Chapel Hill, North Carolina is well known for its vibrant atmosphere, unique attractions, romantic parks, and great restaurants.
Things To Do In Chapel Hill NC, visit the Coker Arboretum at the University of North Carolina Inn at Chapel Hill, tour the Ackland Art Museum, and watch a sports game at the Dean E. Smith Center.
The best things to do in UNC Chapel Hill, NC with kids include Kidzu Children’s Museum and the Morehead Planetarium. Be sure to call the attractions and restaurants before your visit to confirm current opening times.
25 Best Things To Do In Chapel Hill NC Today
1. Ackland Art Museum
Established in 1958, the Ackland Art Museum is dedicated to educating, inspiring, and engaging the local community and the university community through the acquisition, preservation, and exhibition of outstanding works of art.
North Carolina pottery and European masterworks are just two of more than 17,000 works of art on display at the Museum of Arts and Design in Raleigh, North Carolina. For students, children and families, the Ackland Art Museum offers a variety of educational programs throughout the year, including traveling and special exhibitions.
In the heart of Chapel Hill’s downtown, the Ackland Hotel occupies a prime spot on S. Columbia Street, just steps from Franklin Street.
Address: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Campus Box 3400, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2. North Carolina Botanical Garden
More than 1,000 acres, including 10 acres of display gardens and several natural areas, make up the North Carolina Botanical Garden, which is a part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The North Carolina Botanical Garden was established to encourage interest in, knowledge of, and conservation efforts for the state’s flora. Its exhibits include a Garden of Flowering Plant Families, Display Gardens, and an Education Center with a wide range of educational exhibits.
For both adults and children, there is a year-round schedule of educational workshops and events as well as summer camps and plant sales.
Address: The University of North Carolina, CB 3375, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Phone: 919-962-0522
3. Dean E. Smith Center
University of Carolina at Chapel Hill Tar Heels play their home games in the Dean E. Smith Center, also referred to as the Dean Dome, a multi-purpose sports arena in Chapel Hill. The Dean Smith Center, which hosts many of North Carolina’s home basketball games, is one of the country’s most well-known athletic venues.
Dean E. Smith Center is open Monday through Friday and visitors can watch a game on the court from the stands. The Ernie Williamson Athletics Center, located next door, houses the Carolina Basketball Museum. The Smith Center and the Carolina Basketball Museum are both free to visit.
Address: 300 Skipper Bowles Dr, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Phone: 919-962-7777
4. Morehead Planetarium and Science Center
Located in Morehead City, NC, the Morehead Planetarium & Science Center has been in operation for more than a century. The Morehead Planetarium, on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was built in 1949 to teach astronauts how to navigate by star charts.
It had one of the world’s largest working Copernican orreries. For families looking for things to do in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, this is an excellent destination.
Also housed in the Morehead Building are the UNC Visitors Center and the UNC Morehead Observatory. GSK Fulldome Theater, Science Stage, various exhibits, and classrooms are all located in Morehead Building.
In addition to the History Hallway, Highway of the Planets and Where American astronauts first met the stars, the Science Center houses a number of permanent exhibitions. Skywatching, Starry Nights, Scout workshops, and a variety of science clubs are some of the educational options available to children and teenagers.
Address: 250 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Phone: 919-962-1236
5. PlayMakers Repertory Company
PlayMakers Repertory Company presents some of the state’s finest theatrical productions. The company’s goal is to transform the community through art by releasing plays that are both entertaining and thought-provoking, while upholding their values of artistic excellence and equality.
At the start of each season, the company releases a list of plays that are suitable for a wide range of audiences. For example, they’ve done a play based on the autobiography of American playwright August Wilson, a sweet comedy about the yoga industry, and an adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, among others.
The Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Arts hosts PlayMakers Repertory Company performances, which begin 90 minutes before curtain time.
Address: 120 Country Club Road, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599; Phone: 919-962-7529
6. Coker Arboretum
The North Carolina Botanical Garden manages the Coker Arboretum, which is located in the heart of the University of North Carolina. As one of the Botanical Garden’s oldest sections, the Arboretum features a diverse collection of flowering trees, shrubs, bulbs, and perennial displays.
The Arboretum was established in 1903. Monthly guided tours led by professional naturalists introduce visitors to this floral gem in the heart of Chapel Hill, North Carolina in an informal and informative setting.
Address: The University of North Carolina, CB 3375, 919-962-0522
7. Bryson Field At Boshamer Stadium
Bryson Field at Boshamer Stadium is, without a doubt, one of the best collegiate baseball stadiums in the country. In addition to hosting three NCAA Regionals and five Atlantic Coast Conference Tournaments, Bryson Field, located in the heart of the University of North Carolina campus since its opening in 1972, has hosted a number of other prestigious events.
Bryson Field is a state-of-the-art facility that features a 4,100-person capacity, an overflow capacity of over 5,000, a spacious concourse, and a lighting system that is superior to that of AAA minor league stadiums and on par with those of major league ballparks.
Address: 235 Ridge Road, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514, Phone: 919-962-6000
8. Kidzu Children’s Museum
The goal of the Kidzu Children’s North Carolina Museum is to encourage children to develop their imaginations and critical thinking skills through hands-on exhibits and activities. The museum offers a number of exhibits, such as the Flexible Forest, which includes a large-scale climbing wall, a tree house, and a crow’s nest, to inspire children to learn through play.
Farm to Fork is a part of the museum that teaches kids about organic, locally grown food, and the Forest Theater is a small theater that promotes creativity and drama for kids at duke university.
Friday Fam Jam, Messy Mornings, Storytimes, and Makery Masterpieces are just a few examples of the educational family programming for kids of all ages that Kidzu offers weekly, as well as numerous one-time workshops and events throughout the year.
Address: 201 S. Estes Drive inside University Place, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Phone: 919-933-1455
9. Gimghoul Castle
Students and locals alike have long been fascinated by the stories surrounding Gimghoul Castle’s storied past. It took over five years and a whopping fifty thousand dollars to build Gimghoul Castle, also known as Hippo Castle, on Gimghoul Road in Chapel Hill at South Carolina.
According to legend, Peter Dromgoole, who died in a duel for the love of a local girl named Fanny, haunts the castle. An underground organization founded in 1889 by prominent University of North Carolina alums was linked to the castle for a time as well. It was known as the Order of the Gimghoul.
Address: 705 Gimghoul Rd, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514
10. Time Out
Time Out, established in 1978 by UNC alumnus Eddie Williams, is one of Chapel Hill’s most beloved restaurants. The restaurant, now run by Williams’ son Eddie, has become a staple of life for students at UNC-Chapel Hill, open around the clock and known for its authentic Southern fare bull durham.
As seen on the Travel Channel, Buzzfeed, Thrillist, and The TODAY Show, the restaurant’s signature chicken and cheddar biscuits are also available plain, honey-drenched, or as part of an oversized biscuits sandwich stuffed with egg, sausage, or country fried steak.
Burgers and sandwiches of various varieties, as well as platters of barbecued pulled pork, fried chicken, and trout, are available at all hours of the day at research triangle.
Address: 201 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, Phone: 919- 929-2425
11. Horace Williams House
The Horace Williams House, built in 1854 and once home to the esteemed Professor Horace Williams, is the only historic house in Chapel Hill that is open to the public and serves as an example of “adaptive reuse” through the efforts of Preservation Chapel Hill.
In addition to housing the administrative offices of Preservation Chapel Hill, the Horace Williams House also functions as a community cultural hub.
For the benefit of the local community, it regularly presents free of charge a wide range of programs, concerts, art exhibits, and other events. House tours are available by appointment and run throughout the year for fun things.
Address: 610 E Rosemary St, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 919-942-7818
12. Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe
Originally from Bombay, Vimala Rajendran now runs the popular Indian restaurant Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe in Chapel Hill.
Typical Indian dishes like tandoori chicken, Kerala beef, pork vindaloo, and Kofta curry, as well as dosas, uttapams, salads, and bread, can be found on the menu at Vimala. Experience the sensational flavors of Vimala’s cuisine in the cozy and inviting restaurant (no reservations needed) or at home with takeout.
Open for lunch, dinner, and drinks Monday through Saturday, Vimala’s can accommodate events of all sizes, from small get-togethers to massive parties and special occasions at research triangle park.
Address: 431 W Franklin St Suite 16, Chapel Hill, NC, Phone: 919-929-3833
13. UNC Finley Golf Course
The UNC Finley Golf Course, designed by Tom Fazio, is an 18-hole par 72 layout with five sets of tees to test golfers of all skill levels.
The Par 72 course features a modern clubhouse with a restaurant and bar, as well as a well-designed layout and excellent practice facilities. Visitors to the club can take golf lessons from PGA pros and then refuel at the Naismith Grill, which serves a la carte soups, salads, sandwiches, and burgers after a round of golf.
It’s worth noting that there’s a full lunch buffet available at the restaurant, too. The pro shop has everything you need for a day of golf, and the bar serves a variety of beers for when you’re not out on the course at North Carolina State.
Address: 500 Finley Golf Course Road, Chapel Hill, NC, Phone: 919-962-2349
14. Honeysuckle Tea House
Honeysuckle Tea House cultivates its own organic produce, creates its own recipes for various tea blends, tinctures, and herbal remedies, and designs and packages a hand-picked and hand-crafted line of therapeutic products in collaboration with a number of ecology and health institutes.
Training in enlightenment, healing, and Reiki is provided at Honeysuckle Tea House, as is instruction in the healing arts for teachers. About 15 minutes from downtown Chapel Hill, you’ll find the peaceful Honeysuckle Tea House on its five tranquil acres.
8871 Pickard’s Meadow Road, Chapel Hill, NC, Phone: 919-903-9131
15. Buns of Chapel Hill
To put it simply, burgers are the main attraction at Buns. Buns of Chapel Hill, in the heart of Chapel Hill just to the northwest of the University of North Carolina campus, offers customers a selection of three different burgers and an abundance of delicious toppings to create their ideal burger.
The fresh buns are piled high with your choice of Angus chuck beef, ground turkey, or homemade veggie burger patties, and the condiments and dressings are plentiful. Enjoy your juicy burger with a side of golden, thick-cut fries and a creamy milkshake that was spun by hand.
Address: 107 N. Columbia Street, Chapel Hill, NC, Phone: 919-240-4746
16. Lavender Oaks Farm
There is a working lavender farm and boutique called Lavender Oaks Farm located on 60 beautiful private acres just a short drive from the heart of Chapel Hill. The Lavender Oaks Farm or almost same as North Carolina Zoo is a working farm that welcomes visitors who can take a tour of the beautifully restored and preserved historic barns on the property, all while being surrounded by a beautiful and truly majestic forest.
Each barn is a shining example of American ingenuity and serves as the backdrop for the farm’s culinary lavender events. Find out all about lavender, from its medicinal uses to its interesting background to its pleasant scent and beautiful appearance.
The Lavender Oaks Farm is open to visitors from June to July, and it is a great place to pick up some lavender-themed homemade treats, including lavender syrups, jams, and even a lavender balsamic vinegar.
Address: 3833 Millard Whitley Road, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27516, Phone: 919-909-7417
17. Carolina Performing Arts
Carolina Performing Arts’ mission is to foster artistic innovation by providing the community with transformative art experiences and performances.
Carolina Performing Arts not only hosts a variety of performances for the local community but also offers a number of educational programs for students to help them incorporate the arts into their daily lives at the University.
In addition to Memorial Hall and the Historic Playmakers Forest Theatre on the UNC campus, Carolina Performing Arts also use Gerrard Hall.
Address: 114 E Cameron Ave, Chapel Hill, NC, Phone: 919-843-3333
Elements is a chic and trendy restaurant in Chapel Hill restaurant, perfect for a date because it offers a one-of-a-kind dining experience in an upscale and modern setting.
Seasonal lunch and dinner menus are created by Chef Michael Chuong and his team using ingredients and flavors from local farms and markets along with contemporary Asian and European cooking techniques at hill restaurant.
Menus are updated weekly to feature the best products from nearby farms, and guests can choose from a wide variety of drinks, including craft beers, specialty cocktails, and carefully selected wines from around the world.
Address: 2110 Environ Way, Chapel Hill, NC, Phone: 919-537-8780
19. Linda’s Bar
The menu at Linda’s Bar, an informal eatery, features traditional American dishes paired with specialty cocktails, draft, and craft beers, and small-batch wines. The dimly lit, homey atmosphere is inviting, and the menu boasts tasty options like Philly cheesesteak, Cuban sliders, gourmet burgers, garden fresh salads, and a variety of sides.
From Monday through Friday, you can stop by Linda’s Bar for lunch and take advantage of the daily food and drink specials they have to offer.
Address: 203 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC, Phone: 919-933-6663
CholaNad is a cozy restaurant in Chennai, India, serving modern Tamil cuisine. The restaurant’s interior is warm and inviting thanks to its high gabled ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and decorative touches like potted ficus trees and clusters of bamboo, not to mention the tantalizing scents of freshly cooked curried lamb and chicken, vegetable bhaji, and steaming lentil dal wafting through the air.
The beachside tropical lentils and assorted vegetable pakoras created by executive chef Subash Panneerselvam are just two examples of the authentic flavors of southern India that he brings to Chapel Hill.
The bar serves snacks typical of Chennai during Happy Hour, and the food is served to customers individually on banana leaves, for a truly authentic Indian experience.
Address: 308 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC, Phone: 800-246-5262
21. Merritt’s Store and Grill
The BLT and other sandwiches at Merritt’s have made it a Chapel Hill staple since the restaurant first opened in 1929. Merritt’s is a popular restaurant in Chapel Hill that serves up southern classics with a “French-rustic” twist, and it takes great pride in using only the freshest ingredients without any preservatives.
Choose from a wide selection of freshly baked bread, soups, salads, burgers, hot dogs, and other specialties to make a delicious breakfast or lunch sandwich. Indulge in a BLT while listening to live Bluegrass at a café that hosts live music on a regular basis.
Address: 1009 S Columbia Street, Chapel Hill, NC, Phone: 919-942-4897
22. Spring Haven Farm
At Spring Haven Farm, you can have all the incredible fun and joy of living on a farm without having to do any of the work. Since its 2016 opening, Spring Haven Farm has welcomed local and international families and visitors, teaching them about the importance of treating animals and the environment with compassion.
In addition to these ideals, visitors to Spring Haven Farm can gain knowledge about agriculture and discover ways to strengthen community through interaction with humans and animals.
Tickets to Spring Haven Farm’s amazing daily events, such as Baby Goat Zen Hour and Movies with Goats, and petting zoo adventures with horses, cows, pigs, goats, and other farm animals, sell out quickly, so visitors are advised to purchase them in advance if they want to avoid missing out.
Address: 5306 Homer Ruffin Road, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27516, Phone: 919-407-1806
23. 1870 Farm
The 17-acre education farm known as the 1870 Farm is located just a short distance from the heart of Chapel Hill. 1870 Farm hosts farm education events on a regular basis and even offers tours that take guests around idyllic sunlit pastures, glorious winding paths, and stunning ancient oak trees.
Visitors can interact with a friendly family of animals including alpacas, llamas, donkeys, ponies, bunnies, goats, and more at their picture-perfect white barn! Visitors can play in the lovely garden, go bass fishing, have a picnic, or look for sparkling gemstones in addition to tours and petting zoo experiences.
1870 Farm is only open by appointment or through scheduled program visits, so make a reservation in advance to avoid being turned away at the door.
Address: 1224 Old Lystra Road, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27517, Phone: 919-590-4120
24. TOPO Distillery
Top of the Hill Distillery serves USDA-certified organic spirits. The distillery, affectionately known as TOPO, only serves spirits fermented and distilled entirely in Chapel Hill. Even the wheat used by the distillery is sourced from North Carolina.
TOPO opens its doors to guests who want to explore the distillery and participate in tastings during tour hours. Sip on wheat whiskey, spiced rum, moonshine whiskey, Rokomelo liqueur, and vodka, or have it delivered to your door with their curbside service.
TOPO’s distilled offering pairs well with menu items such as the Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich, Edamame Burger, Jalapeno-Cheddar Hushpuppies, and Wild Mushroom Grit Cakes. Order the TOPO Whiskey and Coke Braised Beef as a special treat.
Address: 505 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27516, Phone: 919-679-9120
25. The Uncommon Garden
The Uncommon Garden is a natural wonderland filled with beautifully designed gardens and eye-catching outdoor art installations. When a house was purchased in 1995, the Uncommon Garden was born.
After the owners moved in in 1997, the garden began to take shape in 2000. Local artist Rik Hermanson dedicated his time in the years that followed to transform the garden into what it is today: a Chapel Hill treasure that is only open to the public for a limited time each year.
As you stroll through the grounds, you’ll notice tranquil water gardens inspired by the Far East, as well as rock assemblages with eye-catching features. A must-see is the 200-year-old white oak in The Uncommon Garden.
FAQs Things To Do In Chapel Hill NC
Is Chapel Hill NC worth visiting?
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is a year-round tourist destination with everything from world-class dining to fun activities for the whole family. We’d love to hear about your favorite things to do if you’ve visited the area.
What is special about Chapel Hill?
One of the best college towns in the country, Chapel Hill has a reputation for providing a wide range of social, cultural, and professional opportunities for its residents.
What do UNC students do for fun?
Sporting events, intramural sports, fraternity parties or functions, clubs, and other organizations are the most popular activities on campus. Carolina Fever, a student organization that organizes trips to sporting events, is extremely popular with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students.
Where do UNC-Chapel Hill students hang out?
Take a stroll through the campus’s central courtyard, known as “The Pit,” to see where students congregate. There may be some unexpected entertainment to be had while you’re there! The Old Well, which sits in the middle of campus, is a well-known landmark.