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America's Coolest College Towns

Old Well, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Andre Jenny/Alamy

Chapel Hill, NC (University of North Carolina)

Yes, there’s a fine clutch of Georgian classroom buildings around a shaded, picturesque quad, but during the winter months, everyone’s attention is fixated on the Dean Dome, home to the powerhouse Tar Heels basketball team. Come November, tickets that haven’t been snapped up by students are available to the public. Die-hards check out the 8,000-square-foot, year-old Carolina Basketball Museum, which doubles as a de facto shrine to alum Michael Jordan (old jerseys included). Still, nothing beats game time, says ticket director John Miller: “It’s really just electric.” During the off-season, browse for art at Red Window, formerly owned by Elizabeth Edwards, wife of ex-senator John Edwards.

Local Taste: Though the building’s a flyspeck, the long lines of cars at the drive-through window of the Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen testify to the restaurant’s celebrated sweet tea and fried chicken.

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