Clara Bosonetto is a retired travel consultant.
Weekend in the Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area, N.C., one of three ways: on a budget, spending a bit more, or when the getaway calls for a splurge.
Trip tips: The area is known as the Cradle of American Golf, but beyond the fairways and greens is a region of historical treasures and natural beauty. Today, 32 of the original 38 cottages, built in the late 1800s, line the streets of the quaint Village of Pinehurst, a National Historic Landmark. Pinehurst Resort, consisting of three hotels and eight golf courses, was founded as a health retreat, where the pine-scented air was thought to have restorative powers (some say it still does!). For trip planning, visit www.homeofgolf.com.
Getting there: Nonstop rates to Fayetteville Regional (48 miles from Pinehurst) start from $204, Delta. Round-trip to Raleigh-Durham, 74 miles from Pinehurst, starts from $158, nonstop Delta or Southwest.
Stay: Homewood Suites offers studios and one- or two-bedroom accommodations — each with a fully equipped kitchen, fridge, microwave. The "Pinehurst Shopping" package, rates from $144 per night, includes accommodations and a $50 Visa gift card to explore the quaint gift shops and boutiques in the historic and New England-style Pinehurst Village, just a few minutes away. Rates include full breakfast. 250 Central Park Ave., Olmsted Village/Pinehurst. 1-855-277-4942, www.hilton.com.
Eat: Watch the pacers and trotters training at the 111-acre Pinehurst Harness Track while enjoying breakfast or lunch at the track restaurant. Ignore the unassuming facade and head in for the blueberry pancakes, from $5 (cash only). 200 Beulah Hill Road S., Pinehurst. 910-295-4446, www.pinehurstharness.org. Follow with a driving tour of the pastoral area to see numerous horse farms.
Experience: The 27-acre Sandhills Horticultural Gardens feature patterned English gardens, a native wetland trail and specialty gardens, including the Sir Walter Raleigh Garden. Free. 3395 Airport Road, Pinehurst. 910-695-3882, www.sandhillshorticulturalgardens.com. Take a country road drive northeast to Sanford (about 35 minutes) and tour the 1772 House in the Horseshoe, a pre-Revolutionary War house and once a cotton plantation with special architectural features. This white plantation home is still surrounded by idyllic farmland and with bright flowers in spring. Bullet holes are still visible from a 1781 skirmish between Whigs and Tories, re-enacted each August. Free. Closed Sundays and Mondays. 288 Alston House Road, Sanford. 910-947-2051, www.nchistoricsites.org.
Stay: Opened in 1901, the recently renovated Jefferson Inn offers luxury guest rooms with cottage-style furniture, plantation shutters, custom down-filled duvets, posh linens and authentic clawfoot and garden bathtubs. The inn offers tavern-style dining and seasonal courtyard dining. Rates from $149. 150 W. New Hampshire Ave., Southern Pines. 910-692-9911, www.jeffersoninnsouthernpines.com.
Eat: The popular family-owned and -operated Nina's offers an array of menu choices from traditional to modern. Lunch $5-$13; dinner entrees from $14 to $25 for New Zealand rack of lamb and orange roughy. 111 Central Park Ave., Pinehurst. 910-235-4600, www.ninasinpinehurst.com.
Experience: Tour the 7.5-acre Malcolm Blue Farm, an 1825 Scottish farm in Aberdeen that features a museum, restored farmhouse filled with authentic furnishings and gristmill. Open 1-4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. 1177 Bethesda Road, Aberdeen. 910-944-7558, www.malcolmbluefarm.com. Take a 40-minute drive from Pinehurst to north Moore County to view more than 100 potters in their studios at the North Carolina Pottery Center, one of the largest and oldest communities (since the late 1700s) of working potters in the states. $2 (closed Sundays and Mondays). 233 East Ave., Seagrove. 336-873-8430, www.ncpotterycenter.com.
Stay: The Carolina at the Pinehurst Resort is a majestic century-old hotel with sweeping verandas and four-diamond guest rooms. Enjoy complimentary afternoon tea; shuttle service to all resort amenities and spa, dining and tee time booking assistance. The hotel is a short walk to the spa and fitness center. A "Golf" package includes accommodations, a round of golf and breakfast buffet each day, from $261 per person, double occupancy, valid through March 1. 80 Carolina Vista Drive, Pinehurst. 1-855-235-8507, www.pinehurst.com.
Eat: Beefeaters has been voted the Best Steak in Moore County every year since 1999. The candlelit dining room offers aged Western beef, seafood, lamb, nightly specials and a 50-item salad bar. Entrees from $14-$30. 672 S.W. Broad St., Southern Pines. 910-692-5550, www.beefeatersofsouthernpines.com.
Experience: Play a round at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Legacy Golf Links. The recently renovated course is rated four stars by Golf Digest and considered one of the top 50 public play courses (GolfWorld's Readers' Choice Awards). $54 Fridays-Sundays through Feb. 28. $69 in March. 12615 U.S. 15-501, Aberdeen. 910-944-8825, www.legacygolfnc.com. Play on Pinehurst's famed #2 course, considered by golf purists as the Holy Grail of golf in the U.S., costs from $410 for non-guests/members. www.pinehurst.com.
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