Chapel Hill (and Carrboro)
Population: about 70,000 combined
Chapel Hill Profile
Chapel Hill, home to UNC Chapel Hill, is a very lovely little college town surrounded by upscale subdivisions and lots and lots of rolling farmland and horse farms. The downtown has historic homes, a great shopping and restaurant district (along Franklin Street) and the gorgeous UNC-Chapel Hill campus. It's a very pretty, very vibrant place to live. Neighboring Carrboro is a little funkier, a little more urban, and just as desirable.
The Franklin Street business district is only a couple of miles long, but it is as charming as it is walkable. It boasts about 300 seriously good restaurants, lounges, wine bars and great boutiques (at all price points). A stroll up and down the street is a great way to spend a day.
There is also great culture in this little city -- like Durham (who benefits from Duke’s presence), the whole community enjoys the concerts, performances, lectures and book signings that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sponsors and attracts.
Chapel Hill is generally the priciest spot in the NC Triangle. The historic homes in the neighborhoods that line Franklin Street around the campus go for about $100,000 more than a comparable house in neighboring Durham. And there are lots of nice (newer) subdivisions to choose from, too, all less than a 15 minute drive from downtown Chapel Hill and 25 minutes or so from Duke, but you'll feel like you're more "out in the country."
A Big Bonus: Chapel Hill/Carrboro city schools have the best reputation in the Triangle, hands down. Many people figure they don’t need private schools when they have public ones like this – Newsweek consistently names Chapel Hill high schools in the top 100 high schools in America– and there are only three! The elementary and middle schools are strong, and two are located within great neighborhoods. Also, Woods Charter School (lottery only) is top notch. See Schools
A word of caution : This town is pretty much all about Carolina, as UNC is called in the local vernacular, and it can seem like an "overgrown" college town. If you have no affiliation with the school, well, you might find the school spirit a little oppressive. And traffic on game days -- football and basketball -- can be a pain. But just about anyone can fit in in Chapel Hill -- it's a real melting pot, and the population is quite open-minded and generally liberal.
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