For many, Durham and Duke University are synonymous, and for good reason. Duke's well-manicured lawns, tree-lined streets, and stately buildings run right into town. With more than 37,000 employees, the university is also the city’s biggest employer and famous for its renowned medical and research facilities. Having a university of such magnitude in their backyard means that Durhamites and visitors alike can attend all kinds of world-class lectures, exhibits, and sports events. This is not purely a college town, however, but a former tobacco hub that's grown into central North Carolina's most arts-minded, urbane city. This is a place where any exterior wall is a mural canvas, and bathrooms are more likely to be gender-neutral than defined as men's and women's—a rarity in the South. For years, old brick factory buildings have been slowly turned into shopping malls, theater spaces, and trendy restaurants. Although neighboring Chapel Hill often steals its thunder when it comes to attracting visitors, many locals prefer Durham’s calmer and more mature vibe. Add Durham's long list of historic sites and museums to its ever-evolving sense of self, and you've got a city that's rooted in history but reinventing what it means to be a Southern city in the 2020s.
- Photo: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
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Asheboro, the seat of Randolph County, sits in the Uwharrie National Forest, which is popular with those who like hiking, biking, and horseback...
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