In the heart of North Carolina in Pittsboro and environs, there are wineries, historical sites, artist’s galleries and fabulous restaurants, not to mention Chapel Hill, where the University of North Carolina is revered as one of the best universities in the world.
Reservations are important anywhere, because there’s so much going on year round! Despite its proximity to a university town, Pittsboro is a refreshing change of pace. If you plan carefully, you can enjoy lovely rolling countryside, quirky and elegant shops and galleries, world-class food and events from a major university – all in one long, lovely getaway. Plan a visit, soon.
At 458 West bed and breakfast, guests enjoy peaceful and welcoming room accommodations in a recently renovated home with a wrap-around porch that overlooks pecan trees. It’s within walking distance of the downtown district.
Rosemary House Bed and Breakfast is a colonial revival home in the heart of Pittsboro. It features five guest rooms with private baths, telephones, cable TV, ceiling fans, free wireless, fireplaces and two-person whirlpools, as well as a full gourmet breakfast.
Small B&B Café is another friendly option with three beautiful and very unexpected rooms that are child friendly and pet friendly. The guest suite is large and spacious for families, extended stays, or those who just like to spread out. The other two rooms are creative, fun spaces for those who like to stay in unique surroundings.
The Fearrington House Inn, is a member of Relais & Chateaux and regularly voted one of America’s top small hotels. This destination is a perfect venue for lovers of good food, fine wine and exceptional service. The village is amazing, the spa relaxing, and the restaurant spectacular. For one small sample of the cuisine, take a look at a recent recipe they shared with CarolinaLiving.com. One reviewer calls it “beautiful, bucolic and beguiling.” The restaurant is AAA, Five Diamond and with good reason. It is a unique experience and a lovely setting.
Want more ideas? Visit the Heart of NC Bed & Breakfast Trail and discover more romantic inns.
All restaurants are located in Pittsboro unless noted otherwise.
The area around Pittsboro and Chapel Hill are known for innovative and award-winning cuisine, and many restaurants embrace the concept of sourcing locally, whenever possible. You’ll have choices, so explore your options before you go.
Perhaps the best place to begin is with the Fearrington House restaurant. Executive Chef Colin Bedford has an international reputation and is committed to exceptional farm-to-fork cuisine. It’s also the only AAA five Diamond restaurant in the United States to be green certified, and, is ranked in the top 50 restaurants in the United States based on more than two million reviews from Open Table.
The menu is constantly changing, however a recent look at their offerings found sorghum glazed duck breast, rosemary cured venison, smoked sweetbreads, skate and a variety of all kinds of meats with complementary flavors and textures. It’s not a low-cost meal, but for most people, the money is very well spent.
Another highly-rated option is the Small B&B Café an affordable breakfast and lunch cafe focused on farm to table practices. There’s always a wild card or two on the menu, and locals recommend taking the chance on whatever they feel like creating.
Oakleaf Restaurant is another excellent choice, for brunch and dinner. This is not a vegetarian restaurant, however, there are appealing (and intriguing) selections which would satisfy the most discerning vegie eater. Meats are prepared with care, and the desserts, such as Souffled Lemon Buttermilk Pudding, with Ginger-Cranberry Compote, call my name. They work hard to support local farmers and to serve fresh, sustainably harvested seafood. Children are welcomed.
In nearby Chapel Hill, the Mediterranean Deli menu is a fascinating change of pace. Currently rated #1 on Trip Advisor, the deli has been called cavernous, but there is outdoor seating available, and pockets of areas for dining. Order your food at the counter. They will find you and direct you to the Mediterranean buffet, which comes with your meal. All the usual suspects are here, from fabulous hummus, to homemade (and if desired, gluten free) pita bread, lamb, chicken and vegetarian selections. An added plus: It’s on Franklin Street in downtown, so you’ll have the added bonus of people watching if you snag and outdoor table.
Lantern Restaurant, also in Chapel Hill, is another great find for dinner. This is not your meat and potatoes kind of restaurant, with linens and elegant features. It does beckon to those with a creative tilt in their food preferences. I was intrigued by their appetizers, including Tom yum soup - wild NC shrimp, spicy broth, oyster mushrooms, fresh lime leaf, and galangal. Their entrees are clearly Asian, but frequently sourced in North Carolina – a nice mix. And try one of their exotic cocktails. Dark + Stormy includes local Blenheim ginger ale with Gosling’s Spiced rum – not for flavor wimps.
There are lots more – this area appreciates good food and local farmers cater to the restaurants. Ethnic choices abound, as well as southern diners, bakeries, and fine dining establishments. But there’s more to life than sleeping and eating, so let’s explore our options, here.
What to Do
Don’t miss two much loved attractions – Carolina Tiger Rescue and Fearrington Village.
Carolina Tiger Rescue is a 501(c)3 nonprofit wildcat sanctuary, whose mission is saving and protecting wildcats in captivity and in the wild. Carolina Tiger Rescue pursues its mission by providing lifelong homes to wildcats in need of rescue and educating the public about what threatens these animals: in the wild, in the pet trade, and in the entertainment industry. Visitors learn about the issues affecting wildcats through guided tours and field trips. The cats have large habitats and the tour guides are knowledgeable and passionate about the rescues. Order tickets ahead of time and if you can order several weeks before, you may get a closer look at the facilities. Some visitors preferred private tours for their families.
Fearrington Village is the home of McIntyre’s Books – a much-loved independent bookstore with a staff that’s second to none. Surrounded by gardens in bloom, pastures containing the curious Belties cows – and parking right in front – McIntyre’s Books offers a singularly pleasant book buying experience.
Even if you are passionate about your Kindle or Nook, this is the kind of shop which draws you in and offers gentle food for thought, with great ideas for gifts as well.
Visit the l Heart of N.C. Wine Trail with five trail wineries. You may meet the owners and you will enjoy the variety and selection of award-winning wines, including classic wines, off-dry, sweeter, mead-honey wine, muscadine, and fruit wine.
Wineries on the Heart of North Carolina Wine Trail include: Cloer Family Vineyards, Horizon Cellars Winery, SilkHope Winery, Starrlight Mead, and Vineyards At Southpoint Winery. All are close with easy access.
Suppose your tastes run more toward brewskies. They’ve got that, too.Carolina Brewery & Grill is a restaurant, gathering place, and on Saturdays at 5pm, offers free tours and weekly tastings. Their award-winning beers are loved in the area and beyond. Casual fun, for sure.
Chapel Hill and Franklin Street offer another option for gathering local flavor. Historic Franklin Street is considered the center of social life for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is home to coffee shops, restaurants, museums, bookshops, music stores and bars. The street is known for its festivities, nightlife, and culture. Here, you’ll find small music venues, like the Cat's Cradle and the Carrboro Arts Center, as well as Chapel Hill's Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, and the Ackland Art Museum.
Where to Shop
You’ve enjoyed one amazing animal rescue site, an old-time village with top-rated bookstore and the street life surrounding a great university. Perhaps you’ve visited a museum or two and enjoyed your favorite libation along the heart of N.C. wine trail, or inside the Carolina Brewery. You may have gone hiking, played golf at one of the area courses, or indulged in a bit of bird-watching at nearby Jordan Lake State Recreation area. Perhaps you’ve visited the recently re-opened Chatham County Courthouse Museum, open Wednesdays through Fridays, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (For special tours, call the Museum office at 919.869.4596.) But you’re not finished, yet.
Don’t leave without taking time to shop in several of the unique galleries and boutiques. Back in Pittsboro, the downtown area is historic and very walkable. Many shops will speak to you, but make sure to visit The Joyful Jewel filled with local art in a wide variety of media, styles, and prices. Another fine destination is Beggars and Choosers Antiques, Red Gate Music & Antiques, and French Connections, offering an eclectic variety of French home decor; African baskets, art, and crafts; and a large selection of French and African fabrics.
Cooper Mays Pottery features a Mother-Son team of artists who showcase their talents in a variety of lovely one-of-a-kind pieces that are both useful and collectible. In local stores, you’ll also find hand beaded jewelry, pottery thrown from local clay, trendy clothing, unique secondhand finds, old-fashioned toys, and more.
There are more treasures to be found, but part of the fun is in the search. Start yours at www.visitpittsboro.com. And be sure to ask about special events. This area is filled with creatives, young professionals, and retirees who discovered its abundant charms years ago. Know that when you go, you’ll leave refreshed, restored, wined and dined, and happy you chose this very unique road trip.
The CVB offers a variety of online ways to stay connected, including:
An interactive online Visitor BrochureTwitter
Brand page on Foursquare
Discover Chatham Blog