Chapel Hill On a BudgetChapel Hill is a college town in North Carolina that, together with Raleigh and Durham, makes up the Research Triangle area. The town is 28 miles northwest of Raleigh and 12 miles southwest of Durham. Chapel Hill dates back to 1819 when it was founded to support the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. With a population of just over 52,000, Chapel Hill has the vibe of a small college town with the amenities of a larger community. It's proximity to both Raleigh and Durham give it an economic boost that provides economic diversity and security.
Chapel Hill is a fairly liberal community with a large student population. There is a diverse population and many educational and cultural opportunities in the area.
SightsMost of the sights and attractions in Chapel Hill are centered around the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The university is one of three that claims to be the oldest public university in the United States. It was chartered in 1789 and began enrolling students in 1795. The campus is quite beautiful and pleasant to walk around. You can also visit the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, which is the first planetarium to be built on a college campus. There are the typical planetarium shows as well as a live science demonstration and various other productions. The Carolina Basketball Museum is near the Dean Dome. The museum has exhibits about the history of Tar Heel basketball.
Other interesting sights in the area include the Ackland Art Museum, the North Carolina Botanical Garden, and the Horace Williams House. The Horace Williams House is a historic landmark with art exhibits, concerts and walking tours.
NeighborhoodsThe University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is at the heart of the town. It can be divided into three regions. North campus has the two main quads of Polk Place and McCorkle Place as well as the Pit, Frank Porter Graham Student Union, and several libraries. Middle campus is where you'll find Fetzer Field and Woollen Gymnasium, Kenan Memorial Stadium, Carmichael Auditorium, and the School of Law. South campus is the location of the Dean Smith Center, the School of Medicine, UNC Hospitals, and the business school.
Franklin Street is the main commercial street that runs near the university. This is where you'll find the most interesting restaurants and a strong college culture. The town of Carrboro is to the west. This community has a lot of charm and hosts a weekly farmer's market every Saturday year around.
ActivitiesChapel Hill hosts many different cultural and art events. UNC is home to top ranking women's and men's basketball teams and if you're in town during a game you'll see exactly how loyal the fans are in the area. Other activities include the Carrboro Farmer's Market and Varsity Theater, which is a historic movie theater on Franklin Street that opened in 1927.
Several independent bookstores in town include The Bookshop, Nice Price Books, and Flyleaf Books. Independent music stores in town include CD Alley, Carrboro Music, and The Music Loft.
Food and DiningAs a college town, Chapel Hill has many interesting places to eat. Franklin Street is the main commercial area near the university. This street has many restaurants including both cheap eateries and high end dining. There are the typical college eating spots with pizza, breweries, and Asian take-out available, but there are also quaint local eateries that make use of local produce. Ethnic foods are also abundant with Greek, Middle Eastern, Indian, and Turkish all available. If you're looking for a fancy, high end restaurant, your best options are A Southern Season and Top of the Hill.
TransportationThe closest airport is Raleigh-Durham International Airport which is about 20 minutes away in Morrisville. Once you're in Chapel Hill, there's a decent bus system that is run by the Chapel Hill Transit Authority. There are routes that connect Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and the UNC campus. Buses are most reliable on weekdays with lower frequencies at night and on weekends. If you hope to explore the area in any detail, a private vehicle is a must. If you happen to be in town during a football or basketball game, you should expect a frustrating amount of traffic and limited parking.
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