Visitors & Relocation Guide

Warm Welcome

After living my entire life within one hour of where I was born, I moved here from Connecticut in 2002.

The idea to move began with several mini-vacations while college-hunting for our eldest daughter. During one of those family trips, we attended a Carolina-Duke baseball game under a perfect Tar Heel-blue sky at Boshamer Stadium. We wondered aloud why we had not found Chapel Hill sooner, and we decided somewhere between the fifth and sixth inning to move the family here.

Once that decision was made, our need for Chapel Hill area information became urgent. We wondered what the best neighborhood for us would be – and we longed to hear from new residents and natives about their experiences living here. We were interested in job and business prospects. We wanted to know about available activities and which schools were the best fit for our children. We knew that the college sports scene was world-class, but we wondered about the high school sports, outdoor trails, and who were the best pediatricians, orthodontists and other child-related contacts. I needed a great Realtor, a house, furniture, window treatments, a landscaper, rugs and so on. For the first year, I struggled to find either the right restaurant, fitness center, store, retirement facility for a relative or the resource du jour that I needed.

Having been in the media business all of our lives, my husband and I saw the need for a comprehensive year-round magazine and a visitors guide – because we wished there was one when we moved here. So in 2006, we launched Chapel Hill Magazine, and the annual Visitors & Relocation Guide (in partnership with the The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro) followed a few years later.

Now that I live in Encore at Briar Chapel, a 55-plus community near the Chatham and Orange county lines, I'm still always on the hunt for new restaurants to try, retail shops to browse and art galleries to visit. This guide reminds me year after year of just how much there is to see and do in our communities, and we hope that this edition makes your visit or move to Orange or Chatham counties easier and more enjoyable with its great ideas and resources.

Welcome! We are glad that you’re here!

After graduation and stints in New York and Alabama, I was lured back to town to work for Chapel Hill Magazine. I always thought I’d end up here, but figured it would be years down the road, to raise a family or to retire. In the end, it was the dynamic cultural scene, the sense of community I’d felt on and beyond campus and the chance to attend more UNC basketball games – Go Heels! – that brought me back.

Moving here for the second time back in 2014, I had a slight advantage over the average new resident – I generally knew my way around. But I had to find a gym, an eye doctor, networking opportunities and so on. This guide was a helpful place to start then just as it is now, and I got to explore parks, art galleries and breweries, marking things off the “Ultimate Checklist” for Orange and Chatham counties. I ventured to historic Hillsborough and charming Pittsboro, attended food festivals and fundraisers and got a Chapel Hill Public Library card, something I highly recommend.

Whether you’ve picked up our Visitors and Relocation Guide because you are on a campus tour with your high schooler or on a business trip or if you’re thinking about moving here, welcome! We hope this guide brings you up to speed on places to go, events not to miss and the town you might soon be calling home. We hope you love the “Southern part of heaven” as much as we do

– Ellen Shannon, vice president of planning & development

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