Durham, NC downtown

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 42
Demographics 65
Economy 62
Education 60
Health 63
Housing 47
Infrastructure 40

#25. Durham, NC

Durham, NC manages to strike the perfect balance between preserving its history and charging forward into the future. With an entrepreneurial and business-friendly economy, a thriving food and beverage scene, and a rich arts and culture community, Durham’s 280,000 residents never run out of things to do in this great place to live. And with world-class research and care underway every day at Duke University and Duke University Health System, Durham residents are always innovating and working to make the world a better place.

Top Colleges/Universities: Duke University, Durham Technical Community College & North Carolina Central University

Top Industries & Employers: Duke University, IBM, Fidelity Investments and Cree Inc. are some of the region’s largest employers. 

Weekend Plans: Hit up the more than 65 vendors at the Durham Farmers Market, then stick around Durham Central Park for a yoga class, children’s event or a free PLAYlist concert. 

Favorite Place to Feast: Saltbox Seafood Joint, helmed by James Beard-nominated chef Ricky Moore. Locals love the “Hush-Honeys,” which are fried, honey-glazed cornmeal fritters.

Beloved Beverage: The gin and tonic at Alley Twenty Six, which makes and bottles its tonic syrup that you can also use to stock your at-home cocktail bar.

Outdoorsy Activity: Explore the American Tobacco Trail, a 22-mile repurposed railroad corridor that’s accessible on foot, on wheels (bikes and rollerblades!) and on horseback.

Rooftop Bar: The Patio at the Unscripted Durham hotel, a ‘grammable rooftop bar with small plates, a pool and epic sunset views.

Why Your Pet Will Love It, Too: She’ll love being spoiled by the staff at Durham’s many pet boutiques and bakeries (yes, bakeries!), including Oliver’s Collar and Other End of the Leash.

Remote Work Perk: Need a change of scenery and a little creativity boost? Grab your laptop and head to one of Durham’s many craft breweries, like Fullsteam Brewery or Ponysaurus Brewing Company.

One More Thing … Durham earned the nickname “City of Medicine” for more than 300 health and medical businesses and organizations. All told, health care is a massive industry for Durham, providing jobs for thousands of people and paying out roughly $1.2 billion in payroll each year.

– Sarah Kuta

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