Chapel Hill is a wonderful place to be year-round but especially in the summer! With all of the festivals, live music and outdoor dining available, there is no better place to soak it all in than downtown Chapel Hill, the unofficial heart of the city. Being walking distance from UNC, you can get just about anywhere within minutes of downtown, while being submersed in both culture and community. There really is something for everyone.
There are limitless options for dining while enjoying downtown. Whether you’re looking for fine dining, or the best of the college nightlife that UNC has to offer, the downtown restaurant scene offers sophistication, modern taprooms, authentic cultural experiences, and much more. Here are just a couple of favorites:
Talullas – An instant classic! This Mediterranean inspired restaurant will keep you coming back for more. Guests can enjoy this Turkish masterpiece for traditional dinners and late-night excursions.
411West – Does it get better than fine Italian dining? 411West serves both traditional pizzas along with their twist on the classics.
Carolina Coffee Shop – it doesn’t get more nostalgic than this. The Carolina Coffee Shop is North Carolina’s oldest restaurant and has stood the test of time not only because of its full access menu but also because of the community it provides. It’s the heart of Franklin Street and the pride of its town.
Crook’s Corner – Classic southern comfort food. Need we say more? Crook’s Corner has been a staple of downtown for 30 years and serves its guests a southern, homestyle meal that instantly makes you feel like family. With a constantly evolving menu, it will keep you on your toes.
Carolina Brewery – It seems like everywhere you look; quality craft brewpubs are showing up in the best downtowns across the nation and Chapel Hill has been no exception. What started it all for Chapel Hill was the instant classic, Carolina Brewery. Serving both dinner and brunch, there’s an award-winning beer to go with everything on the menu.
Events and Celebrations
Downtown hosts an exciting amount of celebrations and events for everyone in the family. Adults and kids alike enjoy special downtown events year-round that not only teach them about the area but continue to instill pride to call Chapel Hill their own. Many events are also put on free of charge, making it the perfect day to spend with family and friends.
Some of the more popular events include:
Held on Fridays at 5:00 pm from April – October, Friday’s on the Front Porch is a perfect event to look forward to as things start to warm up in Chapel Hill. Join other downtown enthusiasts at the Carolina Inn for live music, picnic-style seating and menu and memories that will last a lifetime. This is where traditions begin.
Hosted on the 2nd Friday of every month, this event not only encourages friends to get together and socialize with other art lovers downtown but also experience the different shops and venues along the way. Support local, support downtown, and support each other! Out on the streets, you’ll find food vendors, live music and so much more.
Held every fall, this “pop-up pep rally” is a tradition that families look forward to annually. Typically held the weekend of the first home football game, downtown lights up with Tarheel Blue and university pride. With performances from the band, the cheerleaders, and live music, it’s hard not to feel like a Tarheel. Tailgate before the game with food, drinks, and 1000’s of your fellow fans!
- Green Spaces – Downtown has more greenery and parks to offer than anywhere else in Chapel Hill. Parks such as Battle Park, Coker Arboretum, and University Baptist Park, are idyllic locations for a picnic, throwing a ball around and letting the dog get some much-needed exercise.
- Theatres – If you’re looking to get your family immersed in the arts, downtown has quality options! Theatres such as Playmakers Rep, The Varsity Theatre, and Forest Theatre offer families quality shows both inside, and out in the heart of the botanical gardens on campus. Shows consist of both national tours as well as locally directed and performed family favorites. If you’re looking for an adult night out, don’t miss The Pit and Memorial Hall for live performances from your favorite bands and comics!
- Morehead Planetarium and Science Museum – This hands-on museum and planetarium is the perfect place to let the kids learn and explore at their own pace! The planetarium itself is one of the largest in the country!
- Walk around! – Walking around the downtown area is one of the BEST ways to see it! You won’t believe how much there is to offer for everyone in the family from live music, street art, and little exhibits that just seem to pop up. There is no better way to enjoy our beautiful city!
- SHOP! – From clothing to florists, bike shops, university gear, and everything in between. You won’t be disappointed with shopping downtown!
While there is so, so much to enjoy in Chapel Hill, the downtown area sums it all up best. With art, culture, nature, and a family-friendly community that boasts one of the nation’s top universities, Downtown Chapel Hill is a gem and extraordinary city that stands out above the crowd! Get out and enjoy downtown!
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