Along with Raleigh and Chapel Hill, fast-growing Durham is part of North Carolina's Research Triangle region in the heart of the state. Durham is home to Duke University and North Carolina Central University and often appears on lists of the best places to live in the U.S.

Through the years, Durham has evolved into a global center for information technology, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and medicine. Health care is among its primary industries, and it is often referred to as the City of Medicine.

Durham is among North Carolina's largest cities. More than 5 million people visit the city each year. Visitors will find that there is plenty to see and do in Durham, from art to science to nature to sports.

At Duke University, you'll find beautiful Georgian-style stone buildings and a lovely chapel patterned after England's Canterbury Cathedral. Visit the Sarah P. Duke Gardens on the university's West Campus. The 55-acre/22-hectare landscaped and woodland gardens include the Terraces (with a wisteria-covered pergola, southern magnolias and cherry trees), the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants and the Asiatic Arboretum.

The North Carolina Museum of Life and Science contains nature and aerospace exhibits, plus a virtual-reality room. The museum's butterfly house is outstanding.

Durham has been renovating its old tobacco factories for some time, making for some rather unusual architecture downtown. If you have time, check out Brightleaf Square, West Village and the American Tobacco Historic District. All of these places are converted tobacco factories that now house restaurants and stores.

Adjacent to American Tobacco is the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, the most famous minor-league baseball venue in the country. Durham is about a 20-minute drive from Raleigh. Take I-40 West to Research Triangle Park. Then head north on Route 147, which leads right into town.

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