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NAT URA LLY BEAUTIFUL Nationally, Sarah P. Duke Gardens is ranked as one of the top 10 public gardens in the U.S., but locals know it as a place where you can get away from it all. Even though you’re on Duke University’s Central Campus and less than three miles from the heart of downtown, you’ll feel like you’ve escaped to a serene oasis. Miles of pathways crisscross the 55-acre garden, which is free and open to the public year-round. Start your visit with a walk through the Japanese-style Asiatic garden, known for rock gardens and an assortment of exotic plantings. The Asiatic Arboretum is especially glorious in autumn, when Japanese maples brighten the landscape with golden and flame-red foliage.


Find a place to unwind near one of several manicured ponds — spread out your blanket, unpack a picnic, and stay for a while. For show-stopping flowers, visit the Italianate terraces in the springtime. Linger under a wisteria-covered pergola while admiring the vibrant collection of tulips and daffodils. Walk the peaceful trails in the Blomquist Garden, a wooded enclave with native and rare plant species, including the uniquely named Hairy Rattleweed and Dissected Beardtongue. Discover a streamside bench, tucked among native perennials, and enjoy the serenity of your own secret garden.

Duke Gardens is just one of many close-to-town outdoor escapes. Thanks to Durham County’s compact size, you’re never far away from a woodland retreat or city park. Turn the page to discover your next outdoor adventures.

SEE MORE ONLINE! Find more outdoor activities by visiting

2018 Official Durham Visitor Inspiration Guide  
2018 Official Durham Visitor Inspiration Guide