Despite its size, Chapel Hill has somehow managed to combine college town attractions with small town charm. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was the reason for the town’s founding in 1819, and the college has the honor of being among the nation’s first public universities – if not actually the first. (Three universities claim the title of oldest public university in the United States, UNC at Chapel Hill being one of them.)
In a town as old as Chapel Hill, you don’t have to look far to find local traditions and favorites. For a good meal and lots of local flavor, consider checking out Sutton’s Drug Store, which has been in operation since 1923. For good music, visit the Cat’s Cradle. This venue boasts an impressive lineup of past acts, including Nirvana and John Mayer, and after fifty years of hosting live music events, it is still attracting musical talent for its audiences.
At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill itself, visitors can see something really unusual: the planetarium where the Gemini and Apollo program astronauts, including Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, trained for their missions. It was here that many astronauts in NASA’s space programs received training in celestial navigation, preparing them to become pioneers in manned spaceflight and moon landings. Today, the Morehead Planetarium lives on as a Science Center – and perhaps one of the neatest attractions in Chapel Hill.
Worth Checking Out
- Cat’s Cradle
- Morehead Planetarium
- Sutton’s Drug Store