Things about Durham that didn't make the Times' list, but should have

February 16, 2013 


Ernie Hernandez relaxes in the grass near the old grist mill at West Point on the Eno Park. Hernandez was taking advantage of the nice weather to write a little poetry.

SCOTT SHARPE — Scott Sharpe

What did The New York Times Magazine miss in its 36-hour visit to Durham? We asked Mark Schultz, editor of our Durham News, and longtime columnist Jim Wise to share their favorite spots in the Bull City.

Dinos, butterflies and more

Tapas places and night clubs are great, but if you’ve got little kids (or are still one yourself), Durham’s Museum of Life and Science shoots to the top of the must-visit list. From swallotwails to space ships, the museum at 433 W. Murray Ave. has enough exhibits for many repeat visits. Our favorite? A Dinosaur Trail that puts you in the path of a hungry Albertosaurus (a cousin of T. rex) charging on a young Styracosaurus, separated from his herd. For the less bloodthirsty? A farmyard with a red and white barn where two female alpacas and their baby crias recently joined a steer, donkey, three goats, two pot-bellied pigs and an owl named Christopher.

Before you leave the museum, be sure to stop into its Magic Wings Butterfly House, home to about 1,000 tropical butterflies of 100 species native to rain forests in the Philippines, Malaysia, Africa, South America and Central America. Magic Wings is one of the largest butterfly conservatories in the U.S., and it’s a particularly welcoming place in cold weather: The temperature inside is a constant 80 degrees.

More critters

To find more critters to visit, venture out to the Duke Lemur Center (, a research station dedicated to conserving the ancient relatives of monkeys, apes and humans that evolved for thousands of years on the isolated island of Madagascar. Occupying 85 acres in Duke Forest, not far from the university’s West Campus, Duke’s center is the world’s largest sanctuary for rare and endangered prosimian primates. It houses about 33 lemurs encompassing 15 species, along with lorises from India and Southeast Asia and bushbabies from Africa. Tours lasting 60 to 90 minutes are available seven days a week, with advance reservations required: 919-489-3364 ext. 0 or 919-401-7240.

Pastoral park

In northern Durham, at 5101 N. Roxboro St., West Point on the Eno ( a 388-acre city park at the site of a colonial gristmill village on the Eno River. The original mill is gone, but a near twin was moved to the park in the 1970s and stands along with several other restored buildings. Each Fourth of July, West Point is the site of Festival for the Eno, a multi-day affair with music, crafts and environmental displays where local folk go to see each other. The rest of the year, West Point is an idyllic spot for picnics, wading, fishing, hiking or just sitting to watch the river flow past.

Barbecue landmark

Hipness has its place, but Durham is still a Southern town and for any visit to Durham – certainly for anyone sizing up its food scene – Bullock’s Bar-B-Cue ( is a must-stop. Tommy Bullock carries on the pig-cooking tradition his father began in the 1940s, and his clientele is a true cross-section of Durham. Old-timers break bread with folks just setting down their roots. Bullock’s is also a destination point for celebrities passing through – as attested by the autographed photos on Tommy’s Wall of Fame leading into the dining room. If you’re not up for pork barbecue, Eastern North Carolina style, there’s plenty more home cookin’ to pick from. Bullock’s is open from 11:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, at 3330 Quebec Drive, just off Hillsborough Road and U.S. 15-501 Bypass.

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