About This Place
Residents of Chapel Hill, North Carolina—home of state university’s original campus and a regional cultural hub—consider their city a great place to live and raise a family. The founders of this southern college town nicknamed their city the "Southern Part of Heaven." It was formally named for New Hope Chapel, a landmark that stood at the top of a hill where two of the area's primary roads cross, now the site of the Carolina Inn. Most of the population of Chapel Hill are academics and staff affiliated with University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but many other retirees, families and business people settle here.
Chapel Hill tourists will want to tour the campus of the America’s first state university. The Old Well, at the center of campus, was built in 1897 with inspiration from the Garden of Versailles' Temple of Love. Legend has it that a drink from the well will bring students good luck on their first day of school. Old East was the first building constructed at Chapel Hill in 1793—it now serves as a residence hall. Coker Arboretum, managed by the North Carolina Botanical Garden, is a five-acre outdoor classroom where students can study the variety of trees native to Chapel Hill. Tourists will also want to visit nearby Forest Theatre in Battle Park, an amphitheater set amid stands of trees as old as 200 years.
A Chapel Hill attraction that will appeal to sports fans is Carolina Basketball Museum, on campus. Artifacts and photos track the history of the North Carolina Tar Heels' basketball program. Displays chronicle the 18 Final Four appearances and 17 Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championships. For the restless at heart, Kidzu is the perfect hands-on children's museum. This Chapel Hill attraction features different settings where kids can build their own communities, put on a puppet show and play shopper in the Green Thumb Market. The Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is another educational and fun attraction for sightseers. In addition to astronomy exhibits, events at the planetarium include lectures, adult dances and live science demonstrations.
Downtown Chapel Hill has many shopping and dining opportunities, including Chapel Hill Comics, clothing retailer Fine Feathers and La Residence, a French-American restaurant that stays open late. For the oenophile, West End Wine Bar pairs its wines with southern European appetizers and small plates. Downstairs, the Cellar is open late and serves cocktails. Patrons can play pool and enjoy guest DJs or live music. Weaver Street Market is a co-op grocery store that has an indoor-outdoor cafe overlooking the downtown area.
The university’s influence keeps the area art scene busy. Frank Gallery features artwork in a variety of media and forms. Its long list of featured artists includes Alan Dehmer, Charron Andrews and Peg Gignoux. The gallery has participated in one of the city-sponsored art projects designed to enhance downtown. Strays Shipping Center and Art Gallery features the work of over 50 artists, including work by photographer Bob Gunn.