Priceless Gem Tours

Views of spring on McCorkle Place around the Old Well at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Each academic year, UNC Visitors’ Center hosts a special series of campus tours—the Priceless Gems—in addition to its daily tours about Carolina’s mission and history, traditions, legends and landmarks.

These on-campus walking tours are led by experts on specific aspects of Carolina History. The tour is free, open to the public, and lasts about an hour to an-hour-and-a-half. Tours begin at UNC-Chapel Hill Visitors’ Center, located in the West Wing of Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, located in downtown Chapel Hill at 250 East Franklin Street.   

 “This campus and community is literally filled with priceless gems,” said Missy Julian-Fox, director of UNC Visitors’ Center. “These special tours are an extraordinary opportunity to explore one topic in more depth with an expert in the field. The name ‘priceless gem’ comes from Carolina’s alma mater called ‘Hark the Sound’ written by alum William Starr Myers in 1897.”

Argyle 2


Priceless Gem Tours are offered each Friday and begin at 3 pm from UNC Visitors’ Center.  To reserve your space, please email us at In case of inclement weather, or for any additional questions, please call UNC Visitors’ Center at 919-962-1630. High school and transfer students should note that these are not admissions tours and will not include information sessions for applicants. 

Black and Blue Tour with Robert Porter – A distinctive walking tour on the African-American history of the University, with emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Black and Blue tour hopes to contribute to a real understanding of our African American past as we build a better Carolina and work to create a fuller perspective on our University’s history. Our guide, Robert Porter, has over thirty years of experience as a lecturer for UNC’s department of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies, winning numerous teaching awards. He remains passionate about his interests in history, public history, and African-American history, all of which go back to his grade school days.
Argyle 3 Friday, September 9
Argyle 3 Friday, October 14
Argyle 3 Friday, November 4 (Homecoming Weekend)

American Indian Center Presents the Native Narrative – Using traditional storytelling, this guided campus tour will give participants an accurate and complete story of the American Indian presence on Carolina’s campus.  Focusing on past, present and future, American Indian staff, alumni, students and community members will recall personal experiences and stories from their time at the University and discuss how they relate to Carolina today.
Argyle 3 Friday, September 16
Argyle 3 Friday, November 18

Welcome to Carolina with UNC Visitors’ Center – Join us for a walking tour through the quads as we introduce you to our history, True Blue traditions, landmarks and legends, hallmarks and points of pride.  The tour lasts about an hour and strives to acquaint (or reacquaint) you to the culture and charm of Carolina.
Argyle 3 Friday, September 23 (Family Weekend)

Digging in Our Heels, Angels on Campus: The Herstory of Women at Carolina – Anthropology PhD candidate Taylor Livingston was commissioned by UNC Visitors’ Center to research and develop this tour utilizing recordings from the Southern Oral History Collection.  The title refers to a time when women could not enroll in the University.  The tour will “travel” through the centuries, to interpret and help understanding of today’s current issues.
Argyle 3 Friday, September 30

Literary Tar Heel Tour – What do Caroline Lee Hentz, George Moses Horton, Thomas Wolfe, Paul Green, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Walker Percy, Randall Kenan, and Sarah Dessen have in common? If you guessed that these famous writers all have important ties to UNC’s campus, then you’ve already done your homework. This campus tour will discuss some famous literary friendships, collaborations, and shenanigans–as well as the historic significance of the Carolina Playmakers, the Carolina Quarterly, the Southern Literary Journal, the Creative Writing Program, and the special collections of UNC Libraries. Join us as we celebrate some of the greatest writers who roamed and remembered this “magical campus.”  Developed and guided for us by Patrick E. Horn, PhD, Associate Director, Center for the Study of the American South and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of English and Comparative Literature.
Argyle 3 Thursday, October 13
Argyle 3 Friday, December 2

Thrills n’ Chills Moonlight Tour – A hauntingly fun, nighttime walking tour of campus by moonlight as a prelude to Halloween that includes tales of Chapel Hill traditions, mysteries, and even a ghost story (or two).
Argyle 3 Friday, October 28 – 8 pm!

VETERANS DAYA Carolina Narrative of Service to Nation, Yesterday and Today – To commemorate Veterans Day, we will offer a walking tour across Carolina’s quads and its 223-year connection to the men and women of our armed services. Our guide, Michael John, Captain, U.S. Navy (ret.), will lead the tour and discuss how Tar Heels – from the Revolutionary War to today – have answered the call to service. Highlights include the university’s continuing commitment to student veterans and active duty military personnel through Carolina’s policies, programs and personal support initiatives.
Argyle 3 Friday, November 11

PRICELESS GEM TOURS RESUME IN THE SPRING SEMESTER – schedule to be released November 30.