What it is: Located just North of I-85 off of Guess Rd., the Duke Homestead site is where the Duke family lived and produced tobacco as well as the site of a small tobacco museum. I was a little wary about taking the kids for a morning there, but we actually had a great time. We started with a walking tour of the historical buildings where the Duke family lived and worked. I wouldn't recommend taking the guided tour with children under 3, but they had a great time touring the buildings at their own pace. The guided tour would be interesting, however, without the young kids. My 3 year old was mildly interested in the historical tobacco shed and homestead complete with antique furniture. Fortunately, the grounds are filled with lots of grassy areas to run so it's an excellent place for kids to just run around and explore while taking in a bit of history.
After our outdoor adventure, we did head in to check out the museum briefly. It's pretty dated and there wasn't a whole lot to interest the kids, but there were a few buttons to press. It was also a topic that was fairly hard to explain to toddlers. We did pick up a Moon Pie in their small gift area on the way out which was a fun treat. Then, we headed back out to eat our picnic lunch at a lovely collection of picnic tables overlooking the homestead in a field under a large tree. This was the best part of our outing. The table we found was perfectly toddler size and shaded and the field was nicely contained. The kids happily played under the tree for quite a while after we ate. We had a lovely morning. It wasn't a typical outing for us, but it was fun, and I think the kids always get some good out of going someplace historic.
What we liked: We loved the grounds, and it was fun to run around in the grassy fields past the zig-zagging wooden fences. The picnic area was a great place for a toddler lunch.
What we would change: The museum wasn't particularly interesting for our crowd and some of the exhibits weren't working, so we felt the grounds were the more interesting part of the trip.
Website and other important information:
Address: 2828 Duke Homestead Road, Durham, N.C. 27705
Phone: (919) 477-5498
Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday
1. One of the tobacco buildings
2. A view of the actual Duke homestead
3. Their kitchen
4. One of the museum displays
5. A Liberty Bell made entirely out of tobacco
6. Our picnic area with a view