It is the soul of a town that shapes its persona, and Pittsboro reminds us that a good friend with an infectious belly laugh can charm us every time. Its plain talk and easy smiles make us feel as if we’ve been pals for life. With a happy mix of artists and farmers, the Circle City has unexpected diversity for a small town. Where else are you likely to find both a tiger sanctuary and the host of an iconic woodworking show on PBS? Shop at one of the most epic two-story vintage stores in the Carolinas, or sample artisan brandy distilled in a copper Hoga. Whether it’s the honey in Angelina’s baklava, or the sheep’s milk ricotta gracing your gnocchi from Oakleaf, chances are it’s been sourced locally. We suggest you take a kayak down Haw River or chill on Jordan Lake and consider cultivating this friendship a little further.
Carolina Tiger Rescue Take a Twilight Tour and see the big cats at their most active. Sign up for one of their weekend public tours in advance on their website. They don’t allow walk-ins. But no worries, the time spent at Carolina Tiger Rescue is definitely a few hours you won’t mind planning ahead. 1940 Hanks Chapel Rd. (D)
Pittsboro Feed You don’t need a farm to appreciate Pittsboro Feed. One never knows when a galvanized tub might come in handy. Pick up some rubber boots to keep out of the muck, and get ready for some more baby chicks this spring. 1103 E. St. (S)
Pittsboro Pet Supply Pittsboro’s favorite feed store just opened this bright shiny pet supply across the way, so now you can bring even more love and comfort to your favorite furry (or non-furry–we don’t judge) companions. 27 Commerce Ct. (S)
Fair Game Beverage Co. We don’t know if it’s the strings of white lights, the cute micro-tasting bar complete with a few choice craft beers on tap, or the friendly “we’re all in this together” feel at Fair Game, but this is one of our favorite places to chillax. Fair Game Beverage Co. features NC grown and produced wine, cordials, brandy and spirits. Ferris, their port-style red wine, is aged in bourbon barrels, and honestly we could drink it all night. If your tastes run a bit sweeter, relax with a glass of Apple Wine Tipper (the Peach Tipper when in season) or their Scuppernong cordial. Two-Step, a Spanish-style aperitif, is their excellent dry white. But don’t leave without sampling their Apple Brandy and No’Lasses sorghum spirits. We are all about their newest release, The Flying Pepper, a Tobago pepper flavored vodka. Cheers. 220 Lorax Lane (E)
Abundance North Carolina reminds us “We have everything we need, right here at home.” Join Abundance in their mission to cultivate and celebrate community resilience–tour the eco-industrial park and learn about sustainable agriculture, attend a thought-provoking discussion forum, participate in a DIY sustainability workshop, or lay it down at one of their crazy fun events like Hot Potato! Ag Drag Bingo. Learn more about Abundance’s fine work and fruitful community collabs here. 220 Lorax Lane #5 (D)
Chatham Cider Works If you dig cider like we dig cider, look for Chatham Cider Works’ dry, unfiltered nectar of the gods at retailers around town. Fair Game Beverage has it on tap, as does Honeysuckle Tea Room (8871 Pickards Meadow Rd in Chapel Hill), to fill those growlers.
Piedmont Biofuels Hey did you know you can sign up for used cooking oil collection? Piedmont Biofuels recycles it to produce clean, renewable fuel. You will also be helping support important research, development and education about renewable energy. More info. here. 220 Lorax Lane #1 (D)
580 Craft Beer Yeah, this place is the bomb. Drop by to try one of their drafts while you ponder which of the 300 craft beers you want to explore next. Variety packs are discounted on Wednesdays. 354 East St. (S)
Country Farm & Home Learn about sustainable gardening with organic farm and garden supplies and know-how from Country Farm & Home. 203 S. Small St. (S)
Small B&B Cafe While Elvis may have left the building, he lives on behind the exuberant Small B&B Cafe. Their farm-sourced, delicious breakfast and lunch keeps the homey cafe humming with delighted diners. Seriously, we haven’t met one person in town that doesn’t sing Small Cafe’s praises. Besides the terrific food, the folk art scattered around the premises will remind you not to take yourself so seriously. Their very own Small Museum of Folk Art is in the works too; it will display more than 400 pieces and reside right on the property. Book one of their unique rooms or check out their popular brunch. 219 East St. (E)
Pittsboro Farmers Market runs April through November at Main Street Station on Thursdays from 3-6 p.m. Don’t worry, we know you need your farm fresh veggie fix now, so stop by Angelina’s Kitchen for local meat, veggies, and gourmet items every Thursday from 5-7 through April. 287 East St. (S)
Modern Life Deli and Drinks Just south of the circle, The Mod is the place to enjoy wood–fired Neapolitan pizza in PBO. Sit out front on the patio by the fire pit and nod to the passersby. They’ve got an interesting craft beer list which you can help build should you join their Craft Beer Society. No word on a secret handshake, but there are beer socials, t-shirts, and enviable swag involved. The Mod serves tasty sandwiches and crisp salads like the Mandarin & Pear Salad with candied almonds and Srirachi dressing. 46 Sanford Rd. (E)
If Swing is your thing, check out the NC Revelers Big Band sound Monday nights at the Pittsboro Roadhouse & General Store. Every first Monday, they take the “showroom” stage from 7-9:30. $5 cover. 39 West St. (D)
Screaming for Vintage carries a righteous selection of clothing and accessories, but pared down to the really prime picks. In addition, Screaming for Vintage has all the mid-century modern furniture, lighting, and accent pieces you love to pimp your pad right. 38 Hillsboro St. (S)
Oakmoss Attic We won’t tell if you decide to make this fetching “apothetique” (part vintage boutique, part apothecary) your mini respite from the world. Oakmoss carries organic herbs, essential oils, tinctures, and teas plus addicting natural skincare like Bohemian Beauty’s Lather & Polish. Owner Jenny has culled a sweet selection of vintage clothing, jewelry, and nomadic decor too. We are gaga over the shadow box lockets. One of the few stockists of L’Aromatica perfumes on this coast, Oakmoss Attic has what you need to enhance your natural allure.
The Joyful Jewel Breeze in and see what catches your eye. This retail gallery represents the work of 160 NC artists working in paint, wood, fiber, metal and glass. They carry a small selection of books by local authors and area musicians’ cds as well. 44-A Hillsboro St. (S)
New Horizons Trading Company is known for their killer footwear with brands like Fyre, Dankso, Keen and Merrell. Pick up some bright Roma rainboots and feel good knowing for every pair sold, Roma donates a pair to a child in need. Always stocked with clever cards and novelty gifts galore, New Horizons is the perfect place to score a present for that hard-to-buy-for friend, from Sasquatch boxers to a solar-powered waving Pope Francis. They’ve got gorgeous sweaters to get you stoked for sitting in front of the fire this winter too. 52 Hillsboro St. (S)
Virlie’s Grill There’s nothing like a diner breakfast. Virlie’s opens at six with loaded grits to start your day off right. No one can deny the power of corned beef hash. 58 Hillsboro St. (E)
Liquidambar Gallery & Gifts You will want to make Liquidambar a regular stop on your downtown rotation. A featured artist graces their front walls each month. You’ll find exquisite jewelry, hand-poured soy candles, whimsical ceramics, uncommon vessels, and much more from their 60 artists. 80 Hillsboro St. (S)
The Phoenix Bakery Stop in to pick up their popular Boston Cream donut or cinnamon rolls. We tried the housemade Lemon Curd Donut. Wowza. The Phoenix cupcakes and custom cakes are pretty fly too. We’re feeling their light saber cupcakes just might make a comeback. 84 Hillsboro St. (E)
S & T Soda Shoppe is a must see in Pittsboro. This vintage soda shoppe is fully decked with tin ceilings, jukebox, hex tile, heart-shaped chair backs, and enough whipped cream to fuel a two-day sugar high. We’re going for malts. Closed Sundays and Mondays 85 Hillsboro St. (E)
The Woodwright’s School They’ve got vintage hand tools upstairs, purported to be in the thousands. Take a woodworking class and learn how they do it old school! You’ll recognize founder Roy Underhill from his long-running PBS program, The Woodwright’s Shop. Get out there and make some sawdust. We’ll be checking those dovetail joints. Book a class or find out more here. 89A Hillsboro St.(D)
The City Tap is where Pittsboro goes to hang. Great sandwiches, solid craft beer list, and live music on the weekends. Ask about their vegan options. You’ll love their cozy interior and sweet patio, but be sure to sidle up to the bar to place your order. 89 Hillsboro St. (E)
Vino!! Wine Shop has a wide selection of French, Italian, Spanish, and Chilean wine as well as craft beer and cider. Vino!! specializes in “high quality, unique, eminently drinkable yet affordable wines” the owners personally select. Join them for wine tastings every Friday from 5-7 p.m. 89 Hillsboro St. Suite D (S)
Angelina’s Kitchen serves “made from scratch farm to fork” Greek and New Mexican food. This might seem a quizzical combination of specialties, but Angelina Koulizakis-Battiste knows her way around a kitchen. Angelina’s isn’t fancy. It’s just really good. We can’t resist the falafel; and if the Avgolemono soup is available, take her up on it. Don’t forget a little flaky triangle of nuts, honey, and love to sweeten your day. 23 Rectory St. (E)
Carr Amplifiers Built right in Pittsboro, Carr Amplifiers has both a national and international rep for producing righteous sound. Guitar Bass Magazine cooed, “With evocative styling, a lush spring reverb, a mighty clever power attenuator and the ability to swerve from righteous tweediness to chiming sparkle, the Skylark may be Carr’s best yet.” We don’t know what that means exactly, but we know you do. These are amps for musicians, built by musicians. Check them out. 23 Rectory St. (S)
Davenport’s Cafe Diem We adore Cafe Diem’s funky art-lined space almost as much as their expertly-brewed cups of java.They are serving Carrboro Coffee Roasters beans, Phoenix Bakery’s goodies, and Jasmine Pearl Tea Company’s vast assortment of loose teas. On Sundays, they’re rustling up luscious bowls of Miss Em’s gumbo and vegetarian chili. Go get some.18B E. Salisbury St. (E)
Spa at Bell House offers a full range of spa services, but it’s their reflexology, sauna, and detox options that really caught our attention. Carve out a bit of time to unwind and realign. 74 E. Salisbury St. (D)
Circle City Books & Music Vinyl lovers need be separated from book lovers no more. Myles Friedman’s Circle City has both (plus a delightfully witty and entertaining owner). Friedman’s specialty is hunting down rare and obscure books. You’ll also find plenty in the record bins to stoke your love of nostalgia. Besides, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to sample some of Virginia’s famous cookies. We’re just sayin’. 121 Hillsboro St. (S)
French Connections sources fabrics, decor, jewelry, art and accessories from France and Africa. We are digging their market baskets from Ghana, vibrant Madagascar raffia bags, and French tea towels. Just look for the whimsical yard art out front. 178 Hillsboro St. (S)
Starrlight Mead Switch up your usual and pick up their seasonal Pomegranate Pink Peppercorn for your next soiree. Look out for the Chocolate Marshmallow Mead, their wild foam traditional being released soon. Stop by the tasting room Wednesday through Saturday from noon until 6, or Sunday 1-5. 480 Hillsboro St. Suite 1000 around the back side of Historic Chatham Mills (E)
Pittsboro Bicycles Stop in to pick up a sweet deck from Wounded Knee, a spiffy new or used mountain bike, or to talk trails with Eddie. Pittsboro Bicycles is a full-service bike shop with a casual, friendly vibe. From BMX to cruisers, they’ve got the right ride to get you out there. 480 Hillsboro St. Suite 105 around the back side of Historic Chatham Mills (S)
Oakleaf Restaurant serves “seasonal, progressive cuisine with French and Italian influences and small production wines in an historic, stylish setting.” Whether your palate runs to the Caramelized Sheep’s Milk Ricotta Gnocchi with mushrooms, topped with Sangiovese & tomato ragu or Oakleaf’s version of French onion soup made with Adams Farms Angus brisket confit, sherried onions, and fontina sauce, rest assured it will be memorable. Their creative menu varies according to what’s at market, so you have even more incentive to dine frequently. Leave room for dessert. We dream of their Double Bergamot Earl Grey Creme Brulee and James’ Dark Chocolate Budino with suprising regularity. Stop in and choose two items from their Mill Worker’s Lunch Prix Fixe menu for just $15. 480 Hillsboro St. Suite 500 inside Historic Chatham Mills (E)
The Chatham Marketplace Co-op Pick up some Chicken Bridge Bakery bread. Visit the hot bar or a grab something from the deli, order a coffee, shop for organic veggies from local farmers, or get a little work done in the sunny lounge up front. 480 Hillsboro St. Suite 320 inside Historic Chatham Mills (S)
Chatham Mills Farmers Market is Saturday mornings 8-1 p.m. This grower’s only market runs reduced hours in the winter months, 10-1. Swiss chard, bok choy, turnips, farm fresh eggs, pasture-raised meats, local cheese–don’t miss a Saturday! 480 Hillsboro St. on the grounds of Historic Chatham Mills (S)
Chicken Bridge Bakery This organic, wood-fired bakery uses North Carolina grown and ground grain in their Epi Baguettes, gorgeous Miches and Full Moon sourdoughs and many other rustic specialty breads and pastries. They bake Danish Swedish Rye every Saturday. Buy Chicken Bridge loaves at Small Cafe, Chatham Marketplace, Lomo Market Truck, plus the Carrboro and Durham Farmers Markets. Tip: They sell out fast.
Fiddlehead Farm is a Good Food Awards finalist this year for their Blueberry Cinnamon Basil Jam (fingers crossed, winners announced on Jan.15th). Their Grown-up Blueberry made with Fair Game Beverage Co. No’Lasses Sorghum Spirit is our jam! Try Fiddlehead Farm’s Ghost pepper sugar and hot sauce, too. Find them at the Chapel Hill Farmers Market, Carrboro Farmers Market, the LoMo Market Truck, and Saxapahaw General Store.
Goat Lady Dairy produces award-winning artisan goat and cow milk cheeses. The delicate smoke of their Smokey Mountain Round and the wonderfully-aged Providence won over our team. Find Goat Lady Dairy cheese at the Fearrington Farmer’s Market, Weaver St. Markets, and many Whole Foods locations.
Allen and Son Barbecue This popular N.C. vinegar-based barbecue joint has been pleasing folks for years with their slaw-topped hickory-smoked meat. Their Eastern North Carolina chopped bbq vies with the hush puppies for most buzzed about menu item. Of course Allen & Son makes a pretty mean cheeseburger too, should you have a hankering. Warning: the quest for their banana pudding may take on mythical proportions, and if found, will transport you to grade school (in a good way). 5650 US Hwy 15-501 N (E)
Carolina Brewery & Grill Get the fish and chips. Relax on the patio with a flight before winter sets in for good. 120 Lowes Dr. Suite 100 (E)
Don’t wait for a special occasion to explore the Fearrington Village…Things we love to do/have on our wish list: say hello to the animals; wander McIntyre’s Books; grab a bite at The Goat; shop like money is no object at Dovecote Style; splurge at The Spa at Fearrington; enjoy an elegant meal at The Fearrington House Restaurant (named a top 10 restaurant in America by Open Table diners); attend an event at the festively lit Fearrington Barn (like Donald Davis Storytelling); and book a wine class at The Granary. Find out more about the village on their website.
While you’re there– pick up some Rosemary Vanilla Jam at The Goat to take home. Inquire at Roost Beer Garden about the collaboration between Fullsteam and Fearrington House. Be sure to sample the fruits of their labor–a seasonal beer line using local ingredients harvested right from Fearrington’s own herb garden and orchards.
The Fearrington Farmers Market has over 35 vendors 4-6 pm every Tuesday from early April through the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
Farm Boy Farms If you are drinking a North Carolina brew, most likely Farm Boy had a hand in that. They grow and process local “barley, wheat, rye, milo and hops for microbreweries and expert homebrewers.” You can get in on the party during one of their harvest celebrations. 102 L and W Lane (S)
Busy Bee Farm pick your own blackberries and blueberries. Be sure to pick up some of their local honey, too. You may see a few Eastern Wild turkeys or peacocks patrolling the premises as well. 1092 Dewitt Smith Rd. (S)
Shakori Hills Community Center “supports the local music and arts community through cultural events and outreach to our local schools while teaching environmental awareness and sustainable living practices.” Though they are best known for the Shakori Hills Grassroots Music & Dance Festival and Hoppin’ John Fiddlers Convention, the SHCC has a tremendously successful Roots in the Schools program and 72-acres of peaceful trails. Volunteer to work their community organic garden and earn a share of the harvest! Donate or find out more here. 1439 Henderson Tanyard Rd. (D)
Bynum Front Porch Bluegrass fans need to make a trip out to Bynum. Made famous by their Front Porch Music Series on Friday nights (May through August), Bynum General Store has become synonymous with American Roots music. No need to wait for their summer series though, Bynum Front Porch Pickin’ happens every second and fourth Saturday throughout the year from 10-2 p.m. Come to play or listen (or a little of both). 950 Bynum Road, Bynum (D)
Out of Doors
Jordan Lake is PBO’s favorite outdoor playground offering boating, camping, hiking, beach lolling or all-around communing with nature. This state rec area is a “collective of nine access areas scattered around the shoreline of this undeveloped 14,000-acre reservoir.” 280 State Park Rd. Apex, NC
Frog Hollow Outdoors Book a paddling trip from Chicken Bridge down the Haw River or take one of their sunset paddles. Frog Hollow offers guided paddling trips down ten North Carolina waterways, paddlesport instruction (including SUP), rock climbing and hiking trips. Book an excursion or learn more here. 614 Trent Dr. Durham, NC
Raven Rock State Park About 40 minutes from Pittsboro, Raven Rock offers some lovely secluded trails. The Raven Rock Loop Trail is a short hike (but features the namesake rock formation on the banks of Cape Fear), so if you’re down for a longer trek take the five mile Campbell Creek Loop Trail. The 1.5 mile Little Creek Trail is great for a run. There’s a stretch right by the creek. All that rushing water is sure to put a kick in your stride. More deets here. 3009 Raven Rock Rd. Lillington, NC
Not to Miss Events
Chatham Studio Tour is sponsored by the Chatham Artists Guild and affords you the chance to see over fifty diverse artists, working in every medium imaginable, in their studio digs during the first two weekends in December. Get to know the talented folks that make Chatham County home, and support local art.
Concerts for a Cause Get out to The Plant Saturdays in September to see some live music, nosh on tasty food truck grub, and relax with the fam. Fair Game Distillery’s tasting room will be open too. All proceeds will benefit local charities. Find out more here.
Pittsboro First Sunday Artisans Fair and Market March through December, First Sundays downtown feature live music, food trucks, shopping and festivities of all sorts. Noon to 4 p.m. Hillsboro St.
Pittsboro Street Fair Everyone loves a street fair, particularly one with a beer garden, 200 vendors, live music, and plenty of food. Woot. This annual street party happens every October off Hanks Street.
PepperFest Star Chefs from around the Triangle will be preparing amazing pepper-inspired dishes and drinks. Fabulous music,local brews, Honeybee and Aquaponics workshops, and kid’s activities round out the celebration. See more deets here. Sunday Oct. 2nd from 3-7 p.m., Great Meadow Park at Briar Chapel in Chapel Hill
Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance This epic twice-yearly music festival has Zydeco, Gospel, Salsa, African,Blues, Funk, Folk, Rock, Drums, Healing Arts, giant puppet parade, dancing and music workshops, craftsmen and conservationists, and partying in beautiful wooded setting. See 60 different bands. Spread peace, love and happiness. See this year’s lineup here. 1439 Henderson Tanyard Rd., May and October.