Visiting The Sarah P. Duke Gardens

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.

Sarah P. Duke GardensBesides 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.

Duke Gardens

Duke Gardens

Duke Gardens

Duke Gardens

Duke Gardens, Durham, North Carolina

Duke Gardens, Durham, North Carolina

Duke Gardens, Durham, North Carolina

Duke Gardens, Durham, North Carolina

Duke Gardens, Durham, North Carolina

Duke Gardens, Durham, North Carolina

Duke Gardens, Durham, North Carolina

Duke Gardens, Durham, North Carolina

Duke Gardens, Durham, North Carolina

Duke Gardens, Durham, North Carolina

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.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

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  • I honestly had no idea that this even existed at Duke because I only knew that Duke had a good basketball team! The Sarah P. Duke Gardens looks like such a beautiful and peaceful place to walk around though, and I’d love to visit one day!

    • haha! I have to admit, when I think of Duke, the first thing I think about is their basketball team too! In fact, my entire motivation for wanting to stroll around the Duke Campus was to see Cameron Indoor. We kind of stumbled upon these gardens by accident. But they were such a nice surprise!

  • Everything is so pretty!

    • SO pretty! Word is a lot of people get engagement and wedding pictures taken here! I can see why!

  • what a pretty place! i can see why it is so popular with runners, i’d be all about that if it was near me!

    • My thoughts too! It’s got a really nice variety of flat land to some small hills and even stairs. talk about a work out!

  • so beautiful! I love visiting places like this.

    • I feel the same way, Lauren! What’s even better is that we stumbled on to it by complete accident. talk about a nice surprise! 🙂