A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

Southern Pines started out as two separate communities: East Southern Pines was home to Scottish descendants, and West Southern Pines was one of the first incorporated African-American towns in North

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Southern Pines started out as two separate communities: East Southern Pines was home to Scottish descendants, and West Southern Pines was one of the first incorporated African-American towns in North

Around Town: Southern Pines

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Southern Pines started out as two separate communities: East Southern Pines was home to Scottish descendants, and West Southern Pines was one of the first incorporated African-American towns in North Carolina. The communities merged into a unified Southern Pines in 1931, and today, the town retains its strong multicultural heritage.

Traces of the past are still evident in the quaint downtown district, where historic buildings house an eclectic collection of shops and restaurants. The original wooden train depot, built in 1898, serves as an Amtrak station, mini history museum, and the centerpiece for community events like the Veterans Parade. Whether you want to grab a bite, play a round, explore the outdoors, experience the arts, or engage in a little retail therapy, Southern Pines is worth the trip.

For breakfast, feel French

It’s not unusual to see a line winding out the door of Betsy’s Crepes downtown. The menu includes dozens of sweet and savory crepes, from classic to creative. Try the Impersonator, a breakfast crepe made with peanut butter, bananas, honey, and Nutella. Not in the mood for a crepe? Order eggs, waffles, or a breakfast sandwich instead.

Tip: To avoid the crowds, grab a table later in the evening (Betsy’s Crepes is open until 10 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday), and enjoy one of the amazing dessert crepes.

Betsy’s Crepes
(910) 246-2406


Support military families while shopping

Lisa Bradley and Cameron Cruse, both married to Army Rangers, started R.Riveter to provide meaningful work for military spouses. Each of their stylish canvas and leather handbags features a tag with a “riveter number” that identifies the spouses of active-duty military members who made the bags.

Each R.Riveter handbag represents military families and the spouses who helped make them. photograph by R.Riveter

Tip: Check out the map at the back of the store. Each pin represents the location of the riveters who assemble the components of each handbag, from the straps and liners to the leather and canvas shells. It can take up to 12 riveters to make a single bag.

(910) 725-1010


Sip something new

All of the flagship beers, seasonal releases, and barrel-aged brews at Southern Pines Brewing Company are made with military precision, which is no surprise given that the cofounders, Micah Niebauer and Jason Ginos, served in the U.S. Army. Craft brews like Man of Law, Texas Rig, and Bourbon Barrel-Aged German Chocolate Cake Stout quickly became local favorites after the taproom opened in 2014.

Tip: Although there is no regular tour schedule, Southern Pines Brewing Co. does offer behind-the-scenes tours for groups and special events with advance reservations (which can be made on their website).

Southern Pines Brewing Company
(910) 365-9925


Take in a show at the Sunrise

The Sunrise Theater has been the heart of the arts community in Southern Pines since the 1940s. Thanks to indoor and outdoor stages, the theater is able to offer an ever-changing schedule of events, including first-run and independent films, concerts, and performances by community theater groups.

Tip: During First Friday events (held the first Friday evening of the month from May to October) the Sunrise Theater hosts mini outdoor festivals featuring live music, food trucks, and family entertainment.

Sunrise Theater
(910) 692-8501


Explore the outdoors at Reservoir Park

Catch a glimpse of the longleaf and loblolly pine trees that gave Southern Pines its name while hiking the more than 13 miles of trails that traverse the 165-acre Reservoir Park. The David R. White Greenway Trail, a two-mile trek around the lake, offers a great vantage point for watch people fishing and paddling. The park also features a disc golf course and shelters with grills (reserve ahead).

Tip: For a more solitary outing, visit early in the morning or choose a less well-known (but equally pretty) hike along the two-mile Whitehall Trail, part of which is habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.

Reservoir Park
(910) 692-2463


Shop for gifts and giggles

From a distance, Mockingbird on Broad appears to be a normal home goods store, but a closer look at the carefully curated selection of sweet decor items makes it clear that owner Sundi McLaughlin decorates with a sense of humor. Kitchen towels with phrases like, “It’s getting hot in here, so turn off all the stoves,” are displayed alongside Bob Ross bobbleheads.

Explore Mockingbird on Broad where you can find perfume, books, home decor, and more. photograph by Abi Ray

Tip: Check out Mockingbird on Broad’s custom candles — Sundi makes them herself. We like the amber and honeysuckle scent. 

Mockingbird on Broad
(910) 692-5338


Play a round

The first nine holes of this Donald Ross-designed golf course opened in 1906, and it expanded to an 18-hole course eight years later. The rolling, sandy terrain makes the par-71 course challenging for golfers of all levels, earning Southern Pines Golf Club plenty of accolades.

Tip: Book a tee time through the website to access special online-only rates.

Southern Pines Golf Club
(910) 692-6551


Get cultured

In the early 1900s, poet and author James Boyd purchased 1,200 acres in the Sandhills that reminded him of the terrain in Weymouth, England. The estate welcomed literary notables like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe, earning Weymouth a reputation as the epicenter of Southern literary culture. Today, the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities offers readings, lecture series, concerts, and workshops, and even hosts a writer-in-residence program. Over the years, the residency program has inspired hundreds of North Carolina writers with a peaceful, weeklong stay at the Boyd House, a historic Georgian mansion on the property.

Weymouth House is the former home of American novelist James Boyd. Stroll through the NC Literary Hall of Fame or its stunning gardens. photograph by James Mieczkowski

Tip: The grounds at the Weymouth Center are worth a visit. The remaining 26-acre estate is a natural preserve and park with beautiful formal gardens surrounded by longleaf pine forest. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy free public access to the gardens.

Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities
(910) 692-6261


Get lost in literature

The Country Bookshop has been a staple in Southern Pines since 1953 and stocks a veritable trove of books, from classic novels to workks by local authors. The store hosts regular author events, book club meetings, and weekly story time for little ones.

Tip: The employees are bibliophiles; ask for recommendations or look for sticky notes on books in the “new arrivals” section to see why certain books are on their “must read” list.

The Country Bookshop
(910) 692-2037


Raise a flag

After designing the bar top for Southern Pines Brewing Company, custom cabinetmaker Heath Trigg wanted to make something special to welcome the veteran-owned brewery to the community. He used the wood from old whiskey and wine barrels to make an American flag, and the creation got so much attention that making them turned into his full-time gig. Each Heritage Flag is handmade and one-of-a-kind.

Reclaimed whiskey and wine barrels find new life as American flags. photograph by APJ

Tip: Trigg’s workshop is open to the public on the second Saturday of each month. You can get a closer look at the process and meet the people making the flags.

The Heritage Flag Company
(910) 725-1540

This story was published on Apr 10, 2019

Jodi Helmer

North Carolina-based journalist Jodi Helmer writes about food, farming, and the environment.