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Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau
Welcome to Orange County
Since the founding of Orange County in 1752 and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 1785, this area has championed its natural beauty, history, and its writers, artists and musicians like no other. Consider: the nation’s first public university is here. UNC was the only university to award degrees in the 18th century. The university was built in Chapel Hill, near the ruins of a chapel, due to its central location in the state, right in Orange County. While visiting, stop by the Chapel Hill/Orange County Welcome Center, 308 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill. Campus and Town of Chapel Hill Free Bus Route (PDF)
Contact the Visitors Bureau
Since 1992, the Visitors Bureau has provided information and assistance to those interested in visiting the communities of Orange County NC including Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Hillsborough. A walk-in Visitors Center first opened in 2002, providing suggested itineraries, directions, visitor guides, North Carolina & local maps, and brochures from many of the areas favorite attractions. A new Welcome Center opened in March 2022. Free parking to those visiting the Welcome Center is to the left of the building, West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill. ADA access & parking is available in the parking lot.
Address: 308 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Phone Toll-Free: (888) 968-2060 | Phone: (919) 245-4320
Regular Business Hours: Open Monday-Friday, 8:30 am - 5 pm; Saturday, 10 am - 3 pm
The Chapel Hill and Orange County area is serviced by the Raleigh Durham International Airport (RDU) located in Raleigh, about 18 miles east of Chapel Hill.
Helpful Tourism Links
For a list of meeting and conference facilities, contact Orange County Sales Director, Marlene Barbera, 919-245-4320.
Earth Day 2023 Activities in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough
Chapel Hill/Orange County, NC — (March 27, 2023) — This year marks the 53rd anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement, commemorated annually as Earth Day.
Rallying behind this year’s theme, Invest in Our Planet, the Chapel Hill/ Orange County communities, will host several events including festivals and informational gatherings in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough as well as on the campus at University North Carolina.
Here are some events to consider:
Celebrate science with the community at this annual event. Sustainable Carolina will have a table with hands-on activities demonstrating on renewable energy.
April 22, 2023
Bike the Trail Ride with Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger
There will be light discussion outside the community center regarding connectivity, riding bicycles for health, and keeping the environment clean there will be an emphasis on 2023 being N.C.’S designated Year of the Trail. The event takes place Saturday, April 22, Earth Day, from 2-4 p.m. at the Chapel Hill Community Center. All ages are encouraged to ride the trail route, which begins at the Community Center for a ride down Bolin Creek to Umstead Park and back. Bring your own bike. Some extras will be available just in case.
April 22, 2023
Earth Day Benefit for Haiti at the Farm Chapel Hill
Join a special Haiti Benefit Festival on Earth Day, April 22, 12:00–5:00 PM, at the Farm, Alice Ingram Circle in Chapel Hill. Enjoy the music, taste the flavor of Haiti, and learn how you can collaborate with Haitian families in restoring their agricultural heritage. Hosted by Two Mules, the event is open to the public. Bring lawn chairs, blankets, and beverages, and enjoy the music of Taxicab Preacher, the Marigold Collective, and Shades of Blue with the Bon Friday food truck and Haitian speakers. Navigate to www.twomules.org to sponsor online and contact us for more information about how to become a partner.
April 22, 2023 Carrboro
With the Chapel Hill Service League, the Town of Carrboro is collaborating on an Earth Day Celebration on Saturday, April 22 from 3:30 to 6 p.m. at Carrboro Town Commons, 301 W. Main St.
Carrboro's Earth Day event will feature a variety of information and education tables to learn more about climate and environmental topics in our community and Community Climate Action initiatives such as Carrboro's Green Neighborhood initiative, Solarize Carrboro, weatherization, sustainability, food footprint, composting, recycling and EV vehicles. There will be activities for children including a parade (animal and plant costumes welcome), planet-friendly vegan and vegetarian food for purchase, and climate and environmental Earth Day Free Book giveaways.
April 28, 2023
On April 28, in conjunction with Hillsborough’s Last Fridays, the Orange County Parks and Recreation group will host Earth Evening in River Park in Hillsborough. Several booths and tables from agencies and groups like Piedmont Wildlife will participate and there will be activities for kids.
As the countdown to Earth Day 2023 continues, it is important to remember regardless of where you are or what you do, you have the power to yield real change and be a champion for Earth. To protect our planet, we must invest in it.
|James Taylor calls Chapel Hill home and the new Welcome Center at 308 W. Franklin Street features a live video welcome from Taylor with selfie-opportunities.|
|The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the oldest public university in the U.S. (doors opened in 1795).|
|Relive the early days of Michael Jordan at the Carolina Basketball Museum, along with Tar Heel national titles, game-winning shots, and an ode to Dean Smith.|
|North Carolina Botanical Garden is known for its nature trails, carnivorous plant collections, aquatics, herb gardens, and revolving exhibits of artwork.|
|Newly renovated Morehead Planetarium & Science Center was the first planetarium in the South and one of the largest in the U.S.|
|Dubbed the “University’s living room,” The Carolina Inn is an historic yet modern first class hotel that offers visitors a cozy restaurant for refreshments and scenic views.|
|A walk through the Ackland Art Museum on South Columbia Street in Chapel Hill can be an introduction to Peter Paul Rubens, Eugene Delacroix, and Andy Warhol. Free.|
|Coker Arboretum offers serene walking paths taking you past wildflowers and trees in this 5-acre gem on the UNC campus. Open to public year-round.|
|Kidzu Children’s Museum located at University Place (former University Mall). |
|Sports Illustrated has called Chapel Hill “The best college town in America,” and Franklin Street—named after Benjamin Franklin—is a big reason. (Franklin was a proponent of practical education for youth). Some favorites on East Franklin include Sutton’s, Carolina Coffee Shop, Julian’s Store, Top of the Hill, Epilogue Books.|
|For a look at public Mural art: Greetings from Chapel Hill post card, Elizabeth Cotten, Honeybee mural in Carrboro.|
|Antiques. Whitehall at the Villa in Chapel Hill and Leland Little Auctions in Hillsborough.|
|Merritt’s Store & Grill is touted as the “Home of the World-Famous BLTs” and chicken fried humor.|
|Grocery stores. Visitors love to shop at places they do not have back home. While visiting check-out Wegman’s, Trader Joes, Fresh Market and our local organic favorite, Weaver Street Market with three locations in our county.|
|Have a “good sit” and read the daily newspaper. Two first class Libraries are open, one in Chapel Hill and the other in downtown Hillsborough.|
|Microbreweries. Carolina Brewery, Dingo Dog, Craftboro Brewing Depot, Steel String Craft Brewery, and Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery to name a few.|
|Live Music is everywhere. Legendary venues like Carrboro’s Cat’s Cradle, Chapel Hill’s Local 506, and Yonder Bar in Hillsborough, and many outdoor venues. The ArtsCenter Carrboro features live music, galleries, lectures, special events.|
|Southern Village is an urban neighborhood located a few miles south of the UNC campus in Chapel Hill. Park, eat, stroll and listen to music. The village green hosts outdoor movies and concerts in the warm season. Free parking is available.|
|About 1 mile from downtown Chapel Hill is a small strip mall, Midtown Market, with a popular shopping spot named SallyMack, which is next to Flyleaf Books, a great bookstore, which is next to Root Cellar, a great lunch spot. Also try fine dining at Kitchen restaurant, and Lucha Tigre, a spicy delicious food and drink spot.|
|West Franklin Street, bordering Carrboro. This part of Franklin Street is filled with restaurants, food trucks, outdoor bars, Rumors Thrift Store. From Al’s Burgers to Franklin Street Motors (outdoor pub), an Arcade and one of the most infamous Italian restaurants in Chapel Hill (Italian Pizzeria 3).|
|Carrboro is home to dozens of boutique shops. East Main Street includes, “This and That” Gallery, My Muses Gift Shop, Gray Squirrel Coffee Co, Bike shops, KAVA and more.|
|Carrboro’s Weaver Street Market is the largest community-owned co-op grocery store in the Southeast, offering local, organic, natural, and an open area to sit and relax.|
|Carr Mill Mall. Much of the original architecture remains and several restaurants and upscale boutique shops include clothing, jewelry, coffee, pizza.|
|Stunning greenery and agriculture surrounds Chapel Hill. Winding roads, country beauty, and berry and dairy farms. Additionally, there are three farmers’ markets with seasonal events. Download the NC Farm App for details.|
|Maple View Farm produces yummy ice cream and offers scenic views. Seasonal flavors include candied bacon, banana pudding, and eggnog. Worth the drive.|
|Eno Arts Mill in Hillsborough is a 7,000 square foot space offering all things art. Music, studios, gallery shows, classes.|
|Downtown Hillsborough. The Old Orange County Courthouse in Hillsborough, with its town clock in the cupola, has been cited by the Library of Congress as one of the finest examples of Greek-Revial architecture in the U.S.|
|Among the late 18th and early 19th century structures still standing today in Hillsborough, you will also find a wine store, art galleries, a yarn shop, vintage jewelry stores, and much more on Churton Street in downtown Hillsborough.|
|Hillsborough’s Ayr Mount Historic Site, built around 1815, is one of North Carolina’s finest Federal-era plantation homes. Tour the home and meander through woodlands and pastures on the one-mile walking trail surrounding the historic site along the banks of the Eno River.|
|The Alexander Dickson House (now the Visitors Center) was the last headquarters of the commander of the largest armies to surrender to Union forces, larger than Lee’s army at Appomattox.|
|The Burwell School Historic Site is a gem of historic Hillsborough, NC, located at the northern edge of the town's famed Historic District. Restored and open to the public, the early 19th-century house and outbuildings bring history alive for visitors of all ages!|
|Just two blocks down, find over 2,000 artifacts at the Orange County Historical Museum, including what is believed to be the only complete set of colonial weights and measures within the U.S.|
|Historic Moorefields home and site was built in 1785 as a summer home by Alfred Moore, a military and educational leader and prominent jurist.|
|Hillsborough’s Riverwalk offers 2 miles of greenway with loop trails, bridges, and boardwalk, accessible to trails, parks, and the Eno River.|
|Walk. Trails are everywhere. Trees, sidewalks, history, public art and (mostly) blue skies. Our communities enjoy a mild climate and all are welcome here.|