14 Best Things to do in Chapel Hill NC

Chapel Hill, North Carolina is an interesting town full of history.

It was named for the New Hope Chapel that was built on a hill at a crossroads in the center of town.

That location was eventually auctioned off when the university (University of North Carolina) was built in 1793.

The town was actually created so that it could serve the university.

So to say that the town has been heavily influenced by both religion and education in the past is sort of an understatement.

But now it’s trying to re-invent itself and show off more interesting and unique attractions that visitors may not be aware of through the Weiss Urban Livability Program.

Here are a few things to do in Chapel Hill NC.

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North Carolina Botanical Garden

North Carolina Botanical GardenSource: Fflickr.com/Doug Kerr | CC BY-SA 2.0 GenericPin

The North Carolina Botanical Garden is a great choice if you’re looking for a chill visual learning experience.

It’s one of the biggest botanical gardens in the entire southeast region. It’s got loads of plants that are native to the region with native habitats, and herbs.

And the garden features the biggest variety of carnivorous plants in the southeast. On top of all that, there’s a children’s wonder garden, some nature trails and more.

They’re a LEED Platinum sustainable green education center, so if you’re looking for an educational adventure for your kids, you can be sure that they’ll come away with some new information!

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Address: 100 Old Mason Farm Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27517, United States

Ackland Art Museum

Ackland Art MuseumSource: Flickr.com/bobistraveling | CC BY 2.0 GenericPin

If you really want to impress your date with some culture, plan a date night to the Ackland Art Museum.

They’ve got a whole range of different art styles, from some pieces from the European masters to American photography.

The Ackland Art Museum is also home to North Carolina’s biggest collection of Asian art, as well as works on paper (things like prints, photographs and drawings).

There’s over 17,000 pieces of art housed here and their calendar is full of events and classes to try.

Trust me, your date will be swept away by your effort to bring their romance movie dreams to life!

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Address: 101 S Columbia St, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, United States

Dean E. Smith Center

Dean E. Smith CenterSource: Flickr.com/NCDOTcommunications | CC BY 2.0 GenericPin

The Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center is a multi-purpose arena, but it’s mostly known for being home to the University of North Carolina’s basketball team: the Tarheels.

Because of this, it’s one of the most widely recognized athletic venues in the United States.

If you’re going to visit the Dean E. Smith Center, I highly recommend you make a trip to the Ernie Williamson Athletics Center, which is right across from the Smith Center, because it’s home to the Carolina Basketball Museum.

While you’re planning a trip to the Dean E. Smith Center, it’s important to know that it’s currently closed to the public, except for during games or special events.

Address: 300 Skipper Bowles Dr, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, United States

Kenan Memorial Stadium

Kenan Memorial StadiumSource: Flickr.com/William Yeung | CC BY 2.0 GenericPin

College football fans should make it a point to visit the Kenan Memorial Stadium, which locals simply refer to as Kenan.

It’s been the location of Tar Heels games since 1927, and now has a capacity of 63,000 people.

Home games here are electrifying due to the thousands of football fans that fill the stadium, and its gorgeous setting.

Packed houses, full to capacity are just sort of expected at Kenan, so that’s something to take into consideration if crowds aren’t your thing.

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Address: 104 Stadium Dr, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, United States

Coker Arboretum

Coker ArboretumSource: Flickr.com/Selena N. B. H. | CC BY 2.0 GenericPin

If you’re looking for a nice place for peaceful and visually stunning strolls, then the Coker Arboretum will be right up your alley.

It’s part of the UNC campus, located on the corner of Cameron Avenue and Raleigh Street, so it’s easy to find.

All of the paths are wheelchair accessible, either being brick of smooth brick.

You’ll feel quite at ease strolling through the manicured wildflowers and trees that fill the arboretum’s 5-acres.

And no matter which season you choose to visit, you’ll have something to see.

There are trees in the winter, loads of flowers and blooms in the spring, lots of green vegetation in the summer, and a pop of vivid fall colors in the autumn.

Address: 399 E Cameron Ave, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, United States

Eastwood Lake

Eastwood LakeSource: Wikimedia.org/Lanthrope | CC BY-SA 4.0 InternationalPin

If you’re looking for a more aquatic adventure, then Eastwood Lake is your best bet.

It’s a huge 47-acre man-made lake that was created by a dam.

Anglers will love the lake because it’s home to large and smallmouth bass, crappie, and redbreast sunfish.

Note: Only people who live nearby can use this lake.

Address: Chapel Hill, NC 27514, USA

Historic Franklin Street

Historic Franklin StreetSource: Wikimedia.org/Wgreaves | CC BY 3.0 UnportedPin

Franklin Street is the gem of Chapel Hill’s downtown area, and it’s a great place to go shopping or attend events.

There are residential areas, as well as clothing stores, UNC memorabilia shops, restaurants, pubs, and boutiques.

It’s changed a lot over the years, but there are still some older clothing stores, like Julian’s and Uniquities.

Some of the other stores include Ivy and Leo, Target, Francesca’s, the Pizza Press, B. Good, and the Alumni Hall.

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Chapel of the Cross

Chapel of the CrossSource: Flickr.com/Anne and David | Public Domain Mark 1.0Pin

Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church in Chapel Hill began its life as the New Hope Chapel, the chapel for which Chapel Hill gets its name.

It was built as a log building to keep people from having to travel all the way to Hillsborough to go to church.

It disappeared sometime during the Revolutionary War, but was rebuilt in 1848, designed by architect Thomas U.

Walter, and the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

Today, the church is proud to say that their congregation is made up of people of different ages, races, economic backgrounds, relationship statuses, and sexual or gender identities.

It’s a gorgeous building and you’ll be absolutely in awe of its stunning features.

You can fill out a visitor’s form here.

Address: The Chapel of the Cross, 304 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, United States

Wilson Library

Wilson LibrarySource: flickr.com/Taber Andrew Bain | CC BY 2.0 GenericPin

Locals should absolutely check out the Wilson Library.

It’s part of the UNC campus, and you can find special literary collections, and host events that describe and document life in the present day and the culture of not only the state and the University, but also the United States and the world at large.

There’s even a makerspace on the 2nd floor that allows people to rent out equipment and space for two hours at a time. This includes 3-d printers and Cricut machines.

And as someone who’s recently bought an *insanely* expensive 3-D printer and several Cricut products, I can tell you that’s something that crafters and entrepreneurs should jump on!

They also have tons of events and reading programs, so check out their calendar to find something to do!

Address: 200 South Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, United States

Dry Creek Trail

Dry Creek TrailSource: Flickr.com/bobistraveling | CC BY 2.0 GenericPin

If you’re looking for a trail that’s a little off the beaten path, then the Dry Creek Trail is for you.

It’s a 1.5 mile loop with an easy difficulty. People love it for horseback riding, birding and, of course hiking.

There are several entry points to the dirt trail, but you’ll know you’re on the right trail when you find the unfinished utility road and the signs marking the trail to the right.

The trail follows the Dry Creek river, and you’ll be walking along the property lines of peoples’ backyards in places.

Just know that if they say “Hi, how are you?”, they really mean “Who are you and why are you here?”.

That’s definitely worth it for this secluded walk through the woods and along the river, however.

Address: 200-298 Perry Creek Dr, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, United States

Pritchard Park

Pritchard Park Source: Flickr.com/bobistraveling | CC BY 2.0 GenericPin

Pritchard Park is great if you’re in the mood to explore the woodlands, because it’s 34 whole acres of wooded land, which is also home to the Chapel Hill Public Library (CHPL).

Most of the terrain here is hilly, except for the cove by the creek.

There’s also a marshy area near Estes drive which can be fun to explore.

You may spot raccoons or deer by the creek, or spot birds, or any number of different wildlife during your visit.

And for a bit more exercise, there’s a 1-mile nature trail that winds around the park and has offshoot paths that lead to the library.

Be advised: there are sections of the trail that go up and downhill a bit, but is still considered an easy trail.

Address: 67 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC 28801, United States

Carolina North Forest

Carolina North ForestSource: Flickr.com/bobistraveling | CC BY 2.0 GenericPin

The Carolina North Forest is a well-kept secret by the locals.

It’s located by the UNC North campus, in between Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and it boasts an impressive 750 acres of woodlands.

It’s a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy some scenic natural splendor.

There are several trails in the forest, but many locals favor the Pumpkin Loop, which is 2.6 miles and takes around 53 minutes to complete.

It’s a go-to for anyone wanting a walking trail with high visibility because lots of people will be on it.

Students from UNC, cross country runners from local high schools, people who are out walking their dogs, walking and running groups, and more favor this trail.

Address: Chapel Hill, NC 27599, United States

WildSide Farm

WildSide FarmSource: Flickr.com/bobistraveling | CC BY 2.0 GenericPin

Looking for fresh, local produce?

WildSide Farm has your back!

They’re located around 70 in front of the ClearWind Farm, near the white dairy barn that’s visible from Teer Road.

See, they converted an old Dairy farm into a biodiverse farm and hope to use it to provide a nutritional bounty of fruits and veggies, nuts, and more to the community of Chapel Hill, and the surrounding areas.

They’re currently working to rehabilitate the soil and water health, and building up the environment for wildlife.

You can check out their stock and order online here.

Bonus: They’ll even deliver to some nearby locations!

Address: 4001 Teer Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, United States

First Baptist Church

First Baptist ChurchSource: Flickr.com/Gerry Dincher | CC BY-SA 2.0 GenericPin

The First Baptist Church in Chapel Hill is full of history and culture.

It began in 1865 from the Baptist Church of Chapel Hill, where the Black members of the congregation made the decision and were approved to form their own church.

Since then, it’s had 4 different names: Colored Baptist Church, First Baptist Church, Rock Hill Baptist Church, and once again the First Baptist Church.

For more information about their services and events, visit their website.

Address: 106 N Roberson St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, United States


Chapel Hill, North Carolina is full of fun shopping opportunities, outdoor adventures, nice parks, sports venues, and historic locations.

No matter what you’re into, there’s something to please everyone!

I hope you enjoyed my list, and that some of these activities on your to-do list, too!

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