What We Love About Southern Pines When the U.S. Department of Commerce released its “Climatic Summaries of Resort Areas” in 1966, the findings were no surprise to Southern
What We Love About Southern Pines
When the U.S. Department of Commerce released its “Climatic Summaries of Resort Areas” in 1966, the findings were no surprise to Southern Pines visitors who’d flocked to the area’s natural springs for years. The “salubrious climate of the Sandhills” — lower relative humidity in the summer paired with winter days warmer than surrounding areas — made it the perfect place to relax and refresh. Fast-forward more than a half-century, and Southern Pines continues to serve as a tourist’s playground.
In the downtown historic district, the same railroad tracks that helped put this area on the map now define a stretch of specialty boutiques, galleries, and restaurants filled with shoppers and visitors dallying in full-on vacation mode. And nearby, the pine forests of Weymouth Woods hide natural treasures like the insectivorous purple pitcher plant, red-cockaded woodpecker, and the fox squirrel. Whether you’re hiking through shaded pine forests, gallivanting downtown, or golfing the day away, this town offers a restorative getaway that has withstood the test of time.
Where to Experience the Holidays
Blessing of the Hounds: Kick off the holiday season on Thanksgiving Day morning with this Southern Pines tradition, which dates back to medieval times. On Buchan Field at the opening meet, an Episcopal priest blesses the hunters and hounds of North Carolina’s oldest recognized pack of foxhounds.
Tree lighting: Santa shows up in grand style to the annual tree lighting at Southern Pines Train Station. From his place of honor on a fire truck, the man in red is available for pictures before the musical entertainment begins. This year, expect the likes of Golf Capital Chorus, the Encore Center, and Temple Teens — culminating in the tree’s illumination at 6:15 p.m.
Parades: Each town in Moore County has its own tree lighting and parade traditions. Check the Magic of Moore website for details on parades in Aberdeen, Cameron, Carthage, Robbins, and Southern Pines.
Sandhills Trolley Company: Book tickets for the whole family on the Holly Trolley Express, where children can talk with Santa, hear a reading of The Polar Express, sing carols, and drink hot cocoa. The trolley departs from Pine Scone Café in Southern Pines.
Where to Get Coffee & Breakfast
Coffee shops: Swank, on Southwest Broad Street in Southern Pines, serves fresh-baked scones, coffee, tea, smoothies, and juices. Also on Southwest Broad in a charming cottage, The Java Bean Roasting Co. feels like home. If you’re not a fan of coffee, try their iced tea with house-made lavender syrup. On Pennsylvania Avenue, Amor Ciego is known for its coffee, croissants, and welcoming vibes.
Betsy’s Crepes: When it comes to breakfast, some people go savory and some go sweet. Owner Betsy Markey aims to please all taste buds, with crepes ranging from the Sweet & Simple (cinnamon or lemon, with butter and powdered sugar) to the Last Tango (ham, pineapple, mozzarella, and pineapple salsa). More into breakfast sandwiches? You’ll find those, too. Try the Le Popeye in a Croissant, filled with bacon, caramelized onions, and mushrooms, or the New Yorker Bagel with smoked salmon, capers, and raw red onions. Betsy’s is also open for lunch.
Where to Eat Dinner
Ashten’s Restaurant: For a snapshot of what makes this restaurant tick, glance at the crest hanging over the door to the bar. “Not new things but in new ways,” reads the Latin phrase under a lion and a unicorn sparring over a crown roast. Wednesday through Sunday nights, order off the a la carte menu, and you’ll see what Ashten’s means when they say they’re inspired by tastes of the world and their grandmothers’ cooking.
Chapman’s Food & Spirits: With dishes like Dr. Pepper pork ribs and signature Cajun crawfish fries, this neighborhood diner, founded by owners Peter Hamm and Kitty Hopkins, boasts options to satisfy all palates. Even the kids’ menu is robust, and includes a choice of side salad, vegetables, or fries with each entrée.
Chef Warren’s: It’s easy to forget you’re in Southern Pines — and easier still to imagine yourself in a French bistro — when you sip a French martini and watch Chef Warren Lewis work his magic with seasonal ingredients sourced fresh from Moore County farms.
Red’s Corner: It feels like everyone belongs at this locally beloved beer garden and food truck park. From the moment you step onto the expansive, two-acre outdoor green space, you’re greeted with hospitality. First, there’s the Carolina Cottage, with an inviting front porch cooled by fans — the perfect place to sip a glass of wine or beer from the cottage’s taproom. Then there are the six food trucks, offering food for a range of tastes. Farmers are free to set up a cart on the lawn to sell their produce or crafts; even the family dog can tag along.
Southern Prime: Here, you’ll find everything you want (and then some) out of a steakhouse. The atmosphere is the ideal blend between rustic and elegant, and steaks are chargrilled at 1400°. The wine list is extensive; ask your server for help selecting the perfect pairing.
Sly Fox: Inspired by a British gastropub, this warm and inviting restaurant with a relaxing patio serves 15 beers on tap alongside upscale bar food with a twist. (Take the nachos, for example, which swap ground beef and cheese for ahi tuna, shredded cabbage, avocado, cilantro, jalapeño, and wasabi mayo.)
Scott’s Table: There’s a reason why locals love this friendly establishment with an unassuming exterior: They know it’s going to be good: The crab cakes are filled with North Carolina crab meat, the meat and poultry are locally sourced, and fresh-from-the-garden vegetables are always on the menu.
Wolcott’s Restaurant: Here, the focus on “neo-continental” cuisine means fresh ingredients are sourced locally and globally. The menu features items like lemon saffron fish, steak and potatoes, and eggplant piccata, all cooked simply and to perfection.
195 American Fusion: Upscale presentation and craft cocktails draw discerning diners to this sleek space on Bell Avenue. Food ranges from traditional favorites, like filet mignon and braised short ribs, to plates that play with international ingredients, such as halibut panang curry.
Where to Sip
Southern Pines Brewing Company: Veterans Micah, Jason, and John met while serving as Green Berets at Fort Bragg (now Fort Liberty). Years later, after touring the world’s best breweries, they opened their first taproom. Today, under Micah’s sole ownership, the Southern Pines Brewing Company’s beers run the gamut from blonde ales and wheat beers to Scottish export ales and American IPAs. Not in the mood for beer? Pick up a pack of canned craft cocktails, like the Strawberry Bourbon Kentucky Buck, made with bourbon, natural strawberry, lemon, ginger, and seltzer.
Hatchet Brewing Company: The founders of this veteran-owned brewery believe that no success is ever achieved alone. In their case, the team starts with owners Greg and Mike and extends to their employees and community. Hatchett beers range from hoppy to malty to sour, from gluten-free to nonalcoholic. Check their calendar of events for yoga nights, food trucks, taproom trivia, and music bingo.
Southern Pines Growler Company: Stop by for a glass of craft beer, cider, soda, or wine — and leave with a 32- or 64-ounce growler filled with a handcrafted ale, lager, or cider. Ask about their Growler Beer Club.
BHAWK: If you’ve seen Black Hawk Down or remember the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, you’ll appreciate survivor Brad Halling’s belief that he was given a second chance at life. To express their gratitude for their fellow servicemembers, Brad and his wife, Jess, founded BHAWK, or Brad Halling American Whiskey Ko. Plans to open the tasting room by January 1, 2024, are in the works, so pay them a visit to sip samples of their spirits, enjoy a cocktail, or tour their plant.
Where to Take a Tour
Foodie Tour: Some of the best restaurants in the state punctuate the streets of downtown Southern Pines. There’s no need to pick just one; register for a Southern Pines Walking Tour to visit six restaurants that serve samples of their most celebrated cuisine, paired with a variety of drink options. The tour lasts about two and a half hours.
Sandhills Pour Tour: To visit Moore County’s local breweries, distillery, bottle shop, and cider house, get your passport for the Pour Tour. You’ll collect a stamp at each stop, and after you get all nine, you’ll receive a free Sandhills Pour Tour prize you can claim at the CVB.
Sandhills Wine Trail: This Wine Trail works a lot like the Pour Tour in that it starts with getting a passport from any location listed on the Sandhills Wine Trail. Wine Trail stops include Cypress Bend Vineyards, James Creek Cider House, Sandhills Winery, Triangle Wine Co., The Village Wine Shop (which also serves coffee and snacks), and The Wine Cellar.
Where to Shop Downtown
Mockingbird on Broad: This is the place to go to feather your nest with home items that inspire a little whimsy. Owner Sundi McLaughlin and manager Courtney Marsh sell products that turn everyday things like wiping your feet (fun doormats!) and taking a dish out of the oven (mitts with baby animals!) into a delightful experience.
R.Riveter: From their flagship store on Northwest Broad, this handbag shop does so much more than sell luscious leather purses. They provide flexible employment for military spouses across the world and a highly sought-after American-made product.
Casino Guitars: The work of master luthiers from around the world is on display at this renowned guitar shop. Shop brands ranging from Taylor and Martin to Lowden acoustic guitars, alongside electric guitars, amps, pedals, and other accessories. Don’t miss their pre-owned selection.
River Jack: If Southern Pines’ temperate climate and pine forests inspire you to get outdoors, swing by this outdoor trading company for the extra boost that comes in the form of stylish apparel and outdoor equipment.
Where to Explore the Outdoors
Weymouth Woods: It’s rare to walk through a forest with trees that are hundreds of years old, but the Sandhills Nature Preserve offers visitors that opportunity. Discover some of the rare species on a 7-mile hike or in the park’s discovery room. For owners, a 2.5-mile horseback riding trail is also available.
Weymouth Center: This creative enclave was the brainchild of author James Boyd and his wife, Katharine Lamont Boyd. Their vision, a place where arts and humanities were celebrated, where everyone was welcome, and where new perspectives were embraced, is alive and well today. Come visit the beautiful gardens around the Boyd House, and follow the trail that leads from the center over to Weymouth Woods. Check their events calendar for a lineup of upcoming music, theater, and literary arts opportunities.
Reservoir Park: This peaceful park known for its 95-acre lake also features a disc golf course and miles of hiking and biking trails (there’s even a bike repair station if you need it). Launch your sailboat, canoe, or kayak from the public boat ramp.
Home of American Golf: Moore County and golf go together like fairways and greens. The nearly 40 courses within a 15-mile radius of Southern Pines regularly exceed the expectations of both amateur and professional golfers. When the U.S. Open returns to nearby Pinehurst Resort (for the fourth time) in June 2024, 250,000 visitors are expected in the area. Tickets are available for purchase. Ready to hit the greens? Make a reservation to play at these renowned courses anytime throughout the year:
- Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club
- Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club
- Southern Pines Golf Club
- Talamore Golf Resort
Where to Stay
The Jefferson Inn: What began as a boarding house in 1901 is now a local landmark. Known for its luxurious rooms with plush linens, rocking chairs on the front porch, and first-rate restaurant, this hotel is just half a block from the train station in Southern Pines’ historic downtown district.
Duncraig Manor & Gardens: At this 1928 English Tudor-style manor — originally built by the chairman of the Quaker Oaks Company — choose from eight room types, each with its own special flair. Be sure to pack a book or pick one off the shelf, and carve out some time to read and relax in the library. Or schedule a massage in the spa.
Tanglewood Farm: Located on a 10-acre horse farm less than a 10-minute drive from downtown, this is a far cry from your typical bed and breakfast experience. Each apartment has its own private entrance, living area, bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen. You can even travel with your horse and board it in their stables.
Explore More in Southern Pines
A Triangle couple explores the Sandhills for the first time — and shares their itinerary for a perfect spring getaway.
At R.Riveter in Southern Pines, each handbag represents a commitment to changing the lives of military families.
For two decades, diners have found a warm welcome at Ashten’s Restaurant & Pub.
This story was published on Nov 03, 2023