Sandhills Summer Bucket List

07 Jun 2020

Summer's here and after the long spring sequester, it's finally time to venture out, albeit with caution, and get social again. So, what's on your summer bucket list? The beach and distant shores may be calling, but there's no need to go far for fun and adventure. Sandhills residents and guests can live their best summer yet locally, enjoying eclectic entertainment and keeping tourism capital at home. Here are some great choices to add to your checklist.

Play Golf — Home to one of the highest concentrations of golf courses in the nation, the Sandhills touts numerous world-renowned courses in and around the village of Pinehurst, the Home of American Golf™. Trending now is The Cradle, a 9-hole par-3 short course at the Pinehurst Resort with free replays and piped-in rock music to help players with their "swing." Late summer brings both the U.S. Kids and U.S. Teens World Golf Championships tournaments to town, with a can't miss parade of nations that runs through downtown Pinehurst mid-event.

Raise a Glass — No matter your favorite beverage, the Sandhills can tame your summer thirst. For locally made beer, wine and cider, sip and savor from any of the four microbreweries in Southern Pines and Pinehurst, Black Rock Winery in Carthage, or James Creek Cider House of Cameron. For something a little harder, The North & South Bar inside The Manor at Pinehurst Resort boasts bourbon's best with in-house creations and traditional selections. Be sure to partake of the Pinehurst-specific Woodford Reserve blend barreled in Kentucky this spring. Cozy up with coffee or tea in any number of local shops and bistros, too.

Beat the Heat — Take to the water to combat the summer temps on nearby Aberdeen Lake, Ray's Mills Park pond in Aberdeen or Reservoir Lake in Southern Pines, just to name a few places to fish, kayak, canoe or paddleboard. Swimming is not allowed at these locations, but you can take a dip at the public pools at Southern Pines Pool Park and Foxfire Village. Private pool memberships are available at most golf and tennis resorts. Stomp up some good, wet fun at the Sandhills' splash pads, found in Rassie Wicker Park in Pinehurst, Southern Pines Pool Park and Hillcrest Park in Carthage.

Traverse a Trail — Not into water? Maybe a nice jaunt in the shade is your idea of a summer cooldown. Hike it on the more than 4 miles of canopied trails at Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve or hoof it at the 3,500-acre Walthour-Moss Foundation, featuring numerous trails and open riding areas for equestrians. Walkers are welcome, too. Add wheels for a biking excursion on the 12-plus miles of greenway trails at Reservoir Lake or flower power up your walk at the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens' 27 acres of themed grounds.

Catch a Beat — Outdoor live music and food trucks on a Friday night? After a long week of adulting and hard season of social distancing, yes, please. Mark your calendars for First Fridays at Sunrise Theater for beer on tap from Southern Pines Brewing Company, free outdoor concerts and rotating food trucks all summer. Other hot spots include The Rooster's Wife in Aberdeen, The Jefferson Inn patio in Southern Pines, and Maness Pottery & Music Barn in Carthage.

Read a Book — Who doesn’t need to have a getaway right now, and if real-life doesn’t rise to the occasion, try a good book instead. Your summer reading list can be filled with the best beach books, no sand required. Try fiction, romance or fantasy from well-known writers, inspiring memoirs or a helpful how-to for your DIY dreams. Consult the book gurus from Goodreads, LibraryThing, Bookish, Shelfari or the Oprah Book Club list for hot summer titles.

Take an Art Trail — Neighboring Lee County highlights municipal art with its celebrated Public Art Trail of 10 in downtown Sanford and Jonesboro. Likewise, the Carthage Mural Trail shares larger-than-life wall scapes of town history and heritage. North Carolina Highway 705, or Pottery Highway, has show-stopping ceramic art throughout Eagle Springs, Robbins and of course, Seagrove. From a casual Wine and Design or Hammer and Stain art encounter to a fine art experience at the Campbell House or Broadhurst Art Gallery, cultural connections abound.

Shop Local — After months of online viewing and ordering, summer's the time to hit the streets of the Sandhills' quaint towns and villages to shop and eat your way through friendly shops, boutiques and restaurants. Can't decide where to go or start? Try a local culinary or historical walking tour for a fresh take on the business bounty of Moore County, or enjoy a sidewalk stroll past bakeries and bookstores, dress shops and galleries. See something you like? Step inside! Social distancing has become a new skill among proprietors!

Eat Fresh — Local farms keep dining choices fresh in Moore County, whether the food is prepared in your favorite local restaurant or at home. Presenting producers from within a 50-mile radius, the Moore County Farmers Market Association includes Southern Pines sites downtown and at the Armory Sports Complex, as well at the FirstHealth Fitness Center in Pinehurst. Sandhills Farm to Table Cooperative is a multi-farm, subscription-based purveyor.

Celebrate the Sandhills — Round out your bucket list with a trip to a summer Sandhills festival. Southern Pines hosts the July SummerFest Street Fair and the August Fine Arts Festival. Candor sweetens the pot with the North Carolina Peach Festival in July, while Robbins resounds the county's agricultural roots with the August Farmer's Day festival. And come July 4th, with more town celebrations in tow, here's to fun, fireworks and the freedom to check off bucket lists, one event at a time.

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