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Looking for some easy drives from Raleigh as the days warm up? Take a road trip to see and do things differently, safely. Here are four of our favorite quick escapes, all within an hour’s drive of the City of Oaks.
The Mills and the Falls
Rocky Mount, just an hour northeast of Raleigh, makes for the perfect escape; its small-town charm, coupled with its growing food and beer scene, is utterly delightful.
EAT AND DRINK
Lou Reda’s An American Table
This modern American eatery serves up a variety of delicious staples, including ribeye, brisket burgers, mac and cheese and grilled salmon, as well as a weekly roundup of dishes exploring the cuisines of various regions across the country. 3646 Sunset Ave., #122; louredas.com
Anne’s Donuts and Bakery
Stop in for a hot, fresh donut or pastry. Donuts are baked in-house daily and after 65 years in business, Anne’s old-fashioned donuts will still make your mouth water with flavors like apple, strawberry-filled, Bavarian cream and classic chocolate glazed. Bring home some cookies, cupcakes, danishes or cinnamon rolls to satisfy your sweet tooth long after you’ve left. 2714 Sunset Ave.; annesdonutsandbakery.com
HopFly Brewing Company
One of the many breweries located in Rocky Mount Mills, HopFly opens its tasting room Friday through Sunday offering curbside pickup. Visitors can enjoy some of HopFly’s signature brews, crafted with only the finest ingredients, from jalapeños to amarillo to biscuit malt. 147 Falls Rd., #121; hopflybrewing.com
Morning Addiction Coffee House
Locally owned and operated, the MACH lives up to its name as one of the only neighborhood coffee shops in Rocky Mount for both locals and tourists to get their caffeine fix. The brightly decorated shop offers freshly roasted Italian brews, along with all the classic espresso drinks—including flavored cappuccinos and frozen lattes—as well as fruit smoothies. 2542 Hunter Hill Rd.; facebook.com/morningaddictioncoffeehouse
Tar River Trail and Waterways
The Tar River offers plenty of outdoor activities, including a 4-mile biking and walking path, three parks and the Tar River falls. The waterway provides 10 canoe and kayak access locations to explore more than 20 miles of Rocky Mount through gentle waters. Pack your sunscreen and a picnic for a day of sightseeing and adventure. rockymountnc.gov/departments___services/parks___recreation/trails
With a 1920 Herschell-Spillman “County Fair” style carousel, miniature Model G-16 train, playground and spray park, Rocky Mount’s main park feels more like a fair than anything else. The 25-acre outdoor area features concession stands, recreational courts and fields, picnic shelters and a disc golf course. rockymountnc.gov/departments___services/parks___recreation/parks/sunset_park
There’s A Lot To See in this Little Town
Less than an hour from Raleigh down US 64, Pittsboro’s quaint downtown is dotted with unique shops and eateries.
EAT AND DRINK
Pittsboro Road House and General Store
In a converted car dealership that sits in the shadow of the courthouse—which garnered national attention back when it was the scene of a lawsuit over a sex tape involving former U.S. Sen. John Edwards—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. Don’t miss the fried green tomatoes. 39 West St.; pittsbororoadhouse.com
S&T’s Soda Shoppe
S&T’s Soda Shoppe is the ticket for an old-fashioned burger and cherry smash. UNC Chapel Hill alums will want to try the lasagna or Steve’s Gambler – you’ll think you’re back at the Rathskeller. 85 Hillsboro St.; sandtsodashoppe.com
Clyde’s Critter Crossing
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 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. 137 Bynum Hill Road, Bynum; no phone, e-mail or set hours
Chatham County First Responders Memorial
Next to the new Chatham County Justice Center, the centerpiece of the memorial is a 19-foot, 12,500-pound steel beam from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. The memorial honors all first responders who have given their lives, including those who died Sept. 11, 2001. The beam stands on end, tilted at 9 degrees, 11 minutes, pointing toward Ground Zero. 40 E. Chatham St.
Land of the Pines
In Pinehurst, a village in Moore County near the town of Southern Pines, no matter where you go, the namesake trees are always in view.
EAT AND DRINK
This beloved American eatery has become the centerpiece of the town’s growing food scene, with lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch menus that boast fine ingredients and seasonal produce. 2176 Midland Rd.; ironwoodpinehurst.com
Elliott’s on Linden
Specializing in farm-to-table fare, Elliott’s sources everything locally. Try the cornbread and country ham stuffed chicken breasts, pear and stilton salad and seared scallops with parsnip curry puree, tangerine beurre blanc and coriander dust. 905 Linden Rd.; elliotsonlinden.com
Pinehurst Brewing Co.
Occupying the historic 1895 Village steam plant, much of the original brick and steel was used in the restoration of the building and the signature smokestack proudly bears the brewery’s name. Try craft beers from head brewer Eric Mitchell, with seasonal brews added throughout the year. 300 Magnolia Rd.; pinehurstbrewing.com
Pine Scone Cafe
Classic cappuccinos, mochas and chai lattes, as well as bubble tea, smoothies and an Espresso Frappa—essentially a frappuccino—round out the drinks menu, while delicious baked scones give you the fuel you need. 905 Linden Rd.; pinesconecafe.com
Drum & Quill Public House
This traditional Irish watering hole has a neighborhood bar feel with a good drinks selection. The pub’s name derives from golf writer Bob Drum’s secret weapon, his quill, and it pays tribute to Pinehurst’s golf history prominence by honoring the Grand Slam. 40 Chinquapin Rd.; drumandquill.com
Sandhills Horticultural Gardens
Amid 27 acres of plant life across 10 different gardens, get lost in the Sir Walter Raleigh Garden’s holly maze, bring a picnic lunch to eat in the Fruit and Vegetable Garden, stop and smell the Rose Garden’s blooms and admire local artists’ sculptures throughout. sandhills.edu/horticultural-gardens
One of a Kind Gallery
One of a Kind Gallery features 24 local artists and their works, including paintings, wood sculptures, photographs, candles, pottery and more, displayed in a bright, three-room gallery. 90 Cherokee Rd.; oneofakindgalleryllc.com
Uwharrie National Forest
With the scenic Uwharrie, Yadkin and Pee Dee rivers, as well as the Uwharrie Mountains, the Uwharrie National Forest offers 1,600 miles of trails for hiking and bicycling within its 51,000 National Forest System acres. visitnc.com/listing/SfSU/uwharrie-national-forest
The approach to Saxapahaw is nearly as relaxing as the destination. West of Chapel Hill on a two-lane road sandwiched between farmland, civilization sneaks up on you.
Saxapahaw General Store
Saxapahaw General Store would be easy to miss if not for the gas tanks out front. But behind the doors of a nondescript exterior is a surprise that’s not so much a secret anymore. Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and a weekend brunch, the farm-to-table choices are spelled out on an expansive blackboard menu. For the burger aficionado, the selection is impressive. Regular customers from the Triad and the Triangle routinely stop in for lunch at “your local five-star gas station.” Alongside the fresh produce, they sell cigarettes and Little Debbie snack cakes. 1735 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Rd.; saxgenstore.com
Left Bank Butchery
On the way out of town, stop by Left Bank Butchery and stock up on Belgian Beer Sausage house-made from local beer and pork. The whole animal butchery and charcuterie isn’t just about meat: they also smoke fish. 1729 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Rd.; leftbankbutchery.com
Two and half years after he revolutionized the General Store, proprietor Jeff Barney helped launch The Eddy, now the place to be for a relaxing evening by the river. As is the practice in Saxapahaw, sustainable food is always the order of the day. 1715 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Rd.; theeddypub.com
Swap it out
On the sidewalk outside the General Store is the Saxapahaw Sharing Basket—actually several shelves of baskets that serve as an ongoing swap meet for neighbors. The rule is if you have it, share it, if you need it, take it. It’s all a part of the mission to grow community trust and nurture sustainability. 1735 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Rd.
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