When ladies travel together you know we’re going somewhere out of the ordinary. Of course, we are always planning the next meal, wanting to sift in some shopping time, and indulge in a spa, but we are also looking for those special moments of uncontrolled laughter and memory making. Women are savvy too, and we look for the distinctive spots. That’s why coming to the Pinehurst and Southern Pines area makes sense. Here we may uncover both elegant, tasteful, down-home, and silly stops—the tried and true elements of a great girls’ trip.
Tasty and Quirky Travels
While golfers are out smacking a small ball around the 30+ courses there, you’ll be heading out into the countryside to discover where the local flavors originate. Feel like cuddling a baby goat? Zip over to Paradox Farm. They raise goats and cows, and make all kinds of wondrous items with the milk. There’s a cheese cave (for aging cheeses), a farm store (did we mention you’ll need a cooler to store your purchases?), and even goat yoga. Paradox also offers locally raised pork, chicken, and eggs for future meals.
Goats not quirky enough for you? Head out to Misty Morning Ranch and meet Gaby, Ryan, and their 8-foot-tall gang of ostriches. Even though it may look like a zoo exhibit, the family is raising the biggest birds in the land for meat. Red meat. Yep, ostrich is not only a healthier option of red meat for humans, these odd two-footed creatures use less water and land, and produce a fractional amount of greenhouse gases compared to typical livestock operations. You can purchase meat here, as well as beautiful ostrich leather wallets and dog collars, plus ostrich oil and body butters, and even pick up ostrich dog bones for your pup. Can’t make it to the farm? Meet them at the local farmers’ markets in Southern Pines on Thursday and Saturday mornings.
For a more mainline animal experience bring your camera out to the Pinehurst Harness Track in the wintertime to watch the Standardbred horses run. There are two tracks, and when temps drop into the 30s, the steam pours out of the horses as they majestically move around the tracks. Perfect Insta moments.
Several country stores in the region invite you to explore their wares. The Dunroven along Highway 1 in Vass sells a compendium of homemade Amish foods, hoop cheese, old fashioned candy, local honey, and even snake oils to fix what ails you. Be sure to wander out back of the store where the owners have created a home to more than 50 rescued tropical birds. That will give you something to squawk about. Over in Cameron, the Dewberry Deli and Old Hardware Antiques entices you to sit at lunch counter for a malt and a cobbler, and then peruse old country and formal furnishings on display. In downtown Southern Pines, the Christian Book Store on Main Street also holds an entertainingly odd collection. It’s a combo creation museum, taxidermy museum, tools and snakes exhibits, and Christian bookstore run by some of the nicest folks in town. You can even get homemade fudge there, and they have a lovely collection of jigsaw puzzles.
R. Riveter is another Southern Pines original. Co-owner Cameron Cruze, started out with a Masters degree in architecture, but turned instead to hiring military families to craft elegant and durable handbags. Inspired by Rosie the Riveter, Cruze believes the World War II icon stands for women working to make a better world. Each part and piece of the satchels and backpacks are made by military spouse “riveters” across the US, and then put together in Southern Pines.
Another local found his calling too. When local builder Heath Trigg was working on the construction of the bar at Pinehurst Brewery, he was thinking about how those owners are veterans brewing beer and aging it in whiskey barrels. His epiphany came when he decided to make them a version of Old Glory out of the wood from the barrels. Soon, everyone who saw the wooden flag had to have one, and his business, Heritage Flag Company, was born. The flags come in all sizes—small enough to stash in your suitcase, or large enough to hang over your fireplace.
Literary types will want to tip their hats to the Weymouth Center for The Arts & Humanities, part of a famous writer’s estate. Once home to James Boyd (best known for his Revolutionary War novel Drums), his home was a regular salon for the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe. Today it’s home to the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame.
Just because you’re in Pinehurst, you don’t have to play golf, but why not? You have a couple of appealing options whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a newbie. Thistle Dhu is an 18-hole putting course at Pinehurst Resort. Don’t confuse it with miniature golf, but do plan to test your greens-reading abilities on this challenging layout for the putter. Meanwhile The Cradle may be played in an hour. It’s a par 3 course with 9 short holes adjacent to Thistle Dhu. You only need 3 or 4 clubs to tackle this little beauty.
After all those explorations, you’ll need some relaxing down time. Book a treatment at the elegant Pinehurst Spa. Always arrive at least an hour before your appointment so you can take a dip in the heated whirlpool in your locker room, as well as the huge indoor pool. Don’t want to splurge for an appointment? For $40, you may purchase an all-day pass on weekdays with access to the wet areas of the spa. Plenty of room to hang out by the pool with your travel buddies and talk over the day’s discoveries in the peaceful retreat.
Sitting Down for a Meal
Kick off your day with a breakfast, Sandhills style. You can grab a cuppa joe and a scone over at the Village Roast Office, which occupies the old post office in the Village of Pinehurst along with a book store. Or try out the more traditional breakfast at the Villager Deli nearby. In Southern Pines, locals congregate at Betsy’s Crepes on Broad Street, a casual brunch spot that features sweet and savory crepes from a huge menu that ranges from simple to tantalizing different (think ham with pineapple, asparagus, and mozzarella).
Of course, you could build an entire day around food here too. Schedule a half-day stroll around the Village of Pinehurst with Cathy and John Spangler of Culinary Tours of the Pines. They’ll introduce you to the taste, sips, and history of Pinehurst. Small plates of each eatery’s best samplings along with a craft beer tempt you at the stops for the afternoon tours, plus a tasting at the local wine shop. If you prefer a less spirited morning tour, it includes a tea service, followed by a stop at a spot to try different olive oils and balsamics, and ending with a stop at Cameron and Co., one of the sweetest gift shops in the village.
A couple of other fun ethnic foods in Pinehurst you’ll want to try out include Theos Taverna, a white-tablecloth Greek spot that makes its own olive oil to produce amazing dishes such as moussaka, spanakopita, and ossobucco, as well as steaks and fresh seafood. If an Irish pub is more to your liking, try Dugans. The full pub menu includes the requisite fish and hand-cut chips, shepherd’s pie, and bangers and champs, as well as some of the tastiest onion soup on this side of the Atlantic.
Of course, these towns are going to excel at smoked, pulled pork, Carolina style. In Pinehurst, the crowds head to the Pinehurst Brewing Company where you can sample their house-made brews alongside barbecue on the pizza and salads. For a destination pork palace, head up to Carthage to the Pik N Pig. This old-style barbecue joint adjacent to an air field packs in everyone here . You’ll know it’s good by the Cadillacs, beat up pickups, service vans, and family SUVs that pack the parking lot. It brings in everyone. Don’t skip the banana pudding!
Some of the most sophisticated flavors are dished up at Ashten’s in Southern Pines. This chef-driven restaurant is the love child of Ashley Van Camp, a local girl who cut her culinary chops in sophisticated NYC kitchens. She returned home to take that knowledge and lay it atop the foodways of her North Carolina grandmother. Then she casts her net for local food, serving the finest from the nearby community. The result is Southern takes on international dishes. For instance, this summer she takes the squash blossoms from Macc’s Family Farm and stuffs them with the goat cheese from Paradox. Then she flash fries the blossoms and serves them doused in an herbal sauce that makes you swoon.