Where do poor people sleep when they visit Chapel Hill?
November 3, 2006 10:58 AM   Subscribe

I'll be spending a weekend in Chapel Hill (NC) in January, and I can't find ANY accomodation for less than $90 a night.

I normally stay in hostels when I go somewhere, but there isn't one. I need to be on the UNC Chapel Hill campus early on Saturday morning, so I'd really prefer to stay close to there. The Best Western is the best option so far, but it's still way past my budget. Am I the first person ever to vist Chapel Hill who doesn't have money to spend on a hotel? Does the university have any guest accommodation? (I looked at their website, and they recommend the hotels, but they might have a privately run thing that's not on there?) Any insider tips?
posted by easternblot to Travel & Transportation around Chapel Hill, NC (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You should expand your search to Durham, or look for hotels along 15-501 in between Durham to Chapel Hill. It takes approximately 20 minutes to get from Duke to UNC, so it's not like a big journey or anything.

As for cheap eats while you're there, check out Cosmic Cantina, it's on Franklin St. Best cheap mexican food ever.
posted by unexpected at 11:03 AM on November 3, 2006

easternblot: I'm poor, and whenever I go back to Chapel Hill, I stay at friend's places. I second the recommendation to look in Durham, and I seem to recall a Days Inn on 15-501 near the I-40 junction.

unexpected: is Cosmic still there? Oh man, I miss that place. That and Hector's, and Pepper's, and Bandido's, and the Rat, and divers other places that I'm sure have been bulldozed and replaced by national chains.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:15 AM on November 3, 2006

The Red Roof Inn at I-40 and 15-501 was recently remodeled and charges between $55 and $75 per night.
posted by Token Meme at 11:41 AM on November 3, 2006

Yes. I graduated in May (not from UNC, but from its much, much better half in Durham ;-)) and Cosmic was still there. Along Franklin Street there aren't too many national chains, but their starting to creep in. The RTP area is booming.
posted by unexpected at 11:41 AM on November 3, 2006

The Red Roof Inn looks like a good option, and I'm looking into more things now too. Yay! AskMe gives better hotel advice than the websites that are SUPPOSED to do so.
Oh, also please give me tips for fun things to do for Sunday! I have all of Sunday morning and most of the afternoon free. Any interesting stores I can check out (books/music/coffee/crafts?) that are open on Sunday around noon-ish? Is there anything in particular going on on January 21 that I can check out?
posted by easternblot at 1:24 PM on November 3, 2006

Definitely spend some time on Franklin Street. There's one awesome block that has three of my all-time favorite stores: Internationalist Bookstore, Chapel Hill Comics, and CD Alley. The comic book store is definitely open on Sundays.

There's also a nice coffee shop right near there called Three Cups. If you're willing to walk down a little ways, there's another one whose name I'm blanking on, but it's in a little railway looking building right where Franklin Street veers into Main Street. Also right near there is Carrburrito's, which is a must for any visitor.

Sigh, now I'm homesick.
posted by leesh at 1:32 PM on November 3, 2006

Actually, you might have to plan on staying in Durham or further out. There's a home men's basketball game on Saturday night, so your chances of finding a room for the weekend within 20 miles of town are slim. Though maybe if you reserve something now, you might find something.

As for things to do in Chapel Hill, on Saturday night, you should get out to a local bar to watch the game. Anywhere in town will do (all bar TVs will be tuned in), but I"ve had the most fun at NC Sports Bar on Franklin st. It'll be packed, and the beer is cheap. Even if you don't like basketball, you'll probably enjoy watching the crowd.

Weaver St. Market is a great place to hang out on a Sunday afternoon--especially if it's nice out and you can sit outside (which you can sometimes do in NC). That's in Carrboro.

Also, I second Carrburritos, though they're closed on Sundays. Instead, get some great pizza (and healthy dose of ACDC) at Pepper's Pizza on Franklin St.

Have fun!
posted by jessicak at 1:55 PM on November 3, 2006

Yeah, cosmic's is still there--but I can guarentee the likelihood that it will be more expensive to stay in Durham; there are plenty of hotels along 15-501.

As for Franklin, they're trying to keep the major chains out, there has been a subway open though. And jessicak, I think Pepper's closed, maybe not but pretty sure . . . i know, they're calzones were awesome
posted by uncballzer at 2:46 PM on November 3, 2006

I recommend having brunch at Elmo's. There's one in Carrboro and another in Durham and their food is yummy.
posted by echo0720 at 3:35 PM on November 3, 2006

Here's a walking tour for you:
If have an hour or two or three, just start at the eastern end of Franklin Street (around where the frat houses and Moorehead Planetarium are) and walk west until Franklin St turns into Main St (which means you are in Carrboro) and then when you hit Greensboro St, you've pretty much seen all there is to see in Chapel Hill/Carrboro in about 2-3 miles. You'll pass Schoolkids (an ok but sub-par record store), Ragtime (a vintage store), Cosmic Cantina (burrito place), the Trail Shop (trail shop), Internationalist Books (lefty bookstore), CD Alley (a fabulous record store), multiple hair salons if you want to get a cut/color, Time After Time (vintage store), Three Cups and Sandwhich (a coffee shop with attached sandwich place, not open Sundays), multiple bars (some worse than others), Lantern (great pan-asian cuisine), Nice Price Books (great used books/videos/music store, also you have now crossed over into Carrboro on my personalized walking tour, but yet you have only walked about 1-1.5 miles), Padgett Station (another coffee shop with some sweets and games in the side room), Milltown (restaurant/bar, not open Sundays), and Cat's Cradle (music venue). Soon up ahead, the road will fork. If you take the right fork you will find Weaver Street Market (local co-op as well as Carrboro social center complete with hula hoopers, bad jazz, and stray toddlers, but a cheap salad and hot bar), as well as attached Carr Mill Mall (old mill converted into small little stores). Take the left fork and you will find Nested (a cool gift/home decor store featuring lots of handmade items), and, if you round the corner at Greensboro St, you will find Open Eye Cafe (large airy coffee shop).
There are lots of other little things to look at along the way, and don't hesitate looking down little alleyways because some things are tucked away. Also there is a free public bus system, so if you start at one end and don't want to walk back, take the bus. Hope you find something fun to do!
posted by greta simone at 4:01 PM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

Second leesh on the store recommendations. AFAIK, Pepper's is still open, and it's delicious pizza. Sadly, the NC Sports Bar has changed ownership and isn't as rambunctious (at least the couple times I've been there for games) as it once was. Elmo's is good for brunch, but usually quite crowded during the school year. In any case, you'll find something fun to do on Franklin.
posted by Token Meme at 4:05 PM on November 3, 2006

Speaking as someone who has lived in Chapel Hill and worked at UNC for the past ten years, I can tell you that the university does not have any secret accomodations. Chapel Hill is expensive to stay in. Will you have a car? Hotels in Hillsborough are much cheaper, and the drive is around 15-20 minutes. If you are in town visiting the school as a prospective grad student, sometimes departments can find a willing host among current students. Feel free to email me at the address in my profile; I'm happy to give you more info.
posted by butternut at 5:11 PM on November 3, 2006

I was able to book a room at the Red Roof Inn for about $70 per night, ,saving me $40 overall compared to what I found before (yay!).
I also marked the walking tour as best answer, even though I haven't taken it yet, because it sounds exactly like what I'd want to see!

I'll be in town for this, by the way. It's only on Saturday, but all of Saturday. I booked my return flight for end of the afternoon on Sunday so I'd have a bit of time to walk around and see where exactly I'd have been.
posted by easternblot at 7:44 PM on November 6, 2006

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