Exploring Durham as a college student

Exploring Durham as a college student

We rounded up some free, $10 and $20 activities to do in Durham. They're perfect for Duke college students and their friends.

Above: Durham’s Museum of Life and Science includes vast outdoor areas like this for plenty of exploration and play. Photo by the News & Observer.

Whether you’re a Duke student who wants to better get to know the city that they call home or simply visiting Durham for the day, this city has a plethora of things to offer that aren’t all out of a college student’s price range. With everything from to learning about lemurs to seeing a Broadway show, there are activities that everyone will love. Check out some of my favorite free, $10 and $20 activities to do in the city and give yourself the day to create, learn, and explore!     


Live blues music at the Bullpen

Located right next to the Durham Bulls’ Athletic Park in the American Tobacco Campus, The Bullpen has wings, beer, and free live blues music every Friday and Saturday night.

Visit the Eno River

Cool off on a hot day with a swim in the Eno River Quarry, bring a canoe or kayak to paddle up the river, or simply enjoy hiking around the trails located in the 404 acres of West Point on the Eno.

21C Art Museum

A Durham museum/hotel featuring rotating exhibits of modern art and a historic bank vault located in the basement.  

Bennett Place

Free guided tours are offered at this historical site where, in 1865, the Civil War ended with the largest surrender of Confederate soldiers.  

Duke Homestead

This large property includes the house, farm, and some of the first factories of Washington Duke, the Durham tobacco tycoon. Make sure to use the number on the website to call ahead before going on your guided tour.

Historic Stagville

Here, you can go on a self-guided tour of one of the largest plantations from the pre-Civil War South.   

Durham History Hub

Located in downtown Durham, this complete exhibit, focused on the city’s rich history, is split up all throughout the city focusing on the city’s rich history.

St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation/ Hayti Heritage Center

Built in a church after the congregation moved in the 1970s, the Hayti Heritage Center aims to protect and share the heritage and culture of the African American experience, as well as civil events. While free tours are offered year round, the center hosts other events throughout the year such as the Bull Durham Blues Festival and the Heritage Film Festival. For a small fee, you can even take arts classes, such as a Heritage Rhythms dance class for $5 each Monday. If you’re interested in learning more about Durham’s Black Wall Street or the role African Americans played in the city’s development, then make sure to check this out!

$10 or less

Cosmic Cantina

A 9th Street classic, this Duke student favorite offers a 10-15% discount on their Mexican food for students.  

The Scrap Exchange

For $5, head over to Durham’s Scrap Exchange, a nonprofit dedicated to reusing materials, for one and a half hours in the Make N Take Room or, once you have taken a class to learn how to use the equipment, the Design Center (which is more focused on activities such as sewing). If you prefer more guidance, then try one of their creative classes, such as Craft Nights and Altered Books, which are offered for only $10.

The Little Dipper

A great opportunity to have a girls’ night out, this fondue restaurant in Brightleaf Square offers cheese and chocolate fondue for $9 on Tuesday nights for women.

Duke Lemur Center

Use your student ID to take a $9 Lemurs Live tour exploring the lemur center, which houses the second largest number of lemurs in the world (the first being their natural habitat in Madagascar). You’ll get to learn about lemurs, the center, and see about nine of the species living there.   

AMC Southpoint

Located at Southpoint Mall in Durham, you can shop and grab some food before seeing the latest hit film. Check out the matinee films or use your student ID after 4 p.m. for the same price of $9.34.

$20 or less

Durham Museum of Life and Science

The perfect day trip for lovers of science and fun, the Durham Museum of Life and Science is home to vast indoor and outdoor exhibits, over 60 species of animals, and one of the largest butterfly houses on the East Coast. Pay the general admission price of $18 to explore this wonderful museum!

Durham Performing Arts Center

The Durham Performing Arts Center, located in Durham’s beautiful American Tobacco Campus, offers discounted tickets to students starting at $20 for many of their featured Broadway shows like “Les Miserables” and “Phantom of the Opera.” Visit their website for more information about shows and tickets.

Bull City Escape

Just blocks away from Duke University’s East Campus, Bull City Escape offers an hour of adventure as you and up to five others are locked in a room together and must try to find a way out. With themes such as Lunar Lockdown, A Study in Murder, and Enchanted Kingdom, this functions as an incredibly fun bonding experience as you try to see if you can figure out how to escape.

Alex Johnson

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