Get Up & Go

It’s time to pack up the car and hit the road — even if only for the day. You don’t have to drive far to uncover an array of activities in these day-trip towns. From good food to exploring nature to uncovering offbeat adventures, there’s a little something for the whole family nearby!



Recognized by Forbes as one of America’s Prettiest Towns, Edenton doesn’t disappoint if you’re looking for natural beauty and historic haunts. The Historic Edenton Visitor Center at 108 N. Broad St. is a great place to start your journey. From here you can plan a guided walking tour or trolley tour of the town’s historic spots.

“Downtown is the heart of our community and our Main Street,” said Nancy Nicholls with the Chowan County Tourism Development Authority. “Broad Street leads down to the waterfront with beautiful historic buildings, shops and outstanding architecture.”

There are historical gems in this town that history and architecture buffs shouldn’t miss: The Barker House, the 1758 Cupola House, the 1767 Chowan County Courthouse, and the soon-to-open 1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse on Edenton Bay.

From the visitors’ center, you can also take in an exhibit about Harriet Jacobs, an integral part of the Maritime Underground Railroad. A self-guided tour marks Jacobs’ time in Edenton and her description of her escape from Edenton by sea, one of  few written accounts of escaping from slavery.

Several stops offer options for lunch fare. If you’re in need of a warm-up, as some days can be chilly and windy on the bay, 309 Bistro has homemade vegetable soup, or mouth-watering specials like pan-fried red snapper with lobster cream sauce. If it’s a pretty day and you’re in the mood for something lighter, Nicholls recommends a picnic in the park at Edenton Harbor.

“A Westover Deli sandwich, chips and a drink on a beautiful day can certainly be tops,” she said.

Work off your lunch with an afternoon of kayaking on Edenton Bay, and Pembroke and Queen Anne Creeks. Edenton offers a variety of paddling trails and waterways for exploring. Whether it’s your first time in a kayak or you’re a seasoned veteran, there’s a route to explore. Town Harbor has canoes, kayaks and double kayaks for rent and can offer maps with recommended trails. This is also a chance to view the downtown waterfront from a different perspective.

The Edenton National Fish Hatchery offers a look into the preservation of America’s fishing traditions. The site is one of 80 federal hatcheries in the country and is operated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Admission is free.

Waterman’s Grill is a good stop for a local dinner before hitting the road back to the Triangle. Local favorites include crab cakes and cashew crusted tilapia. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a slice of chocolate chess pie or Southern pecan pie.

This is a great year to make a trip to Edenton: The town is celebrating the 300th anniversary of its founding, with events planned throughout the summer.


For the avid golfer, Pinehurst is the Mecca of golf. It was the first golf and resort community to earn a spot on the National Historic Landmark registry.

The village, founded by James Walker Tufts in 1895, was originally planned as a resort getaway for people ill with consumption (tuberculosis) to stay and recover.

When Tufts realized tuberculosis was highly contagious, he changed his plan to make it a recreational vacation destination. History notes that a local dairy farmer complained of vacationers hitting little white balls into his pasture and unsettling his cows, so Tufts built a nine-hole golf course to keep visitors away from the dairy herds. Today, this course is known as Pinehurst No. 1.

There’s much to do in the town for non-golfers, too. Claire Phillips, director of marketing for the Pinehurst/Southern Pines/Aberdeen Convention and Visitors Bureau describes the town as “quaint, walkable and safe, with New England-style architecture and Southern hospitality.”

A walk through the Village of Pinehurst is a great way to take in the atmosphere of the town.

“You can pretty much walk the village in an afternoon,” said Phillips. “The walking tour book from Tufts Archives is a good guide to historic homes.”

The Tufts Archives and Given Library house a mini-museum about the history of the Village of Pinehurst. The walking tour takes about 30 minutes, and features more than 20 points of interest, cottages and buildings that were an integral part of the original village.

To take in more of the elaborate landscaping that sets Pinehurst apart, visit the Village Arboretum, a 33-acre facility with an open lawn area, gardens and 3 miles of walking trails.

An afternoon of golf on one of Pinehurst’s eight golf courses is a perfect treat for any golf aficionado. If you’re short on time, the Given Library has a sand putting green where you can squeeze in a quick practice of your short game. If golf isn’t your thing, check out the Pinehurst Harness Track, a 111-acre equestrian facility. You can watch any number of equestrian events, from harness racing to polo to jumping shows.



“Hillsborough is unique in that it has a small-town feel with big-town activity,” said Sarah DeGennaro, executive director of the Alliance for Historic Hillsborough. “It doesn’t have just one can’t-miss stop. Whether you are interested in shopping, dining, art, music or history, you will find it here.”

Start your day off with a visit to Ayr Mount, an 1815 Federal-style plantation house that is part of the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust. The deceptively simple exterior of the house gives way to an elaborate and impressive interior, and 265 acres to explore. Take a leisurely stroll along the mile-long Poet’s Walk, a trail that meanders through the property, passing by the banks of the Eno River, the Kirkland family cemetery and the Indian Trading Path.

From there, change speeds and seize the opportunity to stand where racing greats like Richard Petty and Junior Johnson once trod, when you head to the Occoneechee Speedway Trail.

The 3-mile walking trail winds along the banks of the Eno River and lands you at the site of the only surviving dirt speedway from NASCAR’s inaugural 1949 season. The grandstand and mile-long oval track are still visible.

Numerous restaurants offer a filling lunch in Hillsborough. DeGennaro says Saratoga Grill, Gulf Rim Cafe, Radius Pizza, Bandidos, The Wooden Nickel and Hillsborough BBQ are all local favorites.

Enjoy a mid-afternoon pick-me-up with a trip to Maple View Farm for a scoop of fresh churned ice cream. You’ll find more than 20 different flavors including  staples like vanilla and mint chocolate chip, and seasonal varieties like sweet tea and strawberry shortcake. Eat your ice cream on the front porch and enjoy the views as you look out over the Hillsborough countryside and the herd at Maple View Farm.

With renewed energy, it’s time to explore downtown.

“Any visitor to Hillsborough should be sure to explore Hillsborough’s historic district and downtown,” said DeGennaro. Start out at the Burwell School Historic Site, the original home of the Burwell family and the landmark school for girls the family founded. The house and grounds are now a historical site that preserves the Civil War era of Hillsborough.

DeGennaro recommends Nash Street for a shopping fix.

“There are many unique shops and wonderful restaurants located along South Nash Street,” she said.

Wrap up the day with a gourmet dinner at Panciuto. You can savor everything from crispy fried pigs ears to a pan-seared ribeye with fried oysters, to goat cheese tortelloni. Panciuto boasts 90 percent of its ingredients sourced from North Carolina farms.


Having recently been named Southern Living’s Tastiest Town in the South, it might be tough to pull yourself away from Durham’s delicious dining, but rest assured, there are plenty of non-culinary activities to fill your day.

As the fourth largest city in the state, Durham provides fun and entertainment for everyone.

“Durham is a very creative, entrepreneurial community. That manifests itself in many ways,” said Shelly Green, president and CEO of the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau. “You’ll pick up on its diversity right away, but also the fact that it is a very inclusive community.”

Green suggests starting your trip by exploring downtown.

“In a relatively compact area, you’ll be exposed to great dining, performing arts, nightlife, parks and shops, all in a very walkable area,” she said.

Check out boutique stores and specialty shops in the Brightleaf Square and Ninth Street shopping districts.

Exercise your right brain by spending an hour or two at The Scrap Exchange, a creative center where you can explore your artistic side making art out of recycled materials. In the Make-and-Take Room, budding artists can create a masterpiece using any materials in the room and take their project home.

Grab a craft beer and get educated on the art of brewing at one of Durham’s three microbreweries. Triangle Brewing Company, Fullsteam, and Bull City Burger and Brewery each offer tours of their facilities and behind-the-scenes looks at how these local brews are made.

In the afternoon, spend a little time exploring West Point on the Eno, a 404-acre historic park just north of downtown. There’s plenty to do for the whole family — trails for hiking, a reconstructed grist mill, the McCown-Mangum historic home and the Hugh Mangum Museum of Photography.

The Duke Lemur Center is also fun for young and old alike. Pre-arranged tours offer a chance to get up close with more than 10 species of lemurs at the research facility, which studies the behavior and physiology of these endangered primates in their natural habitat.

Visitors can chose from a variety of programs within the center and explore all facets of lemur life, such as touring the facility behind the scenes, learning what it’s like to be a lemur keeper, and even painting with the lemurs.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite for dinner, head back downtown to the Ninth Street area for fine dining. The many acclaimed restaurants here accommodate almost any culinary taste. Vin Rouge, Parizade and Watts Grocery are just a few of the gourmet eateries locals recommend.

If you want to extend your day, there’s plenty of nightlife in Durham. Catch a Bulls game at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, check out a performance at the Durham Performing Arts Center or see a show at the Carolina Theatre.

And if you just can’t get enough of the good eats, Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours can arrange a behind-the-scenes guided tasting tour of Durham’s celebrated food scene.

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