Often cited as one of America’s best college towns, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is one of our nation’s oldest public universities, chartered in 1789. Located in “The Triangle,” a geographical area that also includes nearby Raleigh and Durham. Franklin Street is the main drag downtown, a classic Americana street with an array of restaurants, bars, shops and live music. Franklin Street flows into neighboring Carrboro, with more than 30 restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and shops all within a few blocks. UNC athletic teams are known as the Tar Heels, a name worn with pride also by students, alumni, and fans.
Transportation: The closest major airport to Chapel Hill, North Carolina is Raleigh-Durham International Airport(RDU / KRDU). The airport is approximately 18 miles from the center of campus. As the Research Triangle area is geographically expansive and not linked by a metro or rail line, we think your best option is to rent a car. The nearest Amtrak and Greyhound Stations are located in Durham, approximately a 20-30 minute drive.
Stay: The iconic Carolina Inn has been the place to stay at UNC for 90 years, with an ideal location right on campus. Modeled after George Washington’s Mount Vernon house, the inn is an antebellum southern gem with a lovely terrace and fire pits, perfect for afternoon tea or an evening cocktail. The university’s history and traditions are on display in photographs and stories that line the walls of the inn, a charming and informative touch. Every Friday evening (from April – October) the Carolina Inn is the place to be for “Fridays on the Front Porch” with live music and food provided by local food trucks. A five minute walk from campus is the new boutique hotel, AC Hotel Marriott. A parent recently raved about her stay at The Residence Inn Chapel Hill offerings suites at very reasonable prices. Another convenient option, the Franklin Hotel is right on lively Franklin Street, just a few blocks from campus. The Siena, a Marriott Signature hotel, is a quick car ride, only a mile down the road from UNC.
Coffee: Provisions, a take away cafe at the Carolina Inn opens bright and early at 6 am, enjoy a coffee on the terrace even if you’re not staying at the hotel. Right on Franklin Street is a Starbucks, and the UNC bookstore has a small café around back that also serves Starbucks brews. Over in Carrboro, start your day with an espresso at popular Open Eye Café.
Breakfast: Have a biscuit breakfast—a Southern tradition! Enjoy biscuits and gravy at the Carolina Coffee Shop, a UNC tradition for over 85 years. It’s drive-thru only at Sun Rise Biscuit Kitchen, perfect for a quick egg and cheese on a biscuit. Root Cellar is another popular spot, order at the counter and enjoy your meal in their cozy outdoor seating area. In Carrboro, Neal's Deli is the place for a Southern take on a delicatessen. No fancy food here, but just what may be the best buttermilk biscuits in the South. For a more traditional sit-down morning meal, Crossroads in the Carolina Inn is a good spot before your tour. Looking for a quick, healthy meal before your tour? The Purple Bowl right on Franklin Street is known for delicious acai bowls, build your own granola bowls, and avocado and peanut butter banana toast.
Lunch: While you're in the south, you MUST indulge in some BBQ! A great places to get your Southern BBQ fix is The Pig. (Attention Vegetarians there's amazing BBQ tofu and tempeh at The Pig). Bartaco is Chapel Hill’s newest taco joint - enjoy the outdoor seating in the good weather. Merritt’s Store and Grill has a great selection of soups, salads, and sandwiches--students say the BLT is a must! On Franklin Street head to Al's Burger, a popular favorite serving what Garden and Gun Magazine calls some of the best burgers in the south. We loved Mediterranean Deli, a large casual all-day restaurant, take away and gourmet market all in one. There’s a large array of salads, falafels or Middle Eastern pizzas called fatayer. Students and locals were thrilled when Hops, the Gourmet burger maker from Greensboro opened in Chapel Hill. Order one of their classics or create a burger, all using certified Angus beef and with enticing complimentary sides. (There are veggie, fish, and chicken options) Soups, salads, and sandwiches are the draw at Olio and Aceto, also a good choice for weekend brunches. In Carrboro, it’s hard to decide between the biscuits or the donuts at Rise, but we’re partial to the chicken biscuit with a smear of pimento cheese. Also in Carrboro, Napoli Cafe & Neapolitan Pizza now has a permanent storefront next to their popular food truck serving traditional Neapolitan pies from their wood-fired oven and artisanal gelatos.
Casual: If you're in the mood for authentic Greek food, go to Kipos. Chef Bill Smith’s shrimp and grits are famous at Crook’s Corner, considered the birthplace of this iconic Southern dish. The eclectic diner décor is fun, and the large outdoor patio is a nice spot for brunch on the weekend. Another Chapel Hill institution is Mama Dip’s Kitchen for Southern specialties—locals we talked to swear by Mama’s fried chicken. Acme in Carrboro features a menu of soups, salads, and entrees with a Southern touch.
A Step Up: Students love to bring their parents to Top of the Hill, fondly referred to as TOPO, known for good food, homemade microbrew beers and a panoramic view from the outdoor deck over the downtown. We loved our meal at Asian-inspired Lantern, from James Beard Award-Winning Chef Andrea Reusing, it’s on everybody’s hit list when talking about their top meals in Chapel Hill. Don’t be upset if you can’t get a reservation--Lantern has a very cool, hidden bar in the back that serves the same menu alongside killer cocktails. Another favorite spot is steakhouse Bin 54.
Student Spotting: The Old Well is a treasured landmark and visual symbol of UNC located right on the main quad. Legend has it that if you drink from the water fountain as a freshman, you’ll get a 4.0. Students pose for pictures here in their caps and gowns, and it’s a great spot to stop and watch university life go by.
Late Night Snack: Open 24/7, Time Out Restaurant delivers its signature items, including fried chicken biscuits, mac & cheese, sweet potato pie, and biscuit pudding. Benny Cappella’s is a great spot for a large slice of pizza (the slices are so big they can’t fit on one plate)! If you’re craving Mexican, stop by Cosmic Cantina and try one of their famous burritos.
Local Attractions: With the Tar Heels Basketball team fresh off winning the 2017 NCAA Championship, now’s a perfect time to visit the Carolina Basketball Museum. Basketball fans will surely enjoy reading the letter the late coach Dean Smith wrote to a young player named Michael Jordan. The Morehead Planetarium is one of the largest planetariums in the U.S, located right on Franklin Street. If you’re in town on a Saturday, don’t miss the charming Farmers Market in Carrboro. There’s more than just produce; we guarantee you leave with a homemade tincture or two from one of the local farmers. Over in nearby Durham, home to Duke University, visit the impressive Nasher Museum of Art or the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.
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White & Carolina Blue
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Chapel Hill, NC 27599-2200
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NCAA Division I
UNC CHAPEL HILL
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