Scroll Down to Content Button

Explore UNC: 10 Things to See, Do, & Eat in Chapel Hill

Carolina blue has never looked better than it does on Franklin Street, just steps from the source of some of the most contagious campus spirit in the U.S.: UNC. Everything a True Tar Heel must see while in Chapel Hill is just steps from Graduate Chapel Hill, as is Kenan Memorial Stadium, Dorrance Field, and campus itself. 

Come for a game or simply swing through town for a walk down memory lane featuring Chapel Hill’s most unique (and beloved) shops, restaurants, museums, and more.

1

Gene Strowd Community Rose Garden

Everything is always coming up roses at the Gene Strowd Community Garden. The garden is teeming with vibrant and unique blooms—130 varieties bursting from 350 different bushes, to be exact. A copper fountain lies at the center of the garden, ringed by everything from classic red roses to hybrid teas, miniatures, and climbing bushes. 

Stroll the brick walkways hand-in-hand to see—and smell—more roses than you’ll find almost anywhere else.

Insider Tip

The Gene Strowd Community Rose Garden is a great place to play for both parents and the kiddos. Peruse the garden, then head to the climbing wall or playground, both adjacent to the garden.

Smell the Flowers - Opens in new tab
gene strowd community garden statue
2

Morehead Planetarium

Keep your head in the clouds at the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, one of the oldest and largest planetariums in the United States. This Chapel Hill favorite is packed with science-based adventures and experiences, from journeys through the Carolina night sky to space mission simulations. 

Don’t miss special weekend experiences like the Magic Treehouse Mission or Earthquakes, Volcanos, and Tsunamis, which take place in the planetarium’s GSK Fulldome Theater.

Insider Tip

See science from a new point of view at one of Morehead’s live demonstrations. Kids and adults alike will love seeing science in action, from physics in action to the electrical circuit that is the human body.

Shoot for the Stars - Opens in new tab
Chapel Hill_Morehead-Planetarium
3

Hawthorne & Wood

Savor the flavors of Chapel Hill at Hawthorne & Wood, a neighborhood eatery whose food morphs to meet your mood. Dig into a dinner and drinks that can be either effortless or elegant, both of which will be well-served by Hawthorne & Wood’s seasonal, ever-changing menu. 

Sip fine wines or premium cocktails alongside dishes ranging from the unique (General Tso’s cauliflower, anyone?) to the indulgent (hickory-smoked grilled duroc pork chop). Eat at the restaurant’s shaded outdoor patio and dining area or pick-up your order and enjoy it right here at Graduate Chapel Hill.

Insider Tip

Since Hawthorne & Wood’s menu is seasonal, you can order up any time of year to sample different takes on local, seasonal Chapel Hill ingredients.

Turn the Page - Opens in new tab
hawthorne wood restaurant
4

Epilogue Books, Chocolates and Brews

Step into a new time or place through one of the many books packed onto the shelves at Epilogue Books, Chocolates and Brews. A self-professed haven for “wanderers and wonderers,” Epilogue Books channels its founders’ unique cultural heritage, passion for reading and writing, and the community-driven nature of Spanish chocolaterías.

Cozy up with a craft beer, carefully-sourced glass of wine, or rich cup of chocolate and pore over a diverse array of literature from local authors to New York Times Best Sellers.

Insider Tip

Our Insider Tip: Epilogue Books is beloved for their freshly-baked pastries. Grab a churro and a latte (or a cup of chocolate!) while you settle in with your favorite book.

Turn the Page - Opens in new tab
epilogue books chapel hill
5

Mediterranean Deli

Feast your eyes—and your stomach—at Mediterranean Deli, a Chapel Hill staple since 1991. For 30 years, Mediterranean Deli has brought a blast of the Middle East to their quaint storefront just off campus through colorful dips, salads, baked goods, and more.

College students and Chapel Hill locals flock to the deli for freshly-baked pitas with all the fixings. Don’t be surprised if the line winds through the door, as Mediterranean Deli is often packed from open to close.

Insider Tip

Get there early! Stop by right when they open to avoid the daily rush, which often won’t let up until close.

See Menu - Opens in new tab
mediterranean deli chapel hill
6

Ackland Museum

Peek into North Carolina culture at the Ackland Museum, one of the state’s most important cultural resources. The museum has amassed over 19,000 artifacts since it opened in 1958, solidifying its reputation as a must-see for Chapel Hill visitors. Peruse sculptures and paintings and even attend film screenings and panels, each of which speak to the big issues facing the world today. 

Walk through Ackland and you’ll encounter ancient Greek vases, modern Italian paintings, and Andy Warhol, all in one fell swoop.

Insider Tip

 Don’t miss this museum even if you are traveling on a budget. Admission is free for the 12+ exhibits throughout the year.

See Inside - Opens in new tab
7

Lantern

Every dish at Lantern has a local flair. Though they serve up predominantly Asian cuisine, each meal they create has a unique, Chapel Hill twist. Try their pea and scallion dumplings or local, grass-fed beef sashimi for flavors that transport you to far away places made from ingredients that are as local as it gets. 

When they’re not filling the bellies of Chapel Hill residents, Lantern operates the Kitchen Patrol in partnership with UNC’s Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture, which teaches kids to eat and cook healthy foods for a lifetime.

Insider Tip

Try the hot chocolate cake, topped with pecan brittle ice cream. You can thank us later.

View Menu - Opens in new tab
lantern restaurant chapel hill
8

Shrunken Head Boutique

After a visit to Shrunken Head Boutique, you’ll have no choice but to put your Tar Heel spirit on display. Carolina spirit has run high since Shrunken Head opened its doors in 1969, making it the oldest UNC shop in chapel hill. Their legacy is one of Carolina blue and undying passion for the community, making this shop worth a stop even if you won’t have room in your bag for more apparel. 

Beyond quintessential t-shirts and ball caps, Shrunken Head stocks a unique collection of “Tar Heels at Home” goods. Browse everything from UNC clocks to glass mugs to a Ramses pillow pet. Stop by right when they open to avoid the daily rush.

Insider Tip

Once you’ve stocked up on Tar Heel apparel, head next door to Sutton’s Drug Store for a quick bite to eat. Eating at Sutton’s has been a Tar Heel tradition since 1923.

Browse the Boutique - Opens in new tab
shrunken head boutique
9

Brandwein’s Bagels

A bagel has the power to brighten your day. At least, if you ask Brandwein’s Bagels, an alumni-owned bagel shop located just off campus. Their freshly baked and boiled bagels are the talk of Chapel Hill, especially for the morning after a night on the town or a long, lazy afternoon catching up with old friends. 

Though Brandwein’s is newer to Chapel Hill, their New York-style offerings have made them an instant favorite among students and locals alike. Opt for just the bagel, or go all in for their deli sandwiches and homemade salads.

Insider Tip

Get there early and grab a fresh baked bagel, straight out of the oven. If you need help keeping your eyes open, add on a hot cup of Gray Squirrel Coffee.

Bagel’s Up - Opens in new tab
ChapelHill_BrandweinsBagels
10

The Crunkleton

Signature cocktails and curated spirits set The Crunkleton apart from other Franklin Street watering holes. The Crunkleton’s creative concoctions and literal wall of spirits make them the go-to spot for cocktails. Those newer to spirits might find a fresh favorite, while cocktail enthusiasts will be delighted to find bartenders that will gladly join in on a conversation about the origins of Sazerac. 

As exceptional as The Crunkleton is, they pride themselves on being approachable for anyone in search of a one-of-a-kind cocktail. In their own words, at the end of the day, The Crunkleton is just a “really really good bar.”

Insider Tip

Tell the bartenders what type of liquor you prefer, and they’ll surprise you!

Learn More - Opens in new tab
crunkleton chapel hill