Make this the year that you look at Chapel Hill and Orange County with fresh eyes – get out of your comfort zone, return to a spot you haven’t visited in years, and be sure to bring new friends into the fold as you make new memories. Go to visitchapelhill.org for more ideas on how to make the most of your time while you’re here.
Cheer on the Heels
Let’s assume you’ve been rooting for UNC for decades. But when was the last time you bought tickets to take in tennis, lacrosse, or gymnastics? Resolve to root for UNC in a new way in 2024. See the schedules and purchase tickets at goheels.com.
During the chilly winter months, when Tar Heel basketball really heats up, make a plan to visit the Carolina Basketball Museum. Admission is free. The museum opened in 2008 and was extensively refurbished in 2017.
Local History Lessons
Home to the first public university in the nation, our history is vast. Take a guided tour of UNC’s campus to learn centuries-old traditions. Attend a lecture at the Burwell School Historic Site in Hillsborough. View unique items from the earliest indigenous people through the 20th century at Orange County Historical Museum, or enjoy tales of mystery on a two-hour Haunted Hillsborough walking tour.
Stroll the Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail in Hillsborough – it’s an easy, three-mile trek that allows you to behold the only dirt speedway remaining from NASCAR's inaugural 1949 season.
Immerse Yourself in Our Arts Scene
The creative energy of our area is second to none. The Orange County Artists Guild Studio Tour every November takes art lovers behind the scenes of an artist’s process.
Contemporary fine arts gallery FRANK has a new, gorgeous home in Carrboro. Also in Carrboro: Peel is an art gallery, community event space, digital photography lab, and retail space promoting contemporary art on West Rosemary Street.
Treat yourself to a self-guided walking tour of Chapel Hill and Carrboro’s colorful murals – our favorites include the Elizabeth Cotton mural that pays tribute to the legendary folk-blues musician and the “Greetings from Chapel Hill” mural on the back side of He’s Not Here. Both are by artist Scott Nurkin.
Ackland Art Museum’s upcoming exhibits will highlight Native American art and selected works from the MFA class of 2024.
Carolina Performing Arts’ lineup includes The Old Man and the Sea, a captivating new opera from Paola Prestini, Royce Vavrek, and Karmina Šilec; Alvin Ailey and Martha Graham dancers; and Pulitzer-winning composer and Futures Artist-in-Residence Rhiannon Giddens.
Looking for more live music options? The Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro is legendary. In 2024, it will welcome Aaron Lee Tasjan, Sarah Jarosz, and the 24th Annual Bob Marley Birthday Bash.
Savor Our World-Class Restaurants
Whether you’re looking for Southern staples, sushi, diner or drive-through classics, vegan flavors, a French-style brunch, or more, Orange County has it. Our delicious fare is the handiwork of renowned chefs who have appeared on Food Network and in The New York Times and Bon Appetit. They have also been regulars for years in the James Beard Foundation Awards conversation. (Andrea Reusing of Lantern on Franklin Street won Best Chef Southeast in 2011.)
Chefs are quick to give much of the culinary credit to our area’s impeccable farms and farmers’ markets – the best meal of your life begins with ingredients of the highest quality, after all. (Strolling through a farmers’ market is another must! In addition to produce, you can buy products like flowers, soups, honey, and chocolates.)
Narrow down your innumerable meal options by scrolling through the Chapel Hill Carrboro Foodies Facebook Group, with 31,000 members and counting.
Check out this easy to navigate map of our Orange County Restaurants – visit our downtown welcome center for a printed copy. Another resource? The newly published Official Accessibility Guide to disability-friendly restaurants.
Toast with Friends
Cocktail lover? The Crunkleton on Franklin Street has been featured in Southern Living and The New York Times. Also add Bowbarr and Atlas to your list. Crazy for craft beer? Check out Carolina Brewery, Top of the Hill, Gizmo Brew Works, or Steel String Brewery. Grab a large blue cup of beer at the iconic bar He’s Not Here. Wine lovers will want to stop into Rocks + Acid Wine Shop, Caffe Driade, or Chapel Hill Wine Company.
Thankfully, there aren’t many weeks when getting outside is an impossibility in Orange County. Explore winding paths through the North Carolina Botanical Garden, stroll the welcoming Riverwalk and Eno in Hillsborough, bike the Bolin Creek Trail, or hike the many wooded trails through Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area.
For the Young and Young at Heart
Our youngest visitors love to grab an ice cream cone at Maple View Farm. While you enjoy your treat, take in the farm’s beautiful landscape from the porch.
Orange County Sportsplex offers public figure skating. Cuddle with baby goats at Spring Haven Farm. Make, build, explore, and grow at Kidzu Children's Museum. (Don’t miss The Makery, which allows you to craft with real materials, tinker with real tools, and explore new technologies.)
The lawn of Weaver Street Market in Carrboro is a favorite place to slow down, stretch out, get some vitamin D, enjoy live music, and grab a bite.
Take in state-of-the-art exhibits and a revamped slate of shows at the historic Morehead Planetarium, the first planetarium on a college campus in the U.S., which once trained astronauts for NASA.
We are lucky to look forward every year to the Carrboro Music Festival, The Carolina Inn’s Fridays on the Front Porch, Paperhand Puppet Intervention’s Summer Show at Forest Theatre, and Carrboro Film Fest.
Other annual highlights include the UNC Spring Football Game, Hillsborough Hog Day, and the Tar Heel 10 Miler. and Sculpture in the Garden. Just a few mentioned here but there are many more annual events to plan your visit around.