Chapel Hill is home to the oldest state university in the country, yet the area is also home to other unique “firsts” in the LGBT community.
Chapel Hill's first openly gay mayor (2009-2015) was Mark Kleinschmidt (pictured).
Chapel Hill was the first municipality in the state to elect an openly gay council member.
Chapel Hill was the first municipality in the state to include sexual orientation as a category under North Carolina hate-crimes law.
The Chapel Hill town council was the first in the state to support the repeal of the North Carolina Defense of Marriage Act.
Orange County was the first county in North Carolina to elect an openly gay county commissioner.
Carrboro was the first municipality in the state to elect an openly gay mayor.
A Chapel Hill Presbyterian church was the first in the state to become a More Light congregation.
Sample Itinerary for LGBT Travelers
A two-day visit to Chapel Hill begins with morning coffee at the tree-draped Caffe Driade, near White Hall Antiques.
Next it’s off to Whitehall Antiques for antique shopping or a stop at the favorite southern goods store, Southern Season in University Place, a 60,000 sq.ft. Flagship gourmet emporium that is one of the largest specialty-only gourmet markets in the United States.
Next, travelers will want to drive five minutes to the centerpiece of Chapel Hill, Franklin Street, which houses a variety of restaurants, shops, theaters, clubs, and bars. Franklin Street cuts a three-mile swath through Chapel Hill and on into neighboring Carrboro...
Carrboro is the kind of small southern town where the past and the present seemed to have been fused into a single moment. Many of the buildings on Main Street and Weaver Street, the two main drags, haven’t changed in half a century. While in Carrboro, enjoy lunch and people-watching on the lawn at Weaver Street Market, followed by exploration of Carrboro’s numerous downtown galleries and shops.
Afternoons can be spent exploring the UNC campus with must-see visits to the Old Well, Wilson Library on the campus’ main quad as well as the Ackland Art Museum.
Chapel Hill's West End is a perfect place for dinner—travelers might want to try a progressive dinner—a grand meal divided a few Chapel Hill restaurants that are in close proximity—start at the bar at Lantern , which is hidden in the back of the restaurant. The bar makes specialty cocktails like the Red Geisha: fresh organic strawberries with lime, ginger and vodka. Next, walk across the street to Elaine’s on Franklin, known near and far for its chocolate cake. And finish the evening with a glass of wine at West End Wine Bar (450 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, 967-7599, westendwinebar.com).
Pool players will enjoy The Crunkleton, a relaxing pub that makes the old new again by serving up classic cocktails with modern twists to its members and their guests in an authentic, timeless setting.
LGBT visitors might want to make the 25-minute drive to Raleigh is worth the time. Hargett St. in Raleigh is the center of a 3 club area—Legends for the younger set, CC’s (directly across the street) for the slightly older crowd, and Flex (2 blocks up West St.) for the Leather/Levi/bear crowd.
The Franklin Hotel is referred to as “A jewel in the crown of Chapel Hill’s New West End,’” (Metro Magazine, October 2006), The Franklin is the first luxury boutique hotel located on Franklin Street in the heart of Chapel Hill’s historic downtown.
The Carolina Inn, a historic hotel located in downtown Chapel Hill. Historic charm, modern amenities, gracious service, and memorable food blend beautifully here, an AAA Four Diamond Award Winner & Member of Historic Hotels of America. The Inn is conveniently located on the doorsteps of the University of North Carolina, in the heart of downtown Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The Aloft Hotel in Chapel Hill is situated just down the road from UNC's Campus and is conveniently close to all area universities, the high tech-headquarters in Research Triangle Park, and the Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Whether your visit calls for business or pleasure, breeze on over to check out this funky hotel in Chapel Hill!
Inspired by the beauty of Italy, The Siena Hotel will captivate you with its elegance. A Four Diamond recipient since 1987, this luxury boutique hotel adds its distinctive European character to the area. Step through the doors of this elegant Tuscan villa to discover a luxurious dècor of hand-selected European antiques, Italian marble floors and majestic columns, against a backdrop of rich colors and fabrics.
Our newest hotel, the Hampton Inn & Suites Chapel Hill/Carrboro is conveniently located just 1/4 mile from downtown Chapel Hill to the east and to the west is Main and Weaver Streets both popular for great shopping and dining.
For information about Orange County, call the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau toll free at 1-888-968-2060. Ask for an Official Visitors Guide or visit the bureau’s web site at visitchapelhill.org. When you are in town, please drop by the Visitors Center at 501 W. Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill. The hours are Monday-Friday 8:30 am – 5 pm and Saturday 10 am – 2 pm.
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