June/July 2021

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I mentioned in a recent letter that Durham Magazine just celebrated its 100th issue. I didn’t realize – because, honestly, who can keep track of anything after a year in a pandemic – that I was approaching my own milestone: 10 years at Shannon Media Inc. 

I started here as an intern, freshly graduated from UNC. My love affair with Durham was hard-won at first, since I had no intention of willingly going anywhere near a city associated with Duke. My partner, luckily, is a born-and-bred Durhamite, and he – gradually, strategically – showed me  what I was missing. 

The first place we went back in summer 2010 was Sarah P. Duke Gardens, a readers’ favorite event space where my best friend would, some five-odd years later, get married. I could have spent days exploring all the gardens had to offer and learning about its history; instead, we took goofy photos in the Asiatic Arboretum that I look back on fondly. (The gardens reopened to the public on June 1, too!)

I get why these places win “Best of Durham” awards (page 60) year after year, thanks in part to my first introductions – date nights at the Durham Performing Arts Center to see musicals like “Matilda” and “Ghost,” brunch at Motorco Music Hall with friends and an over-the-top bloody mary, shopping at The Scrap Exchange for craft items (whether or not those projects ever came to fruition is another story) and so many more. Our years spent renting a cute 1930s duplex in Watts-Hillandale, a readers’ (and our!) favorite neighborhood, led us to discover the wealth of amazing spots around Ninth Street, like Elmo’s Diner, Vin Rouge, The Regulator Bookshop, Yoga Off East, Happy + Hale, Heavenly Buffaloes and Vintage Home South, among others. 

Now that we bought a home in north Durham, I’ve spent most of my time scouring the shelves for treasures at TROSA Thrift Store, taking my two cats to Eno Animal Hospital or walking around the DIY District/Durham Central Park area, enjoying my old haunts like Fullsteam and Cocoa Cinnamon as well as new additions like Heal Tree CBD, Lula & Sadie’s in the Durham Food Hall and Conniption Gin cocktails at Durham Distillery’s Corpse Reviver Bar & Lounge

It’s vitally important for us to support all our local establishments, which endured undoubtedly their toughest year yet (see page 123 for more on the recovery of arts, restaurants and retail). So go forth, readers, and spread the Bull City love far and wide!  


38 Sweet Dreams
Gourmet cotton candy maker Wonderpuff opens a permanent location at Boxyard RTP this summer

40 Golden Opportunity
The scoop on Two Roosters Ice Cream at Golden Belt Campus

42 Ingredients to Success
Life partners turn their passion for food into a full-time catering business

44 Toss Me a Cold One
Readers’ favorite bottle shops share top picks for summer sippin’

46 Bee Our Guest
Get your fill at one of our best new restaurants

48 Summer Essentials
This season’s hottest accessories from our readers’ favorite clothing stores

49 Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Nikki Whitt Belch nixed her plan to become a horticulturist and instead turned to photography

50 Team Effort
Father and son combine their skills to open a fitness facility during the pandemic

52 In Full Bloom
Meet the owners behind downtown’s newest florist shop

54 A Day at the Museum
Explore the Museum of Life and Science’s outdoor exhibits with the Shaw family

58 A Walk Around Woodcroft
Residents share what they love most about living in one of Durham’s best neighborhoods

60 Best of Durham 2021 Winners


86 Going for the Gold
Older adults compete in Durham County Senior Games and SilverArts

92 Directory of Continuing Care, Assisted Living, Independent Living, 55+ Living and Cohousing Retirement Communities


6 Letter from the Editor

8 Go.See.Do.
Our top events for June and July

12 The Big Picture
Staff photographer John Michael Simpson captures Durham in one shot

16 In Her Words
Tianna Spears honors the men in her life for Father’s Day

18 Noted
What we’ve heard around our city …

28 Dining Guide

102 Back Porch Sessions
The Larson family traveled the world before landing in Durham 

126 Engagement & Wedding
Tying the knot, Bull City-style


114 Networking
Annual Downtown Durham Summit Regional Economic Development Forum 

118 Biz Briefs

123 Signs of Life
The easing of restrictions spurred hopes for recovery in hard-hit industries like restaurants, retail and the arts


14 Museum of Durham History’s opening exhibit

15 Immaculata Catholic School’s Phil’s Challenge fundraiser


26 Healthy Durham
Durham’s master aging plan for 2021 and beyond

113 Adopt A Pet
This pup is waiting on his forever home with the Animal Protection Society of Durham

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