At Home In The Pines
December 19, 2007
Perhaps it's a little deceiving when we first near the Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area. From the outside, it can appear rather nondescript. But under closer examination, you'll find yourself in a very unique place, full of tall pine trees, gentle breezes and many buildings so white that it almost hurts to look at them on crystal blue days. It's quite often the golf that first draws people to the area. But it's the beauty and pace of life that make them want to return.
› Antiquing in Cameron through the many small shops, looking for the perfect piece of furniture to complete a room or finding a special piece of glassware that brings back fond memories of past generations.
› Driving through "horse country" and admiring the magnificent animals and "their" farms.
› Strolling along tree-lined sidewalks, actually returning the greetings of those you meet.
› The enchantingly named potteries -- visit the ones that most pique your interest, such as From The Ground Up, Whynot Pottery, Dirt Works, and Fat Beagle Pottery.
› Sandhills Horticultural Gardens with their walking trails and huge holly tree collection.
› The breakfast buffet at The Carolina Hotel -- the fresh fruit, Belgian waffles and made-to-order omelettes.
› Shopping in Southern Pines and Pinehurst amid the quaint shops.
› Stepping into the area's history by walking among the historic homes.
› Watching the golfers finish a round from the veranda at Mid Pines.
For over 100 years, the Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area has been known as The Home of American Golf. Within 11 years, spectators will have witnessed memorable golf from two U.S. Open Championships (1999, 2005), two U.S. Women's Open Championships (1996, 2001) and one U.S. Senior Open Championship (1994). In addition, it's home to the Men's North & South Amateur Championship, the longest running amateur tournament in the country. Add to this mix the fact that the area boasts over 40 golf courses -- 720 holes -- which makes it one of the highest density golf areas in the country (less than 100 residents per golf hole). This all adds up to an incredible selection of golf offering a wide variety for all skill (and price) levels -- in case you'd rather play than watch.
The settlers of the area were predominantly Scottish and the heritage is still very prevalent. From the circa-1790 Bethesda Church and Cemetery to the Malcolm Blue Farm and Museum, circa-1825, the area has embraced its history. The best way to really experience each community's essence is on foot. Pinehurst and Aberdeen both offer information on walking tours amidst the towns' more notable buildings. You can discover these areas at your own pace, whether in a whirlwind hour or a leisurely afternoon. In addition, the Alston House, or House in the Horseshoe, was the site of a 1781 skirmish between the Whigs and Tories and stages a re-enactment each August and a living history program in May. Tufts Archives has a unique presentation of Pinehurst's history, including one of the soda fountains from which the founder of Pinehurst made his fortune.
Step Back in Time
After winding along in Pinehurst, you turn onto Carolina Vista. At the end of the lane is the Carolina Hotel, a large and impressive white building that dates back to 1901. Step into the lobby and you could easily imagine stepping back in time. Several sitting areas, the hall of history lined with photos of Pinehurst through the years and even the doormen and bellmen in knickers will conjure images of a time gone by. After an enjoyable dinner in the main dining room, sit back in one of the white rockers that line the wrap-around porch -- possibly the best seat in town. Pinehurst Resort also encompasses the Manor Inn, for more casual lodging, and Holly Inn, the first hotel in Pinehurst (it opened in 1895) which the resort purchased and reopened in 1999 after the Holly underwent a multi-million dollar renovation. Money well spent.
In the heart of the village is the Pine Crest Inn, once owned by Donald Ross and today the place for an evening drink. Whether relaxing on the porch or joining the group practicing their chips shots into the fireplace in the lobby, you'll meet no strangers here.
Just around the corner is the Magnolia Inn, an historic bed & breakfast that also serves lunch & dinner. One of the specialties is the Caesar salad prepared at your table. Here you can also enjoy the popular sport of rocking in the chairs on the front porch while watching others weave along the village streets.
What's for Lunch?
Broad Street in Southern Pines provides a great variety of shops along its sidewalks. The downtown area is unique in that the main street directions are separated by railroad tracks. The tracks are mostly hidden from view by large magnolias and pines so it's easier to concentrate on the distinct businesses -- especially the restaurants!
Sweet Basil's is just down the street. Their best-seller is a grilled eggplant sandwich with sweet roasted peppers and arugula on foccacia. Another favorite is the tuna and fusilli pasta salad with capers and served with la vache bread.
Restaurant 195 (formerly known as Nature's Own, the name kept by the grocer-portion of the business) was one of the first in the area to offer a grilled portobello mushroom sandwich and it's still one of their top-sellers. Other favorites are the grilled Angus beef burger with Maytag blue cheese or the linguini pasta with grilled shrimp, broccoli and garlic. Just because the restaurant specializes in "all natural" cuisine doesn't mean you have to leave hungry!
And then there's the Ice Cream Parlor. Surprisingly, the majority of their business is from the lunch crowd. But when you see the foods they serve, then it's not so surprising. Their specialities are old-fashioned hand-pattied burgers (served Southern style with chili, slaw, mustard and onions) and their own chicken salad. And let's not forget the cakes -- homemade by a lady just for the shop (honest). They're each conveniently displayed at the counter to help make your dessert decision harder!
Haven for Shopaholics
Strip malls may serve a purpose, but you won't find one in the Village of Pinehurst. These shops are designed for leisurely window-shopping and encourage you to come in and browse. The Theatre Building was once graced with the presences of Helen Hayes, Will Rogers and Gloria Swanson. Today, it houses an intricate group of stores ranging from The Village Fox contemporary women's clothing to the Eye Max Optical Boutique. Le Feme Chateau and The Potpourri offer one-of-a-kind items that will add a special touch to your home. The Old Village Golf Shop offers golf memorabilia of special places and special times.
In Southern Pines, you won't know where to start -- but you won't be on the "wrong side of the tracks" because both sides of the street offer a variety of shops. At shops such as Bella Filati, Eve Avery and Opulence, you'll be as drawn to their wares are you are to their names. At the Wine Cellar & Tasting Room, you'll find an incredible selection of fine wines plus their wine tasting bar is open with an extensive list of wines available by the taste and glass. Foodies will love the Southern Whey cheese shop, The Flavor Exchange and Betsy's Crepes.
"What About Us?"
So if adults can have such a wide range of fun, what can the kids do? The answer: a lot.
In Pinehurst, start with Camelot Park, one of the finest playgrounds you'll find. It boasts lots of climbing, running and hiding spaces. Perfect for energetic kids to stretch their legs and their imaginations with the games they can create. Next door has soccer fields and plenty of room to roam.
The Pinehurst Harness Track is where you can see standardbred training from October to May along with polo matches, horse shows and matinee races.
Pinehurst Resort offers a children's program during the summer and major holidays. The program features such activities as swimming, baking and crafts and runs a half or whole day with its Dinner Club offered on Friday and Saturday nights.
And let's not forget the North Carolina Zoological Park. Just up the road from Pinehurst, this 500-acre natural habitat easily ranks among the top five zoos in the U.S. Go for the polar bears, the lions, the monkeys and the reptiles. But, above all, go for yourself. You'll easily appreciate enjoying the animals in their natural settings instead of a 15' by 15' cage. It's also a great deal, too -- just $8.00 for adults and $5.00 for children 2-12 and seniors.
Let Us Entertain You
The Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area isn't hard to get to whether via plane, train or automobile. Most people fly into Raleigh-Durham (about 70 miles away) or Charlotte (about 100 miles). Amtrak runs between New York and Miami with stops in Southern Pines. The area is located on U.S. Highway #1, U.S. 15-501 and N.C. 211; about 45 minutes off I-95 from Fayetteville to the south or go 20 minutes east from the new I-73/74.
The best way to familiarize yourself with the area is to first contact the Convention & Visitors Bureau. The Visitor Guide will quickly whet your appetite and give you an overall view of the area and its charms. You'll find there is an abundance of lodging options from quaint bed & breakfasts to traditional hotels to full-service resorts. Plus, the Bureau offers specific brochures on dining, golf and Calendar of Events. The helpful volunteers and staff are a wealth of knowledge and offer suggestions to get you started. Feel free to contact the Convention & Visitors Bureau to request information by calling 1-800-346-5362 or check out their web site at www.homeofgolf.com. Or stop by their office at 10677 U.S. Highway 15-501 in Southern Pines. There's a lot to see and enjoy during your visit At Home in the Pines.