Duke’s Campus

I had a great response to the post and idea of simply enjoying UNC’s campus with a tot in tow. So when DH and I had an aborted trip to Festival for the Eno (the shuttle was such a turnoff for us given our nap-related and driving time constraints), we decided to walk around Duke’s campus with C instead. This was fun, even if your blood does run Carolina Blue.

Of course, the Gardens are a lovely place to walk and to enjoy. But Duke’s campus also has more to offer. And this is a really great place to explore in the summer months or at other times when the students are gone and things are quieter.

With the hospitals and the research buildings, Duke’s campus is huge. But we stuck to the main campus, near the Chapel.

From Duke Gardens (you can find pay parking here and at the Bryan University Center, but for other options visit Duke’s website here), you can easily push a stroller up Chapel Drive. Outside of the Chapel, which is gorgeous in and of itself and worth a trip to see in its gothic glory, there are plenty of spots to sit, play, relax, picnic, and run around.

You can also visit the Chapel inside, which is breathtaking. It is free and open to the public. During the summer hours are weekdays 8 am – 8 pm. They, of course, have worship services on Sundays and Saturdays are popular for weddings so don’t plan to stop in then. You can’t climb to the top, unfortunately, but you can otherwise look around. You can schedule a guided tour in advance if you like, but that seems more for us adults. For toddlers, it might be fun to look around, and people are generally good-natured about noise in the Chapel provided it isn’t all-out screaming.

The Bryan University Center houses a large parking deck for visitors, an information center, an ATM, some dining options, and a gift store for your little blue devil (sorry DH and various Tarheels). Next to it is a 40,000 square foot plaza, and that runs you towards the Chapel as well. This area can also be a nice place to run around and play. The Bryan University Center also hosts events but, as to be expected, these are not geared towards kids for the most part.

Uncle Harry’s General Store is also a good resource while campus trekking. I haven’t personally been, but it is located at 1925 Yearby Avenue between Alexander and Anderson Streets. This is an upscale convenience store that sells ice cream, natural snacks, and cold beverages. This is open 10 am -6 pm in the summers.

Okay, so I will also mention, since Stacey “S’Rich” told us this and my mommies group tried it out, the all new Devil’s Bistro. Located near Uncle Harry’s General Store also between Alexander and Anderson Streets, this is campus dining so no high chairs, but they do a have a full service bar (although after 4 pm only), an espresso bar, and a good menu with brick oven pizzas. They also have a grab and go section. It is a good option, but the rub is that they pretty much close down for the summers. They boarded up July 6 and are reopening August 22. So if you want to brave it while students are in, or know of another holiday or slow time on Duke’s campus to head there, that would work best.

If you are looking for something on Duke’s campus that is a “for mommy” outing, my friends and I highly recommend the Washington Duke Inn’s High Tea. Some of my mommies group took the babies when they were very little and in their Snugrides, and that went fine, but I would not take toddlers here. It is a very elegant and beautiful affair, though, if you want lovely girl time. Click here for information on high tea but it is generally held from 2:30 to 4:30 and there are various options for fare and menu. It might also be a fun idea for a little girl’s birthday party. (Note that you can also golf at the Washington Duke Inn, if that is your activity of choice. I don’t have any details on that since my temperament is not compatible with that sport!)

If you like to really walk and get going, Duke Forest is also a good option to explore Duke’s campus in a different way, and the Cross Country Trail goes right by the Washington Duke Inn (for reference, I wouldn’t recommend a hike and High Tea combo, personally).

By the way, nice little tip, but you can get all of eateries on and around Duke’s campus summer hours for 2010 here: http://dining.duke.edu/documents/WWTE/wwte.summerhours.2010.pdf.

So there’s a lot of information for you! All that aside, let me just say that honestly, the best part of this exploration for us were all those little hidden areas on Duke’s campus that we would just stumble on, and really appreciate the beauty and magic of. So get out there and find your own places!

For a full map of campus:

Duke Chapel
1 Chapel Drive

Bryan University Center
125 Science Drive

Uncle Harry’s General Store

1925 Yearby Avenue

Devil’s Bistro

1917 Yearby- Central Campus


Washington Duke Inn
3001 Cameron Boulevard

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