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.

1. Ackland Art Museum

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

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

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

4. Morehead Planetarium and Science Center

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.

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5. PlayMakers Repertory Company, Chapel Hill

PlayMakers Repertory Company, Chapel Hill
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Catch some of the best theatrical performances North Carolina has to offer at PlayMakers Repertory Company. Making it their mission to transform the community through art, the company releases entertaining and thought-provoking plays that uphold their values of artistic excellence and equality, to name a few. At the beginning of each season, the company releases a lineup of plays that cater to a wide range of audience members. Some of their past plays include an autobiographical story about American playwright August Wilson, a heartwarming comedy about the yoga industry, and an adaptation of a Wrinkle in Time. PlayMakers Repertory Company holds their shows at the Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Arts and opens their doors 90 minutes before each performance.

120 Country Club Road, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599; Phone: 919-962-7529

6. Coker Arboretum, Chapel Hill

Coker Arboretum, Chapel Hill
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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.

7. Bryson Field at Boshamer Stadium, Chapel Hill

Bryson Field at Boshamer Stadium, Chapel Hill

There is no denying that the Bryson Field at Boshamer Stadium is one of the country’s finest sporting facilities in the world of collegiate baseball. Originally opened in 1972, Bryson Field is nestled in the heart of the University of North Carolina campus, and has been the stage of three NCAA Regionals as well as give Atlantic Coast Conference Tournaments. Of the many things that make Bryson Field such a spectacular facility, some of the items worth mentioning include its 4,100 capacity, its overflow capacity of over 5,000, the field’s wide concourse, and a state-of-the-art lighting system that exceeds the AAA minor-league standard and matches those of top professional stadiums.

235 Ridge Road, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514, Phone: 919-962-6000

8. Kidzu Children's Museum, Chapel Hill

Kidzu Children's Museum, Chapel Hill
© 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

9. Gimghoul Castle, Chapel Hill

Gimghoul Castle, Chapel Hill
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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

10. Time Out, Chapel Hill

Time Out, Chapel Hill
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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, Chapel Hill

Horace Williams House, Chapel Hill
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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, Chapel Hill

Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe, Chapel Hill
© 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, Chapel Hill

UNC Finley Golf Course, Chapel Hill
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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, Chapel Hill

Honeysuckle Tea House, Chapel Hill
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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.

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15. Buns of Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Buns of Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
© 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. Lavender Oaks Farm, Chapel Hill

Lavender Oaks Farm, Chapel Hill
© Lavender Oaks Farm

Just a short drive from downtown Chapel Hill is the Lavender Oaks Farm, an operating lavender farm and boutique home to 60 gorgeous private acres of land. Surrounded by an equally gorgeous and truly majestic forest, the Lavender Oaks Farm offers farm visits and tours where guests can explore the elegantly restored and preserved historic barns on the premises. These barns are a sterling tribute to American craftsmanship, and serve as the stage for the culinary lavender events that the farm frequently hosts. Learn about the many benefits of lavender, as well as its unique history, aroma, and aesthetic. Welcome guests from Juen through July, the Lavender Oaks Farm is also a great place to pick up handmade culinary items featuring lavender, as well as apothecary lavender items like lavender syrups, jams, and even a lavender balsamic vinegar.

3833 Millard Whitley Road, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27516, Phone: 919-909-7417

17. Carolina Performing Arts, Chapel Hill

Carolina Performing Arts, Chapel Hill
© 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

18. Elements, Chapel Hill

Elements, Chapel Hill
© Elements

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

19. Linda's Bar, Chapel Hill

Linda's Bar, Chapel Hill
© 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.

203 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC, Phone: 919-933-6663

20. CholaNad, Chapel Hill

CholaNad, Chapel Hill
© CholaNad

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.

310 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, Phone: 800-246-5262

21. Merritt's Store and Grill, Chapel Hill

Merritt's Store and Grill, Chapel Hill
© 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

22. Spring Haven Farm, Chapel Hill

Spring Haven Farm, Chapel Hill
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Experience all of the incredible fun and joy that comes with a farm while skipping all the work that comes with it at Spring Haven Farm. Welcoming families and visitors from near and far, Spring Haven Farm opened in 2016 and has, since then, been teaching values like kindness towards animals, and care for nature to guests. Aside from these values, visitors to Spring Haven Farm can also learn about the agricultural world and learn methods of strengthening community through human and animal interaction. Guests are encouraged to grab their tickets ahead of time as Spring Haven Farm typically sells out daily with fantastic events like Baby Goat Zen Hour, Movies with Goats, and petting zoo experiences with horses, cows, pigs, goats, and other farm animals.

5306 Homer Ruffin Road, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27516, Phone: 919-407-1806

23. Things to Do in Chapel Hill: 1870 Farm

Things to Do in Chapel Hill: 1870 Farm
© 1870 Farm

Just a stone’s throw from the very heart of Chapel Hill lies the 17-acre education farm called the 1870 Farm. 1870 Farm regularly hosts events related to farm education and even offers tours that will take their guests around idyllic sunlit pastures, glorious winding paths, and stunning ancient oak trees. At their picture-worthy white barn, visitors can engage with a friendly family of animals consisting of alpacas, llamas, donkeys, ponies, bunnies, goats, and more! In addition to tours and petting pen experiences, visitors can play in the lovely garden, try their hand at bass fishing, enjoy a picnic, or search for sparkling gemstones. 1870 Farm is open exclusively by appointment or through scheduled program visits, so do book ahead of time to avoid being turned away at the door.

1224 Old Lystra Road, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27517, Phone: 919-590-4120

24. Things to Do in Chapel Hill: 1TOPO Distillery

Things to Do in Chapel Hill: 1TOPO Distillery
© TOPO Distillery

Sip and enjoy USDA-certified organic spirits at Top of the Hill Distillery. Fondly referred to as TOPO, the distillery only serves spirits that are fermented and distilled entirely in Chapel Hill. 100% North Carolina made, even the wheat used by the distillery is sourced from the state. During tour hours, TOPO opens its doors to guests who want to explore the distillery and participate in tastings. Sip on selections like their wheat whiskey, spiced rum, moonshine whiskey, Rokomelo liqueur, and vodka, or pick up your selection with their curbside service. Enjoy TOPO’s distilled offering alongside tasty menu items like the Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich, the Edamame Burger, Jalapeno-Cheddar Hushpuppies, or their Wild Mushroom Grit Cakes. For a special treat, order the TOPO Whiskey and Coke Braised Beef.

505 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27516, Phone: 919-679-9120

25. Romantic Things to Do in Chapel Hill, NC: 1The Uncommon Garden

Romantic Things to Do in Chapel Hill, NC: 1The Uncommon Garden
© The Uncommon Garden

Step into a gorgeous and exotic natural wonderland filled with gorgeously designed gardens as well as eye-catching outdoor art installations at The Uncommon Garden. The Uncommon Garden finds its humble beginnings in 1995 with the purchase of a home. By 1997, the owners had moved in, and later in 2000, the garden started to take shape. In the years that followed, Rik Hermanson, a local artist, started spending his time shaping the majority of the garden into what it is today, a hidden gem of Chapel Hill that opens its gates to the public for an exclusive and short period every year. Explore a mix of serene water gardens inspired by the far East, then make your way through the grounds as you see soothing waterfalls and rock assemblages with eye-catching features. Don’t forget to stop by the 200-year-old white oak that calls The Uncommon Garden home.

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