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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

North Carolina College Towns

From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the shores of the state’s largest man-made lake, North Carolina college towns offer an abundance of college spirit, with state-of-the-art meeting venues, boutique hotels, beautiful campuses and natural areas ripe for exploration. Groups meeting in the following destinations will also enjoy quaint downtowns packed with pubs, restaurants and one-of-a-kind shops.


Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill is home to the first public university in the country, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The town grew up around the university, which is considered one of the top 20 most beautiful campuses in the country. The campus sits off of Franklin Street, the hub of Chapel Hill’s downtown area, which has everything a big city could offer, including museums, breweries, shopping and great restaurants.

There are a few hotels downtown within walking distance of the university, but the Carolina Inn – Destination by Hyatt is the top conference hotel in the area. It is a AAA Four Diamond historic hotel with 185 rooms that recently underwent major renovation. It has 14,365 square feet of interior meeting space and 15,035 square feet of outdoor space, including courtyards and a large front lawn.

The 168-room Sheraton Chapel Hill Hotel went through a $19 million renovation during COVID. It has 12,000 square feet of indoor event space and a new 6,900-square-foot event deck. The Siena Hotel and Residence Inn by Marriott both have meeting space. The Graduate Hotel, which was recently bought by Hilton, is a 67-room boutique hotel downtown that pays homage to UNC with a college basketball theme.

The university campus has several attractions that groups can visit in their free time, including Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, the Ackland Art Museum and the North Carolina Botanical Garden. The Carolina Basketball Museum pays tribute to UNC’s championship basketball teams.


Greenville is home to the third-largest campus in North Carolina, East Carolina University (ECU), and is known for its vibrant art, live music and culinary scene downtown.

In the past 10 years, Greenville’s downtown has seen a lot of investment. The city’s first downtown hotel, an eight-story Hilton Garden Inn, should be completed by August. It is close to the ECU campus, which will be a game changer for visitors coming to the university for sporting events, performances, meetings or parent visits.

The Greenville Convention Center campus is about 1.5 miles away from downtown and features 91,000 square feet of meeting space on 32 acres. There are three hotels on-site — including a Hampton Inn, a Hilton and a Holiday Inn — with a combined 400 hotel rooms.

ECU has available meeting space. The Grand ballroom on the second floor of the student center is a beautiful option, and the ECU athletic campus has meeting space that overlooks the football field.

Freeboot Friday is a free, fun family event that takes place at Five Points Plaza downtown on days when ECU hosts home football games. It features live music, arts and crafts, food, a beer garden, and performances by the ECU dance team and cheerleaders.


Nestled in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is home to two universities: UNC Asheville and Warren Wilson College.

Asheville’s downtown is packed with bars and pubs, boutique shops, historic buildings and late-night adventures. There are more than 9,200 hotel rooms and plenty of fun things to see and do, including hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains or visiting the famous Biltmore Estate.

The Renaissance Asheville Downtown Hotel specializes in green meetings and events. The Grand Ballroom has more than 8,000 square feet, and Top of the Plaza offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. In total, the hotel has 22,000 square feet of meeting space for banquets hosting up to 540 and receptions up to 1,000.

Cambria Hotel Downtown Asheville has 20,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, and the Restoration Asheville can host groups of 175 for a banquet.

Groups wanting to host events in Asheville have several options on the UNC campus. The Kimmel Arena can host groups of 3,200, while the Karl Straus Track and Field Facility can be reserved for outdoor events, performances and festivals. Warren Wilson College sits on 1,100 acres of forested and agricultural land a short distance from downtown. Groups can host events in various academic facilities and residence halls, the college’s Formal Gardens, Kittredge Theatre and Morris Pavilion.

Attendees can take private tours of the Warren Wilson College Farm, a student-run mixed crop and livestock operation committed to sustainable and regenerative farming practices. There are also three hiking trails across the campus.


Davidson College is in the heart of downtown Davidson. Founded in 1837, the college is best known for its Division I athletics. The beautiful brick buildings on campus merge seamlessly with downtown and its brick sidewalks and beautifully restored historic buildings.

Downtown is pedestrian-friendly, with locally-owned restaurants and boutique shops. Several greenways through downtown and the campus are fun to hike or bike along, and nearby Lake Norman offers many opportunities for fishing, boating and water sports.

Meeting planners can book hotels and meeting venues in the three small communities surrounding Davidson College, including Davidson, Cornelius and Huntersville. There are 1,600 hotel rooms in the area. The Homewood Suites by Hilton-Davidson is just two miles from Davidson College and Main Street and close to Lake Norman. The hotel has 128 suites and 1,775 square feet of meeting space that can host 50 for a banquet or 70 for a reception.

The Lily Family Gallery can host 200 for a banquet. The North Harbor Club on Lake Norman can host 65 for a banquet, and Riverrun Country Club has a ballroom that can seat 150 and the Fairway Room for 20 to 50 seated guests.

For fun, visitors to Davidson can take a self-guided audio tour of more than 20 sculptures scattered throughout campus, sample the hot dogs and hand-smashed burgers at Sup Dogs restaurant or try the milk bread donuts at Milkbread restaurant.


Elon University is known as one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country. The 690-acre campus in central North Carolina is designated as a botanical garden and includes the 56-acre Elon University Forest, a land preserve and natural area for scientific research, and Loy Farm, a center for environmental research and sustainability.

The campus is adjacent to Elon’s downtown, which features a selection of local eateries and retailers. The Inn at Elon is a three-story boutique hotel on campus with 70 rooms and 10 suites. It has 5,700 square feet of flexible event space, an outdoor patio and a courtyard with fire pits. The main ballroom can host up to 450 for a reception.

The Alliance Convention Center in nearby Burlington has 13,000 square feet of event space that can accommodate more than 900 guests. Burlington is a five-minute drive from Elon University. Groups wanting to tap into Elon’s school spirit can host after-meeting activities on campus, such as attending football, basketball or baseball games. The Paramount Theater in downtown Burlington offers a variety of art programs, and the Animal Park at the Conservators Center displays more than 20 species of animals.

A visit to the area wouldn’t be complete without a ride on the 100-year-old Dentzel Menagerie Carousel in Burlington’s City Park. Cedarock Park and Cane Creek Mountains Natural Area are great spots for hiking and communing with nature, and the Textile Heritage Museum in Glencoe Mill Village tells the history of textile manufacturing in North Carolina.