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.
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.
50 Unique Restaurants You Must Try in the Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough Communities
Acme Food & Beverage Company serves Southern American cuisine, signature cocktails, fine wines, and craft beers in downtown Carrboro. Chef/Owner Kevin Callaghan uses fresh local ingredients to create Southern American dishes in a fine dining setting.
Al’s Burger Shack
In July 2018, Food & Wine Magazine and Trip Advisor named Al’s Burger Shack as having the Best Burger in America! Al's Burger Shack is a modern interpretation of the classic burger stand in Chapel Hill with exceptional burgers, dogs, and shakes from the best local ingredients.
Antonia's is an upscale Italian eatery offering traditional fare using fresh and local ingredients in the Heart of Historic Downtown Hillsborough.
54 serves the highest quality meats and seafood in a simple and honest manner; using the highest quality ingredients. Bin 54 elevates classic steakhouse dishes to a new level of refinement staged in a warm contemporary setting.
Fresh, local ingredients with soups, sauces and dressings, hand cut fries and potato chips are made from scratch daily; North Carolina Seafood when available and other local ingredients throughout each season.
City Kitchen welcomes you with wholesome American fare prepared through simple, time honored cooking methods such as roasting, braising, preserving and smoking. This urban contemporary setting of this neighborhood eatery evokes the warmth and convivial setting of a residential kitchen and gathering place.
Cholanad serves a Contemporary South Indian Cuisine. The Cholanad Team is focused on delivering the South Indian culinary experience in a world class style.
Crossroads Chapel Hill
Located in the historic Carolina Inn, Crossroads offers a unique dining experience inspired by the very best foods for which North Carolina is famous for. The Crossroads Chapel Hill features fine cuisine, indoor/outdoor dining space, and fresh, locally sourced seasonal menus.
Crook’s Corner’s signature dish is Shrimp and Grits, though it can also be the seasonal favorite Honeysuckle sorbet or even the Atlantic Beach Lemon-Lime Pie… The menu changes daily due to local seasonal ingredients. Look for the Pig above the sign, you can’t miss it.
Like a true diner, Elmo’s serves homemade food and breakfast all the time. They have booths, as well as tables, and lots of high chairs and boosters (plus crayons) for the little ones! Elmo’s Diner is a gathering place where locals are sure to see someone they know and visitors are likely to make new friends.
|Elaine’s on Franklin|
Elaine’s is fine dining serving a unique regional American cuisine using local farm-to-fork ingredients prepared from scratch.
East 54 Chapel Hill
With a posh and elegant décor; Element’s features a sophisticated menu with unique pairings of vibrant flavors from around the world.
|Four-Eleven (411) West Italian Café|
411 West’s menu is inspired by the flavors of Italy and the Mediterranean with a healthy California twist; fresh made in-house pasta, fresh seafood, steaks, specials and delicious thin crust pizzas that are baked in a wood-fired oven imported from Italy.
Fusion Fish offers sushi, a mix of Pan-Asian flavors and textures, and American recipes; the best of both worlds in an elegant atmosphere.
|Hawthorne and Wood|
Acclaimed chef Brandon Sharp opened Hawthorne & Wood as a neighborhood restaurant, bar and patio lounge, where your dinner can be fancy, laid-back, or anywhere in between. Dine indoors or outdoors on the patio. Delicious.
Hillsborough BBQ Company
Pit Smoked BBQ with Sides and Desserts made in house. Specialty Drinks and Local Beer on Draught. Dine In or Take Out and Catering. Pit Cooked BBQ, Ribs, Chicken, Turkey, and Brisket.
|House at Gatewood|
The House at Gatewood serves as both a culinary destination and a fun gathering place for locals. The restaurant features innovative handcrafted food, beverages and an experience all infused by a warm Southern hospitality where old meets new.
|Italian Pizzeria III|
The Italian Pizzeria III is a Chapel Hill tradition. IP3 has a full menu of fresh-dough pizza and other Italian specialties, try a baked specialty such as manicotti or a plate of Shrimp alla Fradiavola and don’t forget the Ravioli alla Napoli, with chicken, bacon, ham, and fresh tomato in a pink cream sauce.
|James Pharmacy Seafood|
A downtown Hillsborough eatery featuring fresh seafood selections in the historic ‘James Pharmacy’ building.
Jujube is a modern Asian fusion restaurant with a cuisine rooted in the flavors of China and Vietnam with three unique seating areas featuring a romantic, outdoor patio.
Kipos Greek Taverna
Kipos is a reflection of owner, Giorgio Bakatsias’ Greek childhood: of fresh and robust village foods cooked in wood-burning ovens, honoring old and modern recipes alike, eat inside or outside on the patio. Kipos means Garden in Greek.
Kitchen has a local, delicious, traditional French bistro fare in a cozy and comfortable environment with a small but impressive selection of wines and beers.
|La Residence |
Opened in 1976, La Rez, as it is locally known, offers an American inspired twist on classic French food and an exceptional dining experience, sit inside or on the patio.
Lantern combines Asian flavors and North Carolina ingredients sourced mainly from local farms and fisheries. Chef-owner Andrea Reusing is a James Beard award winning chef and cookbook author; the restaurant has received many accolades of the years.
|Lime & Basil|
Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine with a full Vegetarian menu. Serves lunch and dinner, eat in or take out.
Lula’s is about small-batch cooking with heirloom recipes from Executive Chef William D'Auvray, with a menu focused on fried chicken, biscuits, farm fresh vegetables and great desserts. A restaurant owned and operated by the popular Chapel Hill Restaurant Group.
Whether you’re looking for great family-style dining, a take-out meal to share at home, a picnic basket to go, or sauces and spreads from the general store, Mama Dip’s is the place to find delicious country cooking. Since 1976, Mama Dip’s has been a Chapel Hill favorite; stop in any day of the week for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Mediterranean Deli provides Chapel Hill with authentic cuisines from the Middle East and the Mediterranean; order off their menu or from its deli cases, many of which are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free. They use the freshest ingredients and take pride in artfully crafting food that is healthy and delicious.
Recently named as having the best sandwich in North Carolina. Famous for their BLTs, you can order a BLT or a BBBLT if you are more inclined. They have other wonderful things on the menu but no one does BLTs as well as Merritt’s.
Neal’s Deli believes in cooking from scratch and with the seasons using local ingredients that give their customers the finest deli experience. Open for breakfast and lunch.
A sophisticated seasonal farm-to-fork restaurant, dedicated to providing high quality cuisine. Originally in Pittsboro, Oakleaf moved to Carrboro in 2018 and continues as an excellent fine dining experience in its new location. Dine inside or, in nice weather, in the outside patio.
Panciuto’s states that it is “connecting bellies to farms since 2006” with locally sourced, sustainably raised, Southern influenced Italian dining; their menu changes a little bit every day, noticeably week to week, and completely month to month to coincide with the seasons.
Pizzeria Mercato is a seasonally focused restaurant featuring a constantly changing, of-the-moment menu. Mercato crafts bright, energetic salads, textured vegetable dishes, handmade pastas, Neapolitan-inspired pizzas in brick-lined ovens and luxurious gelatos.
Provence’s cuisine is Southern French and they source their vegetables from local farms and the Carrboro farmers' market. Enjoy a casual dining experience inside or outside on the patio.
Radius Pizzeria & Pub
Radius Pizzeria & Pub is the marriage of skillfully prepared comfort food with daily changing entrees, pizzas, paninis and salads that are served with warmth, care & fun.
Sage Vegetarian Cafe
Sage is an exclusively vegetarian restaurant that offers natural vegetarian foods, made using organic and local ingredients when available. Each dish is prepared entirely without the use of meat, poultry, fish or harmful additives. They have a wide variety of Organic, Vegan, and Gluten-Free options available as well.
Saratoga Grill specializes in delicious and reasonably priced cuisine (primarily seafood), including their house specialties and other custom favorites. Entrees are served in a relaxed and welcoming setting that you, your friends and family are sure to enjoy. Best known for New England clam chowder, honey almond salmon, and homemade scones!
|Squid's Seafood |
Squid's, a seafood restaurant in Chapel Hill, is famous for the area's best seafood and a warm inviting oyster bar. Since 1986 Squid's has served the very freshest wood-grilled fillets, live Maine lobster, lightly breaded fried seafood, and unique weekly specials.
Sutton’s Drug Store
Old fashioned diner near the Chapel Hill campus, opened in 1923; they offer a great variety of food including burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, salads and wraps. Sutton’s offers an impressive selection of hometown specialties, plus old-fashioned flavored sodas and great milkshakes.
|Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen|
Bigger, Better Biscuits for Breakfast and Lunch, hamburgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches served also. The Chapel Hill location is a Drive-Thru Only Restaurant.
Tandem offers great food in a warm relaxing environment – a place in the community where people come to relax, unwind and have fun. In warm weather enjoy the outside patio.
Talulla’s has become a favorite dining and late night destination amongst locals and visiting foodies alike with their unique Turkish Cuisine. Served in an authentic setting, the extensive menu includes hot and cold mezzes to delectable presentations of grilled lamb and other meats, the flavors and atmosphere whisk you away to Turkey.
Time-Out Restaurant is a Chapel Hill institution located in downtown on Franklin Street. They’re the only restaurant with delivery in town that is open 24/7 365 days a year and famous for their Chicken ‘n Cheddar Biscuit and Southern comfort food. The Chicken Cheddar Biscuit was profiled on the TV show Man v. Food on the Travel Channel in 2009.
Top of the Hill
Top of the Hill – or TOPO as they have come to be known – is a destination spot. Their menu is loaded with locally-sourced ingredients, their acclaimed beer collection is brewed right there on-site, and the outdoor deck boasts a panoramic view of downtown.
Comfort food with big, bold flavors featuring fresh locally sourced ingredients and they are equally proud of their cocktail list, craft and imported beer selection, and carefully selected wine list. Open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.
Village Diner is a place where they will create and graciously serve approachable, quality food prepared with passion and respect for their craft; comfort food Diner Style with a Heavy Dose of Southern Tradition.
|Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe|
Vimala’s restaurant has been bringing home-cooked Indian flavors from her home state of Kerala, her beloved Mumbai and other parts of India since 2010. Operating under the principle “Vimala cooks, everybody eats,” no one is ever turned away at her restaurant.
|Weathervane at Southern Season|
The seasonal menu at Weathervane highlights local ingredients in contemporary cuisine with an Inspired Southern flair. Weathervane’s scenic outdoor patio is a hidden gem in Chapel Hill and the perfect setting to savor a meal on beautiful spring, summer and fall days.
Wooden Nickel has been the neighborhood pub of Hillsborough since 2003, featuring some of the most colorful characters and the most delicious wings that you’ll find anywhere around.
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.