City Guide: Chapel Hill

Students on paths in front of Peabody Hall
By: Boho Chic Cafe
Compensation for this post was provided by Discover card via AOL Media. The opinions expressed herein are only those of myself and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Discover card or AOL.

Today, I've put together a travel guide for Chapel Hill, NC. I've lived in Chapel Hill for the majority of my life, and it's an incredibly charming and underrated town. Everyone who lives here is always saying things like "we have to keep our little slice of heaven a secret!" But because the "Triangle area" (Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh) is number one in the job market, and we have UNC, Duke, and NC State within a 30-minute radius, it's already a melting pot of people from all over the world.

My parents are from New York, and we lived in Miami briefly before relocating here, so I've lived in both ends of the spectrum — but this little slice of NC is home. Though known for a lot of things (UNC/Duke basketball rivalry, the family-friendly community, and research triangle park), what draws me in the most is the people, southern charm, and its aesthetic beauty. Everywhere you turn there's greenery — another garden, another park, another trail. I'm excited to share with you some of my favorite places to eat, see, and do below. I must emphasize that I'm going to specifically focus on Chapel Hill (and only dive a little into Durham), which is a small town. The beautiful thing about the area is that Durham and Raleigh are incredibly close and bigger. Altogether, there are so many things to do and see, and there's something for everyone. Okay, here we go — grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and enjoy!

1.) Caffe Driade (pictured above) has the best outdoor ambiance and connects to the Duke Forest trail, attracting a lot of walkers/hikers. I love spending the afternoon here with a cup of coffee or stopping by after a morning walk.
2.) Joe Van Gogh has the best Chai Tea Latte I've ever had. I prefer mine soft/smooth, but some friends get a Dirty Chai if you prefer a stronger flavor. From homework to catching up with friends, I grew up in this cafe!

1.) Venable in neighboring Carrboro. Venable is newer than Elmo's Diner (which we went to a million times in my childhood), and its food and light ambiance is fantastic. Get there early on a Sunday as there's usually a wait!
2.) Guglhupf in Durham (where the above photoshoot was taken) is a beautiful outdoor brunch/lunch/coffee place I love to visit frequently. It's perfect to study and work, have brunch/lunch, or to catch up with friends over a cup of coffee.

1.) Kipos is one of my favorite locations for lunch (and conveniently on Franklin Street). Fresh, great-quality Greek food!
2.) Merritt's isn't really a sit down place, but they have the best, juiciest, most flavorful sandwiches ever. Amazing!
3.) The Root Cellar Cafe is one of my favorite places for fresh, local salads and sandwiches. It's all fresh and local, and they have a cozy outdoor space as well — perfect on a pretty day.

1.) Head on over to Crook's Corner if you want a little taste of the south (they have amazing shrimp and grits and other southern cooking).
2.) Elements is perhaps my favorite place for dinner. It's a bit out of the way from everything else, but their chef is from Vietnam and learned how to cook in New Orleans, so there's a fantastic fusion of French, Southeast Asian, and American flavors in his dishes — not to mention there's always something new on the menu!
3.) Lantern (Franklin St.)
4.) Elaine's (Franklin St.)

1.) The Botanical Gardens is a must-see on a beautiful day.
2.) Maple View Farm. We used to venture out to Maple View almost every weekend for fresh, local ice cream with a view. It's a small drive, but the farm is absolutely worth the view! We'll sit on the hill with a picnic blanket or rock in the long front porch rocking chairs for a good hour before we leave.
3.) UNC Chapel Hill campus. UNC's campus is one of the most beautiful places to take a stroll in and see the bell tower and historic architecture around town.

1.) Attend a UNC football or basketball game. This is where the magic happens! Chapel Hill has so much passion for UNC sports, especially football and basketball. All of the events are family friendly and it's an incredible experience.
2.) Go to a Durham Bulls baseball game. Bulls games are incredibly inexpensive and a fun activity, especially if you have kids. It's very family friendly and most people go as more of a social outing.
3.) See a play at Playmakers.

Late Night
1.) Top of the Hill is a bar located on the top floor in the middle of Franklin Street. It has a porch you can take your drinks out to get a glimpse of Franklin Street from the top!
2.) Fitzgerald's Irish pub on Franklin Street.
3.) He's Not Here has drinking games and a great outdoor space!
4.) Southern Rail in Carrboro.
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