Sep 23, 2022 - News

24 hours in Chapel Hill

Photo illustration of the sun and moon transitioning over the Chapel Hill skyline.
Photo illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios. Photo: Town of Chapel Hill

Heading to Chapel Hill and don't know where to start? Here's what we recommend for a day trip.

Where to stay: Chapel Hill has a lot of options — unless it's parent's weekend, move-in weekend or graduation day at UNC.

Breakfast: Want something on the go? Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen sells one of the state's most famous biscuits.

  • Brandwein's Bagels is another good option. It exploded onto the scene a few years ago, and has since expanded several times due to the love for its bagels.
  • The Root Cellar has an impressive menu and space to relax.
  • Venable Bistro in Carrboro offers one of the best brunches if you are here for the weekend.
  • Tucked away in the woods off Franklin Street, Caffe Driade is the most idyllic coffee shop in town.
Brandwein's Bagels in Chapel Hill.
Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios.

Shop: There are a variety of bookstores, clothing stores and gift shops along the main drag of Franklin Street in Chapel Hill to Main Street in Carrboro.

  • Epilogue Books is a standout.
  • The military surplus-and-costume store Surplus Sid's is a one-of-a-kind shopping experience.
  • On Saturdays, the Carrboro Farmers Market is a great bet for artisan food and crafts.
A bookstore with many bookshelves.
Epilogue Books. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios.

Hike: The Carolina North Forest — home to 750 acres of woodlands and trails — isn't far from downtown.

Hiking not your jam? Check out the Ackland Art Museum on UNC's campus or a show at the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center.

Lunch: Keep it light and simple. You've still got a lot ahead of you.

  • Merritt's Grill, home to the best BLT in the state.
  • Carrburritos, the makers of truly top tier burritos and nachos.
  • Zach's pick: Mediterranean Deli, where you can sample a trove of Middle Eastern dishes. They make my favorite falafel.
The inside of Med Deli in Chapel Hill with cases of food.
Med Deli in Chapel Hill. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios.

Stroll: Chapel Hill is home to one of the beautiful campuses in the country. Your tax dollars help pay for it, so go enjoy it.

Catch a show or a game: We know you're probably in town for a UNC game (it's a great reason to go!), but there are plenty of other entertainment options in Chapel Hill.

Pre-dinner cocktail: The Crunkleton is the classic spot for cocktails in Chapel Hill. The Franklin Street institution employs some of the best mixologists in the state and built the foundation for a growing empire, stretching from Charlotte to Raleigh.

  • For something a little cheaper and laid back: Try the townie haunt Bowbarr.
  • Or you can try to blend in with the college kids and drink a blue cup at He's Not Here.

Dinner: It's hard to pick just a few, but Andrea Reusing's Lantern is one of the town's most well renowned eateries. Other great options include:

Outside at Tru Deli
Outside at TRU. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios.

Nightcap: Finish the night with a drink on the patio at TRU or with cheese fries at Linda's.

Breakfast on the way out: Make it Sutton's Drug Store or Time-Out.

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