Chapel Hill, North Carolina is a college town with southern charm. From shopping to dining to cultural attractions, this cool North Carolina city has plenty to offer travelers. Live like a local when you visit these top things to do in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
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If there is one area of town that you shouldn’t miss while visiting Chapel Hill it’s Franklin Street. Found in downtown Chapel Hill near the UNC campus, Franklin Street is home to boutiques, restaurants, bars and music venues. Popular among college students and locals alike, Franklin Street is always a vibrant part of town. To truly get a feel of the culture of Chapel Hill, a walk down Franklin Street is a must.
North Carolina Botanical Garden
Spend a nice day in Chapel Hill at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. This Chapel Hill attraction spans more than 1,000 acres. Home to native plant areas, curated gardens, and walking trails, the North Carolina Botanical Garden comes alive during spring and summer. Aside from strolling through the gardens, many people flock here for plant sales and educational opportunities too. From summer camps for kids to gardening classes for adults, the North Carolina Botanical Garden offers events for all ages.
Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery
Go where the locals go while in Chapel Hill, and the locals go to Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery. Complete with a great beer selection and a rooftop patio, Top of the HIll is the perfect place to unwind after a long day of sightseeing. This brewery has been in operation since 1996. Pair your pint of locally-made craft beer with American food classics found on the menu at Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery.
Dean E. Smith Center and The Carolina Basketball Museum
Sports fans shouldn’t miss a UNC basketball game at Dean E. Smith Center. However, with the center also housing the Carolina Basketball Museum, it’s a cool place to visit even when the UNC Tar Heels aren’t playing. The museum highlights the history of UNC basketball through photographs, artifacts, and various exhibits. Since the museum offers free admission, a visit here is a budget-friendly activity to do in Chapel Hill.
Morehead Planetarium and Science Center
Visit one of the oldest planetariums in the nation right here in Chapel Hill. The Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, which originally opened in 1949, has a variety of exhibits and classes to get both adults and kids excited about space. Home to permanent exhibits and a full-dome theater, the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is an exciting place to visit. Kids and teens will definitely enjoy attending one of the classes here, from science classes to skywatching sessions.
UNC Finley Golf Course
Play a round of golf at UNC Finley Golf Club, an 18-hole golf course in Chapel Hill. This popular Chapel Hill golf course was designed by famous golf course designer Tom Fazio. Golfers of all levels will enjoy spending time at the UNC Finley Golf Club. The original golf club opened in 1949 but received a massive renovation from Tom Fazio, reopening in 1999. After a round of golf, make sure to visit the onsite restaurant for a lunch buffet.
Al’s Burger Shack
After browsing the botanical garden or the Carolina Basketball Museum, stop for lunch at Al’s Burger Shack. This classic burger joint is a Chapel Hill staple. All made with local ingredients, Al’s serves burgers, hotdogs, fries and shakes. Order a local favorite off the menu here, the Bobo Chili Cheeseburger, which is made with coleslaw and chili sauce. There are three Al’s locations found in Chapel Hill, including one on Franklin Street.
Merritt's Store and Grill
Don’t leave Chapel Hill without enjoying a BLT from Merritt’s Store and Grill. The BLT sandwiches served at Merritt’s are legendary. A Chapel Hill staple since 1929, this restaurant serves not only sandwiches but also well-made Southern eats as well. Enjoy not only a hearty meal here but also live Bluegrass music too.
Ackland Art Museum
A popular attraction in Chapel Hill is the Ackland Art Museum, which houses a permanent collection of over 17,000 pieces of art. No matter if you’re an art enthusiast or looking for a way to spend a rainy day in Chapel Hill, this art museum is sure to impress any and all visitors. Along with the permanent gallery, Ackland also has temporary and rotating exhibits too. Contemporary art, foreign art, and local pottery pieces make up the collection here. Found on the University of North Carolina campus, the Ackland Art Museum offers classes for both university students, the public and kids too.