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For teenagers, heading off to college means freedom and fun and all the glory that entails (e.g., sleeping on dorm room futons and eating dining hall rations).

But on college tours—and later, when visiting collegiate children—families need not accept sub-par lodging and dining.

In order to get a dose of college spirit, the travel experts at Indagare, a membership-based luxury travel company, created a guide to one of our favorite southern college towns: Durham, North Carolina.

They chose Durham since it’s a diverse Southern hub located near a host of colleges, including Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, Wake Forest, and Elon.

Indagare’s Avery Carmichael, a Duke alum herself, outlines the best of the budding foodie destination with her favorite hotel and restaurant picks.

Where to Stay in Durham

For Lakeside Luxury: The Umstead Hotel and Spa
A 15-minute drive outside of Durham, the Umstead Hotel and Spa is a refined retreat for families seeking a serene lakefront setting, sophisticated design, and top-notch service.

The luxe property promotes an eco-friendly ethos with a highly-acclaimed restaurant serving inspired farm-to-table cuisine and a spa offering organic treatments.

Courtesy of The Umstead Hotel and Spa

For Art and Design Lovers21c
Modern, sleek, and near the heart of Durham, 21c is a contemporary art aficionado’s dream.

This boutique museum-hotel displays rotating art exhibitions and features airy, stylish accommodations and boasts a stellar restaurant.

Courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels

Where to Eat in Durham

For Innovative Tapas: Mateo
In the heart of downtown Durham, Mateo offers traditional Spanish tapas with Southern flair.

The rustic décor belies a sophisticated take on dishes such as arroz frito, patatas bravas, and costillas de puerco, which are complemented by regional specialties like pepper jelly, pickled pumpkin, or collard greens.

Courtesy of Mateo’s Bar de Tapas

For Modern Asian Fusion: Juju
Juju is a hot spot for innovative cocktails and Asian fusion small plates, such as braised beef short rib wontons, and Indonesian gado gado, in a sleek, convivial setting. 

Courtesy of Juju

For a Classic Southern BrunchFoster’s Market

Southern chef extraordinaire Sara Foster is at the helm of Foster’s Market, a Durham institution that is part café, part gourmet food market.

The café serves an unparalleled brunch of homestyle favorites like cheesy biscuits, scrambled eggs, and crispy bacon, while the market stocks fine Southern delicacies.

Courtesy of Foster’s Market, Photographs by Peter Frank Edwards

For Upscale Americana: Nana’s

A classic Durham restaurant for 25 years, Nana’s serves delicious New American fare in a cozy, welcoming environment.

The menu evolves with the seasons and highlights locally sourced ingredients, such as the pan-roasted North Carolina bass with fig caponata or the succulent short rib ravioli.

Courtesy of Nana’s Restaurant, Photographs by Hillary Honeck

Welcome to the Draper James blog. My little slice of space to share the things I love most about life: people, parties, food, and fun!  It’s everything Draper James  stands for. and I hope you like it. 

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