I've grown up in Durham, North Carolina all my life. I spent my days going to DPAC shows, Durham Bulls games, eating at Brightleaf and 9th street, shopping at Southpoint mall and walking along the Eno River. I always said I wanted to get far away from Durham as soon as I got the chance - but now I cherish everyday that I get to spend back in the Bull City.

I have to say it - Durham is probably one of the coolest places in North Carolina.

And if not the coolest, we definitely have the best restaurants. Bennett Pointe Grill, Heavenly Buffaloes, Cosmic Cantina, Geer Street Garden, Vin Rouge, Parker and Otis, Monuts, Toast, Dame's Chicken and Waffles, Bull City Burger and Brewery, Dos Perros, Happy and Hale, Elmo's, The Saltbox, King's Sandwich Shop, Locopops, The Parlour, Only Burger, and Wimpy's, just to name a few.

The high schoolers in Durham from Riverside, Northern, Jordan and Durham School of the Arts (go Bulldogs) are also the best people to get advice from on how to spend your weekend.

I remember hanging out with my friends on the weekend and eating at 9th street or going to Southpoint to pick up some new clothes.

We used to go into downtown to visit the really cool parking garage next to 21c hotel to get some cute pictures or to go on a date. Or to explore the abandoned 10 story hotel in downtown before it got demolished (rip abandoned hotel 2018).

Durham really has some neat places like the 21c hotel where my junior prom was held which is also a free entrance art gallery with really cool bathrooms (if you know you know).

Christmas time was beautiful downtown too - the ceremony for lighting the Lucky Strike water tower, ice skating outside in American Tobacco, or visiting Morgan Imports during the holidays to get a glimpse of the miniature Christmas village in the back of the store.

Now Durham does get a bad rep - the whole "I'd rather die of boredom in Cary than be shot in Durham" is completely fake. Every city has a suss area, but that doesn't represent the entire place.

I grew up somewhere outside of the stereotype.

I grew up in the Durham where when I walked into Bruegger's Bagels, the cashiers remembered my order every morning before school, and where Cosmic Cantina and Jimmy John's on 9th street knew exactly which weekdays I'd come in on for off-campus lunch.

I grew up where my friends and I would hang out at "Safe Haven" on the Hillandale golf course and then drive up to fast food lane on Hillsborough street and get some Cook Out every Friday night.

I grew up where the most beautiful dates were when you would sit in your car on top of the 21c parking garage and listen to music with your significant other/(best friends).

I grew up where on Sundays, I'd visit my best friend who worked at the Museum of Life and Science so she could make me a coffee in the cafe and then get me free admission to the museum by sneaking me in the back.

I grew up where after eating at Toreros in Brightleaf with my cousins I would run over to Morgan Imports and see what new items they had in stock.

This was the Durham I grew up in. Where everyone knew everyone. And not everyone was a Duke fan btw - Go Heels!!

Durham definitely deserves a better reputation. I couldn't have asked for a better place to grow up. I can't wait to show everyone in Raleigh what the real Durham-ites do on the weekends. I love you Bull City - never change.