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 Visitors Center, 501 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill.
Contact the Visitors Bureau
Since 2002 the Visitors Center has provided information and assistance to those interested in visiting the communities of Orange County NC including Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Hillsborough. The Center provides suggested itineraries, directions, visitor guides, North Carolina & local maps, and brochures from many of the areas favorite attractions. Free parking off South Roberson Street, Chapel Hill. ADA access & parking in the front.
Address: 501 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Phone Toll-Free: (888) 968-2060 | Phone: (919) 245-4320 Fax: (919) 968-2062
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.
Raleigh-Durham International Airport’s Official Parking Program
ParkRDU provides easy, convenient options allowing you to choose your experience. Select from a variety of short-term or long-term products, meeting various budget needs. ParkRDU options are fully-accessible for people with disabilities.
- Overview of Shared Rental Economy (PDF) - Presenter: Laurie Paolicelli, Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau
- Overview of Shared Rental Economy (PDF) - Presenter: Rebecca Badgett, UNC School of Government
- Overview of 2019 Tourism in NC (PDF) - Presenter: Marlise Taylor, Visit NC
Helpful Tourism Links
For a list of meeting and conference facilities, contact Orange County Sales Director, Marlene Barbera, 919-245-4320
Overview of Orange County
Orange County, North Carolina is a remarkable place to visit. Its three main towns: Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough have everything a visitor wants in a destination: beautiful climate, historic neighborhoods—many on the national historic register, a cutting-edge arts scene, and some of the best food you’re going to get anywhere in the country.
To view the Orange County Neighborhoods Guide online, click here.
Many area hotels are located in the heart of Chapel Hill, near the University, and several area chefs are James Beard winners and nominees.
James Taylor grew up in Chapel Hill, Charles Kuralt taught at UNC, Michael Jordan played basketball here and Mia Hamm set new goals for soccer and women in business.
It’s a cultural oasis, the crown-jewel of higher education. We invite you to explore our neighborhoods and encourage you to check-out the numerous special events that happen year-round.
12 Ways to Enjoy Chapel Hill/Orange County
What is a must see while visiting Chapel Hill and Orange County? We're glad you asked! Click here for recommendations...
It’s Never Too Late to Improve Your Health
By Susan Rice
(Susan Rice has been with Orange County for more than ten years, currently serving as Visitor Relations Coordinator at Orange County’s Visitors Bureau at 501 West Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. Susan serves on the Employee Relations Council at Orange County.)
In my younger days I used to run, but now I’m addicted to walking. What a great area we have to walk in! During lunch I join the folks out-and-about in downtown Chapel Hill. Some are shopping; some are eating, and others simply strolling the downtown streets, just getting their daily exercise, like me. There are so many trails and lovely streets to choose from in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough, all unique with something interesting to view.
UNC campus is a favorite walk. I usually escape into the Coker Arboretum and on warm days often stop at the Old Well for a quick drink of water at the fountain. Morgan Creek/Fan Branch is another trail I use on a regular basis because I can access it on my way home from work. It’s a longer trail and there are always others out there, walking, running, exercising their dogs, biking. The paved part of the trail, called Fan Branch Trail, has several bridges crossing over Fan Branch Creek. Gentle hills continue into Southern Village and, if you follow along the sidewalk, the path will lead you up to the Southern Community Park and the soccer fields.
Riverwalk is very popular and a fabulous addition to Hillsborough’s outdoor walkability. Riverwalk was designed as a segment of the North Carolina Mountains-to-the-Sea Trail. Access points are at Gold Park or the parking deck behind Weaver Street Market on Churton Street. This is so much more than just a trail, though; you can sit on the benches, enjoy a picnic, learn about the area on the information plaques or visit the Occaneechi Village Replica Site. If it’s lunchtime there’s easy access to Churton Street restaurants or shops, as well as a few options at the Gold Park end.
Orange County is fortunate to have its share of temperate, sunny days, even in the dead of winter. Sometimes when I am feeling especially lazy and not inclined to walk, I see all the others out there enjoying the weather, and themselves. They inspire me. I push through the fatigue of a long day and take to the street for a nice long walk. And trails are open during daylight hours, so well-traveled that they feel safe enough even walking alone. So I do it, as often as I can. Its how I see the beautiful world I’m lucky enough to live in.
In Orange County, History is Everywhere
The past, as William Faulkner wrote about another Southern place, “is never dead. It's not even past.”
In fact, in Orange County, it’s all around us. In this very modern place, history is still everywhere. Nearly 50 county sites are on the National Register of Historic Places, from downtown historic districts and classic farmhouses to stately colonial residences and re-imagined industrial plants.
Some of the history is renowned — like Old East residence hall on the University of North Carolina campus, the first public university building in the nation, dating from 1793. While the residence hall looks welcoming, Gimghoul Castle appears forbidding. Off a gravel path at the end of the road in the Gimghoul Historic District, the stone castle’s tower and ramparts make it look like we’re in medieval England.