Ok so this title is kind of a lie because one of these bars is in the neighbouring town of Carrboro but I just can’t pull off long titles the way Panic! at the Disco can.
Before I kick off, a Public Service Announcement: The drinking age in America is 21 (I know, who’da thunk it), so if you’re under the age of a score and one please stop reading now (can you tell I’m still bitter about the silly drinking age?). I’m just kidding, you can of course still read, especially since I’ll be mentioning a couple of places where you can get in if you’re under 21 (though you can’t drink obvi). Pro-tip though: Americans don’t understand European dates (day/month/year), and because my birthday’s the 7th of December ’94 (7/12/94), they read it as the 12th of July ’94. Basically, I managed to get into quite a few bars while still underage first semester just by not pointing out the bouncer’s mistake. This is obviously a bit risky but tends to work, and if you get caught you can’t be accused of fraud because it’s your own ID, and it was the bar’s mistake letting you in. Not that I condone breaking the law…
- He’s Not Here: This bar is an absolute must in Chapel Hill, a beloved Tar Heel tradition. It was initially the source of quite a bit of confusion for me because the name is shortened to ‘He’s Not’ most of the time. So, when my pals started going on about He’s Not on the group chat I was like ‘who’s not?’. Anyway, once you get over the bewilderment, He’s Not is a great bar. It’s quite difficult to find since you have to go down an alley and when you turn the corner you find yourself in the outside beer garden bit (once you’ve duly presented your ID ofc, I think He’s Not require passports from foreigners). The best thing about the outdoor part is the Chapel Hill mural, getting a picture with it is a top priority on your UNC bucket list. It’s not technically in He’s Not since it’s on the outside wall, but it is adjacent in an ideal location for celebratory drinks. Just think, this could be you:
(There’s loads more where those came from, what can I say it’s a very photogenic mural).You can get more than just pictures in the way of souvenirs however, you can get a He’s Not cup:
You just can’t leave Chapel Hill without getting yourself one of these iconic cups.
Under 21 folks: I’m afraid He’s Not is off limits to you, except on Tuesdays (I think it’s tuesdays?) when they do trivia quizzes early on in the evening.
2. Cat’s Cradle: This is technically a music venue, not a bar but they put on some pretty great events and get lots of good bands in. I went to see Kodaline there weirdly enough. Also, they put on a 90’s night every semester that is fantastic 10/10 would recommend:
(In which fellow UofG student Laura Devlin rocks a fab bucket hat to two consecutive 90s parties)
Under 21 folks: You’re good to go! woohoo. You’ll be able to get into Cat’s Cradle but will probably get some undignified Xs on the backs of your hands in permanent marker, awks.
3. Tru: A popular hangout for exchange students, this wine and sandwich bar is good for casual drinks (they recently introduced some new beer taps as well so get on the hype train y’all). They also put on the occasional club night, featuring a disco ball (need I say more?). It’s also a good spot to watch the basketball games if you get there early enough since it’s not a ‘sports bar’ per se so isn’t generally too crowded. Here’s the squad showing their support for the ol’ Tar Heels at Tru:
Under 21 folk: You’re in luck! Tru has kind of an open door policy in that they don’t card at the door, only at the bar. Sadly most of the club nights are 21+ though.
4. Topo: Short for Top of the Hill, Topo is another Chapel Hill classic. It’s kind of a cross between a fancy restaurant/ bar and a club. It’s on the top floor of a building on the corner of Franklin (hence Top of the Hill), and has an outdoor terrace bit with a great view down over Franklin street. Underagers, I think you’re only shot would be during the day, if you go for lunch or an early dinner.
5. The Library: Easy to conflate with the place with all the books, unintentional jokes happen a lot, and much hilarity ensues. The Library is a bar on (you guessed it) Franklin street (is there any other street in Chapel Hill, you may ask: not really). They do a lot of club nights and host a lot of events, so if you’re lookin’ to boogie The Library is the place to be (sorry I’m so uncool I even embarrass myself). They generally let in under 21 folk for special events, but are often closed for private parties so it’s best to check ahead of time. Really, this picture is all the endorsement you need (clearly, you’ll have the time of your life at The Library)
There are of course, plenty of other bars for you to explore, but I hope this little guide is helpful. And remember, drink responsibly kids.