About Orange County, North Carolina

NATJA is excited to invite travel media and destination marketing organizations to join us in Orange County, North Carolina for the 2017 NATJA Conference & Marketplace, which will take place May 16 - 19 at the Sheraton Chapel Hill. The Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau is putting together an itinerary that will showcase the rich history, culture, diversity and gastronomy in the towns of Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough.

Nestled in the rolling hills of the North Carolina Piedmont, Orange County, NC is located on the edge of the Research Triangle Park. In Orange County there are over 100 working farms. Orange County includes historic Hillsborough, the County seat; Chapel Hill, home of the University of North Carolina; and Carrboro, a former railroad and mill town.

The allure of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough is experienced through its stone walls, natural beauty, culture, seasonal events, and farm-to table food. Filled with artists, authors, musicians, storytellers, and chefs, you can see, hear and taste the destination on every visit. Orange County is a unique colorful destination overflowing with history, charm, and southern hospitality. It’s the perfect mix of traditional and unconventional. Orange County, in the center of North Carolina, is vibrant, inventive, and fun. And it’s the diversity of the people that makes the county interesting and lively. Orange County displays a warmth and genuine friendliness that quickly turns visitors into friends.


Carrboro is the town just west of Chapel Hill. With a population of just over 20,000 Carrboro is the kind of small southern town where the past and the present seem to have been fused into a single moment until it’s no longer one time or the other. Many of the buildings on Main Street and Weaver Street, the two main drags, haven’t changed in half a century—and yet Carrboro is wireless. History and modernity meet seamlessly in the town of Carrboro, which prides itself in providing a welcoming and inclusive hometown-feel through its diverse residents and unique eclectic shops.

Carrboro is a walk-able, bustling town. It exudes an openness and optimism that encourages creativity and free expression. The result is a unique destination where the uncommon is common. Explore more than 40 eclectic and gourmet restaurants, bars, two craft breweries, dozens of unique shops and historic Carr Mill Mall. From watching performances at the nationally recognized Cat’s Cradle, the ArtsCenter, or on Weaver Street Market lawn to shopping at a nationally-known Farmer’s market this small town has it all!

The area is also known for being progressive and is home to other unique “firsts” in the LGBT community. From 1995 to 2004, Carrboro was led by Mike Nelson, the first openly gay candidate elected mayor in North Carolina. Chapel Hill’s first openly gay mayor was elected in 2009. Chapel Hill was the first municipality in the state to elect an openly gay council member and to include sexual orientation as a category under North Carolina hate-crimes law. The Chapel Hill town council was the first in the state to support the repeal of the North Carolina Defense of Marriage Act. Orange County was the first county in North Carolina to elect an openly gay county commissioner. Carrboro’s current Mayor is openly lesbian and was the 1st in line with her partner to get a marriage license.

Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill is one of the few destinations that offer small town charm with big city flair. Nicknamed the “Southern Part of Heaven,” Chapel Hill is a place where its citizens feel a vitality and pride that stem from the town’s history, traditions, and unique characteristics. Chapel Hill is a mix of historic sites, unique gardens, wonderful museums, and art galleries. Chapel Hill is also the home of the nation’s first state university, the University of North Carolina, which was opened in 1795.

Chapel Hill’s celebrated Franklin Street, named after Benjamin Franklin, features over 300 shops, boutiques, galleries, and restaurants and offers a vibrant, lively downtown scene. Hailed as “America’s Foodiest Small Town” by Bon Appetit Magazine, Chapel Hill is rapidly becoming a hot spot for pop American cuisine. You will also find music clubs; a nationally known improv comedy club; hip, eclectic wine bars, awesome local craft beers, a distillery, and cool coffee shops.

Something about being in a university town creates an exciting experience. Every corner of campus has a story to tell, and we invite you to come and listen. Through its teaching, research and engagement, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill serves as an educational and economic beacon for the people of North Carolina and beyond.

And what a great town for NATJA to visit with a prestigious School of Media and Journalism at UNC right at your fingertips! The UNC School of Media and Journalism’s responsibility is to train the next generation of media professionals, including journalists, strategic communicators, teachers, and researchers – and to serve journalism and communication professionals.


Many towns claim to be historic; Hillsborough embodies it. Hillsborough is the oldest town in the Piedmont. It’s a small town with a big history. Hillsborough has been called “a museum without walls” because its downtown historic district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and includes more than 100 late 18th and early 19th century structures. Among those buildings open to the public is the Visitors Center, which includes the office of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s headquarters when he surrendered the largest of the Confederate armies to Gen. William T. Sherman, leading to the Civil War’s end.

Creativity thrives here as Hillsborough is home to dozens of writers, authors, artists, musicians, and chefs. A jewel in Hillsborough’s cultural and environmental crown is the beautiful Riverwalk winding through downtown along the Eno River. It’s part of North Carolina’s Mountains to Sea Trail.

NATJA attendees will have the opportunity to experience all of these towns, and more, at 2017 gathering.

We look forward to seeing you there!