Pinehurst and Southern Pines
Distance from Charlotte: 91 miles
These quaint towns in the Sandhills of North Carolina may be known as a vacation destination, but it's possible to enjoy their adorable shops and cafés in a single day. With a traffic-free drive and plenty of activity options (spa day anyone?) Pinehurst and Southern Pines are spots where you'll want to arrive early and stay late.
Unwind after a round of golf or morning shopping with one of the more than fifty services available at The Spa at Pinehurst, a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star spa. After your magnolia luxury facial ($110 for 50 minutes) or golfer's massage ($130 for 55 minutes), in which Pinehurst's own branded spa line of aromatherapy massage oils are used, relax by the indoor pool in your own plush robe or detox in the eucalyptus steam room. 80 Carolina Vista Dr., Pinehurst, 910-235-8507
Spend some time in the comfy tasting room at Green Gate Olive Oils sampling the more than forty olive oils (try the
garlic-infused or black truffle) and flavored and balsamic vinegars (the cinnamon-pear pairs well drizzled over fresh fruit) on tap. The oils and vinegars are stored in stainless steel containers called fustis, imported from Italy, to preserve their delicate flavors so what you're tasting is fresh and downright delicious. Have them bottle up your favorites to bring home. 105 Cherokee Rd., Pinehurst, 910-986-0880, greengateoliveoils.com
One of the most renowned courses in the world, Pinehurst No. 2 — said to be the fairest test of championship golf — was the site of the men's U.S. Open in 1999 and 2005. This past year the course — one of eight at Pinehurst Resort — underwent a yearlong, $2.5 million renovation to revert the course back to the original Donald Ross design. To play the course, though, plan on making your tee time weeks in advance (even longer if during the prime months of spring and fall) and shelling out $410 per round. 800-487-4653, Pinehurst
The tagline for Belli Bambini says it all: A boutique for children with exquisite taste. After all, this Southern Pines storefront is chockfull of Lilly Pulitzer wear, MOGO charm necklaces, Tea Collection for boys and girls, and TOMS shoes for kids. And moms, don't feel left out: pick up a little something for yourself like a tunic by Mud Pie before stocking up on hair bows, sticker books, and, of course, clothing for your kiddies. 113 NW Broad St., Southern Pines, 910-692-6926
BEST FACE FORWARD
Makeup reigns supreme in Beaute Apothecarie (it's located inside Southern Pines Paper Co.). The edited list of lines includes Becca, Natura Bisse, Jane Iredale, as well as harder-to-find products by Lulu Organics and Tocca Beauty. Makeup goods that were once only available at Barney's and Saks are now at your fingertips in this adorable shop. 168 NW Broad St., Southern Pines, 910-695-7277
RISE AND DINE
Sure, you can make a reservation for dinner at the resort's main restaurant, but an even better call is to reserve a table at The Carolina Room for breakfast. Made-to-order Belgian waffles, omelets, and French toast pair perfectly with cheese grits, biscuits and gravy, and pork, sausage, and bacon. Enjoy seconds and a refill on your coffee while listening to the sounds of the dining room's piano player before heading out for golf, the spa, or shopping. 80 Carolina Vista Dr., Pinehurst, 910-235-8507
AND FOR THE GENTLEMAN?
It may appear as though Pinehurst and Southern Pines cater to a female clientele what with the storefronts boasting Vera Bradley, Southern Proper, and Crane & Co. goods. But Gentleman's Corner, which is best described as Palm Beach meets the Hamptons, stocks golf and casual attire and shoes by Peter Millar as well as Robert Talbott neckwear (check out the bowtie collection!). Pinehurst Village, Pinehurst, 910-295-2011