A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

Year after year, golfers return to the courses at Pinehurst because they’ve discovered a secret: It’s more than a collection of perfectly manicured greens — there’s something special about the

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

Year after year, golfers return to the courses at Pinehurst because they’ve discovered a secret: It’s more than a collection of perfectly manicured greens — there’s something special about the

Find Your Next Stop in Moore County

Year after year, golfers return to the courses at Pinehurst because they’ve discovered a secret: It’s more than a collection of perfectly manicured greens — there’s something special about the meandering stretches between each hole.

The same could be said for Moore County as a whole. Here in the Sandhills, in a part of the state that straddles the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain, iconic longleaf pines punctuate ever-so-slightly rolling farmland, and “what to do” revolves around the journey, not the destination.

Read on to learn the stories behind five quintessential Moore County experiences, and get ready to map your own trip.



 

Seagrove boasts the largest concentration of working potters in the country. Photography courtesy of Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area CVB

Explore the work of Seagrove’s famous potters

“Seagrove is a small town, but welcoming and with a lot of hospitality,” says Breanna Macon, as she tends to the plants lining a workbench at Macon a Mess Pottery. In her downtown shop, Breanna features a mix of jewelry, clay pieces, and hundreds of house plants that infuse her store with warmth.

Discover the Seagrove pottery that speaks to you at dozens of shops and galleries. Photography courtesy of Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area CVB

Seagrove may be small, but it boasts the largest concentration of working potters in the United States. Winding through backroads and stopping at artists’ studios, shoppers are likely to uncover everything from their next dining set to a one-off vase to a set of clay heads designed as birdhouses to hang outside. Along with their pottery, artists sell handmade jewelry, wood-turned bowls, quilts, and other sewn goods.

For the true Seagrove experience, take a self-guided tour down some of Moore County’s scenic roads, where more than 50 pottery shops and galleries wait to be explored at your own pace. Not sure where to begin? On your way into town, make Seagrove Creations gallery your first stop. Here, you can get a taste of a dozen different artists’ work, and the gallery’s helpful employees will gladly offer advice for your next stops, depending on your pottery preferences.

During American Craft Week in October and the 15th annual Celebration of Seagrove Potters Fall Festival and Studio Tour held November 19 through 20, visitors have an opportunity to experience the nuances of shaping, glazing, and firing clay firsthand.

 

Discover the Landmarks and Legacies Mural by Dan Dreyer on the Carthage Mural Trail. Photography courtesy of Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area CVB

Explore Carthage’s murals and history

Residents of Carthage, the county seat, happily offer a tip on how to start your day off right: Order a plate of French toast paninis or a bacon, egg, and cheese melt at Buggy Town Coffee.

When you leave Buggy Town, walk about a block up to Monroe Street and take a left. You won’t have to strain to see the stately limestone-faced courthouse in the center of town. Flanked by towering oaks, the historic building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and celebrated its centennial this summer. Right next door, you’ll also see the brand-new courthouse being built.

This is a great starting point for the Carthage Mural Trail, a project that began in 2014 to celebrate Moore County’s agricultural and cultural heritage. Featuring works by North Carolina artists Scott Nurkin and Dan Dreyer, the trail stretches from the intersection of South Ray and McReynolds streets to Marion Street.

Find The Tyson & Jones Buggy Company mural on the side of a historic building that once housed the business. Photography courtesy of Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area CVB

At 104 McReynolds Street, you can see The Tyson & Jones Buggy Company mural, which tells the story of a prominent Carthage business that operated from 1850 to 1929. In fact, the old buggy factory was recently purchased by Southern Pines Brewing Company and a new two-story brewery and restaurant — which is projected to open in late 2023 — will bring the historic building back to life. On 205 Monroe Street, another mural honors Carthage’s own World War I aviator.

When it’s time for lunch, head over to The Soup Company on McNeill Street. Weekday visitors will be glad they stopped for lunch at this Carthage institution, a must for homemade seasonal soups and sandwiches. Try the signature chicken salad on rye, and don’t resist the dessert menu, complete with cobbler, pie, and other delicious treats.

 

Antiquing and Cider Sipping in Cameron

Depending on your mission, antiquing in Cameron can feel like a casual stroll down memory lane or an active treasure hunt. Either way, it’s far from boring.

The wide-plank wooden floors of the two-story, historic Old Hardware Antiques hold treasures in every nook and cranny. Here you’ll find pieces from different eras to suit any style. Want to find a new addition to your vinyl collection? Peruse Now & Then Antiques’ collection of 45s near the back of the store.

After a few hours of hunting, Cameron’s local cider house will give you an appreciation for 21st-century cidermaking. Grab a seat on the covered porch of James Creek Cider House, and enjoy a charcuterie board as you sip a Summer Gold, Whipporwill, or Harvest Moon — traditional ciders crafted from Southern heirloom apples. The cider house is also a stop on the Sandhills Pour Tour, during which a seven-stop passport guides you across Moore County’s numerous other breweries and a growler location. (Fully stamped passports earn fun prizes!)

And under their Stargazer cider line, there’s a whole other constellation of beverages: These modern ciders are blended with locally sourced fruits, some aged in spirit barrels, others carbonated and dry-hopped to satisfy even the pickiest of IPA snobs.

 

Aloha Safari Park

If you’re visiting Moore County with your family, plan to spend some time at Aloha Safari Park. Home to more than 300 animals, the park takes in farm and exotic animals that have been previously injured, abused, neglected, abandoned — or whose previous owners could no longer care for them.

Let your children feed Titus the Giraffe and pet the park’s resident goats and sheep before hopping on a safari tour to the lower portion of the pastures. The trolley tour is a must-do, as it’s the only way to experience the larger animals like bison, zebras, ostriches, and antelope.

Don’t leave without taking a walking tour through the upper section to sneak a peek at even more exotic animals, including tigers, lemurs, wolves, and monkeys.

Take home the perfect souvenir, courtesy of the park’s artistically talented animals, who enjoy enrichment through creative outlets, like the non-toxic, water-based paint they use to create masterpieces featuring hedgehog footprints and monkey paws. The park reinvests proceeds from the artwork into care for the animals.

 

The Sandhills Trolley Company will take you to local breweries or wineries, on a comedy tour, and much more. Photography courtesy of Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area CVB

Another Stop on the Sandhills Trolley

Forget everything you know about bus tours: The Sandhills Trolley Company offers seasonal and tailored adventures unsuitable for the passive observer. As a participant, you’ll be engaged in an interactive and engaging experience that’s well worth the ride.

The Sandhills Trolley Company offers tours tailored to the seasons. Photography courtesy of Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area CVB

A company dedicated to branding “the new generation of tours,” The Sandhills Trolley Company curates a plethora of experiences. Like the Brews Cruise, where you and your friends are presented with an evening of microbrews at local hotspots like Pinehurst Brewing Company or Hatchet Brewing Company in Southern Pines, or Railhouse Brewery in Aberdeen.

Oenophiles might prefer a trolley tour with a wineries spin. On this excursion, you’ll likely stop at Sandhills Winery in Seven Lakes, the Wine Cellar in Southern Pines, or Triangle Wine Company of Pinehurst. Spend enough time at your chosen destination to enjoy your drink; then safely retreat to the trolley for a ride filled with trivia and laughter.

By trolley, car, or on two feet: No matter how you reach your next stop in Moore County, the journey just might be the best part.

This story was published on Oct 21, 2022

Yates Austin

Yates Austin grew up spending his summers on the coast of North Carolina’s barrier islands. Currently residing in the Piedmont, weekends often find him exploring backroads from the mountains to the Sandhills.