For summertime bliss in Durham, pair an outdoor excursion with a frozen treat. As we approach July, we thought we thought we'd list a few of the parks and ice cream pairings that are sure to keep you cool this summer.
Eno River + La Monarca
Dip a toe into the Eno River at Eno River State Park or West Point on the Eno after an invigorating hike – or jump all the way in! The Eagle Trail and Sennett Hole Trail at West Point on the Eno lead to a popular swimming area at Sennett’s Hole as well as the Bobbitt Hole Trail at Eno River State Park leads to Bobbitt’s Hole.
After exploring the banks of the Eno River, explore the menu at La Monarca, a traditional paletería serving Mexican-style popsicles and ice cream. Next door, you can pick up Mexican baked goods at Panaderia Pahuatlan.
Falls Lake + Pine Cone
Lounge on the sandy beach at Rolling View State Recreation Area at Falls Lake, hike the wooded trails, or set up camp and see the stars shine over the water. The 12,000-acre lake offers gorgeous lakefront views only 30 minutes from Downtown Durham.
After a day at the lake, stroll through historic Brightleaf Square, where you can enjoy a shake, ice cream cone, or iced coffee at Pine Cone. Afterwards, pop into nearby boutiques like Indio and Morgan Imports.
Little River Lake, Lake Michie + The Parlour
Take a short drive north of Downtown Durham to Little River Lake or Lake Michie, where you can push off from the shore in an electric motor boat, row boat, or kayak, which are available for rent from the City of Durham. You can also fish from the banks.
Head back downtown for a frozen treat from The Parlour, which features seasonal ice cream flavors made with local dairy, along with a sizeable selection of vegan offerings. Our favorites include salted butter caramel (with fudge), cookies and cream, and Vietnamese coffee.
Spraygrounds + Locopops
Put the kids in their bathing suits and head to one of the city-operated spraygrounds, which feature sprinklers built into playground equipment. It’s a great way to expend some energy and cool off at the same time.
After a hot afternoon at the park, chill out at Locopops. Kids (and parents!) will love the array of gourmet popsicle flavors, which range from mojito and mango chili to chocolate brownie.
Museum of Life and Science + Pelican’s SnoBalls
Discover the science behind clouds at The Museum of Life + Science’s outdoor water exhibit Into the Mist. Kids and adults are encouraged to learn about cloud formation by playing in the mist that forms over the green landscape.
Post-playdate, take the kids to Pelican’s, a short five-minute drive away from the museum. You can order New Orleans-style sno-balls in flavors like tutti frutti and cherry cola. If you really want to go for gold, try all 100 flavors and win a free t-shirt!
Frog Hollow + Rose’s Noodles, Dumplings & Sweets
Get some adventure during your time in the water! Frog Hollow Outdoors will guide you on a kayak or canoe trip on Falls Lake or Jordan Lake. They offer instructions and classes for beginners, and if you’re a seasoned veteran, you can rent their equipment and go out on your own.
Afterwards, fuel up with a homemade ice cream sandwich from Rose’s, a butcher-bakeshop owned by a husband-wife duo.
This post was originally published in summer 2017.
Looking for more summer fun? Here's your guide to Durham summer activities that don't break the bank.