Travel guide: 9 things to do in Pinehurst — NC’s most underrated Christmas town

Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

When people think of Christmas towns in North Carolina, places like McAdenville (aka “Christmas Town USA”) and Asheville (hello, Biltmore) probably come to mind. But Pinehurst should get a look, too.

In addition to being a world-famous golfing destination, Pinehurst and its neighbor Southern Pines are two quaint and historic villages that come alive during the holiday season.

My family’s been going to Pinehurst for the holidays for years — my mom reminds me that my first trip was when I was five months old. So this year, I wanted to round up a list of 9 things to do in this most underrated Christmas town.

Everything from the columns in the hallway to the front lawn will be decked out in garland or string lights. But the lobby of this 120-year-old hotel is the real centerpiece. There’s a large tree to greet guests and a gingerbread house replica of the hotel that goes on display sometime around Thanksgiving.

Of note: The hotel will be closed this year, from December 19, 2021 through January 5, 2022 for renovations.

Location: 80 Carolina Vista Dr.

Carolina Hotel Pinehurst

Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

Carolina Hotel Pinehurst

The halls are decked at the Carolina Hotel. Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

(2) Play a round of golf

Of course, Pinehurst is a true golfer’s paradise. All of the greats from Jack Nicklaus to Payne Stewart to Tiger Woods to Phil Mickelson have played the iconic No. 2 course. But in recent years, the No. 4 course has received national attention following a renovation. And if you’re not up for 18 holes, golfers of all skill levels can have a blast on the nine-hole par-3 course called “The Cradle,” a nod to the old saying that Pinehurst is the “Cradle of American Golf.”

Details: There are two primary golfing packages available, and more information can be found here.

Pinehurst Golfing

This statue of Payne Stewart overlooks the 18th green of the iconic Pinehurst No. 2. Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

Walk five minutes from the Carolina Hotel and you’ll find shops and restaurants among historic village homes and cottages.

Location: Along Chinquapin Rd., Market Square and Cherokee Rd.

Village Shops at Pinehurst

Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

The menu has a variety of American fare (burgers and sandwiches), but the pulled pork nachos are a must-try. They’re made with wonton chips, barbecue, and topped with queso, lettuce, tomato and jalapeño.

Location/hours: 40 Chinquapin Rd. Open daily from 11am to 10pm.

Other restaurants in the area to check out:

Drum & Quill Public House

Pulled pork nachos from Drum & Quill. Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

More than 30 small businesses and vendors will bring a variety of homemade or unique gifts just in time for the holidays.

Details: Nov. 27, 2021, from 8am to 2pm

Location: Fair Barn (200 Beulah Hill Rd.)

This family-friendly celebration has live music, food and drink vendors, and photo ops with Santa leading up to the tree lighting ceremony, which starts at 6:30pm.

Details: Dec. 3, 2021 from 5-7:30pm

Cost: Free and open to the public

Location: James W. Tufts Memorial Park (1 Village Green Rd.)

Pinehurst Christmas Tree Lighting

Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

(7) Go shopping in Southern Pines

Drive 10 minutes from Pinehurst into the neighboring village of Southern Pines, its charming neighbor just five miles down the road. You’ll find boutiques, galleries, home furnishing stores and restaurants among other attractions in the village.

Location: Along NW Broad St.

Shops at Southern Pines

Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

Southern Pines

DAHR has a beautiful curation of home decor and furniture. Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

(8) Check out some of the local restaurants

Southern Pines has dozens of food options ranging from ice cream and crepes to lobster rolls and sushi.

A few spots that caught my eye were:

Southern Pines Ice Cream Parlor

Salted caramel bananas foster ice cream. Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

This annual parade features local high school and college bands, dance teams and beautifully decorated floats created by local organizations. The parade is capped with a visit from Santa Claus.

Details: Dec. 4, from 11am to 1pm on the main stretch of NW Broad Street.

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