Chapel Hill murals on, and near, Franklin Street color the downtown area with bright and cheerful art. The street art scenes are plentiful in an area that many would say is the heart of the college town at the University of North Carolina.
The murals are photo-worthy, whether a snap for Instagram, Chapel Hill engagement photos or your personal vacation memories. You’ll find a lot of them in a small radius. It’s a fun day time activity, any day of the week.
It’s also a great outdoor activity that allows you to greatly social distance.
A disclaimer about murals: They are like living, breathing things. They could be there one day and gone the next, painted over by another commissioned artist or changed with the evolution of a city. We do our best to keep up with murals but it’s possible you could arrive and what we’ve posted isn’t there. If that’s the case, please understand we can’t be everywhere at all times. Hopefully a mural has gone up in its place. Feel free to add a comment to this post or contact us to inform us of any mural changes.
Parade of Humanity Chapel Hill Mural
The simple neutral color palette of this mural is perhaps what makes it stand out. It’s one of the most well known murals in Chapel Hill.
A parade of people from all walks of life, including an athlete on roller blades, musicians in a band, a man in a wheelchair, a pregnant woman, and even people dressed in colonial clothes march towards Franklin Street. Try to find the punk rock man with a mohawk in the mural.
It’s on the side of 138 E. Franklin Street.
If you can’t photograph yourself with this mural, or any mentioned here, and are desiring professional photos, reach out. I’m a professional photographer and love doing portrait sessions.
Pencil Mural (College Appropriate at UNC in Chapel Hill)
This #2 pencil mural is painted on the side of a parking area, on Henderson Street, between E. Franklin Street and E. Rosemary Street. It’s a classic pencil, painted in yellow with a pink colored eraser on top, partially “used.”
The text on the side of the pencil faces the sky and reads, “Is mightier than the sword,” which, with an educated guess, is a nod to the famous quote, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” by Edward Bulwer-Lytton in the 19th century.
Football Men, Paint by Numbers
UNC is a strong football college. And it emboldens a school spirit in its students and alumni. It’s only fitting there’s a fun football mural in downtown Chapel Hill.
The twist is it has a “Paint by Numbers” theme, complete with a color palette and students pictured finishing the mural, painted into the piece.
It’s on the side of Pantana Bob’s, located at 150 E. Rosemary Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514. It’s just across the street from Chapel Hill’s AC Hotel by Marriott.
Painted crosswalks are always a fun surprise in any town. They’re a bit harder to maintain for obvious reasons, so if any “mural” isn’t there when you visit this may be it. But we loved it so much we wanted to include it.
The crosswalk, below, is at the cross streets of W. Rosemary Street and Church Street.
The horizontal photo with the green and pink striped crosswalks are two of four that form a box around the following cross streets: Henderson Street and E. Rosemary Street. (The other two crosswalks that complete the colorful quadrant are orange and yellow.) The crosswalks are right by Tru Deli and Wine Bar, just past the pencil mural.
Love Peace Joy Bus
This was one of our favorite murals! It is so well done and the colors look fabulous together. It’s painted in teal, cobalt blue, baby blue, orange, coral, purple and pink.
This “groovy” mural can be found on the side of CholaNad Restaurant at 310 W. Franklin, across from The Graduate Hotel.
Colorful, larger-than-life handprints are imprinted on a yellow and blue wall next to Chapel Hill Cleaners. It was created by Michael Brown and can be found at 422 W. Franklin Street.
This mural completely reminds us of the iconic lighthouses on the North Carolina coast, in the Outer Banks.
The mural also brought back memories of the beautiful sunset we saw one October night on Ocracoke Island.
Purple, pink and orange colors light up the painted sky. The daymark on the lighthouse is a black and white spiral, confirming it is modeled after the Cape Hatteras lighthouse.
White text to the right of the mural reads, “The light in me honors the light in you.”
The mural is by Michael Brown and can be found on the side of The Pitt comedy theater, located at 462 W. Franklin Street.
Colorful Comic Book Mural in Chapel Hill
One of my favorite murals in Chapel Hill is just next to the lighthouse mural. It’s a colorful mural with triangles painted all colors of the rainbow and a red car on the left hand side. A blue “DRIVE” talk bubble extends from its side.
The mural is by Gina Elizabeth Franco, and is on the side of Chapel Hill Tire, at 502 Franklin Street, next to The Pit comedy theater.
Wild Flower Wall
Just around the corner from Chapel Hill Tire is a colorful mural. It’s on the back of the building next to Elaine’s on Franklin, a farm-to-table restaurant.
The flowers of this Chapel Hill mural appear to be red poppies. We love its style; it almost looks like watercolor.
Access it via a driveway near 407 W. Rosemary Street, off N. Robinson Street. Or simply walk around the corner from Chapel Hill Tire to find it, behind the buildings that face Franklin Street.
Yellow Circles Mural behind In the Cuts Barber Shop
There’s a mural painted on the back of a building labeled as Joe’s Joint in red letters on its side. It also has a small “Joe’s Joint” black circular sign on the back of the building.
We didn’t go to school at UNC so we’re not that familiar with the Franklin Street shops. But from what we gather it was possibly once Joe’s Joint and now it’s In the Cuts Barber Shop.
Regardless, the address of the building is 161 1/2 East Franklin Street. The mural on the building looks like it is beads on a necklace, painted in yellow, blue and gray. Some of the yellow circles appear to have faces painted on them.
It’s labeled as “Amber Alley” mural on this Chapel Hill Walking Map and downtown murals pamphlet from Go Chapel Hill. Though we must let you know some of the murals mentioned on that PDF/pamphlet are outdated and don’t exist anymore.
Tree Silhouette with the Moon Mural
The silhouetted branches of a grand oak tree reach far beyond the extents of the wall it’s painted on in this Chapel Hill mural. A moon barely hides behind its branches on the left hand side.
Find it on the side of 419 Franklin Street, one building to the left of the popular restaurant, Lantern, if you’re looking at its facade from the street.
Parking Deck Hieroglyphics
We parked our car at the Wallace Parking Deck. There’s an entrance to it off E. Rosemary Street, between Henderson Street and N. Columbia Street.
We were delighted to discover orange and red “hieroglyphics” painted on several walls inside the parking deck.
Chapel Hill Seal and R&R Grill Mural
There’s a fairly faded mural, sparsely painted in a parking lot downtown. It’s not our favorite (nor do we expect it to be yours) but we wanted to include it here, to be thorough in our information to you.
It’s a mural that has “R&R Grill” painted on the side of it and people walking on the wall.
Swimming Turtles Mural
Another popular Chapel Hill mural has two swimming turtles on it. (Reminding us of simple things we can do at home to save the planet!)
If you look twice, you’ll see the bottom of a shallow ocean floor beneath it with sand, various blue shades of the water and a starfish.
The turtles mural can be found in the parking lot of PNC Bank, at the corner of on N. Columbia Street and E. Rosemary Street.
Greetings from Chapel Hill Mural
This is perhaps the most sought out mural in Chapel Hill. The “Greetings from Chapel Hill” postcard mural was painted by Scott Nurkin of The Mural Shop.
Each letter of the city’s name has an iconic scene from the city painted in its outline. The dogwood flowers represent the state flower of North Carolina.
It can be found behind “He’s Not Here” tavern, whose address is: 112 1/2 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516.
Blue Night Sky Chapel Hill Mural
A very limited color palette was used to create this impactful mural. It’s on the backside of a building that faces Franklin Street, overlooking a parking lot.
The dark blue building that’s painted on the mural is the University United Methodist Church just steps away, off Franklin Street.
We learned it was originally painted by Michael Brown in 1989, and restored in 2009 as part of the Painted Walls Project.
The mural is right through the end of Varsity Alley at 121 E. Franklin St.
Jigsaw Puzzle Piece Alley
The alley that connects Franklin Street to Rosemary Street (technically north of it) is painted with blue puzzle pieces. And we love puzzles! So we thought this was pretty cool.
One side is a darker blue than its lighter blue neighbor; it has undoubtedly faded a bit from years of sun exposure. But it’s still a cute walkway and photo spot.
Faded Planets Mural
This old mural isn’t one of our favorites but it could be a cute backdrop for the right photoshoot, and especially for the right photo edits.
We think they look a bit like planets or moons. It’s located at 108 W. Rosemary Street, one block north of Franklin St.
Heading to North Carolina? Also check out: