The magazine made the announcement Tuesday at the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Southern Living selected the 10 finalist and then residents and readers voted.
The magazine's travel and features editor said Durham's community spirit helped put the city on top.
"The community was really engaged," Jennifer Cole said. "You know there were things that you could scan and vote at food trucks. There were posters, there were cards that went into you know your check when you got your ticket at a restaurant. There were Twitter parties, they were, I mean hash tags. It was sort of the social media storm that took over."
Durham will be featured in the May issue of Southern Living Magazine that comes out next week.