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Picnic spots in and around Durham

To all the Duke students and local Durhamites staying in the area this summer, you would be remiss to not spend some of your time outdoors enjoying the sunny — albeit humid — weather. I’d personally recommend making a whole day of it: go for a picnic, soak up the sun and get some much needed fresh air. If that sounds appealing to you, here are six of the best picnic spots in and around Durham.

Duke Gardens

Right off of West Campus, this sprawling garden is perfect for anyone who loves flowers and wants a natural yet stylistic ambiance for their picnic. For the best picnicking experience, I'd recommend the South Lawn, which has ample open space with a small pond and some trees for shade. After your picnic, feel free to explore the garden's extensive trails while visiting its four sections, which include everything from native and Asian plants to common garden flora and eye-catching trees and installations. 

American Tobacco Campus

A bit further from Duke, American Tobacco Campus (ATC) — home to not one, but two picnic spots — is in the center of downtown, only a mile from East Campus and right next to the Durham Bulls Stadium. Diamond View Park is ideal for those seeking extra space for their picnic. But if you want the best views, you should set up at the heart of ATC below the Lucky Strike Tower. As the former industrial heart of Durham, this area is home to several extensively refurbished brick warehouses and has a old-fashioned and cozy ambiance, creating a delightful environment for a picnic. What’s more, ATC is home to a number of local shops, making a picnic here the perfect accompaniment to a shopping trip.

West Point on The Eno

About nine miles north of West Campus, West Point on the Eno is a bit farther from Duke but still very accessible. With 404 acres of forest, it’s the perfect picnic spot for those looking for a location that’s a bit more rustic but not too far from home. In addition, West Point’s placement alongside a beautiful two-mile stretch of the Eno River makes it perfect for a riverside picnic. If you want to make this an extended trip, you should wander throughout the park and visit historic sites like the Hugh Mangum Museum of Photography, the McCown-Mangum House and the Grist Mill.

East Campus

East Campus has ample open space on and beyond the main quad, which makes it ideal for anyone who wants to picnic but lacks the time or resources to travel off campus. A beautiful tree-lined plot of land at the corner of West Markham and Broad Street is perfect for those who seek proximity to stores, while anyone who wants to be close to transportation can set up by the dorms. And if you want to be a little adventurous, set up in the southeast corner of East Campus by the Statue of the Sower and the Duke Gazebo.

North Carolina Botanical Garden

NC Botanical Garden is three miles from UNC Chapel Hill's campus, so those seeking to save some money on an Uber can take the Robertson bus and travel the rest of the way on foot or by bike. It is similar to Duke Gardens, but with an increased focus on native North Carolina plants and North Carolina-focused installations. I'd recommend this for anyone who enjoys nature and wants to learn more about the state Duke calls home. And after your picnic, I'd encourage you to take advantage of the amenities the local college town has to offer by perusing stores like Uniquities.

French Family Sciences Front Lawn

This spot is extremely close to West Campus, being a 5 minute walk from Duke Chapel and a 7 minute walk from the bus loop. While the surrounding area is admittedly not the prettiest to look at, the lawn's terrace-like design allows you to spread out and provides a unique picnicking experience. This is the perfect spot for West Campus residents who want to picnic yet lack the time to travel off campus and for anyone who wants a unique experience. 


Zev van Zanten | Campus Arts Editor

Zev van Zanten is a Trinity sophomore and campus arts editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.

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