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Helping you to live well in the Triangle

Today we are going to compare Cary North Carolina to Holly Springs North Carolina. We are going to look at population and crime data, shopping and recreation, schools and local food. Later in the video I’ll also share two reasons you might prefer one location over the other. 

Cary vs Holly Springs Data

First let’s look at the numbers. Cary is obviously a much larger city than Holly Springs. Cary has a population of 168,000 while Holly Springs has a population of 36,000. The median home price in both places is about the same, but you’ll get a newer larger home in Holly Springs for that $400,000 you spend vs the same amount in cary.

Cary Holly Springs
Population 168,160 36,749
Median Home $$ $400,000 $399,000
Median Home SF 2422 2748
Median Home Age 1998 2016

Cary vs Holly Springs Crime

Crime is exceptionally low in both Cary and Holly Springs. You can see that they are both in the green area. I also want to point out that although the city of Raleigh is in the yellow, that is still really low for a mid sized city. When I look at the crime maps for other midsized southern cities like Knoxville, TN or Huntsville, AL, you can see that our crime rates in Raleigh are about half of those similar sized cities.

Cary vs Holly Springs Shopping

Cary has a lot of great shopping. Cary does have a mall, but there really aren’t very many stores left in it and the mall is mostly used for people getting their daily step count in. Funding was recently approved to turn the mall into an indoor sports complex, but we’ll talk more about that when we get to recreation. In the meantime, open air shopping and entertainment centers have become popular and Cary has several. Crossroads is the oldest and mostly a collection of big box stores in strip malls. Waverly Place and Park West Village are more modern in design, with waterfalls and open spaces for concerts. Waverly Place also has a great little playground and splash pad so if you have kids, they can play while you take in a concert or event happening on the lawn. Cary has a great selection of grocery stores. If you have a favorite grocery store, we’ve probably got it here. We’ve got Wegman’s Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Aldi, Lidl, Harris Teeter and many, many more. 

There is also a weekly farmers market in downtown Cary, and many other farm stands and fresh food markets around the city. 

Holly Springs has a fantastic amount of shopping for the size of the town. They’ve got two larger shopping centers, Holly Springs Town Center and South Park Village where you can do the majority of your shopping. Then there is also Town Hall Commons, which is the boutique style shopping district in downtown Holly Springs. Holly Springs is home to an award winning farmers market. This place is amazing and people come from all over to visit it. Even if you’re not in Holly Springs you should definitely visit!

Holly Springs doesn’t have as much variety in grocery stores. Most of what we have here are large national chains like Food Lion or regional ones like Harris Teeter and Lowes Foods. 

Cary vs Holly Springs Recreation

Both Cary and Holly Springs have lots of fun stuff to do outside. 

Black Creek Greenway Cary NC

Lakes, Parks & Greenways

There are some great lakes in Cary. Bond Lake and Lake Crabtree are two of the largest, where you can rent boats and purchase tackle and licenses for fishing. Motorized watercraft is not allowed on Cary lakes, though. You have to go to Raleigh, Apex or Holly Springs to get one of the larger lakes for your motorboats.

There are literally thousands of acres of parks in Cary. At Bond Park they have annual events every year like Winter Wonderland, Kite Festival, Cary Dog Days and Pumpkin Flotilla. AND Cary has committed itself to increasing walkability in the city. There are over 90 miles of existing greenways and trails and 145 miles of proposed greenways.

Holly Springs also has two fantastic lakes. Bass Lake is the smaller lake and it has a beautiful boat house. Holly Springs does have a larger regional lake, Harris Lake, that allows motorized watercraft.

They also have great events at these parks. Bass Lake hosts Turtle Fest and Bass Lake Day. And Harris Lake Parks hosts the Long Leaf Festival every year. There are about 3 miles of walking trails in Holly Springs.

If you want to learn about more parks in Cary, you can find that video here. If you want to learn more about Holly Springs, subscribe to my channel so you don’t miss any videos!


Holly Springs is famous for their Ting Park because it is the home to the minor league baseball team, the Holly Springs Salamanders. Salamanders games are really popular and are a lot of fun for people of all ages. IN addition, Holly Springs has an adult athletics program that includes basketball, softball, soccer and tennis. As well as a youth athletic program that offers multiple team sports.

Cary has a wide variety of opportunities for the sports enthusiast! 

The Wakemed Soccer Park is home to the North Carolina Football Club’s Men’s professional soccer league. Also, the USA Baseball National Training Complex is in Cary and is home to the St Augustine College Falcons. 

For recreational sports, Cary has the Cary Tennis Park, as well as numerous recreational leagues for adults and children. Also, funding was just approved for Cary Towncenter Mall to incorporate in indoor sports complex. The current plans include 12 full-size basketball courts, a 4,000-seat arena, a 25,000-foot multi-purpose space, four full-size locker rooms and a full-service restaurant. The basketball courts can also be converted into 20 full-sized volleyball courts.


In Holly Springs, Concerts and shows primarily happen at The Holly Springs Cultural Center. They offer a spring concert series, a jazz orchestra, a community band and a youth strings orchestra.

Cary has a larger variety of entertainment venues. There are multiple outdoor concert locations include hte Koka Booth Ampitheatre, The Sertoma Ampitheatre at Bond Park and the Page walker Art and History Museum Gardens. 

The Cary Theatre is a historic theatre in Downtown Cary that offers film festivals and live performances. The Cary Arts Center hosts Cary’s community theatre troupe, the Cary Players, as well as gallery displays for local artisans.

You can learn more about downtown Cary in this video. 


Cary and Holly Springs are both part of the top rated Wake County Public School System. Schools in both towns are A rated throughout the town. 


Before we talk about food in Cary and Holly Springs, it’s time for my location recommendation. Now, this recommendation is going to depend on YOU and your needs. The most important factor that most people need to consider when choosing a place to live is LOCATION.

You get a little less house for your money in Cary. And that’s because Cary is a little closer to major employment centers. If you’re commuting to RTP or Downtown Raleigh, Cary might be a little more comfortable for you. If you live in Holly Springs and work in RTP or downtown Raleigh, during rush hour, you could be looking at 45 minutes or more for a commute from Holly Springs. The commute from Cary is about half that. 

But if you work from home, or are working closer to Holly Springs, you might appreciate the cheaper price per square foot of home in Holly Springs. Or if you are coming from a major city and used to a long commute, maybe you’ll be okay with living a little further from major employers. Holly Springs could be a great fit for you. 

Now let’s talk about food! 


In Cary, Bosphorus is by far the most popular and the commonly recommended restaurant. They serve mediteranean food in a casual laid back environment. Other favorites are Kababish, the Indian Pakistani restaurant, and Himalayan Nepali. In fact, Cary has an entire International food district. For a small city, you can really get just about any kind of food. 

Holly Springs also has a decent selection of restaurants for it’s size, there is thai, Japanese, Italian, Mexican and Taverns are particularly popular in Holly Springs. My Way Tavern and Mason Jar Tavern are local favorites. There are also several popular dessert spots. One local favorite is Mama Birds. They make homemade ice cream in crazy flavors like Boston Cream and Oatmeal Scotchy

North Carolina in general is popular for it’s local breweries and there is no shortage in Cary or Holly Springs. You’ve got Bombshell and Carolina Brewing Company in Holly Springs. Popular Breweries in Cary are Cotton House, Fortnight and Bond Brothers. 

And now for my second Location Recommendation…

The second thing that influences people’s decisions are lifestyle factors. Both Cary and Holly Springs are known for their high quality of life. But if you’re partial to a small town feel, you might like Holly Springs. The odds of running into people you know at a Salamanders Game is much more likely in Holly Springs than running into your friends at the soccer stadium in Cary. Of course, there is a trade off of less variety in restaurants and shopping in a small town. But then, Cary is only a few minutes away with everything you could need right there. 

Also, I think Cary can not be beat for it’s incredible selection of greenways. There are just so many parks and so many greenways you can always find a new place to go for a bike ride or a walk. And Cary is so well connected by the greenway system that most places are going to walkable to *something* whether it’s a park or shops and restaurants. 

So which town is better? Holly Springs or Cary? Like most things in life, it depends. Thanks for watching! Subscribe for more videos like this!! 

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