Less than a two-hour drive from Charlotte, Pinehurst is a quick, stress-free day trip. It welcomed the 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open championships in back-to-back weeks this past June, and even when the big events aren't in town, this destination continues to impress golf lovers around the globe. But the quaint village, with a rich history dating back to 1895, is about much more than the sport. Here’s where to start to enjoy a day in the North Carolina Sandhills.
Touted as one of the best breakfasts in golf by Golfweek, you won’t want to miss a chance to try the breakfast buffet at the Carolina Dining Room at the historic Carolina Hotel. Fuel up on made-to-order omelets, fresh fruit and lots of Southern seasonal favorites. A nice touch: Live piano serenades you while you eat. The dress code here is resort-casual, so if you’re looking for something a little less formal, visit the Carolina Coffee Shop, just off the lobby, for a quick sandwich or pastry and cup of coffee to get you going. 80 Carolina Vista Drive
While you’re in this storied building, be sure to walk the halls and soak in decades of local golf history. The hall cabinets are filled with memorabilia—old hickory-shafted golf clubs and pictures of Annie Oakley (she moved to Pinehurst in 1916 to manage the Gun Club). Check out the historic photos of the property and golf legends who have played at Pinehurst.
On Azalea Road, visit the Sandhills Woman’s Exchange (seasonal), housed in a tiny log cabin that was built in 1800. Handcrafts, gifts and baked goods line the shelves in several rooms. While there, ask about the large, now-filled-in holes left over from pre-electricity days when light in the cabin was hard to come by, so pine sticks were placed in the logs and burned for light. The small lunch room here serves chili, soup, chicken salad sandwiches and homemade pies. Sept.-May, Tue-Sat, 10 am-3 pm; lunch, 11:30 am-2 pm; 15 Azalea Road, 910.295.4677
If you’re in Pinehurst during the off-season and missed lunch at the Woman’s Exchange, there are plenty of other great options. Take a quick tour of the The Holly Inn, Pinehurst’s first hotel dating back to back to 1895 when guests paid $3 per night, then sit down to a heaping salad, juicy burger or fish and chips at the Tavern.
Across the street from the Holly Inn, seek out Audrey Moriatry, the executive director of the Tufts Archives, housed in Given Memorial Library. This library/historical society, started in 1964, houses anything about Pinehurst’s history you would ever need to know, including the life story of James Walker Tufts who founded the village and renowned golf architect Donald James Ross. Ask about the hundreds of pin flags adorning the archives room. Love walking tours? Be sure to pick up a guide to the historic village while you’re here. Free and open to the public.
Treat yourself to a soothing spa treatment at The Spa at Pinehurst. Try a signature massage, including pine-needle brushing and a combination of Swedish and deep-tissue techniques or go for the seawater-pearl facial.
Score a keepsake by perusing Pinehurst’s many shops, including Old Sport & Gallery. Since you could get lost in all of the art here, seek out owner Tom Stewart or his wife, Ilana, a native of Russia (the shop also features Santas and other Russian carvings) to help you navigate the impressive collection of artwork autographed by artists, celebrities and golfing’s best.