girl in hammock reading

Chapel Hill, North Carolina is a lovely college town often graced with beautiful weather and scenery. After spending nearly four years here, I have found countless tasty bites, reading nooks, and relaxing natural areas. I feel lucky to spend a bit of my life here.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to get away sometimes.

Below I have listed my three favorite escapes near Chapel Hill for those days when I just need to leave the UNC campus bubble. The following are all charming places to unwind and be refreshed.

1.) Caffe Driade — biking distance

Caffe Driade is a cozy Turkish coffeehouse that sells everything from coffee and sweets to bear and wine. During the summer there’s live music on the outdoor patio and local art is featured on the walls year-round.

What I love about Caffe Driade is the patio. There are not many tables inside and there are a few seats on the heated portion of the patio, but if you’re willing to sit out under the trees, you are sure to find a seat. This quiet place is ideal for studying, journaling, or just sipping some world-class coffee and drinking in the day.

Entrance to Caffee Driade
Courtesy of Caffe Driade

2.) Eno River State Park — driving distance

While there are many wonderful state parks in North Carolina, Eno River State Park is one of my favorites for two reasons: it’s close, and it’s easy.

By easy I mean there’s plenty of space to park and no entry fee, no parking fee, no reservations that have to be made, and no chance of getting lost. Even with my absolutely horrid navigational skills and no map, I can always find my way around the park because following the river always leads back toward the parking lot. There are a few water fountains and covered areas in the park as well as restrooms and well-marked trails, so this is a good spot for less “naturey” people as well.

My favorite thing to do is bring a hammock, book, and some snacks (preferably cheese, grapes and olives) and find a spot off-trail to read and nap. But, of course, hiking through the park is fun too.

Eno River
Courtesy of Eno River State Park website

3.) Weaver Street Market — walking distance

This one is a bit closer to home, but a good way to escape campus nonetheless. Weaver Street Market is a grocery store with a focus on fresh foods. There are hot and cold food bars where sutlers can create their own take-out boxes of a variety of dishes, as well as fridges full of sandwiches and wraps packaged daily.

What I enjoy about Weaver Street Market the most is the giant outdoor seating area. After picking up food inside, customers can relax at one of the many picnic tables in a shady garden outside the store. It normally isn’t too crowded or rowdy, so this is also a nice place to study on a beautiful day.

Courtesy of Weaver Street Market website

I hope this list encourages you to get outside and off-campus. North Carolina is a beautiful state and there are hundreds of lovely places to find. Start with this list if you need a boost, but then try your luck and head somewhere new. You never know when you’ll find your new favorite escape.