Summer school is over and most students don’t arrive on campus for a few more weeks. It’s a quiet time on campus, which makes it one of the best times to explore the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Here are some places to check out and activities to do at Carolina.
Start your day at the UNC Visitors’ Center: The staff knows Carolina and can help you get where you want to go. They will also provide orientation and suggestions to explore, connect and experience the history, impact and charm of campus. Pick up materials for different kinds of self-guided tours, too. Tours for the general public will begin again when classes are in session. The office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Find the Visitors’ Center in the west side inside Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. Contact: 919-962-1630.
Take a walking tour of Carolina: Stroll through campus to see Davie Poplar, the Caldwell Monument and, of course, the Old Well. Nearby, take a peek at Old East, where the cornerstone for the first building of America’s first public university was laid in 1793. Check out the Carolina Alumni Memorial in Memory of Those Lost in Military Service, the Thomas Wolfe Memorial and wander over to The Pit, which is filled with students when class is in session. Don’t forget to stop by the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower or climb the stairs at Kenan Stadium. Download the free smart phone mobile app, Tour Carolina, to learn more about Carolina. You will find dozens of pictures and videos that highlight more than 40 points of interest on campus.
Curate your own exhibition at Ackland Art Museum: The museum boasts a permanent collection of more than 17,000 works of art, featuring North Carolina’s premier collections of Asian art and works of art on paper. A special exhibition, An Eye for the Unexpected: Gifts from the Joseph F. McCrindle Collection, runs through Aug. 31. McCrindle, the founder and editor of the Transatlantic Review, collected thousands of works of art, including Old Master and 19th– and 20th-century drawings, paintings, prints and decorative art objects. The show brings together a selection of approximately 130 of McCrindle’s prints, drawings and paintings received by the Ackland. An interactive space called “Joseph McCrindle and the Arts” is adjacent to the exhibition. Here, you can listen to classical vinyl records; leaf through issues of the Transatlantic Review; and use your own “eye for the unexpected” in a make-your-own exhibition area.
Visit Tar Heel athletic facilities: Relive some of Carolina’s best basketball moments at the Carolina Basketball Museum. The museum features artifacts, videos, photos and statistical and historical panels that highlight the history of Carolina basketball. Check out Kenan Stadium and Football Center. Enter through Gate 2 on Stadium Drive to see “one of the most beautiful stadiums in the country” that seats 62,000 Tar Heel fans. The Charlie Justice Hall of Honor, located on the ground floor, is a multi-media history of Carolina football featuring photographs, awards, trophies and artifacts. Stop by Carmichael Arena, too. Originally home to Carolina’s men’s basketball and wrestling teams, Carmichael Arena is currently the home for volleyball, gymnastics, wrestling and women’s basketball teams. Carmichael includes a women’s basketball museum, as well as trophy cases and memorabilia recognizing the history of the gymnastics, volleyball and wrestling teams.
Take a break from the sun at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center: Did you know that astronauts trained at Morehead Planetarium? Between 1959 and 1975, nearly every astronaut who participated in the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz programs trained at Morehead. Astronauts no longer train here, but you can pretend to be one in the show “Astronaut” or “Back to the Moon for Good.” The planetarium offers shows daily. Or, participate in a science experiment in Science LIVE!. Don’t miss the exhibits that show why NASA sent its astronauts to Morehead or that explore Earth’s water and the ways we get it, why we need it clean and the future of it.
Learn about North Carolina money at the North Carolina Collection Gallery: Nearly three centuries of North Carolina currency are on view in the North Carolina Collection Gallery in Wilson Library. “The Art of North Carolina Money: The Stories Behind the Symbols” is an exhibition that features more than 80 examples of money, tokens and medals dated from 1729 to as recent as 2009. Unlike the consistent design of most modern U.S. currency, early monies varied greatly, reflecting the multiple private institutions and central and local governments that produced them. The exhibition will be on view through Sept. 30.
Tour Coker Arboretum and hike through Battle Park: Explore the arboretum that started in 1903 when Dr. William Chambers Coker, the university’s first professor of botany, began developing the five-acre boggy pasture into an outdoor classroom for the study of trees, shrubs and vines native to North Carolina. Beginning in the 1920s, Coker added East Asian trees and shrubs. These species, closely related counterparts to many North Carolina native plants, enhanced the beauty and educational value of the arboretum. Today the collection consists of a wide variety of plantings, including flowering trees and shrubs as well as bulb and perennial displays. Battle Park’s 93 acres consist of forest that predates European settlement in the area (1740). Download the Battle Park trail guide before you start your hike. Make sure to save time to play at Forest Theatre. Both the arboretum and Battle Park are managed by the North Carolina Botanical Garden, which offers plenty of programs itself.
Published August 1, 2014.