When I made our Fort Liberty Bucket List 3 years ago, I immediately added a visit to the old Lucky Strike factory.
I had seen some pretty cool pictures of it on Instagram and knew it was somewhere I wanted to visit during our time in North Carolina.
We weren’t able to do some of the things or see some of the places that are now located at the American Tobacco Campus due to COVID restrictions. Also, all of the water features were turned off and dry (disappointing as they make cool pictures).
But we still had a good time walking around, taking pictures, and getting lunch.
What is the American Tobacco Campus?
The American Tobacco Campus is a complex of old tobacco factory buildings and warehouses that has become a national historic district in Durham, North Carolina.
The American Tobacco Company was once the largest manufacturer of cigarettes in the United States. After it closed down, these buildings sat empty for years.
As a plan to redevelop downtown Durham, another company bought the buildings and turned them into commercial properties fit for stores, restaurants, and offices.
Now, the American Tobacco Campus is bustling with residents, businesses, and shoppers. (Well, when there’s not a pandemic going on.)
What to Do at the American Tobacco Campus
Our first stop was to get some lunch. There are several restaurants to choose from:
- Boricua Soul
- Mellow Mushroom
- Only Burger
- Saladelia Cafe
- Tobacco Road Sports Cafe
- WXYZ Bar
We opted for some pizza at Mellow Mushroom before exploring the rest of the campus.
There are numerous stores and office buildings, but most of them were closed the day we were there.
As we wandered the eerily empty grounds, we took plenty of pictures. The old Lucky Strike water tower and smokestack still stand in the courtyard sandwiched between buildings.
And they make excellent pictures!
There was also a cool little area underneath some stairs that was a restaurant, “Lunch Downstairs” when the Lucky Strike Factory was still in operation. You can still see the name and menu painted on the wall.
Burt’s Bees Lip Balm Stocking Stuffers, Moisturizing Lip Care Christmas Gifts, Freshly Picked – Original Beeswax, Cucumber Mint, Watermelon, & Sweet Mandarin, 100% Natural (4-Pack)Burt’s Bees Almond & Milk Hand Cream, 2 Oz
Burt’s Bees Headquarters
One of the things I was excited about seeing at the American Tobacco Campus was Burt’s Bees headquarters. (I love Burt’s Bees products, especially their chapsticks and lotions.)
Unfortunately, due to COVID, we couldn’t go inside the building, but we did get to see Burt’s cabin and a real beehive!
We also learned the history of the Burt’s Bees company from the plaque outside of the cabin and it was fascinating!
Burt (the founder of Burt’s Bees) left New York City and his fancy job as a photojournalist to enjoy a quiet life in a turkey coop-turned-cabin in the woods of Maine.
He became the local ‘bee man’ after finding a stray hive and earning a living selling honey. One fateful day, he picked up a hitchhiker who taught him how to make candles and lip balm out of beeswax, and Burt’s Bees was born.
That hitchhiker, Roxanne Quimby, later sold her stake in the company. With her profit, she bought 87,000 acres of Maine woodlands, which she donated to the National Park Service.
After his passing, the company moved Burt’s cabin to Durham to be at the headquarters. They also retain Burt & Roxanne’s values of being environmentally conscious and using all-natural ingredients.
My mind is blown that a company this size was founded because one man found a beehive and then later a hitchhiker who taught him how to make something with it. Talk about fate!
It just goes to show that you never know where this life is going to take you.
The day of our visit (almost 100 degrees), so we didn’t do much else. But I’m so glad that we went and that we were able to see part of the American Tobacco Campus.
It’s such a cool part of North Carolina’s history and I’m glad that it’s still around for us to enjoy!