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11 Best Things To Do In Chapel Hill NC

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11 Best Things To Do In Chapel Hill: Old Well at UNC-Chapel Hill

Are you planning a trip to Chapel Hill, North Carolina? Are you looking for exciting things to do in Chapel Hill, North Carolina? Chapel Hill, a small town in the southern state of North Carolina, is home to the prestigious University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

UNC is not just one of America’s oldest public colleges, but it is also breathtakingly gorgeous. But it isn’t all. There are plenty of other attractions in Chapel Hill that will easily entice you to spend a day or two in this lovely Southern town. 

Whether you’re here for a school tour or to explore North Carolina’s Research Triangle, make time to see the prominent Chapel Hill attractions.

11 Best Things To Do In Chapel Hill: the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill

Visiting Chapel Hill? Check out our other guides:

11 Best Things To Do In Chapel Hill

Ackland Art Museum

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Campus Box 3400 // (919) 966-5736

The Ackland Art Museum, which opened in 1958, acquires, preserves, and exhibits a wide range of great art to educate, inspire, and involve both university students and the surrounding community.

In his permanent collection of more than 17,000 pieces of art, the museum, legacy of William Ackland, includes a great number of European masterworks, African and Asian art, 20th and modern art, and North Carolina pottery.

Throughout the year, the Ackland Art Museum hosts several traveling and special exhibitions, as well as educational activities for students, children, and families.

11 Best Things To Do In Chapel Hill: Ackland Art Museum

In downtown Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the Ackland is located on S. Columbia Street near the Franklin Street junction.

North Carolina Botanical Garden

CB 3375 // (919) 962-0522

11 Best Things To Do In Chapel Hill: Botanical Garden

The North Carolina Botanical Garden, which is part of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, spans over 1,000 acres and includes ten acres of showcase gardens as well as many natural areas.

The North Carolina Botanical Garden has several living spaces displaying gardens interpreting North Carolina’s plants and vegetation, natural paths, floral plant families, showcase gardens, and the Instructional Center, which has various education displays. It was established to promote a piece of knowledge, respect, and effort to preserve indigenous flora.

Throughout the year, there is a schedule of educational seminars and activities for adults and children and summer camps and plant sales.

Dean E. Smith Center

300 Skipper Bowles Dr // (919) 962-6000

If you are a sports fanatic looking for things to do in Chapel Hill, make sure to visit this historic basketball venue. The Dean E. Smith Center, commonly known as Dean Dome, is a multi-purpose sports stadium in Chapel Hill that serves as the home of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tar Heels. 

The arena, which is utilized for home basketball games and is one of America’s most popular sporting arenas, is named for former North Carolina men’s basketball coach Dean Smith.

The Dean E. Smith Center is open Monday through Friday, and visitors may see the playing court from the seating area; however, guided tours are not available. The Carolina Basketball Museum, which is located next door at the Ernie Williamson Athletics Center, is also housed in the Center. Both the Smith Center and the Carolina Basketball Museum are free to visit.

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center

250 E Franklin St // (919) 962-1236

Visiting one of the country’s oldest and largest planetariums, the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is also one of the best things to do in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. On the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Morehead Planetarium first opened in 1949 to teach astronauts about celestial navigation. 

It housed one of the world’s largest operating Copernican orreries. If you’re looking for something to do with your kids in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, this is a fantastic location to go.

The UNC Visitors Center, Morehead-Cain Foundation, and UNC Morehead Observatory are all located in the Morehead Building, which also houses the GSK Fulldome Theater, the Science Stage, other exhibitions, and classes.

History Hallway, Highway of the Planets, and Where American Astronauts First Met the Stars are among the Science Center’s permanent exhibits. Skywatching, starry nights, Scout seminars, and other scientific groups are among the educational activities available to children and teenagers.

11 Best Things To Do In Chapel Hill: Morehead Planetarium and Science Center

Coker Arboretum

The University of North Carolina, CB 3375 // (919) 962-0522

The North Carolina Botanical Garden manages the Coker Arboretum, which is located in the heart of the University of North Carolina.

The Arboretum, one of the Botanical Garden’s oldest tracts, was created in 1903 and now contains a contemporary collection of blooming trees, shrubs, bulbs, and permanent displays. Monthly guided tours conducted by experienced naturalists provide a relaxing, educational introduction to the Arboretum, which is located in the center of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

The Arboretum, which is located next to the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center on the UNC campus, is open every day from dawn to sunset all year. This is a great activity for your weekend escapes to Chapel Hill!

11 Best Things To Do In Chapel Hill: Coker Arboretum

Gimghoul Castle

705 Gimghoul Rd //

For students and residents alike, the tale of Gimghoul Castle has long been a source of intrigue, gossip, and fascination. Gimghoul Castle, originally known as Hippol Castle, is located on Gimghoul Road in Chapel Hill. It took more than five years to build the castle, which cost an astronomical $50,000 back in the 1920s.

The spirit of Peter Dromgoole, who died in a fight over his love for a local girl named Fanny, is said to haunt the castle. The Order of the Gimghoul, a secret club formed in 1889 by prominent UNC graduates, has also been linked to the castle.

Time Out

201 E Franklin St // (919) 929-2425

Eddie Williams, a University of North Carolina alumnus, founded Time Out in 1978, and it has since become one of Chapel Hill’s most beloved dining establishments. Today, Williams’ son Eddie runs the restaurant, which has become a staple of the UNC-Chapel Hill undergraduate experience, providing its trademark Southern-style cuisine 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Travel Channel, Buzzfeed, Thrillist, and The TODAY Show have all covered the restaurant’s trademark chicken and cheddar biscuits, which are also offered plain, honey-drenched, or as giant biscuits sandwiches packed with egg, sausage, or country fried steak.

Throughout the day, barbecue pulled pork, fried chicken, and trout platters, as well as a variety of specialty burgers and sandwiches, are available.  Even though we are looking at a restaurant here, it is still one of the best things to do in Chapel Hill. 

UNC Finley Golf Course

500 Finley Golf Course Rd // (919) 962-2349

The UNC Finley Golf Course, designed by Tom Fazio, is an 18-hole course with five tee boxes that will test golfers of all abilities, from touring pro to a high handicapper.

The Par 72 course features a beautiful layout, excellent practice facilities, and a contemporary clubhouse with a restaurant and bar. Visitors to the club may take golf lessons from expert golfers and dine at the Naismith Grill after a game, which offers an a la carte menu of typical foods including soups, salads, sandwiches, and burgers.

A comprehensive lunch buffet is also available at the restaurant. On and off the course, enjoy a variety of various finger-lickin’ and stop by the pro store for all your golfing requirements.

11 Best Things To Do In Chapel Hill: Chapel Hill Golf Course

Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe

431 W Franklin St Suite 16 // (919) 929-3833

Vimala Rajendran, who was born and raised in Bombay and offers her skill and love for Indian food to Chapel Hill customers, owns and manages Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe.

Indian staples include tandoori chicken, Kerala beef, pork vindaloo, and Kofta curry, as well as dosas and uttapams, salads, and bread available on Vimala’s menu. Vimala’s delectable cuisine may be enjoyed in the restaurant’s warm and inviting ambiance (reservations are not necessary) or in the privacy of your own home with a takeaway.

11 Best Things To Do In Chapel Hill: Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe Interior

Vimala’s offers a wide range of events, from small gatherings to major celebrations and special occasions, and the restaurant is open for lunch, dinner, and beverages Monday through Saturday. Make sure to try this authentic Indian restaurant when looking for something to do in Chapel Hill. 

Buns of Chapel Hill

107 N. Columbia Street // (919) 240-4746

It’s all about the burger at Buns! Buns of Chapel Hill, located in the center of Chapel Hill just northwest of the University of North Carolina campus, offers customers a choice of three burgers and a multitude of delectable toppings from which to create the burger of their dreams!

Choose from Angus chuck beef, fresh ground turkey, or handmade veggie burger patties on a fresh bun, and then customize your burger with cheese, bacon, salads, veggies, and a selection of sauces. Add a mound of golden, thick-cut fries and a hand-spun milkshake to your delectable burger.

When you’ve finished eating here, make sure to schedule an activity in Chapel Hill that involves walking!

Carolina Performing Arts

114 E Cameron Ave // (919) 843-3333

Carolina Performing Arts are committed to fostering creativity in the community by providing great art experiences and transformational performances. 

Carolina Performing Arts offers a calendar of performances for local audiences, including dance, world music, jazz, and classical concerts, as well as a variety of instructional initiatives to assist students to incorporate the arts into their university experience.

Carolina Performing Arts puts on shows at Memorial Hall, the Historic Playmakers Theatre, and Gerrard Hall on the University of North Carolina’s campus, among other places in Chapel Hill.


Chapel Hill has a variety of exciting attractions, 16 parks, and a variety of delicious restaurants for the whole family to enjoy. The various interactive attractions will appeal to children of all ages, and they may not know they are learning at the same time. North Carolina is a welcoming state with contemporary facilities set against a backdrop of natural beauty.

You’d think that with prominent student-athletes like Michael Jordan, Mia Hamm, and Lawrence Taylor coming through the University of North Carolina, the only things to do in Chapel Hill revolve around them. Trust us; there are plenty of things to do in Chapel Hill. 

Yes, the school’s colors and logo are well-known in this college town. There’s a lot more going on here, though. Visitors to Chapel Hill will find a place that is so much more than Tar Heel Blue, with festivals along Franklin Street, gardens, greenways, and finger-lickin’ country cuisine.

Not in the mood to go out to eat tonight? Click here to have Grubhub deliver directly from the best restaurants in town to your doorstep. 

Looking for a place to eat in Chapel Hill, NC? Read the following article to find out which restaurants in Chapel Hill are a must-visit:

The Seven Best Restaurants in Chapel Hill

Visiting North Carolina? Check out our other guides:

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