Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau

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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.

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

Getting Here

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

Meeting/Conference Facilities

For a list of meeting and conference facilities, contact Orange County Sales Director, Marlene Barbera, 919-245-4320.

The Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau’s Version of How to Build a Better Baby Boomer

Click here to download the print-friendly PDF of How to Build a Better Baby Boomer



35ThingstoDo_1James 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.
35ThingstoDo_2The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the oldest public university in the U.S. (doors opened in 1795).  
35ThingstoDo_3Relive 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.
35ThingstoDo_4North Carolina Botanical Garden is known for its nature trails, carnivorous plant collections, aquatics, herb gardens, and revolving exhibits of artwork.
35ThingstoDo_5Newly renovated Morehead Planetarium & Science Center was the first planetarium in the South and one of the largest in the U.S.
35ThingstoDo_6Dubbed 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.
35ThingstoDo_7A 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. 
35ThingstoDo_8Coker 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.
35ThingstoDo_9Kidzu Children’s Museum located at University Place (former University Mall). 

35ThingstoDo_10Sports 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. 
35ThingstoDo_11For a look at public Mural art: Greetings from Chapel Hill post card, Elizabeth Cotten, Honeybee mural in Carrboro. 
35ThingstoDo_12Antiques. Whitehall at the Villa in Chapel Hill and Leland Little Auctions in Hillsborough.
35ThingstoDo_13Merritt’s Store & Grill is touted as the “Home of the World-Famous BLTs” and chicken fried humor.
35ThingstoDo_14Grocery 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.
35ThingstoDo_15Have a “good sit” and read the daily newspaper. Two first class Libraries are open, one in Chapel Hill and the other in downtown Hillsborough. 
35ThingstoDo_16Microbreweries. Carolina Brewery, Dingo Dog, Craftboro Brewing Depot, Steel String Craft Brewery, and Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery to name a few.
35ThingstoDo_17Live 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. 
35ThingstoDo_18Southern 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. 
35ThingstoDo_19About 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.
35ThingstoDo_20West 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).
35ThingstoDo_21Carrboro 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.
35ThingstoDo_22Carrboro’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.
35ThingstoDo_23Carr Mill Mall. Much of the original architecture remains and several restaurants and upscale boutique shops include clothing, jewelry, coffee, pizza.
35ThingstoDo_24Stunning 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.
35ThingstoDo_25Maple View Farm produces yummy ice cream and offers scenic views. Seasonal flavors include candied bacon, banana pudding, and eggnog. Worth the drive.
35ThingstoDo_26Eno Arts Mill in Hillsborough is a 7,000 square foot space offering all things art. Music, studios, gallery shows, classes. 
35ThingstoDo_27Downtown 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.
35ThingstoDo_28Among 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.
35ThingstoDo_29Hillsborough’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.
35ThingstoDo_30The 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.
35ThingstoDo_31The 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! 
35ThingstoDo_32Just 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.
35ThingstoDo_33Historic Moorefields home and site was built in 1785 as a summer home by Alfred Moore, a military and educational leader and prominent jurist.
35ThingstoDo_34Hillsborough’s Riverwalk offers 2 miles of greenway with loop trails, bridges, and boardwalk, accessible to trails, parks, and the Eno River. 
35ThingstoDo_35Walk. Trails are everywhere. Trees, sidewalks, history, public art and (mostly) blue skies. Our communities enjoy a mild climate and all are welcome here.