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Column: What to do on the weekends in Chapel Hill and surrounding areas

Andrea Davis, owner of Valley Brook Farms, stands with co-worker Matthew Pittman behind their booth at the Carrboro Farmers Market on Wednesday June 9, 2021. Valley Brook Farms is a local farm that makes a variety of jams, jellies, and pickled goods.

As a first-year student, it can be difficult to occupy your weekends since you won’t be very familiar with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area yet.

Here are some fun ways to spend your days off.

Carolina Basketball Museum

When you're a UNC student, being a basketball fan is a staple of your college experience. 

Though you won’t be able to enter the Dean Dome to cheer on the Heels until later in the fall, you can experience the fandom at this museum dedicated entirely to UNC basketball players, history, artifacts and more.

Some of the artifacts on display include championship trophies, the shoes Roy Williams wore for the last win of his coaching career and new panels about the hiring of Hubert Davis as head coach. 

You can find the Carolina Basketball Museum on the ground floor of the Ernie Williamson Athletic Center at 450 Skipper Bowles Drive right next to the Dean Smith Center, so you can get a quick peek at the action.

On-campus arts and cultural events

Memorial Hall performances, PlayMakers Repertory Company shows and Ackland Art Museum exhibits are among the top arts and culture attractions on campus.

Carolina Performing Arts hosts many of its events at Memorial Hall throughout the year, typically offering free or discounted admission to UNC students. 

The calendar has not yet been announced for the 2021-22 season, but stay tuned for updates regarding upcoming performances. Past events have featured the Martha Graham Dance Company, Grammy Award winner Chris Thile and New Orleans-based jazz band The Soul Rebels.

PlayMakers Repertory Company, based in the Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art, is the professional theater company in residence at UNC. This fall, the company will perform “As You Like It” by William Shakespeare.

If you're interested in the visual arts, the Ackland Art Museum provides a cultural exploration into art and history through its various exhibits. In addition to the museum's permanent collection, visitors can view the “Clouding: Shape and Sign in Asian Art” installation this fall. 

Explorations of nature

A hidden gem at UNC is the presence of the North Carolina Botanical Garden on campus through the Coker Arboretum.

Open from dawn to dusk every day of the year, Coker Arboretum is a 5-acre serene escape in the heart of campus. Picnic on one of its open lawns, take in the beautiful scenery on a shady bench or explore the wide variety of flowers and trees.

Despite its location tucked between the Pit and Franklin Street, Coker Arboretum is arguably the most peaceful place on campus. This outdoor space can serve as the perfect stress-reliever during midterms or the ideal spot to just relax and take in the beauty that is UNC’s campus.

Underrated outdoor spots in Chapel Hill can also be seen on the trailways in the Chapel Hill backroads around the downtown scene. 

Tanyard Branch Trail, Bolin Creek Trail and Battle Branch Trail all connect gorgeous outdoor scenery from the border of Carrboro through Battle Park. These routes through nature are an ideal way to get outside to bike, walk or run and enjoy the Chapel Hill weather.

Eating your way through Chapel Hill

The easiest way to occupy your time is by enjoying all the cuisine that Chapel Hill and the surrounding towns have to offer.

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Chapel Hill is packed with iconic food activities like getting the famous BLT from Merritt’s Grill, overlooking Franklin Street at Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery or having brunch at the oldest restaurant in North Carolina, Carolina Coffee Shop.

Another fun way to try local food is by visiting the Carrboro Farmers’ Market, located in the Carrboro Town Commons at 301 W Main St. Vendors provide fresh produce, meats, eggs, bread, pottery, art and much more.


@DTHCityState |

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