Located west of Raleigh and less than 20 minutes from Chapel Hill and Durham, the town of Cary has been gathering accolades for years. In 2006, Money magazine named Cary America’s fifth-best small city to live in, and in 2004 called it the “Hottest Town in the East.”
Business 2.0 magazine put the area at the top of its “boom town” list measuring cities’ capacity to create high-wage jobs. Moreover, Cary ranked the eighth-safest of 371 large cities nationally and the safest in the South during 2005.
It’s not hard to see why Cary is so popular. The picturesque town with tree-lined streets and well-groomed subdivisions has a thriving business community and is home to several world-class companies, including MCI WorldCom, IBM, American Airlines Reservation Center, Lucent Technologies, Siemens, John Deere and SAS Institute Inc., the largest privately-held software company in the world.
Of course, it’s not all work in Cary. There are many cultural and artistic venues for folks to enjoy as well. The Amphitheatre at Regency Park is the town’s state-of-the-art performance center nestled in the midst of hardwoods and pines by Symphony Lake. With seating for 7,000 people, the amphitheater features N.C. Symphony concerts and other performances throughout the year. There’s also the Jordan Hall Arts Center and the Page-Walker Arts and History Center, both of which provide art classes and activities for all ages, as well as showcase the work of local and regional artists.
And for more than 30 years, the town has hosted the Lazy Daze Arts and Crafts Festival. Each August, the festival attracts nearly 60,000 people to the downtown area for arts and craft exhibits, food and entertainment.
And with more than 20 public parks and 20 miles of greenway trails, there are ample opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors in Cary. One of the town’s most prized locations is the Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve, which has approximately three miles of trails and several scenic observation platforms that provide an excellent vantage point for watching area wildlife.
Complementing the nature preserve is the Stevens Nature Center. This 3,700 square-foot center provides information about the natural history of the area and the plants and animals that live in the Nature Preserve. The nature center also offers a variety of nature programs for participants of all ages on a year-round basis.
There’s also the Cary Towne Center, which has over 140 stores and eateries, including major department stores like Belk, Dillard’s, Macy’s, JCPenney and Sears.
As Cary’s population has steadily increased over the years from about 90,000 in 1999 to nearly 120,000 today, it has grown increasingly diverse, with a mix of ages and nationalities, particularly Asians, Cary’s largest minority. Through it all, Cary has remained progressive and proactive, welcoming growth and development, but making sure it does so in a way that retains its natural charm and grace.