15 Best Things To Do in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

by Ketki Hanamshet Updated on 15 Oct 2018

Chapel Hill is one of the largest towns in the United States of America. It is situated in North Carolina. North Carolina is basically famous for its great basketball team. As per the 2010 census, the population of the town Chapel Hill is approx 58 thousand. The city was founded in the late 18th century. Chapel Hill is home to great places like Ackland Museum, The Morehead Planetarium and The North Carolina Botanical Garden. Annually one million people visit the town as a tourist. So, before you start planning the tour to Chapel Hill, I suggest you better the 15 Best places to visit in Chapel Hill.

Let's explore these 15 best things to do in Chapel Hill:

1. See Asian and European Art collection at the Ackland Museum

The Ackland Art Museum was founded in the year of 1958. It is a great museum where they collect, preserve and exhibit the significant art pieces. If you are an art student then this place will surely attract you.  This place is very educational and very engaging for students and children as well as general people. It is home to almost 17 thousand works of arts collected from all over Europe as well as Asia and Africa. It is a collection of both classical and contemporary artworks. Many educational programs are held throughout the year. 

2. Visit one of the Oldest Planetariums of the Country

 The oldest planetariums of the country - ImageImage Source: wikimedia.org

The Morehead Planetarium is one of the largest as well as oldest planetariums in the United States. It is located inside the campus of the University of North Carolina. In the year of 1949, the planetarium was established basically to train the astronauts. The working Copernican orreries is very large, actually one of the largest in the whole world. If you are visiting with kids, then your kids will definitely like the place. When you enter the planetarium you can also check out the UNC Morehead Observatory, Morehead-Cain Foundation, and UNC Visitors’ center. 

3. A Place for All Basketball Lovers, Carolina Basketball Museum

It depicts the history of the basketball team of North Carolina and highlights the chronicles. The Museum is located inside the university campus. It is featured with videos, pictures, and displays of the historical events of the basketball team of the university. Interactive video presentations are also arranged here. The museum gives video tributes to the legends like Roy Williams, Dean Smith, and Michael Jordan. The museum is open from Monday to Saturday. Entry is free.

4. Witness the Beauty of the North Carolina Botanical garden 

North carolina botanical garden - ImageImage Source: wikimedia.org

The Botanical Garden is also a part of the North Carolina University. The whole area is very big; at least thousand acres from which the flower garden solely occupies more than 10 acres. The garden exhibits so many species which actually in a way interpret the natural vegetation of North Carolina. The renditions of flowers are amazing to watch. You can spend a huge amount of time walking in the area and checking out the array of the beautiful flowers. The plants are labeled and separated into groups. It’s a perfect place for strolling around. The historical uses of each plant are explained perfectly in the herb garden. The gift shops and the visitors’ center is worth a visit. It is suitable for all ages.

5. Visit the multipurpose sports arena, Dean E. Smith Center

It is named after a former coach of the men’s basketball team of the university.  The sports arena is commonly known as Dean Dome. It is one of the most famous athletic venues of United States. The Carolina Basketball Museum is right next door. From the sitting area you have to see the play courts and also you must remember that you won’t be able to get any tour guide here. The arena is open from Monday to Friday. The admission is free. 

6. Check out the Fascinating Beauty of Coker Arboretum 

tourist attractions in Chapel HillImage Source: wikimedia.org

It is located right next to Morehead Planetarium at the very center of the North Carolina University. It is one of the oldest pieces of lands owned by the Botanical Garden and it is presently managed by the authority of the North Carolina Botanical Garden. The Arboretum was established in 1903. The beauty of the flowers, herbs, bulbs, shrubs and perennial displays will leave you awestruck. Tour guide facility is available. The tours are very much informative and relaxed and the guide they provide ate very knowledgeable naturalists. All around the year from dawn to dusk it is open to the public. 

7. Let Kids Learn Things through Playing at the Kidzu Children’s Museum

This hands-on museum is very much dedicated to inspire the little ones through playing. It is a direct interactive museum. The museum beautifully presents a number of exhibits to inspire children and encourage them in learning new things. There is a thing called Flexible Forest that features, tree houses, a large scale of climbing wall and also crow’s nest. The is also a thing called Farm to Fork which allows them to learn things like how the local crops are being grown and what the healthy eating g habit is. There is a performance space for children which they are likely to enjoy and mini forest theaters are also performed here. 

8. Refresh Yourself by Visiting Carrboro Farmer’s Market

Visiting this market will definitely give you a sign of relief from the monotonous hectic daily life. You can buy fresh veggies, fruits here. The vendors are very much friendly and the price though can be a little high. The fruits and vegetables are mostly grown by the local people. You can get baked items here. If you visit the market then you must buy some of the wages. Dairy products and meats are very fresh. You surely will get a variety of delicious foods here but parking space is very short.

9. Enjoy Spooky Surroundings at Gimghoul Castle 

Gimghoul castle - ImageImage Source: wikimedia.org

If you want to go there we suggest you not to follow Google map because it takes you to a wrong direction. The place might be difficult to find but when you reach there you can see yourself that it is worth a visit. It is a relatively small castle home. As there is no trespassing sign, you can easily go near the building. The atmosphere is a little eerie because it might look like a deserted house. Taking pictures is allowed. 

10. Take a Walk Down the Franklin Street

Explore the Downtown Chapel Hill or Franklin Street on foot. Most of the bars, restaurants, and shops are owned locally. There are plenty of choices for restaurants and eating places. The drinking establishments are nice and cozy. There is also a movie theatre. Many street performances can be seen here. It is overall a nice place for a day out.

11. Visit College Football at Kenan Memorial Stadium 

Kenan memorial stadium, Chapel Hill- ImageImage Source: wikimedia.org

This place is free. You are also allowed to bring snacks inside the stadium. Though food and soda are available inside but they are as usual a little bit expensive. Hydrating stations are to be found. The staff is very friendly. At some places seats are not much comfortable; the UNC has not spent much to update the stadiums. The bathrooms are outdated but clean.

12. Check out the Great Art Collection at Frank Gallery

This art gallery has no restrictions or prohibitions. You just have to walk in just like any other pizza places or bars. Some great art pieces you will totally love. There are also some artworks of local artists. Exhibits are always varied. They occasionally host special events. You can but paintings you like. 

13. Visit the Historic Horace Williams House

It is a good example of the Adaptive Reuse. The house is the only house with historical value in the city which is open for public visit. The house was built in the year of 1854. The house is maintained and operated by the Preservation Chapel Hill. The visit is free. This place organizes different kinds of community-based events, art exhibition, concerts which are also free. 

14. Learn about Science of Distillery at TOPO

The Top of the Hill Distillery of TOPO is a USDA certified distillery. It stays open from 9 to 5 from Monday to Friday. You will get to learn a lot of exciting new things about the science of distillery if you want to. One can get unique farming and cocktail ideas. The tour is supposed to be very interesting and entertaining. They distill organics wheat into whiskey, rum, and vodka. Do not miss the spirits tasting. The tour is much informative as well as fun. 

15. Observe the Beautiful Architecture of the Chapel of the Cross

Not from the outside only but the building is amazing from the inside also. The Chapel is very old, built in 1840. It is still in use for weddings, funerals and daily services. It is better if you visit at the Sunday service. The woodwork of the sanctuary is wonderful. All day long it is open for the students who want to study inside. It’s next to the UNC campus. 

Author: Ketki Hanamshet
Usually lost in a reverie, Ketki is someone who absolutely refuses to live in the practical world. While she has a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering, she should be honored mastery in procrastination. If you see her slouching on a couch, ask...

Must see places in Chapel Hill ranked on popularity. Here is the complete list of best attractions in Chapel Hill and point of interests to visit.

  1. # 1 of 476 Things To Do in Chapel Hill | Added 245 times in trip plans
    The Old Well

    Tags: Landmark

    Address: East Cameron Ave. (facing South Building), Chapel Hill, NC 27599

    Timings: 06:00 am - 06:00 pm Details

    The construction of this well was initiated by UNC President Edwin A. Alderman in 1897 and this well has since then been the primary source for campus water, that’s more than a century! The New ...Read more

  2. # 2 of 476 Things To Do in Chapel Hill | Added 228 times in trip plans
    Franklin Street

    Tags: Bar, Museum, Landmark, Cafe

    Address: Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA 27599

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    A popular hangout and a social landmark of Chapel Hill, Franklin Street flaunts the vibrant culture and lifestyle of North Carolina. Adorned with tons of restaurants, cafes, museums, bookstore, music ...Read more

  3. # 3 of 476 Things To Do in Chapel Hill | Added 185 times in trip plans
    The Carolina Basketball Museum

    Tags: Museum, Educational Site, Exhibition

    Address: 450 Skipper Bowles Drive, Chapel Hill, NC 27599

    Timings: 10:00 am - 04:00 pm Details

    A paradise for basketball lovers, the Carolina basketball museum houses a huge collection of artifacts, photos, videos, statistical and historical documents highlighting the history of Carolina Basket...Read more

  4. # 4 of 476 Things To Do in Chapel Hill | Added 139 times in trip plans
    Triangle Boat Tours

    Tags: Outdoors, Entertainment, Water Sport, Boating

    Address: 2092 Martha's Chapel Rd, Apex, NC 27523 USA

    Timings: 06:00 am - 10:00 pm Details

    The best way to explore the Jordan Lake, Triangle Boat tours arrange private as well as group tours to have a little picnic on the lake. Overlooked and guided by Don & Heidi Watkins, professionals...Read more

  5. # 5 of 476 Things To Do in Chapel Hill | Added 126 times in trip plans
    Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours

    Tags: Tour, Restaurant, Entertainment

    Address: 501 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

    Want to explore the heart of Chapel Hill, take the taste Carolina Gourmet Food tour and you’ll be more than happy! Taste the best and most unique restaurants of Chapel Hill, learn about the hist...Read more

  6. # 6 of 476 Things To Do in Chapel Hill | Added 147 times in trip plans
    Coker Arboretum

    Tags: Park, Walking Area, Nature

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

    Timings: 06:00 am - 06:00 pm Details

    One of the oldest tracts of the North Carolina botanical garden, the Coker Arboretum is spread over 5 acres and is home to 400 different species of plants and a 200 feet arbor. It was re-landscaped in...Read more

  7. # 7 of 476 Things To Do in Chapel Hill | Added 68 times in trip plans
    Play Makers Repertory Company And Theatre

    Tags: Historical Site, Theatre, University

    Address: 150 Country Club Rd, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

    Timings: 10:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    A professional theatre located in the university campus, it is the leading theatre of Carolinas- a company lauded by the Drama League of New York as one of the best regional theatres of the country. T...Read more

  8. # 8 of 476 Things To Do in Chapel Hill | Added 118 times in trip plans
    Finley Golf Course

    Tags: Golf Course, Entertainment, Games

    Address: 500 Finley Golf Course Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, United States

    Timings: 07:30 am - 06:00 pm Details

    Located in the UNC, the Finley golf course is home to the North Carolina Tar Heels men’s and women’s golf teams. Originally built by Raleigh businessman A. E. Finley in 1949, it has underg...Read more

  9. # 9 of 476 Things To Do in Chapel Hill | Added 71 times in trip plans
    Kidzu Children's Museum

    Tags: Museum, Children Museum, Educational Site, Entertainment

    Address: 201 S Estes Dr, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, United States

    Timings: 01:00 pm - 05:00 pm Details

    A special pad for kids, the Kidzu children’s museum is a fun ride for infants to teens. Spread over 8500 square foot the launch pad is brimming with activities that are play-centered yet impart ...Read more

  10. # 10 of 476 Things To Do in Chapel Hill | Added 112 times in trip plans
    Gimghoul Castle

    Tags: Castle, Historical Site

    Address: 742 Gimghoul Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, USA

    Timings: 08:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    This castle is not exactly a tourist attraction as it is a private property. There are many rumours about this castle. One of them says that it is the headquarters of a secret society formed by male s...Read more

  11. # 11 of 476 Things To Do in Chapel Hill | Added 20 times in trip plans
    Top Of The Hill Distillery

    Tags: Tour, Food And Drinks

    Address: 505 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, United States

    Timings: 06:00 pm - 08:00 pm Details

    Drop in for a tasting tour at a distillery handcrafted with 100% organic soft red winter wheat from Scotland Neck. Producing award-winning liquors like wheat-based whiskeys, sweet-tasting vodka, and a...Read more

  12. # 12 of 476 Things To Do in Chapel Hill | Added 59 times in trip plans
    Forest Theatre

    Tags: Performance, Theatre

    Address: Country Club Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27599

    Timings: 06:00 am - 06:00 pm Details

    Located in the Battle Park, this is an outdoor drama theatre applauded for its array of performances. The first performance was held in 1916 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare’s...Read more

  13. # 13 of 476 Things To Do in Chapel Hill | Added 47 times in trip plans
    Battle Park

    Tags: Outdoors, Beach, Trail, Park

    Address: Chapel Hill, NC 27514, United States

    Timings: 06:00 am - 06:00 pm Details

    An alluring wooded tract on the east side of the UNC campus, the Battle Park has a gorgeous location from downhill the Coker Arboretum. Spread over 93-acres, the park has beautiful pedestrian walkways...Read more

  14. # 14 of 476 Things To Do in Chapel Hill | Added 36 times in trip plans
    Southern Folk Life Collection

    Tags: Art And Culture, Museum, Educational Site, Entertainment

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

    Timings: 09:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    A resourceful repository dedicated to collecting and preserving vernacular music, art and culture of American South. The Southern Folklife collection offers compilation of work and provides a platform...Read more

  15. # 15 of 476 Things To Do in Chapel Hill | Added 5 times in trip plans
    Bread & Butter Bakery And Cafe

    Tags: Food And Drinks, Cafe, Bakery

    Address: 503 W Rosemary St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, USA

    Timings: 07:00 am - 08:00 pm Details

    The Bread & Butter Bakery and Cafe in the United States of America is a terrific bakery and cafe. This eatery is very well known for its artisan bread and pastries. This cafe also provides espress...Read more

  • Old Chapel Hill Cemetery

    302 Country Club Rd

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • Ayr Mount

    376 St Marys Rd

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • Burwell School

    319 N Churton St

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • Duke Homestead State Historic Site

    2828 Duke Homestead Rd

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • Historic Stagville

    5828 Old Oxford Rd

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • Horton Grove Complex

    5828 Old Oxford Rd

    Historic and Protected Sites
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  • Eastwood Lake

  • Clearwater Lake

    1700 Clearwater Lake Rd

  • Falls Lake

  • Eno Quarry

    4955 Howe St

  • Little River Lake

  • Bond Park Lake Trail

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  • Patterson's Mill Country Store

    5109 Farrington Rd

  • Morehead Planetarium and Science Center

    250 E Franklin St

  • The Carolina Basketball Museum

    450 Skipper Bowles Dr

  • Ackland Art Museum

    101 S Columbia St

  • Kidzu Children's Museum

    201 S Estes Dr

  • Horace Williams House

    610 E Rosemary St

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  • Glen Lenox Family Fare

    1201 Raleigh Rd

    Amusement Parks Arcades
  • Bounce U

    3419 Apex Peakway

    Amusement Parks Arcades
  • Xtreme Kombat Paintball

    7460 Wake Forest Rd

    Amusement Parks
  • Durham Early Head Start

    1201 S Briggs Ave

    Amusement Parks Arcades
  • Go Bananaz

    6022 Duraleigh Rd

    Amusement Parks
  • Adhd Coaching

    1004 Broad St

    Amusement Parks Arcades
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  • Nightlight

    405 1/2 W Rosemary St

    Bars Night Clubs
  • Spanky's Restaurant

    101 E Franklin St

    American Bars
  • The Crunkleton

    320 W Franklin St

    Bars Barbecue
  • Carolina Brewery

    460 W Franklin St

    American Bars Seafood
  • Dick & Jane's Tapas & Martini Bar

    109 W Clay St

    Middle Eastern Bars
  • Off Kilter Pub And Grille

    1700 Center St

    Bars Restaurants
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  • Montana Games

    4914 N Roxboro St

    Casinos and Gaming
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  • Forest Hills Park

    1639 University Dr

    Natural Parks
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  • Southern Community Park

    Dogwood Acres Dr

    Dog Parks
  • Homestead Dog Park

    Homestead Street

    Dog Parks
  • Gold Park

    415 Dimmocks Mill Rd

    Playgrounds Dog Parks
  • Apex Nature Park and Amphitheatre

    2600 Evans Rd

    Dog Parks
  • Piney Wood Dog Park

    400 E Woodcroft Pkwy

    Dog Parks
  • Windsor Dog Park

    Northwoods Village Dr

    Dog Parks
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  • Seaforth Beach

  • Carolina Officexchange

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  • Battle Branch Trail

    120 S Estes Dr

  • Morgan Creek Trail - NC Hwy 54 Access

  • Briar Chapel Parkway Trail

  • Chapel Hill North Trails

  • Al Buehler Cross Country Trail

    Cameron Blvd

  • American Tobacco Trail - Fayetteville Rd Access

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