Editor’s Note: Before you travel during the pandemic, we encourage you to read the CDC’s most current travel recommendations and safety guidelines and practice all appropriate safety recommendations.
If you are considering travel options for 2021, North Carolina’s mountains, beaches, four distinct seasons, and small-town cultural pockets make it a great state to visit any time of the year. Plus, some of the South’s most fabulous resorts call North Carolina home. Today we’ve rounded up three very different ones — Pinehurst, Blockade Runner, and Fearrington — to see what’s new at each. So when you’re ready to hit the road and travel safely — or if you’re just looking to dream of a North Carolina escape — here’s what you’ll find at each of these resorts.
3 North Carolina Resorts to (Re)Discover
Pinehurst Resort & Country Club
80 Carolina Vista Drive, Pinehurst, NC 28374 • (855) 235-8507
Savvy Southern travelers and avid golfers likely know about or have visited Pinehurst. But it seems that something new pops up here all the time. It’s so much more than one of the best (if not the best) golf resorts in the country. Established in 1895 in the Sandhills of North Carolina, the property features nine — yes, nine — world-renowned golf courses, a nine-hole par-3 course perfect for newer enthusiasts, a clay-court tennis facility, an award-winning spa, a slew of activities for families, and elegant accommodations across the main hotel, two gorgeous inns, and rentable villas and condos. And did we mention the dozen or so dining options across the hotels and in the Village of Pinehurst? There is truly something for every taste and sentiment here.
As you’re planning your stay, choose from three historic hotels all located in the Village of Pinehurst: the stately Carolina Hotel (built in 1901), the charming Holly Inn (1895) or the casual-chic Manor (1923) — all consistently kept up to offer modern amenities amidst authentic historic charm. Groups may prefer to stay in the Villas, which feature spacious rooms with a connecting parlor. During your stay, the front desk team will help you book onsite tee times and restaurant reservations, plus there is free golf bag storage and a complimentary shuttle service across the resort.
There is no shortage of golf to be played at Pinehurst. If you’re newer to the game, book a lesson with a pro or join one of the many clinics and events they offer each month. If it’s really not your thing and you’re traveling with a golfer or looking for a girls’ getaway, the Spa at Pinehurst has truly thought of it all. You can book everything from a pedicure to a facial to cryotherapy. The Spa Escape Package includes a 50-minute spa treatment for each day stayed, all-day access to the sauna, eucalyptus steam room, whirlpools and tranquility areas, and breakfast each day. Sign. Us. UP!
After a full day of golf, tennis, spa time, or exploring the Village, it’s time to make the oh-so-tough decision of where to eat. From the gourmet Southern flavors of the 1895 Grille to the Ryder Cup Lounge‘s casual atmosphere to the pastries-and-espresso-fueled Carolina Coffee Shop, Pinehurst offers something to sip and savor at any time of day. Don’t miss the tomato fettuccine carbonara at the Carolina Dining Room, and we also suggest pulling up a seat on the veranda at The Deuce. This is one of the resort’s newer restaurants, and it has the best view of No. 2’s historic finishing hole where Payne Stewart won the 1999 U.S. Open with a dramatic 15-foot par putt to beat Phil Mickelson.
Pinehurst is slightly more than an hour from Raleigh-Durham International Airport, two hours from Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and only a half-day drive from many Southeastern cities. Book your stay and explore more at pinehurst.com or call (855) 235-8507.
275 Waynick Blvd., Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480 • (877) 684-8009
If Blockade Runner — and this part of the Atlantic coast — weren’t on your radar before, they might be after this! Wrightsville Beach and its neighbor Wilmington Beach are funky, vibrant beach towns with lots of great eateries, pristine beaches, preserved wildlife tracts, and limitless outdoor activity. Smack dab between the Atlantic and the Intercoastal Waterway, and just a quick walk away from downtown Wrightsville Beach, Blockade Runner is the perfect beachside resort.
From the second you step inside the lobby, you feel the fun, colorful, funky vibe that envelops the entire slice of coast. Groups of adults and families alike flock here to experience the vibrant beach culture. Don’t be afraid to bring the kids … the Sandcampers Kids’ Camp, a half-day adventure camp for kids ages 6-12, lets them explore the island, kayak, surf, play games, make crafts, and learn about wildlife while the adults relax on island time.
After suffering nearly $10 million in damages when Hurricane Florence and her 100-mile-an-hour winds ravaged Wrightsville Beach in 2018, Blockade Runner closed for renovations for nearly half a year. It’s reopened now and is better, stronger and more beautiful than ever. Some of the resort’s offerings that the concierge can help you book are dinner reservations, in-room massages, reservations at full-service day spas just off the island, private yoga classes, sunset cruises, Sunday brunch, kids’ camp, and more. There is no shortage of water activities at Blockade Runner — you will be spoiled! With an ASA-certified sailing school, eco-paddle tours, kayak rentals, and unique programs, you won’t possibly be able to do it all. Once you’re out of the water, challenge your companions to corn hole, volleyball, and bocce ball on the spacious lawn.
When it comes to food, Blockade Runner serves up some of the best seafood in the area, and they often offer special-occasion tasting menus, beachside cookouts, Italian nights, and more. The award-winning EAST Oceanfront Dining boasts farm-to-table cuisine, fresh local seafood, and vegan/vegetarian options by Executive Chef Jessica Cabo and a talented culinary team. You can book a table indoors or al fresco on the canopied garden deck. A tasty array of snacks and bar food are also available poolside from the Sea Escape Pool Bar & Café.
This designated historic landmark by the Historic Wilmington Foundation features 120 waterfront rooms in the tower building and 30 oceanfront rooms in the balcony building. If you’re looking for the ultimate luxe booking here, each premier oceanfront stateroom features a huge balcony with an outdoor fireplace, a two-room bath with a rainfall shower and a soaking tub … all with ocean views! In every room of the hotel, you’ll find natural finishes, coastal decor, and thoughtful touches that truly relay the serenity of your seaside surroundings.
With easy access to major cities via I-40 and Wilmington International Airport (Southwest flies here!), Blockade Runner should be on your travel wishlist. Find out more and book your stay at blockade-runner.com or by calling (877) 684-8009.
2000 Fearrington Village Center, Pittsboro, NC 27312 • (919) 542-2121
While not technically a resort, we’re including Fearrington because of the astounding breadth of offerings in this idyllic, pastoral village. Nestled on a former dairy farm outside of Chapel Hill, NC, Fearrington Village is an official Relais & Châteaux destination with world-class dining, quaint shopping, and a luxurious inn and spa. Your visit starts by booking a room at The Fearrington House Inn, the perfect combination of high-end service and Southern charm.
Step out of the inn and you’re in the Fearrington Village Center. The inspiration for this unique layout was the melding of the small North Carolina towns of the founders’ childhoods, plus the intimate villages of England they frequently visited. They dreamed of a destination village enveloped by manicured public gardens and open spaces that offered community and serenity. Wander the acres of brick paths, pop into the dotted shops, grab a bite to eat, and explore the lauded gardens.
For more than 40 years, the gorgeous Fearrington Gardens have been an integral part of the experience and the Village’s culinary scene. The grounds include about 60 garden beds connected by brick pathways, an herb garden and vegetable garden used by the chefs at The Fearrington House Restaurant, raised cutting beds for the property’s floral designs, and several greenhouses. After you explore the gardens, head over to The Belted Barnyard to see the animals — especially the beloved signature black and white Belted Galloway cows, a rare breed of Scottish beef cattle. And, of course, the Spa at Fearrington is about as good as it gets.
Food options continue to getter better and better at Fearrington, with most restaurants now offering to-go options and even online stores to send Fearrington’s goods to loved ones. Try a flight of local craft brews and wood-fired pizza at the seasonal Roost Beer Garden, grab a foamy cappuccino, hot pastry, or fresh-from-the-garden salad at The Belted Goat and explore the delectable wine and cocktail programs. Exciting news, too, is that Fearrington just won the 2020 Best Hotel Wine List in the world by World of Fine Wine. Yes, the world.
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