Chapel Hill Is A Distinctive Destination
The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Chapel Hill one of its 2011 Dozen Distinctive Destinations. Chapel Hill was selected for its stately charm, dynamic cultural offerings and its citizens’ dedication to protecting and sharing its unique heritage.
“From its well-preserved historic districts to its quiet winding streets and historic downtown, Chapel Hill lives up to its nickname as the ‘Southern Part of Heaven,” said John Hildreth, director of the southern office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Discerning travelers to Chapel Hill have long appreciated the two centuries of architectural grandeur on display throughout the town. And Chapel Hill’s commitment to the environment and sustainable practices set it apart from other towns and cities. Chapel Hill is the perfect place for travelers looking for a truly distinctive destination.”
Since the year 2000, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has annually selected towns and cities across America that offer cultural and recreational experiences different from those found at the typical vacation destination. From dynamic downtowns and stunning architecture to cultural diversity and a commitment to historic preservation, sustainability and revitalization, the selected destinations boast a richness of character and exude an authentic sense of place.
Though most well known as the home to the University of North Carolina and its basketball legacy, Chapel Hill has a unique charm and distinctive character that sets it apart from other college towns. Tree lined streets shade an architectural heritage spanning four centuries. With three local historic districts and four National Register Historic Districts, Chapel Hill is a place that prioritizes the preservation of its heritage, thanks in large part to the efforts of the Preservation Society of Chapel Hill.
The concept of adaptive reuse flourishes. In the case of the Horace Williams House – a 19th century home is now an historic cultural center. Several of the community’s early buildings, have been rehabilitated – transforming them into housing, retail, restaurant and gallery spaces humming with activity.
"Visitors to Chapel Hill love strolling through the eclectic shops and restaurants along Franklin Street,” said Laurie Paolicelli, Executive Director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau. “We tend to take for granted what visitors find to be a truly unique destination. Families, parents, couples and those who pull off the Interstate curious about our reputation love exploring the campus, and often rave about the outdoor murals painted on the exterior of downtown buildings. Visitors almost always comment on our trees and sidewalks and the friendliness of our people. They see a community that is nurturing its riches of authors, musicians and chefs. They almost always come back.”
Chapel Hill Highlights:
- Try the local cuisine at Crook’s Corner or one of the many local restaurants that specialize in traditional Southern food with modern twists. Since 1923, Sutton’s, located on Franklin Street, has been a Chapel Hill institution. University of North Carolina’s basketball pride is evident in the decor at Sutton’s.
- In the center of downtown Chapel Hill is the entrance to the University of North Carolina.The stone walls that surround the campus were constructed under the direction of Professor Elisha Mitchell in 1838 in an effort to enclose the campus and replace the rail fences.
- The Carolina Basketball Museum features artifacts, videos, photos, statistical and historical panels that highlight the history of the Carolina Basketball program.
- Music clubs along historic Franklin Street have launched many music careers, from James Taylor to more recent bands like Superchunk, Squirrel Nut Zippers and Ben Folds Five.
- Stroll through the North Carolina Botanical Garden, the largest natural botanical garden in the southeast.
- Old Chapel Hill Cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features a long-neglected African American section currently being restored by the Preservation Society of Chapel Hill.
- Experience the Morehead Planetarium & Science Center, the largest full dome planetarium in the southeastern U.S.
- Browse the Ackland Art Museum, which since 1958 has been one of North Carolina's most important artistic resources.
added: February 23, 2011
updated: February 24, 2011
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