Nestled in the heart of North Carolina, Durham is best known for its technology companies and scholarly institutions. However, when the sun sets, Durham reveals a lively nightlife scene that’s as dynamic and vibrant as the city itself.
From bustling bars and breweries in the buzzing Downtown district to quieter, more intimate venues in the scenic American Tobacco Campus, Durham offers a plethora of options for all types of night owls. With an eclectic blend of locally loved establishments and hidden gems, Durham’s nightlife caters to a diverse crowd, promising memorable experiences for both residents and visitors alike.
Whether you’re seeking a low-key night at a craft brewery, live music in a historical setting, or a lively sports bar to watch the game, Durham has something for everyone. The city’s nightlife continues to evolve, keeping locals and visitors excited and ensuring there’s always a new experience waiting to be discovered.
In this guide, you’ll find detailed information about the best Durham nightlife spots, tips and advice for a safe and enjoyable night out, and an overview of the cost of partying in Durham. So, grab your friends, put on your dancing shoes, and get ready to immerse yourself in the vibrant and eclectic world of Durham nightlife.
Where to Party in Durham
Durham’s nightlife is dispersed across a few key areas, making it a delightful adventure to hop from one spot to another. Here are some of the most popular districts to explore during your night out in Durham:
Downtown Durham: The heart of the city offers an array of bars, pubs, and music venues, along with some of the city’s most iconic landmarks. The area is perfect for those looking to experience the energetic pulse of Durham after dark.
American Tobacco Campus: This revitalized tobacco factory district offers a unique blend of bars and restaurants, each offering a distinct ambiance. The area is an excellent choice for a more relaxed, laid-back evening.
Brightleaf Square: Housed in historic tobacco warehouses, Brightleaf Square is home to several excellent bars and restaurants, making it a popular spot for a night out on the town.
Ninth Street: Known for its college-town vibe due to its proximity to Duke University, Ninth Street offers a variety of casual bars and restaurants popular with students and locals alike.
Durham Nightlife Tips and Advice
Durham is generally a safe city, but as with any urban area, it’s important to remain aware of your surroundings and exercise basic precautions. Always keep your belongings secure, and never leave your drink unattended.
The legal drinking age in the United States is 21, and most establishments will require ID for proof of age.
Tipping is customary in the US. Typically, a 15-20% tip is given for good service.
Durham has reliable public transportation, and taxis and rideshares like Uber and Lyft are readily available. Remember, if you plan on drinking, don’t drive.
Most bars and clubs in Durham have a casual dress code, but some upscale venues might require smarter attire. If in doubt, smart-casual is a safe choice.
Cost of Partying in Durham
Drinks: On average, expect to pay around $5-7 for a beer, $8-12 for a glass of wine, and $10-15 for a cocktail at most bars and clubs in Durham.
Cover Charges: While many bars in Durham do not charge a cover fee, some nightclubs or live music venues might. This can range from $5-20, sometimes including a complimentary drink.
Taxis and Rideshares: Fares can vary, but for a short ride within the city center, you can generally expect to pay around $10-20.
Best Bars in Durham
Alley Twenty Six
A sophisticated cocktail bar located in downtown Durham, Alley Twenty-Six is known for its intricate cocktail creations, an extensive selection of spirits, and a cozy, upscale atmosphere. This bar also offers a small but refined menu of food items that pair beautifully with their drink offerings. Whether you are looking for a classic cocktail or want to try a modern concoction, this bar is a great place to start your night.
This pioneering brewery, located in a spacious, industrial-chic building, has become a stalwart of Durham’s craft beer scene. Fullsteam is not only known for its unique, locally sourced beers but also for its community-oriented approach and its commitment to the plow-to-pint movement. With regularly rotating taps, there’s always something new to try here.
Popular with Duke University students and locals alike, The Tavern offers a more relaxed nightclub experience. With a variety of drink specials, pool tables, and a cozy outdoor patio, it’s an ideal spot for those looking for a low-key night out.
Durty Bull Brewing Company
Durty Bull Brewing Company is an underrated gem in Durham’s craft beer landscape. It has earned acclaim for its barrel-aged and sour beers. The casual, friendly environment of their taproom invites guests to unwind and enjoy good company.
Located in the heart of downtown, 106 Main is an upscale bar known for its classy atmosphere, craft cocktails, and excellent service. It features a comfortable interior with a blend of modern and vintage decor that sets the perfect backdrop for a casual evening or a special celebration. With an impressive selection of spirits and knowledgeable staff, 106 Main is a must-visit for those seeking a premium cocktail experience.
Best Nightclubs in Durham
A cornerstone of Durham’s music scene, The Pinhook hosts live music almost every night, showcasing an array of genres from indie rock to electronic music. This vibrant nightclub also hosts frequent community events and themed dance nights, making it a beloved spot among locals.
Luna Nightclub is a popular spot in Durham for dancing and partying into the early hours. With a full calendar of events, including themed dance nights and live DJ sets, Luna Nightclub offers a high-energy atmosphere and a memorable nightlife experience. The club’s diverse music mix, which spans a variety of genres, caters to all tastes, ensuring there’s a beat for everyone to move to. Its spacious dance floor, top-tier sound system, and dazzling light show set the stage for an unforgettable night out.
This long-standing nightclub is known for its lively dance floor, diverse crowd, and various theme nights. With two floors, an outdoor patio, and multiple bars, Shooters II guarantees an exciting, high-energy night out.
La Parranda Night Club
A popular spot for Latin music lovers, La Parranda Night Club offers a lively dance floor where you can groove to salsa, bachata, reggaeton, and more. It’s vibrant atmosphere and friendly crowd make it a go-to spot for those seeking a night of dance and cultural celebration in Durham.
9ONE9 Night Club in Durham, NC, is a vibrant nightlife venue known for its energetic atmosphere and diverse music offerings. With DJ sets, live performances, and themed parties, the modern and stylish club provides an inviting space to dance, socialize, and enjoy the night.
Weekly events, special guest performances, and a well-stocked bar offering signature cocktails add to the appeal. As a premier destination for locals and visitors seeking a lively and memorable experience, 9ONE9 Night Club remains a top choice for a fun-filled night out with friends.
Durham Nightlife Conclusion
The Durham nightlife scene offers a rich tapestry of experiences, from laid-back dive bars and late-night eateries to upscale cocktail lounges and bustling music venues that showcase both local and national talent. Whether you’re a resident or just passing through, Durham’s vibrant night scene promises a memorable outing in the heart of North Carolina’s Triangle region.
Beyond the nightlife, the city has a broad appeal, drawing in art enthusiasts, history aficionados, and music lovers alike. With this detailed guide at your disposal, you’re all set to immerse yourself in Durham’s multifaceted after-dark offerings. So gear up to relish and dance your way through a night in Durham—a city that has captivated countless travelers.