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Top Rated Attractions in Chapel Hill

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Durham Performing Arts Center

The Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) is North Carolina’s center for live entertainment and the performing arts. Opened in 2008 as one of the largest centers of its kind in the Carolinas, DPAC hosts hundreds of performances a year, ranging from high profile concerts to Broadway productions, stand-up comedy routines, and festivals. The center is recognized for its contemporary steel and glass design, and features 2,700 seats with intimate sightlines. DPAC’s “Heart of the Arts” community outreach program runs master theater classes for local students, and invites the students to backstage tours, orchestra rehearsals, and post-performance discussions.

Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area

The Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area encompasses an area of 221 acres (89.43 hectares) near the charming town of Hillsborough. A picturesque location to explore the region's Great Outdoors, Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area is home to the imposing Occoneechee Mountain, which towers above the park at a height of 867 feet (264.26 meters). Featuring a network of scenic trails dotted with groves of trees, shrubs, overlooks, and glimpses of the river, the area is a delight for outdoor and nature enthusiasts.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Founded in 1934, The Sarah P. Duke Gardens offers 55 acres (22 hectares) of world-class gardens in the center of Duke University. More than five miles (eight kilometers) of pathways lead visitors on walks through four sections of beautifully landscaped terraces, gardens, and arboretums. The Duke Gardens host gardening, photography, and natural history classes, and a summer concert series. A cafe and a visitor center are on the grounds. Walking and trolley tours are given four days a week; reservations are recommended.

Museum of Life and Science

The North Carolina Museum of Life & Science offers a number of interactive educational exhibits suitable for children and adults. Visitors can walk through a tornado, turn their movements into sound sculptures, and make contact with one of the largest butterfly conservatories on the American East Coast. The museum also features bear, red wolf, and lemur sanctuaries, and a forested tree house learning environment, which gives views of a landscaped forest from 20 feet (six meters) off the ground.

Duke University Chapel

This chapel built in the center of Duke University in the Collegiate Gothic style was completed in 1932. Its tower soars 210 feet (65 meters) into the sky, and its founder, James B. Duke, felt that its inspirational presence would influence campus music, faith, and learning. Fine ornamentation, stained glass, and four beautifully crafted organs, including a Flentrop, or "Bach's Organ," draw thousands of admirers to the chapel every year. Free, guided tours of the chapel are offered every Sunday after an 11a worship service.

North Carolina Museum of Art

One of the leading art museums of the American South, the North Carolina Museum of Art opened in 1956 as the first in the nation established with public state funds. More than 40 galleries here are home to a permanent collection of paintings, artifacts, and sculptures spanning the history of art from antiquity to the present day. Visitors can see paintings of the European Renaissance, Egyptian funerary artifacts, and contemporary international works of art, among others. An amphitheater hosts outdoor performances, and a museum park features more than a dozen major site-specific works surrounded by forests and fields.

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