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12: Durham, N.C.
Population: 204,135
Pros: Thriving biotech and pharmaceutical industries, lots of local arts festivals and college sports
Con: Perceived as the underdog of the Triangle region

Known as the City of Medicine, Durham has made a name for itself in the tech and biotech industries in part thanks to Research Triangle Park, a business campus located mostly in Durham County. The 7,000-acre park provides some low-rent office space and support for fast-growth startups.

The creative class in the Triangle area (Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh) has begun to set up shop in the unconventional workspaces that are available in downtown Durham's "American Tobacco Historic District" and in recently renovated office towers. A low cost of living helps Durham stand out from its pricier neighbors, Raleigh and Chapel Hill. However, the city also records higher crime rates, which has dinged its reputation in the region.

Durham is home to beautiful botanical gardens, the famous Durham Bulls minor-league baseball team, the new Nasher Museum of Art and is surrounded by top-notch golf courses, including the Pinehurst Resort. Annual summer arts festivals and age-old college sports rivalries keep the city active all year round. -Brandi Stewart

Interactive map: Durham, N.C.
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NEXT: 13. Manchester, N.H.

Last updated July 02 2008: 11:16 AM ET
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