10 great things to do in and around Pinehurst, according to our local expert

Woodlake Country Club, near Pinehurst, is allowing public play during the U.S. Open.

Woodlake Country Club, near Pinehurst, is allowing limited public play during the U.S. Open.

Ran Morrissett

Welcome to Pinehurst. You’ve picked a great week to visit. But sorry. No. We can’t get you a tee time on No. 2. The famed course is booked solid for a modest get-together called the U.S. Open, and the resort it anchors is hopping-busy, too. 

Not to worry, though. There’s plenty else to do around these parts, golf included. Ran Morrissett, GOLF Magazine’s architecture editor, has lived in neighboring Southern Pines for nearly 25 years. Here are his 10 recommendations for eating, drinking and relaxing in the area — that will still leave time for spectating at No. 2.

Reservoir Park in Southern Pines, N.C.
The two-mile trail around Reservoir Park is a relaxing walk with stunning views. Ran Morrissett

1. Reservoir Park

There is no water on Pinehurst No. 2. But there’s plenty of it at Reservoir Park, a 165-acre swath of greenery with a lake at its center. The two-mile walking trail around it is a scenic way to get your steps in. The park is open daily from dawn to dusk, and entrance is free.

2. An unbeatable breakfast

Since it first opened, in 2010, in a cozy space in downtown Southern Pines, Betsy’s Crepes has grown in size and reputation. Today, it ranks as a local institution, best-known for its fresh-made sweet and savory crepes (though it also serves terrific soups, salads and panini at lunch). The atmosphere remains as warm and welcoming as ever, just like owner Betsy Markey, who has run the place since day one.

Betsy Markey at her popular crepe place in Southern Pines, N.C.
Betsy Markey at the popular crepe place that bears her name. Ran Morrissett

3. Swing tips from a guru

Golf is a never-ending quest, and Morrissett doesn’t know a better guide than Doug Thompson, at Hyland Golf Club, a great-value public course in Southern Pines. Thompson keeps things simple, and his observations are spot-on.

4. A great round of golf

Woodlake Country Club, home to a newly renovated Ellis Maples design, is a private facility. But it’s open to outside play during U.S. Open week at the reasonable rate of $125 for walkers. If you score within four shots of your handicap, Morrissett says he’ll buy you a beer.

Chapman's Food & Spirits in Southern Pines, N.C.
Chapman’s version of the martini is the “Marytini,” made by Mary herself. Ran Morrissett

5. Killer cocktails

It’s five o’clock somewhere. And even if it weren’t, Morrissett would still suggest you belly up to the bar at Chapman’s Food & Spirits, in Southern Pines. Ask for a Marytini, made by none other than Mary herself, with blue cheese, olives and Tanqueray gin.

6. Best burgers and dogs

Best hot dogs at the turn? That’s a toss up, Morrissett says, between Pine Needles and Southern Pines Golf Club. Try them both and decide for yourself. The burger category brings in wider competition. But Morrissett’s short list includes Ashten’s, Southern Prime Steakhouse, Chapman’s and 195 Southern Fusion.

7.  The perfect pie

For the best pizza this side of Naples (Italy, not Florida), Morrissett points to Vito’s Ristorante & Pizzeria, where the cellar is stocked with hard-to-find Italian wines at all price points. 

8. Out-of-this-world al fresco dining

For that, grab a seat on the patio at Ironwood Restaurant, which serves spot-on modern American cuisine in the heart of historic downtown Pinehurst.

Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve
A hiking trail in Weymouth Woods, a nature preserve in the Sandhills region. Ran Morrissett

9. A primo picnic

Getting up-and-down at Pinehurst No. 2 is no picnic. If that’s what you’re after, Morrissett recommends stocking up on meats, cheeses and crackers at Southern Whey, in downtown Southern Pines, and then heading to Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve, where miles of hiking trails wind through a sandy landscape that lends the region its name.

10. An immersion in Americana

In our go-go modern age, it’s hard to find a commercial center that more approximates Mayberry than downtown Southern Pines. For the full Opie experience, all within a one-block radius, grab a scoop at the Ice Cream Parlor Restaurant, enjoy a glass of wine on the porch at The Wine Cellar (yeah, we know, Opie wasn’t of drinking age, but you are), and then take in an indie movie at the Sunrise Theater.

Josh Sens

Golf.com Editor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.

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