Iconic AAA Four Diamond Hotel Bordering UNC Campus
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, takes its name from an 18th-century log chapel that stood on a nearby hill at the time the town was founded. Although the chapel eventually came down, the site remained significant to locals and students at the neighboring University of North Carolina. So it was in that same spot in 1924 that UNC alumnus John Sprunt Hill built The Carolina Inn to cater to those visiting the university, located just across the street. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the inn has also earned AAA's Four Diamond hospitality rating for the past 15 years.
The inn's architecture harks back to the antebellum South, namely George Washington's Mount Vernon estate and Richland, the 19th-century Louisiana plantation. Guest rooms showcase four-poster beds, handmade armoires, and other decor inspired by the antique South.
It's worth exploring the hotel's ground level just to take in the ballroom gallery with its fresh flower displays and the open-air Bryan Courtyard. Carolina Crossroads Restaurant, the inn's fine-dining establishment, serves locally sourced, Mediterranean-influenced cuisine that has garnered praise from Wine Spectator, Forbes, and the ghost of Abraham Lincoln.
Chapel Hill, NC: Southern College Town with Lively Main Street
Locals refer to Chapel Hill as "the southern part of heaven,” and it’s hard to disagree, especially on an idyllic sunny day on Franklin Street, the main campus drag. In addition to coffee shops, cafés, and bookstores, green space abounds in this charming area, from the wide-open grassy quads to the university’s scenic Coker Arboretum. Diehard Tar Heel fans can take a short walk through campus to find the Carolina Basketball Museum, where artifacts, photos, and videos detail the program’s illustrious history.
Just a few minutes’ walk down Franklin Street, a more bohemian air takes over as Chapel Hill merges with the less-crowded neighboring township of Carrboro. Travelers with access to a set of wheels or a sled pulled by a cross-country team may also want to explore the beautiful rolling farmland outside the town limits, perhaps winding up at the Maple View Farm Country Store to enjoy an ice-cream cone on its wide front porch.