The singer/songwriter welcomes visitors to “one of my favorite places on the planet, Chapel Hill” and shares the story behind the writing of his classic 1968 song, “Carolina in My Mind”.

Chapel Hill, NC (March 18, 2022) — A new visitors center in the heart of Chapel Hill is open featuring tourist information and recorded greetings from famous North Carolinians (both native and adopted) such as singer/songwriter James Taylor and Governor Roy Cooper.

The Chapel Hill/Orange County Welcome Center is located at 308 West Franklin Street, just blocks from its previous location in the Bentley Building. Hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, with Saturday hours beginning in July.

Central to the new space is a 10 ft. wide LED screen showcasing a recorded welcome message by James Taylor, who grew up in Chapel Hill and calls it one of his “favorite places on the planet”. In a nine minute video which includes a performance of the song, Taylor tells the story of events leading him to write “Carolina In My Mind,” penned while he was in London reminiscing about his beloved childhood home.

Taylor also provided the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau, which operates the Welcome Center, with an autographed album cover perfect for visitor selfies.

Singer-songwriter James Taylor was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1948 to Gertrude and Isaac Taylor. Taylor’s family moved to Chapel Hill when he was three years old. His father served as the Dean of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill medical school from 1964 to 1971.Taylor grew up playing music with his four siblings, Alex, Kate, Livingston, and Hugh.

In addition to Taylor’s video, the Welcome Center also features recorded greetings from:

  • North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, a graduate of University North Carolina Chapel Hill
  • Author Sarah Dessen, novelist, resident and UNC alum. Two of her books were adapted into the 2003 film “How to Deal” with actress Mandy Moore.
  • Comedian and resident Lewis Black
  • UNC Tar Heels Football Coach Mack Brown
  • Former UNC Tar Heels basketball player Phil Ford
  • Former UNC Tar Heels basketball player and resident Marcus Ginyard
  • Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger
  • Carrboro Mayor Damon Seils
  • Hillsborough Mayor Jenn Weaver
  • Orange County Commissioner Chair Renee Price

Along with a continuing loop of photos and videos showing off the sights of Orange County, free materials are provided to help visitors better plan their time in the area.

In 2019 (pre-pandemic), 2.1 million visitors attended area attractions and tours. 

About the Welcome Center

The 4,000 square foot Welcome Center is in the heart of Chapel Hill at 308 W. Franklin Street, across the street from The Graduate Hotel. Limited onsite parking is available for guests. A nearby parking lot operated by the Town of Chapel Hill is located behind Chipotle Restaurant on Mallette Street.

The Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau is a division of Orange County and is funded through the 3% occupancy tax charged for hotel stays in Orange County. The annual budget is $1.8 million. 

For more information, visit, or contact the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau at 919-245-4320 and

Social Media: #JTChapelHill


Photos of the New Welcome Center Video Screen and James Taylor Signed Album Cover Poster


Laurie Paolicelli 
Executive Director, Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau 
(919) 259-1658 or (919) 245-4322

Patty Griffin
Communications Director
(919) 245-4321