Introduction to Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Surrounding Areas
The North Carolina town of Chapel Hill is located in the north central portion of the state on the Piedmont Plateau, about 30 miles outside of the state capital of Raleigh. The town, together with the cities of Raleigh and Durham, comprise the three legs of the so-called Research Triangle, named for a research park located between Durham and Raleigh. Chapel Hill is home to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH), the oldest state-supported university in the United States.
Incorporated in 1819, the town was originally created to serve the University which had already been established before the end of the 18th century. In fact, the original map of the town shows 30 parcels of land wrapping around the northern, western, and eastern fringes of the campus. At the town's center is a hill on which once stood a Church of England house of worship called the New Hope Chapel. Although the Chapel is no longer there, the town's name serves as a reminder of its former prominence.
Events and Points of Interest in Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill is the site of the Festifall Street Fair, an annual October event which typically draws upward of 15,000 visitors. This arts and music celebration features live bands, international foods, numerous children's activities, and over 100 of the most creative crafts people and artists in the area. Another local October event is the Hargraves Fall Carnival, featuring entertainment and games. Local attractions include the Morehead Planetarium, one of the nation's original planetariums once used as an astronaut training site for the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. The North Carolina Botanical Garden, located in Chapel Hill, is the largest natural garden of its kind in the southeast. Other popular Chapel Hill attractions include the following:
- Coker Arboretum
- Ackland Art Museum
- The Chapel Hill Museum
- Stone Center for Black Culture and History
- Kidzu Children's Museum
- Charles Kuralt Learning Center
- Orange County Historical Museum
Fans of collegiate sports couldn't find themselves in a better place than Chapel Hill. The University of North Carolina Tar Heels have won 37 team national championships in five different sports. The University competes in NCAA's Division I-A and participates in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Its teams are perennial powerhouses in women's soccer (18 national championships since 1981), men's basketball (5 national championships), men's lacrosse (3 national championships), and women's field hockey (4 national championships). The Tar Heel baseball team is also a consistent winner, most recently making it to the Championship Round of the 2006 College World Series. Notable alumni of the University's athletic program include Michael Jordan and Mia Hamm, among many others.
Pro sports are not too far away either. Major league hockey resides in the nearby city of Raleigh, home of the National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes. Minor League Baseball can be found only minutes away from Chapel Hill in the nearby city of Durham, where the Durham Bulls play. The Bulls compete in the International League as the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.