Chapel Hill and Carrboro enjoy a downtown experience that is rare in this day and age.
From the 100 Block of E Franklin Street to the end of Main Street in Carrboro there is a diversity of dining, music, art and shopping that is difficult to find in NC, although to be honest, Durham, Raleigh and Asheville are all putting it on these days. In Chapel Hill the 100 Block caters mostly to the UNC student population, with FRANK Art Gallery being the notable exception. But it is SO worth checking out. On game day it is nuts, Halloween an unforgettable spectacle, and if UNC wins another NCAA Championship you'd go just to say you did it. Take a deep breath when the Tar Heels play Duke. And just forget about free parking, it doesn't happen in Chapel Hill till later at night.
West Franklin Street and Carrboro are where the post-undergraduate crowd and we grownups spend more of our time. The high-rise condominiums next door to the one-story retail businesses belie the picture of small town Southern lifestyles. The Franklin Hotel is Chapel Hill's only downtown hotel, and it puts you within 500 yards of some of the best restaurants on the East Coast.. Pay special attention once you are west of The Franklin. There are eclectic, talented people down there making their presence felt, with something new around every corner, especially the corner of W Franklin and N Graham.
Check out http://www.downtownchapelhill.com/ for businesses and amenities.