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Visitor Update

Terrace Gardens in summer, seen from Rollins Overlook
The Terrace Gardens in June 2021. Photo by Sue Lannon.

Welcome to Sarah P. Duke Gardens! The grounds are open from 8 a.m. to dusk 365 days a year, and admission is free. Our address is 420 Anderson St., Durham, NC, 27705. Our main information line is 919-684-3698. Here is our staff contacts page.

Know before you go

  • Vaccinated visitors are no longer required to wear masks indoors, in accordance with university health policies. If you have possible Covid symptoms or have been exposed to someone with Covid, please postpone your visit.
  • The Terrace Shop is open. 
  • The Terrace Café is open.
  • Duke Gardens is pleased to offer guided walking and trolley tours by reservation, as well as a free, drop-in orientation walk (first come, first served). More information here. Self-guided groups are also welcome to use our self-guided visit resources.
  • University parking at Duke Gardens is $2 per hour. Please see this page for more information.
  • Parking lots often fill to capacity when the weather is nice. Please see this page for information about overflow parking options.
  • Restrooms located in the Terrace Gardens and Culberson Asiatic Arboretum are open during visiting hours. The Doris Duke Center restrooms are also open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, but the rest of the visitor center remains closed.
  • See our "getting here" page for directions and public transportation information.
  • Dog-walking is welcome before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m. Dogs must remain on a leash 6 feet or shorter. More information here.
  • We suggest that you wear clothing with sun protection.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Are all outdoor parts of the Gardens open?

Certain paths or garden areas may be closed for all or part of a given day, to enable the horticulture staff to focus on their work without putting visitors or themselves at risk of unexpected encounters. A few parts of the Gardens may also be closed off entirely, if they don’t lend themselves to safely distanced visitor flow.

 

What should I do when someone is coming my way on a narrow path?

If you are unvaccinated or are concerned that other visitors may not be, please seek out the nearest intersection that one of you can return to, so that you can stay distanced and neither of you will need to step off the path, potentially damaging sensitive plants or root systems.

 

Are there places where I can sit with a friend while keeping a safe distance?

Most garden benches are not long enough for two people to share while maintaining social distance. But there are some locations with multiple benches in close enough proximity, as well as two amphitheaters and some large lawn areas that you may enjoy. See our garden map here. Please always be mindful of other visitors’ safety needs, too.

 

What should I bring with me?

In addition to face masks to wear indoors if you're unvaccinated, per campus policy, we suggest that you bring sunscreen and insect repellant. There is a drink vending machine outside the Doris Duke Center, and a water fountain with a bottle-filling faucet in the lobby, for those with refillable containers. If you bring food or drinks, please carry your trash out with you.

 

May I play Frisbee, climb trees or go swimming in the ponds?

No. Frisbees, balls and other sports equipment and activities are not permitted in the Gardens at any time, in order to protect the plant collections as well as fellow visitors. Tree climbing is also harmful to the plants and is prohibited. And although the snapping turtles and leeches would love for you to go swimming in the ponds, we value your safety and do not allow it. Please see additional policies here.

 

May I feed the ducks and fish?

Please do not feed the waterfowl or fish, as food intended for humans can be harmful to their digestive systems and also pollute the ponds. We feed them every morning, so you can be assured that they are happy, healthy and well fed, even when they tell you otherwise.

 

May I schedule a portrait session or do a video shoot?

We are once again scheduling photo sessions. Please see our photo policies page to inquire about a reservation. Video shoots at Duke Gardens must always be proposed and arranged in advance and require special permission from the Gardens and the university. For video or media requests only, please email orla.swift@duke.edu.

 

May I fly a drone?

Drone flights are prohibited in Duke Gardens. If you have university project proposal involving drone footage in the Gardens, please see Duke’s Webdam multimedia archive, or apply in advance for permission via Duke’s drone flight request form. Proposals will be considered on a case-by-case basis and must adhere to all university drone policies.

 

May I use the Gardens for academic research or teach a small class there?

If you're interested in developing a collaborative lesson with our staff or want to do research that would involve something not allowed under regular visitation rules, please get in touch via our Duke in the Gardens page and we'd be delighted to talk with you.

 

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