If you follow us on Instagram or Facebook, you might have noticed that I took my boys on a road trip to Durham, North Carolina. A few friends had posted pictures and raved about the Museum of Life and Science and we had a few days in our summer calendar with nothing booked. Cue the sounds of my jingling the keys itching to hit the road. The drive is approximately 4 1/2 hours from DC to Durham so I figured why not? Unfortunately, Floyd was unable to make it so my Mom joined in on the fun.
What a memory maker this trip was for us! We spent four days exploring Durham inside and out, and it exceeded all our expectations. The city in recent years has undergone significant growth and revitalization in it’s downtown area. As we rounded each corner we delighted in cute shops, one of a kind restaurants and open play spaces the boys loved.
Here are the highlights of our time in Durham and why we found it to be a great family destination.
Where to Stay in Durham
While there are several great places to stay in Durham, we found The Durham Hotel to be an ideal spot. It is located in the heart of downtown and has a very chic mid-century modern style. It is within walking distance to several attractions and restaurants making it easy to navigate the area with nothing more than a stroller in tow.
This was a hotel who thought of all the little touches that make a stay special. My absolute favorite was the complimentary fresh coffee grounds that were delivered to your door each morning. Just select your brew and delivery time and voila! Some of the best in room coffee I have ever savored!
The staff was so wonderful and kind to my 2 and 5-year-old boys. They can be a bit rowdy and often take some reminders from me to behave in places like nice restaurants, but the staff at The Durham Hotel laughed along with them and answered all of their very inquisitive questions. (Special shout out to Carlos who kindly listened to the recount of their daily adventures!)
What to Do in Durham
We did so much in our few days in Durham. Looking back we really packed so much fun in! Here are our favorite places that were great for young kids.
Museum of Life and Science
We headed to the Museum of Life and Science right when it opened and the boys were fully engaged for over six hours. We truly could have spent another day exploring this amazing museum and we were so sad to leave. That just means we have to come back right!?
This museum is spread over 80 acres and the outside boasts features such as a tree house village to climb and explore, dinosaur trail, train ride, stream bed with children wiggling their toes in the water, butterfly house and more. The two story indoor museum is filled with engaging exhibits. Our favorite was the launch lab! This was truly a parents dream with us all engaged and making hands on memories together.
The Durham Bulls
We took in a AAA Durham Bulls baseball game at the picturesque Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The kids may have been wiped out from a full day but they sure perked up at the sounds of hotdogs and cheering. The park is adjacent to the American Tobacco Historic District which is full of restaurants and fun along the way. And while the baseball was great, the kids loved the play zone best where they tried their hands at games, batting cages and playgrounds. It was a perfect summer night and a great way to experience a new city.
The Duke Lemur Center
Do your kids love Wild Kratts on PBS? Mine do and this is where the Kratts brothers have worked directly with lemurs! A visit to the Duke Lemur Center to see these endangered lemurs and learn how they live on the island of Madagascar was really neat and educational. The boys still cuddle with their lemur stuffed animal souvenirs each night.
The Scrap Exchange
Our last stop of the trip was The Scrap Exchange. This was located in an average strip mall but boasted well more than average entertainment. This non-profit collects recycled materials from offices and residents and then provides a space for them to be turned into art. For $5 each, Jake and Max went to the Make N Take room where they were able to use any of the materials to build their hearts out. I knew it would be hit but had no idea just how so! 1.5 hours later Jake was still focused on building the perfect rocket! This is a great activity that is calm and indoors for those too hot or rainy days.
Where to Eat in Durham
The food in Durham was amazing! Although with young kids in tow and full action packed days, we admittedly didn’t get to explore this aspect of Durham as much as I would have liked. Even with more family friendly fare on the agenda, each place we visited was fun and delicious! Here are our favorites:
This charming donut shop allowed for great conversation and killer coffee. My favorite Monuts treats were the blueberry pancake and raspberry swirl donuts. Yum!
The Durham Farmers’ Market is both an activity and a food stop. I’ve never seen a farmer’s market in the U.S. so full of community. It included live music, arts and crafts for sale, amazing food tents and food trucks and children playing together on the playground. It was a scene straight from a movie and we all loved it. These are the activities that really allow you to get to know a place, allow your kids to unwind a bit, and the people were so friendly and open with us. And while we loved everything we sampled, our favorite on this hot morning were the smoothie pops! Yum!
Sometimes you just need to sit on a big wide porch with a glass of lemonade and unwind. Foster’s Market allowed us to do just that. The food was delicious and I loved the variety that worked for both kids and adults. Everything felt special. We made sure to take a giant slab of chocolate cake with us for later!
I mentioned the American Tobacco Historic District. Tyler’s Taproom is located in the heart of this area which is a family must see. Tyler’s was a great place to head with kids, it had fun games, allowed the kids to be loud and had the best fried pickles ever!
As you can see when I say this trip was a memory maker I wasn’t kidding. It was a special time on a roadtrip with Grandma and exploring a city the size of Durham was fun and felt really manageable with two small kids. We can’t wait to go back!
This is not a sponsored post. We did receive lodging and complementary services. All opinions expressed are our own.