The Chapel Hill & Carrboro, NC Communities: A great destination for LGBT travelers

CHAPEL HILL, N.C., April 1, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- If you favor destinations that continually question the status quo, are filled lots of James Beard nominees, painted murals on every corner and a hopping music scene, Chapel Hill and neighboring Carrboro, North Carolina deserve your consideration. Nestled in the middle of North Carolina Piedmont, in one of the state's most progressive counties-- Orange County-- this cultural oasis located on the edge of the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina has seen double digit growth in tourism and continues to be credited as one of the South's most progressive areas.

"This area epitomizes 'The New South'," says Jen Jones, longtime equality advocate and former director of communications for EqualityNC. "It's a place of the future that welcomes diversity, embraces inclusivity, and is a gateway for native Tar Heels, wayward travelers and new transplants alike. Chapel Hill and Carrboro, NC remain two of the most LGBT-friendly areas in North Carolina and across the South."

Orange County, North Carolina includes historic Hillsborough, the County seat; Chapel Hill, home of the University of North Carolina; and Carrboro, a former railroad and mill town. Chapel Hill and Orange County has "magic" to offer, says Laurie Paolicelli, Executive Director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau. "And a long history of respect for individuals."

Challenging Recent North Carolina Legislation

A state law, HB 2, passed in the General Assembly on Wednesday, March 23, prohibiting the use of communal bathrooms by the trans community, requiring North Carolinians to use the bathroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificate, regardless of their actual gender identity, was met with immediate backlash from Chapel Hill and Orange County elected officials. The new law also nullified local ordinances around the state that would have expanded protections for the LGBT community. Anticipating the bill, Orange County, NC Commissioners approved resolution in support of non-discrimination. Chapel Hill Town Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for the repeal of the state's new anti-discrimination measure and supporting the rights of the LGBT people. And neighboring Carrboro approved a resolution asking for HB2 to be repealed and encouraging local municipalities to seek legal action.

"Our communities have a long-standing reputation as the most welcoming place in the state for the LGBT community," said Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle, the state's first openly lesbian mayor. From 1995 to 2004, Carrboro was led by Mike Nelson, the first openly gay candidate elected mayor in North Carolina. "I always feel welcome anywhere I go in Carrboro or Chapel Hill—and this was the case before I became mayor—and able to talk openly about my family and my life," said Lavelle. "This is not the case in many communities, and we recognize that we are so fortunate to feel so welcome and a part of the community here." Further proof of the community's values: "Carrboro has the oldest domestic partner registry in North Carolina and declared October 10, 2014 Marriage Equality Day in celebration of recent court decisions that brought marriage equality to North Carolina," explains Lavelle. Chapel Hill also has a registry.

"Being a member of the LGBT community is no barrier to enjoying everything our community has to offer," says Mark Kleinschmidt who served as Mayor of Chapel Hill from 2009 until 2015. "There are few…exclusively LGBT activities, but there are also no places where members of our community aren't welcome.

Named as one of America's foodiest small towns by Bon Appetit, this area is home to award-winning restaurants and the only fully local and USDA certified organic distillery in the deep South.

Favorite area eateries include the James Beard-winning Lantern and Crook's Corner. Up the street twenty minutes in Hillsborough, Panciuto Restaurant continually finds itself on James Beard's favorites list. "Hillsborough is proud of its role in Orange County and as the community that is host to so many writers, artists and foodies; we have long supported the rights of LGBT visitors and were proud to host an IGLTA (International Gay Lesbian Travel Association) writer's conference a few years ago.

Friendly coffee house, like Caffé Driade or The Open Eye, which is also home to Carrboro Coffee Roasters, are packed most days and for those who prefer a more potent potable, TOPO Organic Spirits distills local ingredients into gin, vodka and moonshine whiskey. Hundreds of festivals are held annually and celebrate local crafts, poetry, film, local food and more.

Make plans for a visit. For more information, visit the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau at

Photo Caption - Seated in middle is Chapel Hill resident, Lee Storrow, Executive Director of the NC AIDS Action Network.

A photo accompanying this release is available at:

CONTACT: Patty Griffin Communications Director Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau (919) 245-4321Source:Chapel Hill Orange County Visitors Bureau