Distance from Charlotte: 96 miles


Seagrove: Courtesy

As you drive through this tiny town's overgrown cow pastures and turn-of-the-century barns, you might get the sense that time here stopped sometime around 1935. Seagrove, with a triple-digit population spread across a twenty-mile radius, is one of the only remaining potter communities in America — a local tradition that's as timeless as its rural scenery. The town's pottery shops range from sophisticated galleries that display elegant serving dishes on spot-lit shelves, to rustic, off-road studios where wheel, kiln, and merchandise are all in one room.
To navigate, start your visit at the N.C. Pottery Center (233 East Ave., 336-873-8430). The permanent history exhibit walks visitors through the earliest Cherokee pottery methods, to Depression-era ceramics shops, to today's contemporary studios, exploring how the potters' methods have changed over the generations. In the gift shop, lined with coffee-table books, pick up a "Potters of Seagrove" map and guide. It has a detailed map of every studio and potter in the area—a guide you'll need on Seagrove's winding backroads.

From the N.C. Pottery Center, head to Turn and Burn Pottery (124 East Ave., 336-873-7381), where a former Seagrove mayor and his wife specialize in horsehair ceramics — a technique where potters drape hair from a horse's tail onto a white glazed pot, roasting it to a marble-looking finish. At Great White Oak Gallery (437 N. Broad St., 336-873-8066), just across the street from the N.C. Pottery Center (you'll spot the white house with green rocking chairs on the front porch), husbandand-wife owners Benjamin and Bonnie Burns line their shelves with red glazed bowls, as well as hand-painted mugs, plates, and vases.

Route 705 (the "Pottery Highway") has the highest number of studios, making it an easy drive for finding top-notch shops. You can walk to one of the oldest studios in the area, Ben Owen Pottery (2199 S. NC Highway 705, 910-464-2261), from the Westmoore Family Restaurant (2172 S. NC Highway 705, 910-464-5222) — a favorite local diner known for a bloomin' onion that drives even the daintiest eaters to lick their fingers.

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