There’s a lot to see in this little town.
For generations, Raleigh travelers looked for the landmark courthouse in the circle on their way to Asheboro and points west. When a bypass was built around Pittsboro, locals feared the town would be forgotten. Not so. Chatham’s county seat is flourishing, with developers clamoring for a piece of the pie.
Less than an hour from Raleigh down US 64, Pittsboro’s quaint downtown is dotted with unique shops and eateries. Established in 1771, it retains that small town feel we love. Instead of just passing through on the way to somewhere else, we like to park the car and check things out on foot.
What better place to start than the famous courthouse, which garnered national attention a few years back when it was the scene of a lawsuit over a sex tape involving former U.S. Sen. John Edwards. As it happened, a fire nearly destroyed the building during that time, spawning all kinds of conspiracy theories … but we digress. Today, the Chatham Historical
Museum is housed in a small room on the first floor and worth a visit.
Next, take a stroll down Hillsboro Street, the main drag. Even if you don’t like to read, take a minute to soak in the mural of super-sized novels outside Circle City Books & Music. We recognized some old friends on the painted shelf.
When the hunger pangs set in, S&T’s Soda Shoppe is the ticket for an old-fashioned burger and cherry smash. (Chapel Hill alums will want to try the lasagna or Steve’s Gambler – you’ll think you’re back at the Rathskeller.) After lunch, get your ice cream to go and wander next door to the Woodwright’s School. It’s run by Roy Underhill, who you might have seen on his PBS series, “The Woodwright’s Shop.” Watch Roy and his students practice traditional woodworking and take a peek in The Tool Store upstairs.
Before you decide this town is nothing but pure Americana, check out French Connections and browse the antiques and imports straight from France and Africa. Or book a tour at Carolina Tiger Rescue (carolinatigerrescue.org) and look a wild cat in the eye.
With Jordan Lake and the Haw River in its back yard, it’s no wonder Pittsboro appeals to just about anyone who slows down long enough to soak in its charm.
Pittsboro Road House and General Store
39 West St.
Mon – Thurs:
11 a.m.–9 p.m.
Fri – Sat: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Sun: 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
In a converted car dealership that sits in the shadow of the courthouse, you’ll find the Pittsboro Road House and General Store, the town’s unofficial cultural center. Serving an eclectic menu of made-from-scratch dishes, the Road House caters to a variety of tastes. With live entertainment nearly every night, it’s a great place to stop for dinner or drinks. Don’t miss the fried green tomatoes.
Clyde’s Critter Crossing
137 Bynum Hill Road, Bynum
Folk art legend Clyde Jones lives five miles down the road in the tiny community of Bynum. Known for creating whimsical art with a stump and a chainsaw, Clyde’s critters have been on display in locales as far-flung as the Smithsonian Museum and on the Great Wall of China. Nearly every yard in Bynum has a critter, which can’t be bought – Jones prefers to give them away. His own yard is a treasure trove of his art and respectful visitors are welcome to poke around. There’s even a visitors’ book on the porch.
Carolina Brewery & Grill
120 Lowe’s Drive, Suite 100
Mon – Thurs: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Fri: 11 a.m. – midnight
Sat: 10 a.m.-midnight
Sun: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
With in-house brewmaster Jon Connolly on deck, this locally-owned gem has won national recognition for its craft beers. For a behind-the-scenes look and a complimentary tasting, take one of the free tours offered every Saturday at 2 p.m.