As I've mentioned earlier, we are sadly leaving the Bull City in June. Fortunately, we've had some time before we leave to explore and head out one more time to some of our favorite family adventures in Durham and the Triangle. I thought I'd share our list of can't miss spots. What would be on your list?
1. The Duke Gardens-This has always been one of our favorite places to explore even before we had kids. Yes, we even took our dog for pictures in the tulips before we had children! We've seen the graceful heron on the pond, wandered the winding paths of the North Carolina section, wandered past the bamboo forests, stopped our children from running across the large, grassy field and into the water at the far end, posed for many a picture in the flower fields, and eaten quite a few picnic lunches. We headed over there last week and even combined it with a trip over to Duke's campus to buy some championship tee shirts, pose in front of the chapel, and sit in the seats of Cameron Indoor one more time.
2. The Museum of Life and Science-Few places in Durham have as many memories of my kids as the museum. We've explored every inch of that place many times. When we went this weekend, I was reminiscing about how we used to be in the tiny toddler play area trying to keep our babies from getting run over by toddlers, and now those babies are about to turn 7 and won't even be allowed in the kids' area at all. How time flies! We've gotten filthy and found dozens of sharks teeth in the dino fossil dig, had several butterflies land on us in the butterfly pavillion, sat in a rocket, watched lemurs, bears, and wolves, sailed sailboats, launched seeds, gotten filthy in the mist (yes, we get dirty a lot), watched the snakes get fed, tried to make a tornado, dipped our hands in clouds, ridden on trains to see Santa, and all the other great things you can do at the museum. I was even at the museum on the day I went into labor with my second son!
3. A Durham Bulls Game-Again, this has been one of our favorite past times from before we had kids. However, our kids love these outings too. It's just a great relaxing place to spend an evening with your family whether we're grabbing a bite to eat, sitting and watching the game, meeting some Star Wars characters, or just playing around in the seats, we always have a good time. Since my youngest son has recently developed an obsession with all sports, this is one item on our bucket list we can't miss!
4. Eno River State Park-Our family has walked those trails countless times. However, I'll admit, before we had kids we used to walk much further. We might not have quite the same distance now, but we certainly have just as much fun. We like to walk the trails, let the dog sniff, have picnic lunches, wear our swimsuits when it's warm and wade in the water, cross the suspension bridge, hike to Bobbitt's hole, and just have some great adventures in the woods. The Eno really has helped our whole family develop a love of hiking and being in the outdoors that I hope we can take with us to our new home.
5. Locopops-Sitting outside Locopops on a nice day with your family and a popsicle is just awesome. We used to head there on our way home from the Eno and even pick up a Pup popsicle for our worn out dog. I'm always torn between trying one of their new and always delicious flavors or going with my traditional favorite, Mexican Chocolate. This weekend when we stopped by everyone else tried something new, but I bet you can all guess what I got!
6. Bull City Burger and Brewery-When we want to take visitors to some place that just feels like Durham to us, we always take them here. The burgers are delicious, you can get a nice beverage to go with your meal (even a fancy soda), the pickle chips are awesome, and best of all, they have a little kids' area where your kids can go after they finish their meal so we can actually talk and enjoy the rest of our meal. Mmmm, I will miss those pickle chips!
7. The American Tobacco Trail-Of all the items on my Durham Bucket list, this is the spot where I've probably spent the most time. On all parts of this trail from Wake County to Downtown I've ran, walked, and biked. I've trained for half marathons, marathons, and triathlons. We've hauled munchkins to playgrounds, desserts, and restaurants in the bike trailer. We've gone at a little slower pace to teach those same munchkins how to ride their bikes. I've pushed both a single and double jogging stroller more miles on that trail than I would have preferred. (Those things are heavy!) We've even paused to wave at the passing cars and trucks on the newly completed bridge over I-40. I hope there are some trails in our new home where we can spend just as many miles.
8. Rise-Ok, I'll probably have to head to this spot several times before we leave. After all, I have to get my fill of both their biscuits and their donuts! I like to head over here for a little indulgence if I have a break from the kiddos, and apparently I do this pretty often because they're beginning to recognize me! My particular favorites are the biscuit with pimento cheese and the mimosa donut. Oh, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they will bring back their kolaches so I can try just one before I leave. (They sold out before I got one each of the other times they made them!)
9. The playgrounds-Well, I know I won't get to all of these before we leave, but so many of the wonderful playground of Durham hold so many fond memories that I hope we get to stop by some of them at least one more time. The kids have raced bikes around both Oval Drive and Rockwood. We've played in the woods building teepees and bridges many days at Pineywoods. I watched my kids grow from boys that wouldn't dare to climb the black jungle gym at Old Chapel Hill Road Park, to boys that tried but then cried to be rescued, to boys that spend hours monkeying around the top easily. The kids have flown down the tall twisty slides at Duke Park. They've played in the sandbox and ran from play structure to play structure at Hope Valley Baptist Playground. I've had to continually remind them to stop throwing the super cool rubber mulch at New Hope Church, and we've spent many days exploring the countless other awesome parks that Durham has to offer.
10. Dames Chicken and Waffles-Do I really need to write an explanation on this one?? Downtown Durham+Chicken+Waffles+Schmears-what could be better??
Honorable Mentions-While I'm only putting 10 because we do actually have to move at some point, my list could go on and on. We'll also miss outdoor lunches at Fosters, divine ice cream at The Parlour, NC BBQ at The Q-Shack, waterfalls-fields-music and more at The American Tobacco Campus, both farmers markets, Durham's great special events (Food Truck Rodeos, Centerfest, the Art Walk, etc), great local bookstores like The Regulator and Letters, Brunch at Watts Grocery or Elmo's, and so, so, so much more! Oh, and one more mention for True Flavors Diner which I have already been to three times since it opened recently and will have to head back to a few more times before we leave-so yummy!
So, for all of you left in Durham, please keep heading out and exploring all of these wonderful parts of Durham and enjoy them for me until I get back to visit!