Downtown Durham, North Carolina skyline as seen from Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

#2. Durham

Links between Duke University and the city of Durham, NC continue to strengthen. The city offers college students and faculty an array of entertainment options while the college has helped the city transform its economy from one rooted in agriculture to a science and technology sector. The city’s diversity, highly educated residents, affordable housing costs and large portion of young adults make it one of the Top 10 Best College Towns.

See where Durham ranks on our list of the Top 100 Best Places to Live 2015. 

A city-wide transportation system helps students and Durham residents connect to major attractions like the new Durham Performing Arts Center, which hosts Broadway shows, concerts and comedians. Also off campus are venues like the Carolina Theatre, American Tobacco Amphitheatre and bars like The Blue Note Grill and Motorco Music Hall which offer live musical performances throughout the year. Residents often venture on campus to cheer on Duke’s athletic teams which include the men’s and women’s basketball teams, both perennial powerhouses. Duke also offers a variety of performing arts and cultural celebrations that attract people to campus. It’s clear that there are many things to do in Durham. 

Durham’s art scene rivals those found in larger cities with a collection of galleries and workspaces filling old warehouses and factory buildings. More than 20 art galleries and studios such as the Bull City Arts Collaborative, Dogstar Tattoo Company, Pleiades Gallery and the Museum of Durham History open their doors to the general public on the third Friday of each month. A new batch of restaurants in Durham focusing on locally sourced menus and flavor fusions that combine comfort food with more gourmet styles have started getting the attention of food critics. Dame’s Chicken & Waffles, Guglhupf Bakery & Patisserie and Toast give college students and residents much to crave.

Durham is also home to North Carolina Central University, the first public liberal arts institution for African Americans in the country. Located about a mile south of Downtown Durham, the college requires all students to volunteer in the community. Last year students gave more than 200,000 hours of service valued at nearly $3 million.

Fun Fact: The name Blue Devils came from a group of Alpine soldiers in World War I who were known for their great mountaineering abilities and blue clothing.


Newsletter Sign Up

Keep up to date with our latest rankings and articles!
Enter your email to be added to our mailing list.