By the time the workday ends, the sun is down. With it, the temperature plunges, making this month and the few following pretty unbearable. Couple the abomination of Daylight Savings Time with the very real threat of the coronavirus pandemic and there’s little reason to leave home.

If there’s one saving grace for safer, warmer outdoor gatherings this winter it’s the proliferation of heaters. They dot the lawns of Triangle breweries and the makeshift curbside seating outside downtown restaurants like Dashi.

Lucky for all of us, Discover Durham compiled a list of where we can find these heated hotspots. Their convenient collection ranges from options like a fire pit at Boxcar Bar & Arcade near downtown to the mini heat lamps at every back patio picnic table at Flying Bull Beer Company on Ninth Street.

All told, there are about 30 different bars and restaurants across the city listed. 

In a few cases, restaurants have taken the extra step of erecting enclosed outdoor structures. In New York, people are questioning the logic of some of these bubbles, which often seem to be “outdoors” in name only, sort of defeating the purpose of opting outside for safer airflow.

Durty Bull Brewing is among several spots on the list with some sort of enclosure, in this case, a bubble. Fortunately, they’ve taken the extra step of adding air purifiers. 

As the Environmental Protection Agency reports, “By itself, air cleaning or filtration is not enough to protect people from exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19,” but the EPA adds that “When used along with other best practices recommended by CDC and others, filtration can be part of a plan to reduce the potential for airborne transmission of COVID-19 indoors.”

The CDC has reported that ventilation is paramount to reduce the threat of COVID-19, and has detailed how filtration fits into that picture.

Durty Bull is one of almost 650 Durham businesses participating in “Back on the Bull,” a local effort to help businesses safely open for patrons while adhering to health and safety guidelines. So is the Unscripted Hotel, whose patio boasts private “igloos” for indoor/outdoor dining.

Many, but not all, of the restaurants and bars included on the heat map also appear in the Back on the Bull database, which means if you’re taking COVID-19 seriously, it’s easy enough to cross-reference and find options like The Refectory Café, Pompieri Pizza, and Local 22 Kitchen & Bar that appear on both.

Stay toasty and stay safe, friends.

Follow Interim News Editor Eric Ginsburg on Twitter or send an email to

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