Walking and Bike Tours

WalkingTour-EducationPreservation Durham offers free walking and bike tours that introduce downtown Durham’s history and architecture.

Saturdays April-November

10:00 am  – 11:30 am
90 minute duration

All tours depart and return to the Durham Bull (“Major” the Bull) Sculpture at 211 W. Parrish Street

Tours are limited to 25 tour goers per group. Pre-registration is required via Eventbrite

Murals by Bike – (6/4, 7/2, 8/6, 9/3, 11/5)

Preservation Durham has partnered with The Nasher Museum of Duke University and the Museum of Durham History to create a bicycle tour of the historic murals of downtown Durham. Some murals that will be featured, amongst others, include:

  • Manbites Dog Mural
  • Angel of Spring Mural
  • The Wall of Hope Mural
  • The Cookery Mural
  • Two Way Bridges Mural
  • The Hayti Mural
  • Durham Civil Rights Mural
  • Trinity Design Mural
  • The Pauli Murray Murals
  • Also, the tours include a mural by Odili Donald Odita, commissioned by the Nasher Museum, at the Downtown Durham YMCA.

The tours are designed for anyone who has a bike (or scooter) and is comfortable riding on a city street. The tour is guided by a docent who is an experienced cyclist and lasts about 90 minutes. BYOB – bring your own bike.

Click here sign up!

Check out WRAL’s Out & About video – Durham Mural Bike Tours

Durham’s Tobacco History – (6/11, 10/8, 11/12)

Preservation Durham’s enthusiastic and well-informed volunteer tour guides will lead you through the history of the tobacco industry as they tell many tales from Durham’s past, using oral histories and photographs to illustrate the history of tobacco and the people who supplied tobacco products known throughout the world. The tour includes descriptions of life in the factories and at home for the thousands of workers who made the Bull City one of the biggest industrial cities in the South as well as those who, like guitarist John Dee Holeman, trekked to Durham’s tobacco auctions to play the blues.

Click here to sign up!

“The tour touches on life in the work force, market days in Durham’s auction warehouses, the development of the cigarette and how that brought Durham into the global arena, and transformation of Durham’s identity from a city of tobacco to a city of medicine.” – Cynthia Satterfield, one of several researchers who prepared the program.

Durham’s Civil Rights History – (4/16, 6/18, 8/20, 10/15, 11/19)

Explore Durham’s Civil Rights Legacy with PD’s walking tour. This exciting tour focuses on many of the sites in downtown Durham that were important during the 1950s and 60s Civil Rights movement, including the Durham County Courthouse, the Arts Center (originally Durham High School and later City Hall), and the Kress and Woolworth buildings, sites of sit-in protests. Learn about the contributions of ordinary Durham residents to the struggle for equality as well as local leaders like Floyd McKissick and national figures like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who brought America’s attention to the campaign for civil rights in the Bull City.

Click here to sign up!

“We need not be historians to understand the struggle for equality in Durham and how it played out as the nation confronted the same problems, although on a much larger scale.” – Dr. John Hope Franklin, Honorary Chairman of the tour organizing committee.

Architecture and the Urban Landscape – (4/23, 5/28, 8/27, 9/24, 11/26)

Explore Downtown Durham and learn how it has transformed itself from an industrial center to the City of Medicine. Docents describe the history of many of the landmark buildings that make up the Downtown Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1977. Featured on the tour are the 1915 First National Bank, the 1921 Mechanics and Farmers Bank Building, and Preservation Durham’s one-time home, the Snow Building, built in 1933.

Built by the successful entrepreneurs of early 20th Durham, buildings Downtown were designed by nationally known architects like Milburn and Heister, Bertrand E. Taylor, Edward F. Sibbert, and Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon as well as by local companies Rose and Rose, George Watts Carr, Hill C. Linthicum, and Atwood and Weeks. There are fine examples of many architectural styles popular in the 20th century, including Art Deco, Italianate, and Neo-Classical, and post World War II Modern. Many of downtown’s older building have recently changed their functions, turning from tobacco factories and textile mills into hip urban lofts, stores, and offices.

Click here to sign up!

Tours start at the Bull at 211 W. Parrish St.
Tours may be cancelled on short notice due to extreme heat or inclement weather.
Tours will be shortened to one hour on days when the temperature is above 90° or below 50°. Please take the weather into account when planning to join a tour. In hot weather, wear a hat and sunscreen and bring a bottle of water. In cold weather, bundle up and bring a cup of hot coffee! For walking tours always wear comfortable shoes.


Tours are also available by appointment for private and school groups with a donation. These tours may be customized. Please email us at info@preservationdurham.org to schedule a private tours. Private tours are also available for Maplewood Cemetery.

Groups of 10 or more are encouraged to schedule a private tour in lieu of the regularly scheduled Saturday tours to reserve spaces for the general public.

Our tours are lead by our fantastic volunteer tour guides – everyday folks who like meeting new people and learning about Durham history. Interested in becoming a tour guide? Further details can be found at our volunteer page.