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On a Friday night in Chapel Hill, weary students, armed with only a legal ID and a liver ready for battle, face the last frontier — the bars surrounding Franklin and Rosemary Streets. 

This land of opportunity may seem overwhelming. How do you know if the music will be good? If the drinks will be strong, but cheap? If the line is too long for you to keep waiting?

In order to judge the options, my friend Victoria and I visited seven bars in one night to tell you everything you need to know before you take that journey you may never remember. 

This bar crawl guide is a choose-your-own-adventure for whatever you feel next Friday night.

There are a couple ways to start the night. I’d recommend easing in at a more laid-back bar that has another form of entertainment. 

If you’re interested in music, especially indie music, start at The Cave and work your way up Franklin.

The musicians are right in front of you and the bar's dark lighting and low ceilings made me feel like I was in a spy movie. Keep in mind that it is not that accessible, as you have to walk down a flight of narrow stairs, which is another reason to be reasonably sober when going. There’s also not too much of a college crowd. 

If you’re interested in games, or you're with a large group of friends, start at The Gathering Place.

Board and card games require a bit more mental energy, so I would not recommend coming here after a couple drinks. It has a chill atmosphere with gaming-inspired decorations, but this location is also not very accessible. 

From there, it all depends on how much you want to dance, which UNC junior Henry Thomas, who I met at Goodfellows Bar, said he is looking to do. 

“I really like Goodfellows, I also love He’s Not [Here] and [Pantana] Bob’s occasionally. I think any with good music or good social interaction is what I look for, period,” Thomas said

I would also recommend Goodfellows, which has karaoke on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. The line can get unreasonably long before you realize it, so try not to get there later than 11 p.m.

It’s not easy to talk in Goodfellows, but it’s still possible — if you’re willing to shout. It has a great college crowd and everyone is extremely friendly — we even added two girls we met there to our bar crawl for the rest of the night.

Following Thomas's directions, you could also try Pantana Bob’s, which has more of an old-school bar vibe and a huge dance floor. The outdoor space is nice for warmer nights and it's a good bridge between Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

Finally, here are my late-night recommendations, when you’re sobering up but not ready to go home yet.

First, He’s Not Here is a classic.

Not only is it a Chapel Hill staple, it is the rare bar that you can go to at any time of the night. Don’t be too drunk here, though, because while it’s a very friendly place, it’s also relatively clean and organized.

I met 2023 graduate Margaret Matthews at He's Not. Her version of a bar crawl is short and purposeful. 

“I feel like the ideal order in my brain is: go pregame at your own house, go to He’s Not, at least get one blue cup, go to Goodfellows and then drunk food at Sup Dogs,” Matthews said

A lesser-known gem I also think is great is Zog’s Art Bar and Pool Hall, which has pool, arcade games and mystery drinks!

It’s a great way to relax before you go home and a relatively quiet space. The decorations are also fun, eclectic and have a completely different vibe from any other bar nearby.

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Adam Łucek, who I met at Zog's, said his ideal bars weren’t as crowded, which is why he likes the art bar so much.  

“What do I look for in a bar? Not too loud, chill vibes, I don’t like wading through too many crowds of folks so, if it’s a little bit more lowkey, that’s kinda what I’m looking at,” Łucek said.

So next Friday night, as you traverse the streets of Chapel Hill, consult this guide or mix-and-match to make the perfect night. 

(And if you don't agree with my route, please don't be mad. I turned 21 a month ago— you can check my ID at the door.)

Editor's note: Henry Thomas and Adam Łucek are former staffers at The Daily Tar Heel. 

@hamsinisiva3

@dthlifestyle | lifestyle@dailytarheel.com