North Carolina is home to some world class universities. Among them is Duke University, known not only for its incredible athletic programs, but also for its world class education. When I found out my fiancé’s team plays just up the road from Duke’s campus I was positive I wanted to take a stroll around the area.
Besides the sporting venues, there’s two areas of Duke that are well-known as one-of-akind attractions. One is the Duke Lemur Center, an 85-acre sanctuary for rare and endangered lemurs (the largest in the world). Two is the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, a memorial to Sarah Pearson Duke, mother of Mary Duke Biddle and wife of Benjamin N. Duke, one of Duke University’s benefactors.
The Duke Gardens is over 50 acres of landscaped and wooded areas, complete with waterfalls, ponds, bridges, stunning flowers of all kinds, and even a bamboo garden. The gardens are made up of over 5 miles of allées, walks, and pathways, making it a popular place for runners to log miles.
The gardens are divided into four areas: the Historic Core and Terraces, the Garden of Native Plants, the Asiatic Arboretum and the Doris Duke Center Gardens. We made our way through all 4 areas, but my favorite was definitely the Asiatic area, with the highlight being the bamboo garden. I was secretly hoping my dreams would come true and a baby panda bear would appear in the bamboo and jump right into my arms. no such luck.
I was absolutely stunned by how beautiful and well-kept everything at the Duke Gardens was. It’s clearly a very important part of Duke University and the Durham community. The Gardens are the perfect attraction for the horticulture lover, nature lover, and photography lover. I’m not overly into plants and flowers, but I love nature and of course I love photography so I was in heaven snapping away with my camera and easily could have spent a few hours there.
If you go
- the gardens are open 365 days a year from 8 am to dusk.
- You will have to pay for parking, but it’s a very reasonable $1 per half hour. We spent about an hour walking throughout the gardens.
- self-led walking tours of the gardens are completely free!
- but if you’d like a guide led tour, there is very knowledgeable staff on hand that can provide walking tours or a trolley tour for $10 per person (book in advance).
- Duke Gardens has air conditioned restrooms in the Doris Duke Center and in the Terrace Gardens.
- dog are allowed in the gardens but are prohibited from entering certain areas or exhibits.