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
2019 Local Holiday Events Listing
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.
12 Ways to Enjoy Chapel Hill/Orange County
Historic Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill is home to more than 200 restaurants, bars, retail shops and service businesses. Enjoy festivals, special events, nightlife and cultural destinations. 140 West and Carolina Square are Franklin Street's hubs for outdoor happenings.
UNC-Chapel Hill Campus
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) is the first state-supported university in America to open its doors and graduate students in the 18th century. Guided tours are available. Also, music, plays and more at Memorial Hall and PlayMakers Repertory Company.
Ackland Art Museum
The Ackland turned 60 in 2018. The Museum's permanent collection consists of more than 18,000 works of art, a premier collection of Asian art and works of art on paper, plus significant collections of European masterworks, twentieth-century and contemporary art. Free.
|Morehead Planetarium & Science Center|
The largest fulldome planetarium in the southeastern United States reaches more than 150,000 visitors each year with its science programs. See its GlaxoSmithKline Fulldome Theater, exhibits and Science Stage, including live science demonstrations. Minimal fee for planetarium shows.
North Carolina Botanical Garden
Comprises more than 1,000 acres, including 10 acres of display gardens and a number of natural areas. See North Carolina plants and vegetation, perennial borders, a Garden of Flowering Plant Families, the Piedmont Nature Trails, a green Education Center with exhibits and more. Open Tue-Sun. Free.
|Carolina Basketball Museum|
The newly renovated Carolina Basketball Museum chronicles the history of UNC Basketball and includes nearly 500 authentic artifacts, hundreds of photographs, and videos of various players, coaches, championships and historic moments. The interactive museum is open Monday-Saturday. Free.
A food lover's paradise with exciting and innovative products from local to international vendors, Southern Season offers over 70,000 items sold in-store and online. Known as a "culinary Mecca", the store features specialty food products, chocolate and candy, wine & beer, coffee & tea, prepared foods, kitchen tools, home items, gifts and much more. Take a class at its cooking school.
Carr Mill Mall and Weaver Street Market
Carrboro is home to the historic Carr Mill Mall, a former textile mill, listed in the National Register of Historic Places under its original name, The Alberta Complex. Find specialty, outdoor and home décor shops, a Coffee/Tea bar, and local favoite Elmo's Diner. Weaver Street Market is a community gathering place as well as a food co-op store. Its large open front lawn is where residents and visitors gather for coffee, food, music and other events.
Whether searching for on-trend fashion, priceless art, the perfect unique gift or, mouth-watering cuisine, University Place features some of the region's best locally owned and national retailers and restaurants. Home to Silverspot Cinema/Trilogy, Kidzu Children's Museum, Peacock Alley, William Travis Jewelry, and Stoney River Steakhouse and Grill.
The music scene in the area is rocking with Carrboro's famous Cat's Cradle, The Station, Chapel Hill's Local 506, The Cave and Nightlight and Hillsborough's Hot Tin Roof and Nash Street Tavern. Come hear local, regional and national bands just about every night of the week.
Hillsborough's historic downtown at 264 years old is on the National Register for Historic Places. Just a short drive from Chapel Hill, Hillsborough's Churton Street is filled with art, jewelry, wine and chocolate shops. Find a historic museum, an antebellum school, a Federal -era plantation house and stroll along the scenic Riverwalk, a 1.8 mile stretch along the Eno River.
|Local Food & Markets|
Hailed as "America's Foodiest Small Town" by Bon Appetit magazine, Chapel Hill is a hot spot for local farm to table cuisine. Noted nationally are Crook's Corner, Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen, and Lantern Restaurant. II Palio and Crossroads Chapel Hill are both AAA four-diamond delicious! Media touts Carrboro's Neal's Deli as a ntional top ten sandwich shop and Pizzeria Mercato, a top favorite Neapolitan Pizzeria. Aaron Vandemark, Executive Chef at Pancuito in Hillsborough, is a six-time James Beard nominee. Visit five county farmer's markets to see where many local chefs shop. Try our multiple craft beer breweries and spirits distillery. Look for the new Blue Dogwood Public Market on West Franklin Street - a food hall with vegetarian, craft beer & ciders, gluten-free baker, Persian, Latin American, and BBQ.
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.