NC Explorer: Fun Things to Do in Chapel Hill

Today on American Nomad we’re exploring the southern part of heaven – Chapel Hill, NC. Home to The University of North Carolina and center of The Tar Heel Nation, Chapel Hill offers a plethora of culutre, good eats, sports and more.

Located roughly thirty minutes west of Raleigh, Chapel Hill is a crossroads of academics, science, sports, music, history and more.

I won’t hide my bias – I am a huge North Carolina Tar Heel fan…I grew up going to Chapel Hill on weekends with my mom to cheer on UNC Basketball and enjoy the idyllic southern campus lined with azaleas and large shady oak trees.

What makes Chapel Hill special? Southern Charm + Slam Dunks + Ecletic Arts Scene…and so much more.

Here is a short list of my favorite haunts in Chapel Hill.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:

Consistentally ranked as one of the top universities and research institutions in the world, UNC offers over seventy degree and graduate programs from art to science.

The campus is bucolic with historic classical inspired architecture, vast grassy quads shaded by magnolias and oaks and lined with meandering brick sidewalks.

UNC-CH and Chapel Hill are truly one community and culture. The University is a center of arts, science and industry from the community of Chapel Hill in addition to the student population.

My favorite time of year in Chapel Hill is early Spring, when the weather is mild and the azaleas are ablaze on campus. On a glorious sunny day, I recommend exploring the campus on foot…starting at..

It’s not Holy Water, but it is blessed water for the Tar Heel faithful…take a sip water at The Old Well, which legend has it helps students get good grades…

Then grab your Carolina Spirit gear in the campus bookstore

Enjoy a picnic on The Quad, while relaxing with a copy of Dean Smith’s book ‘The Carolina Way,’ or ‘Look Homeward Angel,’ by UNC alum Thomas Wolfe (popular writer in the 1920s).


Let Chapel Hill’s native son, James Taylor’s Greatest Hits as you people watch the comings and goings of campus life.

UNC Sports

UNC = University of National Champions…Carolina is known for its top sports program…UNC has won multiple national championships across sports from soccer to lacrosse and of course basketball.

  • On a crisp fall Carolina day enjoy a football game at Kenan Stadium
  • In the spring catch the ballgame at Boshamer Stadium – Carolina baseball is consistently ranked as one of the top teams in the ACC and has been to numerous College World Series.
  • Enjoy world cup level talent at UNC’s Fetzer Field, where both the men and women’s soccer teams are national champion winners. Mia Hamm is one of UNC’s most famous soccer alums.

Dean Smith Center and Carolina Basketball Museum

Both the Women’s and Men’s Basketball Teams have gone to numerous final fours and have championships.

UNC Men’s Basketball has won 7 National Championships (well, technically the NCAA says 6, but UNC counts their 1924 championship in the rafters)

Quick facts about UNC Basketball:

  • 35 Sweet Sixteen Visits
  • More Final Fours than any other team (including Duke) at 21
  • Michael Jordan attended UNC and helped lead the team to their 1982 Championship. He majored in Geography.
  • UNC has 83 All Americans…

No trip to Chapel Hill is complete without a ‘pilgrimage’ stop at The Dean E. Smith Center, affectionately known as The Dean Dome. Catch an ACC game and fell the Tar Heel magic (and hopefully a UNC win).

College basketball fans can learn about the history of UNC Hoops at The Carolina Basketball Museum. This interactive museum is filled with Tar Heel memorabilia and championship history.

Morehead Planetarium

Go out of this world at The Morehead Planetarium and Science Center…Morehead’s fulldome planetarium seats 240 people and shows an amazing mix of shows. The planetarium also offers live, educator-led programs in its Science Stage – including Science LIVE!, which gets students excited about a variety of science topics.

Plan your visit here.

Ackland Art Museum

Located right off Franklin Street in the heart of UNC’s Campus, The Ackland Art Museum is a treasure for art lovers. The museum features over 5000 years of art history…highlights include works by Rubens, Delacroix, Bernard and more…

Plan your visit here.

North Carolina Botanical Garden

An beautiful oasis of flowers and plants…This conservation garden protects and propagates native plants to ensure they are not populations were not damaged by wild collecting, banking seed for reintroduction and protection against extinction.

Plan your visit.

Catch a SHOW:

Chapel Hill and neighboring Carrboro are home to amazing performing arts venues including:

Just down the road from Chapel Hill you’ll discover…


This quaint funky town connects to UNC(you can walk to Carrboro from UNC within ten minutes)…Carrboro has a mix of restaurants and shops including the historic ‘Mill’ building.

Learn more here…

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