Durham owes much of its wealth and history to tobacco. Through the second half of the 19th Century, Washington Duke and his family grew from a single farm into American Tobacco, which controlled 90% of all cigarette production for the United States. The Duke family donated money to Trinity College, which in 1924 was renamed Duke University.
Durham has a liberal [http://votingresearch.org/USAstudy.doc] trendy arts culture. It is an eclectic blend of the high class with an unusual concentration of four star restaurants (part owing to a strange bit of local family history) to trendy cafés on 9th Street, the independent bookstore "the Regulator" which draws famed authors from former secretary of state Madeline Albright to expert on everything John Hodgman.
You'll find old hippies, bikers and families in generally happy co-existence. The area has a very active gay community which stages both a famed regional film festival and an annual pride march.
Politically the area is dominated by Democratic politics [http://www.southnow.org/southnow-publications/nc-datanet/ncdn39.pdf] in an otherwise (nationally) Republican leaning state.
The 2010s and post-recession economic recovery brought unprecedented growth to Durham. Along with soaring home prices, a revitalized and thriving downtown, and seemingly countless new restaurants, the city has become an incredibly popular place to live on a national level. A cool factor rivaled by Austin, Nashville and Portland, OR, means it's common to see natives and newbies alike sporting pro-Durham clothing. Both groups will tell you that the Bull City offers what many other locales can't: a mix of blue-collar grit, sophisticated academia, tech-centric innovation and world-class diversity.
Durham is served by Interstates 40 and 85, and US routes 15, 501 and 70 along with several state routes. "The Durham Freeway" generally refers to NC-147, which connects I-85 and 15/501 in northwest Durham to I-40 and Research Triangle Park in southeast Durham, by way of downtown. If you wish to rent a car, car rental options at the RDU airport are plentiful and range from $20 to $50 per day, with whole-week rentals significantly discounted.
It should be mentioned that like Atlanta's infamous "Peachtree", Durham has a number of synonymous roadways, in some cases miles from each other. This can easily confuse visitors
. The most notorious is '''Chapel Hill Rd/St/Blvd'''. The road goes from the city's Lakewood and West End neighborhoods to the Chapel Hill border via Shannon Plaza and the fringe of the South Square area. Mostly residential. The St acts as an arterial from downtown through West End, serving as a vibrant thoroughfare for the neighborhoods in between. "The Boulevard" as it is known in the neighborhoods surrounding it, courses from the foot of the Forest Hills neighborhood and bee-lines directly west to Chapel Hill, eventually becoming 15-501. Mainly commercial with lots of big-box retailers and chain restaurants. When in doubt, ask a local!
Parking is plentiful in Durham, even in the more populous areas. Be mindful of parking in residential zones in the city for extended periods without a permit .
*'''Bahn's Cuisine''', 750 9th St, ''+ 1 919'' 286-5073. Most of the week this is an average Chinese takeout place; however, on Wednesday and Saturday they serve Vietnamese home cooking and soups. A local hangout since 1985. The locals can tell you're "not from around here" if you order Chinese on those days. There are both vegetarian and vegan plates. The "#8 Vegetarian plate" of fried tofu and a vegetable roll is the most popular dish on Saturdays and to a lesser degree on
Mondays. The "Pork Bun" is a good choice for small children as is the Satay Chicken (they'll frequently make adapted portions for children). It is cash only. Plates and sides are $ 2-$ 6.
Bean Traders Coffee''', 714 9th St, Durham, ''+ 1 919'' 286-6087. A locally owned and operated chain with 3 stores (2 in Durham, 1 in Chapel Hill) which as the name seems to intonate is also a coffee buyer/distributor of the "Bean Traders" brand of whole sale coffee beans. The coffee is excellent and the atmosphere relaxed and causal (2 stories of it). Cookies and baked goods are also for sale , but better desserts can be found next door at Francesca's. Wireless access is provided.
*'''Cosmic Cantina''', 1920 1/2 Perry St, ''+ 1 919'' 286-1875. A Duke hangout with cheap California-style burritos, cheap beer, and quick service. Entrees, if they can be called that, range from $2-$6, beer is $2, soda is $1. Cosmic is open late, generally until 4AM. Durham is home to the original Cosmic Cantina, which can also now be found in [[Chapel Hill]] and [[New York City|Manhattan]].
*'''Elmo's Diner''', Ninth Street, [http://www.elmosdiner.com/]. Serves the best breakfast in Durham, as well as good comfort food and diner fare for lunch and dinner. Grab a table or sit at the bar. You may have to wait a bit on weekend mornings, but Elmo's makes coffee and newspapers available to help pass the time.
*'''Francesca's Dessert Cafe''', 706-B Ninth Street, [http://www.francescasdessertcaffe.com/], ''+ 1 919'' 286-4177. It is known for its own gelato style ice cream with many flavors (made on location) and varieties as well as its sorbetto (also made on location) in addition to its baked goods. In addition it also has soy varieties of its ice cream. The coffee is decent (counter culture brand) but a better cup can be had next door at "Bean Traders". All desserts are under $10.
*'''Loco Pops''', 2600 Hillsborough Rd. Serves gourmet popsicles in a variety of unusual, Mexican-inspired flavors. Try the Mexican chocolate or the mojito. Each popsicle is $1-$2.
*'''The Original Q Shack''', 2510 University Drive. They serve traditional NC barbecue, chicken, and beef sausage. Choice of side dishes include onion rings, mac and cheese, fried okra, deviled eggs, french fries, and hush puppies. It is a pleasant, informal dining experience with both indoor and outdoor seating. Price range is $6-$12.
*'''Torero's''', [http://www.torerosnc.com/]. Has four restaurants in Durham and sells above-average Americanized Mexican cuisine, with most entrees $6-$8.
*'''Wimpy's Grill''', 617 Hicks St, ''+ 1 919'' 286-4380. A walk-up lunch counter (no seating) that serves some of the best hamburgers, peach cobbler, and chocolate cake in Durham. Skip the chain restaurants, and support a local mom-and-pop joint. Weekdays only, open until 2:30PM. Very popular with locals.
*'''Xiloa''', 748 9th St, ''+1 919'' 286-1430. A very different kind of Caribbean/Nicaraguan/Southwestern mix of delicious fare. Try their Refrescos (a type of non-alcoholic drink, generally fruit-based), Indian tacos and nacatamales.
*Durham also has plenty of fast-food restaurants, with a particularly high concentration on Hillsborough Road. Try the '''Dog House''' (4 locations, ask around) and '''Cook-Out''' (Hillsborough Rd, N Duke St, Miami Blvd locations) especially.
*'''Metro 8 Streakhouse''', 746 9th St, ''+1 919'' 416 1700. Upscale Argentinian steakhouse. Unusually great salad and steak with great service and a romantic atmosphere.
*'''Mateo''', 109 W Chapel Hill St (''Downtown''), ''+ 1 919'' 530-8700. Featuring a tapas menu that blends the flavors of Spain with beloved ingredients and dishes of the South. Reservations recommended.
*'''Nana's''', 2514 University Dr (''at James St''), ''+ 1 919'' 493-8545. Serves upscale and innovative New American fare in their warm and quiet space tucked into the city's lovely Rockwood neighborhood. Reservations recommended.
*<drink name="Shooters II Saloon" alt="behind Brightleaf Square" address="827 W Morgan St" directions="" phone="" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">A wild-west themed bar and dance club popular with the college crowd, Shooters is famous for its mechanical bull and dancing cage. It is easy to find cheap drink specials and some new friends. Shooters is most frequented on weekend nights after 10PM. </drink>
* '''Fullsteam''', 726 Rigsbee Avenue (''Rigsbee''), ''+ 1 919'' 682-2337. A popular Durham hangout.
They are a brewery which serves their own beer and a selection from other breweries.
* '''Dain's Place''', 9th Street. A non-smoking bar with many types of beers. It draws more the post-grad and 25-35 crowd. Great burgers and also an unusually good salad.
Additionally, there are some nice bars centered around three main areas. There is a area around 9th street which houses Dain's, Tavern and the Green Room. There is the area along main street which extends from the Social(1007 West Main) all the way down to the Pinhook (107 West Main). There is also the area along Rigsbee avenue which houses Fullsteam, Motorco, Surf Club and Geer St Garden.