacon, toast, fried potatoes, and a whole lot of good. You want a coffee or other wonderful pick-me-up? They got it. You want a sweet treat? With cookies, cupcakes, and other goodies from the bakeshop, they got that too. They’ll keep you and your laptop fed and energized all day.
MOTORCO MUSIC HALL
This gem is situated off of downtown on Rigsbee. Outfitted like a classic auto shop, MotorCo is one of Durham’s hubs for local music and entertainment every weekend.
Next to the music hall is their brilliantly-themed bar and restaurant called Parts and Labor. On nice days, they’ll kick open the garage doors and bring out the huge patio seating.
Their menu is inspired by global street food, and their specials generally go with a theme (my first trip was during Oktoberfest so they had a lineup of German-style apps). I recommend their awesomely-seasoned fries and cheese curds.
WEST END BILLIARDS
In some places, playing pool means dealing with a rather rowdy environment. That’s not the case with West End Billiards. Although you may see college students getting in a game or two, the atmosphere aligns more like a lounge than a bar. It’s clean, classy, and upscale. Six tables are situated with plenty of room in between, so you’re not bumping into your neighbor to get that perfect shot.
If pool is not your game, try your hand at shuffleboard or bocce!
Although the scenery is upscale, the prices are not. Food and drink prices are very reasonable, and table rental goes for about $9 an hour (that is per table, not per person).
Sounds like a great date night!
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