Chapel Hill, North Carolina is well known for its vibrant atmosphere, unique attractions, romantic parks and great restaurants. Visit the Coker Arboretum at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, tour the Ackland Art Museum, and watch a sports game at the Dean E. Smith Center. Best things to do in Chapel Hill, NC with kids include Kidzu Children's Museum and the Morehead Planetarium. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1. Ackland Art Museum
© Ackland Art Museum
Founded in 1958, the Ackland Art Museum collects, preserves, and presents an array of outstanding art to educate, inspire, and engage both students of the university and the local community.
Featuring a permanent collection of more than 17,000 works of art, the Museum is home to a significant collection of European masterworks, African and Asian art, twentieth-century and contemporary art, and North Carolina pottery. The Ackland Art Museum presents a variety of traveling and special exhibitions throughout the year, as well as some educational programs for students, children, and families.
The Ackland is located on S. Columbia Street near the Franklin Street intersection in downtown Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Campus Box 3400, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Phone: 919-966-5736
2. North Carolina Botanical Garden
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The North Carolina Botanical Garden is part of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is comprised of more than 1,000 acres, including 10 acres of display gardens and several natural areas.
Established to inspire an understanding, appreciation, and efforts to conserve local flora, the North Carolina Botanical Garden features several habitat display gardens that interpret the plants and vegetation of North Carolina, nature trails, a Garden of Flowering Plant Families, Display Gardens and the Education Center with numerous educational exhibits.
There is a program of educational workshops and events for adults and children throughout the year, as well as summer camps and plant sales.
The University of North Carolina, CB 3375, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Phone: 919-962-0522
3.Dean E. Smith Center
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The Dean E. Smith Center, also known as the Dean Dome, is a multi-purpose sports arena in Chapel Hill that is home of the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill Tar Heels basketball team. Named after the former North Carolina men's basketball coach Dean Smith, the arena is used for home basketball games and is one of America’s most popular athletics venues.
The Dean E. Smith Center is open Monday through Friday, and while guided tours are not provided, visitors can view the playing court from the seating area. The Center is also home to the Carolina Basketball Museum, which is located in the Ernie Williamson Athletics Center situated next door. Admission to both the Smith Center and the Carolina Basketball Museum is free.
300 Skipper Bowles Dr, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Phone: 919-962-7777
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4. Morehead Planetarium and Science Center
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The Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is one of the oldest and largest planetariums in the country. Located on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Morehead Planetarium was first opened in 1949 to train astronauts in celestial navigation. It contained one of the largest working Copernican orreries in the world. If you are wondering what to do in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with kids, this is a great place to visit.
Home to the GSK Fulldome Theater, as well as the Science Stage, various exhibits, and classrooms, the Morehead Building also contains the UNC Visitors Center, Morehead-Cain Foundation, and UNC Morehead Observatory.
Permanent exhibitions at the Science Center include History Hallway, Highway of the Planets, and Where American astronauts first met the stars.’ Educational programs for youth and teens include Skywatching, Starry Nights, Scout workshops, and various science clubs.
250 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Phone: 919-962-1236
More North Carolina vacation ideas: Best Things to Do in Raleigh.
5.The Carolina Basketball Museum
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The Carolina Basketball Museum chronicles and highlights the history of the University of North Carolina Basketball program. Located on the campus of the University of North Carolina in the Ernie Williamson Athletics Center on Skipper Bowles Drive, the museum features an array of exhibits, displays, videos, photographs, and artifacts related to UNC basketball.
The museum also boasts interactive presentations and video tributes to Dean Smith, Roy Williams, and Michael Jordan, among others. The Carolina Basketball Museum is open Monday to Saturday and at select times on home game days. Admission to the museum is free.
450 Skipper Bowles Drive, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Phone: 919-962-6000
Road trips: Best Things to Do in Durham.
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The Coker Arboretum rests at the center of the University of North Carolina and is managed by the North Carolina Botanical Garden.
One of the Botanical Garden’s oldest tracts, the Arboretum was founded in 1903 and has a current collection consisting of an array of flowering trees, shrubs, bulbs, and perennial displays. Visitors to the Arboretum can enjoy monthly guided tours led by professional naturalists, which provide a relaxed, informative introduction to this floral gem in the heart of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Located next to the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center on the UNC campus, the Arboretum is open dawn to dusk daily all year-round. More weekend getaways in NC
The University of North Carolina, CB 3375, 919-962-0522
More NC vacations: Best Things to Do in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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7.Peaceful River Farm and Healthy Cooking Classes
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Lee and Larry Newlin, the owners of Peaceful River Farm, grow sustainable produce and fruit, offer healthy cooking classes, and hold talks about strategies for maintaining good health through cooking.
The fresh produce grown on the farm is used in the creative and healthy recipes used by Lee in her cooking classes. Guests can choose from a variety of cooking classes, ranging from hearty, plant-based dinners, which are dairy-free, gluten-free, and totally plant-based, to learning the essentials of Mediterranean cooking, how to make delicious soups, and cooking to build immunity and prevent colds and flu.
Classes are lively and rich with information about the benefits of nutritional foods and helpful techniques to make healthy cooking fun. Guests are also treated to a farm tour with Lee’s husband Larry, who shares methods to build healthy soil for healthy food and employ sustainable farm techniques to ensure the growth of healthy produce.
7125 New Light Trail, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Phone: 919-967-7499
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8.Kidzu Children's Museum
© Kidzu Children's Museum
Kidzu Children's Museum is an interactive, hands-on museum dedicated to inspiring young children to learn through creative play. The museum presents a range of exhibitions that encourage kids to explore and discover new things through play, including the Flexible Forest, which features a large-scale climbing wall, a tree house, and a crow’s nest.
The museum also features Farm to Fork, where children can learn about locally grown food and healthy eating habits, and the Forest Theater, a mini performance space that encourages artistic expression and drama.
Kidzu also hosts a full schedule of educational family programming for children of all ages, including Friday Fam Jam, Messy Mornings, Storytimes, and Makery Masterpieces, as well as special events and workshops throughout the year.
201 S. Estes Drive inside University Place, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Phone: 919-933-1455
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The legend of Gimghoul Castle has long been a source of mystery, rumor, and curiosity for students and locals alike. Located on Gimghoul Road in Chapel Hill, Gimghoul Castle was formerly known as Hippol Castle, it is that constructing the castle, which was accomplished at an exorbitant cost of $50,000, took over five years.
The castle is thought to be haunted by the ghost of Peter Dromgoole, who died in a duel over his love for a local girl named Fanny. The castle has also been associated with a secret society known as the Order of the Gimghoul, which was founded in 1889 by noted UNC alumni. More: North Carolina destinations, beaches and lighthouses
705 Gimghoul Rd, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514
© OneTime Out
Time Out is one of Chapel Hill's most beloved dining institutions, originally opened by University of North Carolina alumni Eddie Williams in 1978. Today, the restaurant is overseen by Williams' son Eddie and has become known as an integral part of the UNC-Chapel Hill collegiate experience, serving up its signature Southern-style cuisine 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The restaurant's signature chicken and cheddar biscuits have been featured by Travel Channel, Buzzfeed, Thrillist, and The TODAY Show, also available plain, honey-drenched, or as oversized biscuit sandwiches stuffed with egg, sausage, or country fried steak. Barbecue pulled pork, fried chicken, and trout platters are also served up throughout the day, along with a selection of specialty burgers and sandwiches.
201 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, Phone: 919- 929-2425
11.Horace Williams House
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Built in 1854 and once the home of much admired Professor Horace Williams, the Horace Williams House, operated and maintained by Preservation Chapel Hill as an example of “adaptive reuse,” is the only historic house in Chapel Hill that is open to the public. Today, the Horace Williams House serves as the headquarters of Preservation Chapel Hill and as a cultural center for the community.
It hosts a variety of programs, concerts, art exhibits, and other community-based events, free of charge. Tours of the home are available by appointment, and the house is open year-round.
610 E Rosemary St, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 919-942-7818
12.Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe
© Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe
Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe is owned and managed by Vimala Rajendran, who was born and raised in Bombay and brings her expertise and passion for Indian cooking to diners in Chapel Hill.
Vimala’s menu features Indian favorites such as tandoori chicken, Kerala beef, pork vindaloo, and Kofta curry, as well as dosas and uttapams, salads, and bread. You can savor Vimala’s sensational cuisine in the warm and welcoming ambiance of the restaurant (no reservations are required) or in the comfort of your own home with takeout.
Vimala’s caters all sorts of events from intimate gatherings to large celebrations and special occasions, and the restaurant is open Monday through Saturday for lunch, dinner, and drinks.
431 W Franklin St Suite 16, Chapel Hill, NC, Phone: 919-929-3833
13.UNC Finley Golf Course
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Designed by Tom Fazio, the UNC Finley Golf Course is an 18-hole course featuring five tee boxes that pose challenges for all levels of golfers, from a touring pro to a high handicapper.
The Par 72 course has an outstanding layout, practice facilities, and a modern clubhouse with a restaurant and bar. Visitors to the club can enjoy golf lessons given by professional golfers and dine after a game at the Naismith Grill, which serves an a la carte menu of classic fare consisting of soups, salads, sandwiches, and burgers.
The restaurant also has a full lunch buffet. Enjoy a range of beer on and off the course and visit the pro shop for all your golfing needs.
500 Finley Golf Course Road, Chapel Hill, NC, Phone: 919-962-2349
More NC destinations: 20 Perfect Weekend Getaways in North Carolina.
14.Honeysuckle Tea House
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Working in conjunction with a variety of ecology and health institutes, Honeysuckle Tea House
grows its own organic produce, invents its own recipes for a variety of tea blends, tinctures, and herbal remedies, and designs and packages a hand-picked and hand-crafted line of therapeutic products.
Honeysuckle Tea House also offers enlightenment, healing, and Reiki training, as well as educational training for teachers who want to practice the art of healing. Honeysuckle Tea House is located on 5 serene acres about 15 minutes from downtown Chapel Hill.
8871 Pickard's Meadow Road, Chapel Hill, NC, Phone: 919-903-9131
More places to visit: Best Things to Do in Asheville, North Carolina.
15.Buns of Chapel Hill
© Buns of Chapel Hill
Buns is all about the burger! Located in the heart of Chapel Hill just northwest of the University of North Carolina campus, Buns of Chapel Hill gives diners a choice between three burgers and a plethora of delicious toppings, which they can use to build the burger of their dreams!
Choose from an Angus chuck beef, fresh ground turkey, and homemade veggie burger patty on a fresh bun and start making your burger with an array of toppings, including cheese, bacon, salads, vegetables, and a variety of sauces. Complete your delicious burger with a pile of golden, thick-cut fries, and a hand-spun milkshake.
107 N. Columbia Street, Chapel Hill, NC, Phone: 919-240-4746
16.Carolina Performing Arts
© Carolina Performing Arts
Carolina Performing Arts is dedicated to nurturing artistic innovation through the presentation of exceptional art experiences and transformative performances to the local community. Carolina Performing Arts presents a calendar of performances that include dance, world music, jazz, and classical recitals for local audiences to enjoy, as well as a range of educational programs to help students integrate the arts into life at the University.
Carolina Performing Arts presents performances in several venues in Chapel Hill, including Memorial Hall, the Historic Playmakers Theatre, and Gerrard Hall on the University's campus.
114 E Cameron Ave, Chapel Hill, NC, Phone: 919-843-3333
If you are looking for romantic date ideas in Chapel Hill, Elements is a stylish and sophisticated restaurant that offers a unique dining experience in a contemporary, chic setting. Chef Michael Chuong and his team combine locally sourced ingredients and flavors with modern Asian and European cooking techniques to produce seasonal lunch and dinner menus with innovative flair.
Menus change weekly to accommodate local producers, and a hand-picked selection of house-made signature cocktails, a curated wine list of wines from around the world, and a range of craft beer provide the perfect accompaniment for the mouth-watering dishes on the menu.
2110 Environ Way, Chapel Hill, NC, Phone: 919-537-8780
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© Linda's Bar
Linda’s Bar is a casual eatery that serves a menu of classic all-American fare, signature cocktails, draft and craft beers, and boutique wines. Subtly lit, cozy interiors are warm and welcoming, and the menu features delicious dishes such as Philly cheesesteak, Cuban sliders, gourmet burgers, garden fresh salads, and various sides.
Linda’s Bar offers food and beverage specials every day of the week and serves lunch from Monday through Friday. The bar is open every day until 2:00 am.
203 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC, Phone: 919-933-6663
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CholaNad is a southern Indian restaurant that serves a menu of contemporary Tamil Food in a comfortable and inviting setting. High gabled ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows create a welcoming dining space that is decorated with potted ficus trees and clusters of bamboo and filled with the delicious aromas of curried lamb and chicken, vegetable bhaji, and steaming lentil dal.
Executive Chef Subash Panneerselvam brings the unique tastes of southern India to Chapel Hill in dishes such as the beachside tropical lentils and assorted vegetable pakoras.
In true authentic Indian style, individual dishes are served on banana leaves, and the bar serves Chennai-style snacks to Happy Hour guests.
308 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC, Phone: 800-246-5262
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20.Merritt's Store and Grill
© Merritt's Store and Grill
Famous for its BLTs and delicious sandwiches, Merritt's has been a dining institution in Chapel Hill since 1929 and is still a defining feature of genuine southern culture today. Located on Chapel Hill's busy South Columbia Street, Merritt’s prides itself on using only the freshest ingredients without any preservatives, and it features a menu of traditional southern fare with a touch of “French-rustic” flair.
Enjoy delicious breakfast and lunch sandwiches served with a choice of freshly baked bread, soups, salads, burgers, hot dogs, and a variety of specialties. Diners can relax to the sound of Bluegrass music as they enjoy their BLTs during one of the cafés regular music events.
1009 S Columbia Street, Chapel Hill, NC, Phone: 919-942-4897
21 Best Things to Do in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
- Ackland Art Museum, Photo: Ackland Art Museum
- North Carolina Botanical Garden, Photo: Courtesy of zayacsk - Fotolia.com
- Dean E. Smith Center, Photo: Courtesy of makieni - Fotolia.com
- Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, Photo: Courtesy of Tryfonov - Fotolia.com
- The Carolina Basketball Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Daniel Thornberg - Fotolia.com
- Coker Arboretum, Photo: Courtesy of Alena Yakusheva - Fotolia.com
- Peaceful River Farm and Healthy Cooking Classes, Photo: Courtesy of Fabio Balbi - Fotolia.com
- Kidzu Children's Museum, Photo: Kidzu Children's Museum
- Gimghoul Castle, Photo: Courtesy of graphic@jet - Fotolia.com
- Time Out, Photo: OneTime Out
- Horace Williams House, Photo: Courtesy of maksim_e - Fotolia.com
- Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe, Photo: Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe
- UNC Finley Golf Course, Photo: Courtesy of WavebreakMediaMicro - Fotolia.com
- Honeysuckle Tea House, Photo: Courtesy of creativefamily - Fotolia.com
- Buns of Chapel Hill, Photo: Buns of Chapel Hill
- Carolina Performing Arts, Photo: Carolina Performing Arts
- Elements, Photo: Elements
- Linda's Bar, Photo: Linda's Bar
- CholaNad, Photo: CholaNad
- Merritt's Store and Grill, Photo: Merritt's Store and Grill
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Jill Lang - Fotolia.com
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