Need some fresh air? Check out these spots near campus!

Look at how happy he is outside?!
Photo: “Minou enjoys his sunbathe,” by Marina. Flickr Creative Commons.

It’s September! The weather is (finally) cooling off, the leaves are starting to change colors, and we are (probably!) all in need of some fresh air and a study break (like that cat!). North Carolina is FULL of excellent city, county, and state parks with hiking trails and outdoor activities galore (check out this awesome blog with 22 ideas for outdoor adventures), but I wanted to take a minute to give a shout out to three awesome, public transit-accessible parks and outdoor spaces we have right here in Chapel Hill and Carrboro (one is even ON CAMPUS!). Enjoy!


Located just minutes from campus in Carrboro, Wilson Park is a great option for a Sunday picnic or an after-class hike in the woods. The park is home to 8.5 acres full of trails and walking paths, including some trails along Bolin Creek if you’re adventurous and want to hop in the water for a quick dip. Wilson Park also has tennis courts (including 4 that are lit-up at night), a baseball field, playground equipment, and a pavilion and grills to accommodate your picnicking needs.

For more information:

Park address: 101 Williams Street in Carrboro

How to get there: If you have access to a car, Wilson park is a short (under 10 minute) drive from campus, and there is plenty of parking available. No car? No problem! You can take the F bus from various spots on campus (e.g. along Franklin Street), ride the bus for about 10 minutes, and get off at the “N. Greensboro Street at Williams Street” stop. From there, you’ll turn down Williams Street and walk 0.1 miles, and the park will be right there! The other option would be to take the J bus from campus, and get off at the “E. Main Street at Jade Palace” stop, take a right on N. Greensboro Street, walk 0.8 miles and turn onto Williams Street, where the park is.

Photo: “Boating” by Zhaoyu Zhang, Flickr Creative Commons.


Need some more water in your life? University Lake (also located in Carrboro) may be just what you’re looking for. From September through early November, the lake is open from 6:30am to 6:00pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Boat rentals (canoes and kayaks) are available at University Lake, and there are picnic areas as well so you can be sure to get plenty of fuel before your boat ride.

For more information:

Address: 130 University Lake Road in Chapel Hill

How to get there: Hop on the CM bus from various spots on campus, and ride for about 15 minutes, exiting at the “Old Fayatteville Road at Poplar Place” stop. Walk towards the big parking lot and take your first right. Walk about 0.4 miles down that road and you will end up at the University Lake office, where you can rent boats! There is also a parking lot for those wanting to drive.


UNC Biker
Photo by Liyun Yu, “UNC Biker”. Flickr Creative Commons.

Up for some outdoor games and activities right in your backyard? Check out the 20 wooded acres (on campus!) at the COEC, which is home to an 18-hole disc golf course, three sand volleyball courts, tennis courts, picnic areas, a ropes course, and more! Additionally, the COEC sponsors a ton of great outdoor opportunities like backpacking trips, day-hikes, rock climbing excursions, and kayaking adventures.

For more information:

Address: 410A Country Club Road in Chapel Hill (right on campus!!)

How to get there: COEC is about a ten minute walk from the Student Union – check out these walking directions starting in front of Fetzer Gym. There are also some parking spots available AFTER 5:30pm.

The Gift of Giving.

I am a crafter.  I craft any and all things because it is a great way for me to relieve stress, plus I am intuitively good at it.  I usually give gifts and crafts all year long, but this past holiday season, I hand sewed 32 scarves from fabric that I handpicked myself (If I could have made the fabric myself, believe me, I would have).  Granted, I spent about $300 on all of the supplies needed, which was a grip! But if you really think about it, I spent less than $10 per person, which is a preeeeeetty good.

Hand Crafted for a Coworker

Hand crafted for my old Boss!

As I finished the last scarf, I began to think to myself, “Why am I doing this?” Welp! The answer is simple—I love the gift of giving.  Not only does it give me satisfaction to know that I am giving, but it makes it even MORE special that the item is personalized and specific for that individual.  It truly does put me in great spirit.

So, what about you? How do you feel when you give the gift of giving?  The Greater Good Science Center, based at the University of California at Berkeley, shares with us some ways that giving is good for you and your community:

  • Giving makes us feel happy. Research shows that when someone gives something that is nice for someone else, it activates parts of the brain that is associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust. Endorphins are also released in the brain that creates an overall positive feeling.
  • Giving is good for our health. Research has connected different forms of giving to having better health.  Researchers think this is due to the act of giving, which decreases stress.
  • Giving promotes cooperation and social connection. Several studies suggest that people who give are more likely to be rewarded by others and sometimes by the person you gave to.  This helps create trust and a higher sense of interdependence.
  • Giving evokes gratitude. ‘Counting your blessings’ can illicit feelings of gratitude, which research shows, is essential to health, happiness, and social connections.
  • Giving is contagious. Giving inspires others to want to give. A study showed that when one person gives, it inspires observers to want to give later and to different people.

So, considering all of the health benefits and how easy it is to give—big or small—try to give often!


The Chapel Hill in UNC-Chapel Hill

UNC Historical Marker
“UNC Historical Marker” by Will McInerney
UNC Old Well
“UNC Old Well” by Will McInerney

The history of UNC runs deep. Very deep. Established in 1789, UNC is the oldest public university in the nation. Our beautiful and historic campus stretches from the bustling shops and restaurants of Franklin Street to the hallowed steps of South Building, from the Bell Tower to the Old Well, and from Morehead Planetarium to the open green pastures of the quad. UNC’s campus has much to offer our students, faculty, staff, and visitors. But, the UNC community does not stop at our storied and stonewalled perimeter. Part of what makes UNC so special is the city we call home, Chapel Hill.

UNC and Chapel Hill are hard to separate, and in fact the two were created together. At the same time the original UNC Board of Trustees was dreaming up our campus, they organized a group to build an adjacent community, Chapel Hill.

Despite the deep connection between the town and our university, sometimes UNC can feel like a bubble. College life keeps us very busy, but it’s important to take time and to learn about the beautiful, vibrant, and important history and culture that literally surrounds our campus. By learning about this history and culture we will be better students and better community members.

Franklin Street
“Franklin Street” by Will McInerney

Below are a couple of organizations and resources that can help you learn more about the place UNC calls home, Chapel Hill.

The Center for the Study of the American South

Located at the Love House on Franklin Street, The Center for Study of the American South is an amazing campus resource for learning about the history of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and the American South as a whole. The Center offers a range of resources in print and digital formats that paint a vivid picture of Chapel Hill’s history. Check out the Center’s Southern Oral History Program to find a vast collection of powerful and insightful stories that document the history and culture of Chapel Hill.

The Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History

The Jackson Center is located next to St. Josephs’ CME Church on Rosemary Street, at the gateway to the historic Northside community in Chapel Hill. The Jackson Center is a public history and community development non-profit that works in the historically African American Northside and Pine Knolls neighborhoods of Chapel Hill. Their aim is “to listen, to hear, and to preserve the life stories of residents, neighbors, and friends.” All too often these stories are forgotten, undervalued, and placed aside. The Jackson Center, in collaboration with the community, brings these valuable stories to the spotlight and advocates for community based leadership, growth, and vision in our town. Check out some oral histories from long-time Chapel Hill residents on their website and consider volunteering if you want to help out.

The Chapel Hill Historical Society

Located on Franklin Street just past the Love House and the Center for the Study of the American South, The Chapel Hill Historical Society is a local institution dedicated to researching, documenting, and sharing Chapel Hill’s history. Programs and publications offered by the Historical Society cover a range of issues spanning from the Civil Rights Movement in our town to the array of famous local cuisine. Check out the videos from the Historical Society’s recent event where they helped Merritt’s Store and Grill celebrate its 85th anniversary by detailing the history and culture of this local foodie legend.

Preservation Chapel Hill

Preservation Chapel Hill is located in the famous Horace Williams House on Franklin Street and is dedicated to “protecting the character and heritage of the town of Chapel Hill, and the surrounding community, through the preservation and conservation of its historical building and cultural landscapes.” Preservation Chapel Hill does this through a combination of educational programs, advocacy work, and physical preservation of buildings. Check out the organizations huge collection of historical documents and records available for public viewing and research purposes at their offices.

UNC Sign
“UNC Sign” by Will McInerney

P.S. The history of Chapel Hill evolves everyday! In addition to The Daily Tar Heel, be sure to stay informed with local news by checking out ChapelBoro and The Chapel Hill News.