Admit it. When friends come to town for a visit, you have trouble deciding between all the things you want to show them. After all, there's nothing wrong with showing off where you live. But what about the places in (or near) Chapel Hill you've been meaning to check out yet never found the time to visit? We know there must be a few. So we whipped up our own little list of things you should squeeze into your summer. As anyone who lives here knows, it's by no means comprehensive. But it's a fun start.
Sure, you've had Maple View's ice cream. It's a local treat you can find at quite a few places around town. But have you been to the farm? Somehow, the ice cream tastes just a little bit better when you're sitting in a rocking chair -- or on a bale of hay -- overlooking the rolling hills of Orange County farm country.
What could sound more peaceful and relaxing than Poets Walk? Trust us, the name is apt. Set on the 1815 plantation estate of Ayr Mount in Hillsborough, it's a mile-long trail that winds through meadows and woodlands. The path follows the Eno River, passes the ruins of an old tavern and parallels the Old Indian Trading Path.
There are plenty of fun reasons to hit Saxapahaw (all detailed nicely in the May/June issue of Chapel Hill Magazine), and it can certainly all be seen in one day. Just make sure you plan a visit to coincide with a show at the ballroom. It's a wide-open, three-story space with the feel of a concert hall and an old mill dye room in one. It's the best possible combination of majestic, rustic and -- most importantly -- acoustic.
By now, just about everybody knows about this summer-long event right in the heart of campus at The Carolina Inn. But have you actually gone there yet? There's no excuse for not enjoying the combo of food, drinks and music on a warm afternoon.
Haw River Rope Swing
If you take 15-501 South to the charming little town of Bynum, there's more to do than just see Clyde Jones' creatures or hit the general store. Off the side of the highway, there's a trail into the woods that follows the north bank of the river. A ways in, there's a rope swing on a big tree that hangs over the water -- the perfect way to cool off when you need a break from the pool.
When everything is in full summer bloom, you could just pull up a chair in the backyard and enjoy the lush but familiar views there. A better idea, though, is to soak in the floral diversity of the botanical garden where there is a mix of native plants and habitats from around the state (and carnivorous plants -- fun!). The garden also has lots of events like nature hikes and story time for kids.
OK, Chapel Hill folks, let's not hold the family name against the family farm. It's actually quite cool to learn about the area's tobacco-rich history. They'll take you on a tour of the buildings and grounds, giving you a feel for what life was like when the Duke name was synonymous with tobacco farming instead of a certain detestable basketball team.
If you've never been, it can be a fun trip back in time to step inside the Preservation Society's home base. Built in the 1850s, it's got a lot of interesting architectural and decorative details, as well as art and history exhibits. The Preservation Society runs its walking tours from there, so the house will help take you down Chapel Hill's memory lane before embarking.
S&T Soda Shoppe
Just in case the old-timey name didn't tip you off, this place is a Pittsboro tradition. Open Tuesday through Saturday, S&T is worth the drive and makes a great place for a family lunch. Just make sure you save room for the mammoth banana split that is the de facto signature dish. It's so big, "split" is going to be a word you use in multiple contexts.
We know a lot of our suggestions have had you out in the sun, so here's one destination that will get you into some air conditioning. And if you still feel all hot and fired up after browsing a century's worth of Carolina basketball memorabilia, don't blame us. Blame Dean Smith. TW