• Photo: Jill Lang/Shutterstock

Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill is the smallest city in the Triangle, but it probably has the biggest personality. Home to the nation's first state university, the University of North Carolina, this is a college town through and through, one that has never lost its quirky edge, thanks in no small part to its constant influx of young people. With its prestigious yet offbeat reputation, UNC draws all kinds of students, from West Coast hippies to fraternity-loving members of the Southern aristocracy. Part of the fun of the area is the push–pull between this motley crew of students and the wealthy retirees who call Chapel Hill home. Although there are fancy restaurants and hotels, there are also cheap pizza joints and dive bars. Franklin Street, located downtown, caters to both these communities with a mixture of boutiques, restaurants, and galleries. It's just as good a place to buy incense as it is to purchase a designer shirt—and it makes for great people-watching.

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