Chapel Hill is the smallest city in the Triangle, but it probably has the biggest personality. Home to the nation's first state university, the University of North Carolina, this is a college town through and through. Though not as quaint as it once was, this little city has never lost its quirky edge, thanks in no small part to its constant influx of young people. With its prestigious yet offbeat reputation, UNC draws all kinds of students, from West Coast hippies to fraternity-loving members of the Southern aristocracy. Part of the fun of the area is the push–pull between this motley crew of students and the wealthy retirees who call Chapel Hill home. While there are fancy restaurants and hotels, there are also cheap pizza joints and dive bars. Franklin Street, located in the heart of downtown, caters to both these communities with a mixture of boutiques, restaurants, and galleries. It's just as good a place to buy incense as it is to purchase a designer shirt—and it makes for great people-watching.
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Things You Can't Miss
The stars shine at the Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill. At 68 feet in diameter, the planetarium's dome is one of the largest.
Margaret Bowles/Southcreek Global/Zuma Press/Alamy
A run to nearby Carrboro gets you some mighty fine food. Chef Kevin Callaghan shops Saturdays at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market. Maybe you should, too.
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