// Welcome to Durham //

Disclosure: Welcome to Durham is a sponsored post. Although I was compensated by 21c Museum Hotels with a payment, product, or something else of value in exchange for writing this post, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Welcome to my first travel post! For my first go, I’m keeping things local (obviously too scared to leave the Triangle). This past Saturday, Zach and I headed to Durham for a staycation. This is embarrassing, but living in downtown Raleigh, I never really get over to Durham. I know, I know, it’s RIGHT down the road, but we get lazy and walking beats driving.  I’ve headed to a few Durham Bulls games and a few shows at DPAC, but haven’t had the time to fully explore.

Last weekend, I got my opportunity. Check it.

/ Stay / 

The highlight of our staycation were our accomodations at the 21c Museum Hotel. The Hotel opened last March and combines all things art, boutique hotel, plus a killer restaurant and bar.

The 21c Museum Hotel originated in Louisville, KY. The owners wanted to open a free contemporary art museum (open 365 days a week) in combination with Louisville’s first boutique hotel. Why can’t I have good ideas like this?

You honestly don’t need me to tell you how awesome 21c is, just check out any “best of” list out there. But guess what, I’m going to tell you anyway. Buckle up. There was so much to love about this the hotel. Let’s start in the room. The folks at 21c hooked us up with an amazing suite. I loved the art deco details. The decor paid homage to the 60s, but still felt modern and bright.

Needless to say, we felt like royalty in this room. What am I, a Kardashian? This was crazy.

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Just hanging out in the purple bathroom, unable to comprehend my good fortune. 

The rubber duck in the shower was an extra touch that I just had to share. You cannot be angry when you see a rubber duck, unless you’re an absolute monster.

We were on the 11th floor and lucky enough to snag some great views of downtown Durham.

Wow. Look at this amazing blogger who can use bubble photos. What a treat.


Must sees:

If you ever make your way to the hotel, there are a number of things you HAVE to check out.

  1. Keep your eyes peeled for pink penguins, the museum mascot. 

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They are just adorable and will make you weirdly happy.

  2. Hit up all the art you can find.

There is artwork hidden in every nook and cranny of 21c, just make sure to look for it!

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American flag made out of Army men. What a time to be alive.

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3. Grab dinner and drinks at Counting House.

Counting House is a modern restaurant, with a focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients. We didn’t get a chance to eat there (definitely on the list for my next trip!), but I hear it is wonderful. We did grab a drink at the bar and it was fantastic.

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4. Check out the vault. 

Once you have your drink you are free to wander around the hotel to your heart’s content. Make sure to stop by The Vault, on the very bottom floor of the hotel. The Vault is an actual historic bank vault. We had the space pretty much to ourselves. If you are so lucky, I would recommend pretending you are a Bond villain. Although, try to avoid being too curious, lest you close doors and convince yourself that you’re locked in… heard that tip from a friend… not me… I never really though I was locked in…


/ Eat & Drink / 

Believe it or not, we didn’t just sit in the hotel our whole trip. We made it to Durham at about 1:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, and, in standard Welcome to Raleighwood form, immediately started eating.

/ Pizzeria Toro /

I know Pizzeria Toro is well-known and well-loved, but we had never been. I knew I couldn’t take another trip to Durham without paying homage to this beloved pizza joint.

We started out with some pig’s ears, which were resting on an insanely delicious fruity/spicy sauce. We rounded it out with the proscuitto cotto pizza. I have to say, this place lived up to the hype.

/ Ponysaurus Brewing /

After lunch we headed to Ponysaurus for some beer flights. I’m dying for a spot like this in Raleigh. There was a great covered outdoor space outside, as well as a bright and happy indoor space. I love our breweries, but I sometimes feel like I’m sitting in the direct sunlight or brooding in a dark warehouse.

Did I mention the bar has a ton of $1 snacks you can buy? I bought a whole cup of Swedish Fish for a dollar people. Life is good.

/ Shopping /

After fueling up, we check out a used record store and used book store. Anyone who knows us knows that we are fools for used books and records. We probably don’t need any more of either records or books, but, in my opinion, I’d rather have too much to read and listen to than not enough. I snagged 10 solid records (including some Chicago, Deep Purple, James Taylor, and Jim Croce) for $10. Can’t beat it.

We didn’t pick up any books this trip, but I would recommend popping into Letters if your looking for a new book!


/ The Durham Hotel /

We didn’t stay at The Durham (as is obvious from the first 500 words of this post), but I kept hearing about this amazing rooftop and had to check it out. Again, absolutely lived up to the hype. We caught the rooftop on a perfect night. There was a hardly a cloud in the sky and we got a nice breeze, which was seriously needed after a day in the heat.

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We nommed on some beef tartare and oysters. Tip: get the Massachusetts oysters. So salty and savory. Delish.

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I was getting some serious Mad Men vibes from The Durham. Sitting on the roof at sunset was a great move. 


/ M. Sushi /

We rounded out a full day of eating with some rolls at M. Sushi. This spot opened up in January and I had heard great things about the way Chef  Michael Lee livens up standard tools with fresh ingredients and garnishes.

You could tell that every piece of fish was incredibly fresh. I did not get any pictures of the inside of the restaurant, but it was dark and romantic, located underground right next to The Durham. I highly recommend this spot for a romantic evening (or a night when you want to be alone in a tranquil environment and eat your weight in raw fish… I don’t know your life).


/ Scratch Bakery /

On Saturday morning, we snagged some breakfast at Scratch Bakery. This was the perfect way to end our trip. We relaxed and enjoyed some coffee and pastries. The special latte I ordered was the “London Fog,” an Earl Grey Tea latte with vanilla. It was fantastic AND the size of my head. And if you haven’t seen me in person, I have a fairly large head, so I was quite impressed.


All in all, I couldn’t have chosen a better place to visit for my first Welcome to Blank post.  Zach and I felt like we were on a full on vacation. You really don’t need to go too far to “get away from it all,” as they say. Already can’t wait to go back and try out some of the restaurants and bars on my list that I missed.

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One thought on “// Welcome to Durham //

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