PopulationMetro: 746,301
History and the land’s bounty run deep in this North Carolina gem.

A quest for diversity is part of Greensboro’s past, and events that transpired in the city helped shape African American legacy.

One of the most significant civil rights protests in the country’s history began with the now famous sit-in movement, when four North Carolina AT&T State University freshmen sat down and asked to be served at the segregated lunch counter in Greensboro’s downtown F.W. Woolworth store on February 1, 1960. That act of courage ignited a spark that fueled protests across the country and ultimately led to breaking down barriers across the American South.

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Today, Greensboro is a city that draws history buffs, antique furniture shoppers and foodies. In North Carolina, fertile farmland is a great source of pride, and Greensboro residents have a strong connection to the land and the food they put on the table. Locals and visitors come together around food—at markets like Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market, which has been around since 1874, and at unique experiences like The Barn Dinner Theatre. Celebrating 53 years, America’s longest-running dinner theatre draws some 50,000 hungry guests to partake in a traditional buffet followed by a live Broadway-style show.

While the town may be steeped in historical significance, it continues to look forward, especially as it tends to its Top 20 Culinary ranking nationally among small cities. Downtown’s revitalization effort is gaining steam with the opening of Natty Greene’s Brewing Company, which fuses a kitchen, market and brew pub. Greensboro’s downtown nightlife (ranked #18) offers a special kind of American sensibility and charm, thanks to street corners humming with buskers and bands, and cafés vibrating with acoustics performances.