Things to do in Burlington & Beyond

Elon students, and Burlington residents, this one is for you! In a small town like Burlington, it can feel like you’ve already done everything that there is to do. While at Elon I’ve scoured Trip Advisor and pages of date suggestions, but good comprehensive lists are few and far between.

So, I decided to compile my own — you’re welcome in advance. Save this post so that when you’re looking for a fun new place to try with your friends or a significant other, you don’t have to repeat the same old typical Saturday night plans. Get your bucket list ready!

I’ve split my suggestions into two main categories “Burlington” (under 25-minute minutes from campus) and “Beyond” (Greensboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, etc). Within those categories, my favorites are split into: Outdoors, Fun activities, Culture, & 21+


Burlington

Outdoors

Haw River Trail (Shallow Ford) 

IMG_0651.jpgThe Haw River Trail is Elon's closest
real trail to campus. If you're in
need of a perfect start to your
weekend, head over with a friend.
There's also a great wooden platform
for yoga!
Saxapahaw Island Park & trails 
57505535689__5A79DF84-E236-4B93-870E-5362E10F3983-1.jpg 
Saxapahaw is an adorable town 25 min.
from campus. Eat lunch at the general
store and then do some exploring.
Cedarock Park
196D912F-87E7-4CF4-ADC7-99A71884752D.jpgCedarock Park is a 414-acre nature 
preserve and historic farm. You'll
find lots of families exploring
and can say hi to some adorable
farm animals.
Guilford Mackintosh Park 
 IMG_2844.jpgJust a couple of exits past Target,
Macintosh is a hidden gem. There are
several short trails, a lake, and
great picnic tables. I love to pack
a lunch and eat near the water.

Food

  • Colombian Cravings
    Located near Harris Teeter, this latin restaruant is a recent
    favorite of mine. Order a juice and prepare for savory
    meat and huge portions.
  • Da Vinci’s Table 
    IMG_7296.jpgA classic Italian birthday spot.
    Da Vinci's is a great place
    to take your visiting family 
    or get away for a date night.
  • Red Bowl 
    Red Bowl is a personal favorite of mine and has a great patio.
    
    Pro tip: go for the lunch specials for a much cheaper total 
    bill.
  • The Park 
    The Park always hits the spot on weekend mornings. It offers
    southern breakfast and diner-style food.
  • Catrinas Tequila and Taco Bar 
    Catrinas is located in Mebane and should not be judged by
    its outer appearance. It may be in a strip mall, but 
    prepare to be wowed by the tacos and wait staff.
  • The Verdict on the Square 
    Located in downtown Graham, The Verdict is the perfect place
    to grab a burger and a beer before you explore the town.
  • Saxpahaw General Store 
    IMG_2461.jpg
    As mentioned above, Saxpahaw is a 
    town you shouldn't miss. Eat at the
    general store where ingredients are
    locally sourced. Beer and drinks
    are available in the store and can
    be consumed on the porch. Check out
    more to do in Saxpahaw here.
    
    
  • Harrison's 
    Harrison's is a sandwich spot next to Harris Teeter that I 
    never noticed until recently. It's cheap, it's good, and the
    inside is cute and comfortable.

Fun activities

Fifth Street Books 
IMG_7567.jpgFifth Street Books is a warehouse in Mebane
with stacks and stacks of books for all ages
(and a live-in cat!) The organization is 
crazy, so spend an afternoon exploring
and picking out some new titles. 

Pro tip: Books are 
extremely cheap and they offer .50 book sales,
so keep up to date with their Facebook page.
Filament Coffee and Tea, Mebane 
If you have to do homework on a Saturday, Filament is the perfect
place to do it at. The atmosphere quietly buzzes in the 
background and the coffee is fabulous.

21+

  • Burlington Beer Works
    IMG_2689.jpgIt's finally open! Go visit Burlington's 
    new brewery in downtown Burlington right 
    next to The Blend coffeeshop. They offer 
    dinner, snacks, flights, and lots on tap
    for $5.
  • Cork and Cow
    IMG_9691.jpgI rarely suggest this place to people 
    sincepart of it's charm is that few 
    students go, but since I'm graduating,
    I guess it's okay! Cork and Cow is my 
    favorite spot to curl up with a book
    or do some evening work. They have 
    cheese plates, a large variety of wine
    and beer, and a perfect porch for a 
    casual afternoon.
  • Red Oak Brewery
    3F36AAE0-870F-458B-A685-2A34FC0FCDC7.jpgRed Oak's new lagerhaus is large and 
    impressive. They have stacks of games
    available to play and do weekly music
    trivia. On the weekends, there are 
    typically food trucks outside.
    
    Pro tip: You can also order pizza or food
    to the venue.
  • Piedmont Ale House 
    Piedmont is only 5 minutes from campus and has a great variety
    of pub food and drinks.
    
    Pro-tip: Go on a Thursday evening for half-price appetizers. 
    Every Thursday Piedmont features a local beer for $3-5. You
    also get to keep the glass!
  • Smokehouse at Steve's
    I didn't know that I needed Smokehouse at Steve's in my life, 
    but I absolutely did. Recently opened, Smokehouse at Steve's 
    offers huge portions of meats and your traditional BBQ sides
    and has a bar station with a large variety of sauces. Whether
    you're from Texas, Tennessee, or North Carolina, you're going
    to be impressed with Steve's.
    
    Pro tip: Steve's is also connected to its counterpart butchershop
    and local market, so if you're looking to stock up on things,
    you can kill two birds with one stone.

Beyond Burlington

Outdoors

  • Eno Quarry, Durham 
    A classic spot! Visit in the spring or fall and bring your
    swimsuit.
  • N.C. Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill
    IMG_0739.jpgI was amazed by the size of this 
    botanical garden all available for
    free to the public. Spend an 
    afternoon exploring the garden. There
    are also additional walking/biking
    trails attached to the property.
    
    Pro tip: There are free tours on the
    weekends, so look at their site in 
    advance if you're interested.
  • Duke Gardens
    Duke's campus itself is worth seeing, and their gardens are 
    impressive and free to visit. When you're in Durham, spend 
    an hour or two wandering campus and taking photos in the 
    gardens.
  • Umstead State Park, Durham 
    Umstead offers a ton of activities from fishing to boating,
    rock climbing, and paddling, so check out their site to plan
    a visit.
  • Conservators Center
                            
    IMG_5439.jpg
    The Conservators center is approx.
    30 minutes from campus and definitely
    worth a visit. The center homes many
    animals who needed a better home for
    various reasons. Tours must be booked
    in advance and are relatively 
    inexpensive.

Food

  • Dashi, Durham 
    IMG_3147.jpgGreat ramen, wonderful aesthetic,
    delicious food and drinks.
  • The Pit, Durham 
    If you haven't tried North Carolina BBQ yet, this is the perfect
    place to do it! The Pit is a bit dressier, so it's great for
    a special night out or a date night. Boxcar Arcade and several
    other bars are just down the street.
  • Gonza Tacos y Tequila, Durham 
    IMG_2558.jpgGonza is another great choice for a 
    celebratory dinner or special night 
    out. The tequila list is extensive
    and can be personalized in dozens
    of ways. Make a reservation if you
    plan to visit on a weekend.
  • Hops Burger Bar, Greensboro 
    Hops doesn't accept reservations, so prepare to wait. That being 
    said, your wait will be worth it. Their burgers are huge and 
    the atmosphere is fun. They also serve Cheesecakes by Alex if 
    you're still hungry afterwards.
  • Crafted The Art of the Taco, Greensboro 
    Crafted is a fun place to go for lunch or dinner in Greensboro.
    It's located right downtown so plan for a day of exploring and
    try a bunch of unique tacos when you're feeling hungry.
  • I Love Pho, Greensboro
    While I wish that there were more pho and ramen options near 
    campus, I Love Pho makes the drive worth it. It is also 
    located in a strip mall, so don't let that deter you. The bowls
    are huge and so delicious you'll want to go back.
  • Don Ishiyaki & Ramen, Greensboro 
    In my opinion, the best thing on Don Ishiyaki's menu is the 
    bibimbap. It comes piping hot in a stone bowl and is delicious.
    After the meal, Don Ishiyaki serves complementary ice cream.
  • Yogurt Pump, Chapel Hill 
    If you're exploring Chapel Hill on a hot day, you must stop at 
    the Yogurt Pump. It is tucked away on a back alley, so look 
    closely!
  • Morgan Street Food Hall, Raleigh 
    Morgan Street Food Hall recently opened and is the perfect place
    to reminisce on your days exploring European food markets abroad.
    It gets crowded on the weekend, but is full of a large variety 
    of cuisines and has seating indoors and outdoors.
  • Bella Monica, Raleigh 
    Bella Monica is a well-known Italian restaruant in Raleigh 
    perfect for a romantic date night. Make a reservation in advance!

Fun activities

  • International Civil Rights Center & Museum, Greensboro
    Learn more local North Carolina history by visiting the 
    International Civil Rights Center & Museum. The galleries
    are thought-provoking and engaging for learners of all ages.
  • Scuppernong Books, Greensboro 
    Support your local bookstores! Scuppernong is adorable and 
    located downtown. Check it out as you do your shopping and 
    pick up a new book or two :) they also have a small cafe with
    beer and wine, as well as regular events.
  • Explore downtown Chapel Hill 
    Need I say more? The town is beautiful and you really just 
    can't go wrong.
  • See a show at the PNC arena in Raleigh
    IMG_1697.jpgPNC arena offers a variety of regular
    shows and concerts. I recently saw
    Trevor Noah's comedy and show and
    would love an opportunity to visit
    Raleigh again!
  • North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh 
    IMG_1681.jpgLooking for a free thing to do on an 
    afternoon? Visit the NC Museum of 
    Natural Sciences. Plan for at least an
    hour or two to visit, as the site is 
    huge. There are interactive centers
    on every floor and plenty to do for
    all ages.
  • NC Museum of Art, Raleigh
    IMG_1731.jpgThe NC Museum of Art has several 
    permanent free exhibitions ranging
    from modern art to classic European
    exhibits.
    
    They also have rotating ticketed 
    exhibits so check their site for 
    upcoming events and exhibitions.
  • Book a cheap Airbnb for one night 
    If you liked several of the things on the list and want to 
    make a weekend staycation trip out of my suggestions, I 
    reccomend using Airbnb! Airbnb has many rooms in Durham and 
    Raleigh for less than $40 a night. Share a room with a 
    friend and spend a weekend away from campus. Many hikes and 
    museums are free, so using Airbnb provides an economical way
    to see a new city.
  • Eden Movie Drive-In (Eden, NC)
    IMG_8777.jpgEden Movie Drive-In is the furthest 
    activity on this list, but makes for a
    fun friends-night-out. Located on the 
    Virginia/NC border, Eden Movie Drive
    often shows double-headers and is 
    inexpensive.

21+

  • NC World of Beer, Raleigh
    802889A2-4425-472E-8E5C-2DEF7EBBE57C.jpgThe World of Beer site describes
    themselves as a "Hangout featuring 500+ 
    global beers, lots of craft drafts & 
    tavern food in pub digs with TVs." Explore
    3 floors of beer including a rooftop or 
    choose to sit outdoors. You'll want to 
    look online at their beer list or use the 
    Untappd app to make your drink selections,
    as their offerings change daily.
  • Boxcar Bar + Arcade, Greensboro/Durham
    IMG_0858.jpg
    Boxcar Bar and Arcade is a fun spot for 
    a double date or group outing. 
    Reminisce on your childhood while you
    play Pacman or play Dance Dance 
    Revolution.
  • Unscripted Hotel Pool & Bar, Durham 
    E872F24B-B62E-40E6-B4DC-B9A5A2220376.jpg
    The Unscripted Hotel is a small boutique 
    hotel located in the heart of Downtown,
    Durham. The rooftop pool and bar are 
    public access and boast a great view of 
    the city. The pool is small, but the 
    weekend DJ and fun vibe makes it worth a
    trip. The food is pricey, so consider 
                           stopping by before or after dinner for 
                           a drink and swim.
  • Pour Taproom, Durham
    Pour is the only place on this list that I haven't personally 
    been, but I felt as though I must include it since it's 
    attached to the Unscripted Hotel and I've heard great things 
    from friends. At Pour, you pour your own beer and pay by the
    ounce by tapping a wristband at the tap.

Have anything to add to this list? Where are your favorite places in Burlington and beyond? Leave a comment and let me know! Happy adventuring 🙂 

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