Cary, NC aerial of downtown

Ian Brundige /

2021 Top 100 Best Places to Live In America Sponsored by: See homes for sale on Movoto by OJO

liv score
How We Calculate Our Data
Civics 81
Demographics 54
Economy 58
Education 62
Health 52
Housing 53
Infrastructure 54

#47. Cary, NC

Part of North Carolina’s Research Triangle region, Cary, NC is a large suburb of both Raleigh and Durham. Its 175,000 residents enjoy the town’s more than 200 restaurants (including several craft breweries), easy access to nature, arts and culture offerings and quiet, tree-lined streets. On the weekends, locals love to attend shows at Koka Booth Amphitheater, situated on 14 acres of hardwood and pine trees next to Symphony Lake, and the professional soccer games of the North Carolina Football Club and the North Carolina Courage. 

Top Colleges/Universities: Wake Technical Community College

Top Industries & Employers: Software company S.A.S. Institute, insurance provider MetLife, health care company Siemens and I.T. company HCL Technologies are some of Cary’s largest employers.

Weekend Plans: Catch a baseball game at the USA Baseball National Training Complex, which regularly hosts championships, invitationals, and even MLB Draft Combine events. Next, head to Ashworth Drugs for a soda float and a hot dog, then catch a performance by the North Carolina Symphony, which spends the summers in Cary.

Favorite Place to Feast: Bosphorus Restaurant, a local favorite for its expertly prepared Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine. 

Beloved Beverage: Freshly brewed craft kombucha from Tribucha.

Outdoorsy Activity: Hiking at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve, a wilderness oasis complete with trails, a nature center and programs and classes for the whole family.

Why Your Pet Will Love It, Too: There are lots of dog-friendly bars, restaurants and shops here, including BottleDog Bites & Brews, a hybrid taproom and bottle shop that specializes in “BottleDogs,” aka hot dogs wrapped in bacon! Dogs love hanging out on the patio here.

Remote Work Perk: Even if you can’t keep Instagram-worthy houseplants alive in your home office (black thumb, anyone?), you can easily get the benefits of being among plants and greenery in Cary, which has an impressive 50% tree canopy coverage. The town also has 2,688 acres of parks and 80 miles of paved greenways to boot.

One More Thing … Actress Evan Rachel Wood, perhaps best known for her role in “Westworld,” was born and raised in Cary.

– Sarah Kuta

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