27 BEST Things to Do in Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill is located in the heart of North Carolina’s Piedmont region, known for its picturesque landscapes and Southern charm. The small city is adorned with tree-lined streets, historic buildings, and a lively downtown area. It offers a blend of small-town friendliness with the amenities of a cosmopolitan city.

The town is home to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of the oldest public universities in the United States, and is quite lively throughout the year. This means there are plenty of things to do in Chapel Hill for all.

From strolling Historic Franklin Street to visiting the North Carolina Botanical Garden and Ackland Art Museum, let’s dig into all the best Chapel Hill attractions.

The Best Things to Do in Chapel Hill

1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Campus

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Campus
Image courtesy of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Campus
  • Address: Chapel Hill (GPS)

The University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill campus is one of the biggest attractions of the town, and rightfully so.

The campus is enriched in history, natural beauty, and a plethora of attractions within its walls. Nature lovers, artists, history aficionados, science and space fans, basketball fans, kids, and adults, will all find something to love on this iconic campus.

It is one of the oldest public universities in the country and has some legendary historical landmarks such as the Old Well which was built in 1793 and Davie Poplar.

The beautiful campus also provides a chance for a lovely stroll through its grounds and has one of the best-maintained botanical gardens. The Planetarium is another spot within the campus for those seeking a star-studded show. As for the sports fans, there’s a whole museum dedicated to basketball, and these attractions are just the tip of the iceberg. 

2. North Carolina Botanical Garden

North Carolina Botanical Garden
Image courtesy of North Carolina Botanical Garden
  • Address: 100 Old Mason Farm Rd, Chapel Hill (GPS)
  • Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 9:00 am -5:00 pm, Sunday: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

North Carolina Botanical Garden is 1200 acres of natural beauty and a learning opportunity situated on the University of North Carolina campus. Its winding paths will take you to several other gardens, each with its own collection of native plants and natural areas.

There’s also an Instructional Center in the garden for those who wish to develop a finer understanding of indigenous flora and its preservation efforts.

Depending on the time of the year, you just might get a chance to attend one of their seminars or take part in fun activities for adults and kids. The botanical gardens also arrange summer camps and plant sales for nature lovers. 

3. Morehead Planetarium

Morehead Planetarium
Image courtesy of Morehead Planetarium / Things to Do in Chapel Hill
  • Address: 250 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill (GPS)
  • Hours: Friday: 2:30 pm – 6:00 pm, Saturday – Sunday: 1:00 pm -6:00 pm,
    Closed: Monday – Thursday
  • Cost of Admission: For ticket information click here.

Located in UNC–Chapel Hill Campus, Morehead Planetarium is one of the oldest planetariums in the USA and organizes full-dome shows, exhibits, and Science Stage programs. Along with the exhibits, there are space classes taking place within the planetarium which can be attended by space-loving kids and adults alike.

The amount of information, exploration, and skywatching sessions is enough to get anyone excited, let alone space enthusiasts. You can easily spot the planetarium from afar through the large and iconic sundial on its façade. 

4. Ackland Art Museum

Ackland Art Museum
Image courtesy of Ackland Art Museum
  • Address: 101 S Columbia St, Chapel Hill (GPS)
  • Hours: Wednesday – Saturday: 10:00 am -5:00 pm, Sunday: 1:00 pm -5:00 pm,
    Monday -Tuesday: Closed
  • Cost of Admission: Free

To foster learning and to drive inspiration in blooming artists, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Campus, houses one of the best collections of artworks in the Ackland Art Museum. Here, tourists and students get a chance to admire more than 18,000 pieces of exceptional Asian art, European masterpieces, and much more.

There’s a permanent gallery in the museum alongside temporary exhibits, featured artists, and other art programs and events. Art lover or not, the psychedelic display of art in the museum draws everyone in, especially the kids. 

5. Carolina Basketball Museum.

Carolina Basketball Museum
Image courtesy of North Carolina Tar Heels
  • Address: 450 Skipper Bowles Dr, Chapel Hill (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Friday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, Saturday: 9:00 am -1:00 pm,
    Closed: Sunday
  • Cost of Admission: Free

Having so many mind-blowing attractions within its walls, there’s one that still rises above all in the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, Carolina Basketball Museum. Especially for pro sports fans. It’s no secret that UNC has one of the most robust athletic programs in the country and the college team has the most impenetrable fan following.

In the museum, you can learn all about Carolina’s nationally-ranked basketball program and take a fresh look at the history of the Tar Heels through pictures, exhibits, videos, documentaries, artifacts, etc. 

6. Finley Golf Course

Finley Golf Course
Image courtesy of Finley Golf Course / Things to Do in Chapel Hill
  • Address: 216 Finley Golf Course Rd, Chapel Hill (GPS)
  • :Hours: Golf shop- Monday – Friday: 9:00 am -5:00 pm

Finley Golf Course is a top-rated public golf course found on the UNC campus. The course features 18 holes set against a backdrop of rolling hills and lush greenery. The course is fun and challenging for golfers of all levels.

Visitors can enjoy a round of golf and take in the scenic beauty of the area. The course also features a pro shop and restaurant for the much-needed fodder after a thrilling round of golf. This top-tier golf course is designed by none other than the legendary Tom Fazio. 

7. Dean E. Smith Center 

Dean E. Smith Center
Image courtesy of Goheels.com / Things to Do in Chapel Hill
  • Address: 300 Skipper Bowles Dr, Chapel Hill (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Friday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, Saturday: 9:00 am -1:00 pm,
    Closed: Sunday
  • Cost of Admission: For ticket information, click here.

The Dean E. Smith Center is a legendary arena that has been home to the UNC Tar Heels basketball team since 1986. No basketball fan in Chapel Hill can miss this iconic stadium where some of their idols and top basketball players from the Tar Heels have played and fine-tuned their skills.

The arena features seating for over 20,000 fans and has hosted numerous NCAA basketball games, including Final Four matchups. Visitors can tour the arena and learn about its rich history and legacy. If they are lucky, they might even catch a game in action. 

8. Franklin Street

Franklin Street
Wgreaves, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A spot in UNC that you wouldn’t want to miss is Franklin Street. This flamboyant thoroughfare is lined with some of the most fun activities on the campus. Students, visitors, and tourists flock to this street once the sun sets to enjoy the happening campus life.

Some top shops on the street include Carolina Coffee Shop, AI’s Burger Shack, Mediterranean Deli, and Linda’s Bar and Grill to name just a few. It’s highly likely that even Michael Jordan himself stopped here every now and then for a little bit of fun.  

9. The Varsity Theatre

The Varsity Theatre
Image courtesy of The Varsity Theatre / Things to Do in Chapel Hill
  • Address: 123 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill (GPS)
  • Hours: Friday: 7:00 pm, Saturday – Sunday: 4:00 pm, 7:00 pm, Wednesday: 7:00 pm

Another gem on Franklin Street, the Varsity Theatre is a historic movie theatre that has been entertaining audiences since 1927. With its vintage marquee, mysterious corridors, and old-school theatre decor, the Varsity is a timeless and classic theatre and a beloved local landmark.

The theater shows a mix of independent and mainstream films, as well as hosting special events and film festivals. Don’t let the small façade of the theatre fool you, once you step in, it’s a whole world inside. 

10. Horace Williams House

Horace Williams House
Image courtesy of Preservation Chapel Hill
  • Address: 610 E Rosemary St, Chapel Hill (GPS)
  • Hours: Thursday – Friday: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm, Sunday: 2: 00 pm – 5:00pm,
    Closed: Monday- Wednesday & Saturday

The Horace Williams House is a historic house museum located on Franklin Street in UNC-Chapel Hill. Built-in 1854, the house belonged to a beloved professor and a popular faculty member, Horace Williams. He passed away but his legacy lives through his house.

It is now a museum and has been beautifully preserved to retain the integrity and charm of its time. The house offers tours and events that showcase its rich history. It is for anyone who loves historic homes and wants to learn more about Chapel Hill’s past.

11. Coker Arboretum

Coker Arboretum
Image courtesy of Visit Chapel Hill & Orange County, NC
  • Address: 399 E Cameron Ave, Chapel Hill (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 6:00 am -6:00 pm
  • Cost of Admission: Free

Coker Arboretum is a vast botanical garden located on the UNC campus. In other words, five acres of serene walkways and pathways pass through a field of wildflowers. The color of the garden changes with the season, allowing the visitors to experience subliminal joy as they stroll through the garden.

Coker Arboretum is open 24 hours a day, all year. The paths are wheelchair accessible and leashed pets are allowed to enjoy the greenery with their owners. 

12. Memorial Hall

Memorial Hall Chapel Hill
Image courtesy of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Address: 114 E Cameron Ave, Chapel Hill (GPS)

Located at the center of the University of North Carolina’s campus, Memorial Hall is the largest venue for performing arts events at UNC. The hall was first built in 1883 for ceremonies and games but today it is used by Carolina’s performing arts program.

The beautiful space has excellent acoustics and a rich history. The hall is for anyone who loves music, theater, or dance and is seeking a unique cultural experience.

13. Battle Park

Battle Park Chapel Hill
Image courtesy of North Carolina Botanical Garden
  • Address: Glandon Dr, Chapel Hill (GPS)
  • Hours: Open 24 hours
  • Cost of Admission: Free

Battle Park is a peaceful nature preserve located on the edge of the UNC campus. The old-growth forest is perfect for those who crave raw and untamed nature. The park features hiking trails, creeks, and beautiful natural scenery.

During one of your hikes, you may even stumble upon the Koch Memorial Forest Theatre, a stone amphitheater with more than ten decades of history. It is for anyone who wants to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the town and enjoy a serene natural environment.

The faculty, tourists, and locals rush here most weekends to unwind and relax in nature. Families and kids will also have a good time in this little oasis. 

14. Carolina North Forest

  • Address: Chapel Hill (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Friday & Sunday: 7:00 am – 8:30 pm, Saturday: 6:00 am -8:00 pm

Carolina North Forest is another gem of nature within the walls of UNC. It is a beautiful natural area with tall trees and ardent grounds that offers hiking, biking, and running trails.

Located on the northern edge of Chapel Hill, the forest is a great place to explore the local flora and fauna. It has been a place of tranquility and relaxation for the faculty, and it is for anyone who loves outdoor recreation and wants to connect with nature and disconnect from the urban environment for a while. 

15. North Carolina Collection Gallery

North Carolina Collection Gallery
Image courtesy of North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Address: 200 South Rd, Chapel Hill (GPS)
  • Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday – Monday: Closed

With more than 35,000 artifacts on display and historic rooms, the North Carolina Collection Gallery allows visitors to take a step back in time and witness four centuries of history through their Research Library, Collection Gallery, and Photographic Archives.

Located on the UNC campus, the museum offers exhibits and events that highlight North Carolina’s unique heritage. The collection and many of the exhibits are permanent, meanwhile, the events are ever-changing. 

16. Kenan Memorial Stadium 

Kenan Memorial Stadium 
Image courtesy of Goheels.com
  • Address: 104 Stadium Dr, Chapel Hill (GPS)

Chapel Hill’s basketball scene often overshadows its football scene, which is a shame because its football teams have been just as successful and legendary. However, pro sports fans already know that. Which is why, they love to visit Kenan Memorial Stadium, a historic stadium that has been home to the UNC Tar Heels football team since 1927.

The stadium seats over 50,000 fans and has hosted numerous championship games and other sporting events. Visitors can take a tour of the stadium and learn about its history and legacy.

17. Old Chapel Hill Cemetery 

Old Chapel Hill Cemetery 
Ildar Sagdejev CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Address: Chapel Hill, NC (GPS)

Although visiting a cementary may not seem like one of the best things to do in Chapel Hill, this one may pique your interest.

Old Chapel Hill Cemetery lies in the belly of the UNC campus. The cemetery is not only beautiful but is also recognized as a historic place that was built even before the Civil War. The oldest marked grave in the cemetery is of George Clarke, a student who died in 1798 and was buried here. 

18. The Carolina Inn

The Carolina Inn
Image courtesy of The Carolina Inn / Things to Do in Chapel Hill
  • Address: 211 Pittsboro St, Chapel Hill (GPS)

The Carolina Inn is a historic and stunning hotel in the heart of Chapel Hill and only a few minutes away from the University of North Carolina. Although the priciest in the city, the fine hotel is considered fit for a king. It is recognized as a national historic landmark and has remained an integral part of the UNC community.

It’s only a few minutes walk from Franklin Street, the football stadium, and the basketball arena. With its classic Southern hospitality and modern designs, the Carolina Inn has that magical, whimsical touch to it. 

19. Bolin Creek Trail

  • Address: Chapel Hill, NC (GPS)

The Bolin Creek Trail is the oldest and the longest greenway in Chapel Hill. It stretches for 2.5 miles, meandering alongside the picturesque meadow and a wooded floodplain. Hikers, bikers, and pedestrians can enjoy this serene trail anytime from dusk to dawn.

The trail can be accessed through the Chapel Hill Community Center or through the Battle Branch Trail. There’s parking available at several checkpoints along with picnic tables, playgrounds, and washrooms. It’s a great place for nature lovers to disconnect and unwind before jumping back into all the exciting chaos of Chapel Hill. 

20. Kidzu Children’s Museum

Kidzu Children's Museum
Image courtesy of Kidzu Children’s Museum / Things to Do in Chapel Hill
  • Address: Located Inside University Place Mall, 201 S Estes Dr, Chapel Hill (GPS)
  • Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Sunday: 12:30 pm – 5:00 pm
  • Cost of Admission: General admission: Members:Free, Non-Members: $8.50,
    Museums for ALL National Access Program: $3.00

Kidzu Children’s Museum is a fun and educational destination for families with young children. Located in University Place in downtown Chapel Hill, the museum offers interactive exhibits and programs that allow curious kids to learn with full liberty and no restrictions.

It is perfect for kids ages 0-8 who like to touch everything and ask a lot of questions about anything and everything. 

21. Chapel Hill Farmers’ Market

Chapel Hill Farmers' Market
Image courtesy of Chapel Hill Farmers’ Market
  • Address: In front of Stoney River restaurant, 201 S Estes Dr, Chapel Hill (GPS)
  • Hours: Tuesday: 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm, Saturday: 8:00 am -12:00 pm,
    Closed: Monday, Wednesday – Friday & Sunday

The Chapel Hill Farmers’ Market is a psychedelic and warm community gathering place that offers fresh, locally grown produce, meat, seafood, and artisanal products. Located in the University Mall parking lot, the market is open on Saturdays year-round and on Wednesdays during the summer.

It is for anyone who cares about supporting sustainable agriculture, local farmers, and eating delicious, healthy food. The taste of freshly baked goods in the farmer’s market is truly unmatched. 

22. Cat’s Cradle

  • Address: 300 E Main St, Carrboro (GPS)
  • Cost of Admission: For ticket informations, click here.

Cat’s Cradle is a legendary music venue that has hosted many famous artists for nearly half a century. Located on Main Street in Carrboro, less than a mile from UNC, the venue offers live music performances and events. It is for anyone who loves live music and wants to experience the eclectic local music scene.

This venue has hosted the likes of Nirvana, Public Enemy, Iggy Pop, John Meyer, etc. Interestingly, the famous venue has the capacity to seat only 750 people. That means you can enjoy music and listen to the artist in a close-up intimate setting, almost like a private concert. 

23. Gimghoul Castle

Gimghoul Castle
  • Address: Chapel Hill (GPS)

There are few college campuses in the world that don’t have at least one ghost story passed down from one batch to another. UNC is no exception. The fact that this college town also has a real castle from the 19th century makes it tenfold more interesting. 

Located on Gimghoul Road in Chapel Hill, Gimghoul Castle is a mysterious and intriguing local landmark that has captured the imagination of Chapel Hill residents and students for generations.

The castle is a private residence that can be seen from the road. It’s believed that a lover’s spirit haunts the castle, and there’s even a secret club formed in 1889 by the graduates in connection with the castle. It is for anyone who enjoys exploring local history and legends.

24. Hill Restaurant and Brewery

Hill Restaurant and Brewery
Image courtesy of Top of the Hill / Things to Do in Chapel Hill
  • Address: 100 E Franklin St #300, Chapel Hill (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday & Wednesday: 12:00pm – 10:00 pm, Thursday – Friday: 12:00 pm-
    2:00 am , Saturday: 11:00 am – 2:00 am, Sunday:11: 00 am – 2:00 am

Top of the Hill is one of the most popular restaurants and amazing Carolina breweries located on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. The restaurant was established in 1996 and has been a local favorite ever since. It offers delicious food and locally brewed beer, as well as stunning views of the town from its rooftop bar.

It is for anyone who loves good food, beer, and the atmosphere. It is not just the top-of-the-hill location that makes the restaurant stand out but the fact that the beers and spirits are crafted on-site and that the menu features American Food prepared with farm-fresh, local ingredients 

25. Chapel Hill Museum

The Chapel Hill Museum offers a glimpse into the town’s rich history and culture. The exhibits feature artifacts and memorabilia from the town’s early days to the present. Visitors can learn about the area’s Native American heritage, famous residents, and influential events. Admission is free, making it a great destination for families and history buffs.

26. Steel String Brewery

Steel String Brewery
Image courtesy of Steel String Brewery
  • Address: 106 S Greensboro St suite a, Carrboro (GPS)
  • Hours:: Monday – Friday : 2:00 pm – 11:00 pm, Saturday – Sunday: 12:00 -11:00 pm

Located in downtown Carrboro, Steel String Brewery is a popular destination for house craft beer lovers. The brewery features a variety of craft beers made with locally sourced ingredients. Visitors can enjoy a flight of beers in the spacious taproom or on the outdoor patio.

The brewery also hosts live music and special events throughout the year to offer laid-back entertainment to the visitors as they enjoy good beer and good company. 

27. 1870 Farm

1870 Farm Chapel Hill
Image courtesy of 1870 Farm / Things to Do in Chapel Hill
  • Address: 1224 Old Lystra Rd, Chapel Hill (GPS)
  • Cost of Admission: For ticket information, click here.

1870 Farm is a rustic, nostalgic, and adventurous farm that was first built in 1870 and has been carefully restored to provide a unique experience to visitors. The large barn and the rolling countryside allow the children to be wild and free.

The unique setting also takes the grownups back to a time before technology and responsibilities. The charming farm gets the visitors in touch with the simple and grounded life where they can lie under the oak trees while the kids run around and befriend chickens and baby goats. Visitors can enjoy the peaceful ambiance and natural beauty of the area.

The Best Things To Do In Chapel Hill Map


We hope this list of best things to do in Chapel Hill helps you determine what to do! For more travel around the region, see below:

Plan For Your Trip to the South!

  • Get Around: We suggest renting a car for traveling the Carolinas. Check Prices on RentalCars.com
  • Our Favorite Travel Shoes: Our answer to this question is always Allbirds.
About Natasha

Natasha moved to North Carolina for college years ago (but she's not trying to age herself here). Her days were spent reading a book on the beach and enjoying a cold glass of sweet tea in between classes at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Upon graduation, she met her partner, Cameron, and they traveled the world together crossing 85 countries and seven continents. After, many years of international travel they settled down a bit and launched Lost in the Carolinas to share their experiences about and travel tips on South Carolina and North Carolina.

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