City guide: 48 Hours in Shakori Hills, North Carolina

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Folk art, traditional barbecue and the Great Smoky Mountains welcome adventurers to the Land of the Sky.

Looking for your next adventure? Add Shakori Hills near Pittsboro, North Carolina to your list. Here’s what to see, do and eat in the Pittsboro area on your 48-hour trip.

Saturday

Drive northeast from Charlotte toward Shakori Hills. After sixty miles, or about one hour, head straight to Lexington Barbecue and grab a delicious bite to eat from this community staple. Known by the locals as “Honeymonk,” this restaurant was opened in 1962 by Wayne Monk with a menu that specializes in pork shoulders cooked over oak or hickory coals and wood.

“Lexington is a must-stop. It goes without saying that North Carolina is known for its barbecue—it’s like a religion,” said silversmith Leah Keeter, who grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. “It’s a noun where I come from. When I first moved out of the state, two years ago, I was so confused when people would use the barbecue to describe cookouts. A barbecue would be having a hog in the backyard and smoking it!”

Anne Davenport agrees: “Lexington Barbecue is a local’s favorite. Their primary dish is pork, and they have a tomato base for their sauce, which is very specific to that area of North Carolina,” said the Kernersville-born-and-raised physical therapist and ultrarunner. (FYI, the other style of barbecue has a vinegar base.) If you have time, Keeter’s favorite barbecue of that style is west of Charlotte, called Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge.

After checking-off the iconic meal drive to High Rock Lake Marina and Campground, which features 365 miles of shoreline. Rent a cabin, grab your fishing rod, toss a line and relax.

Saturday

In the morning, welcome the early morning and drive west 40 miles (52 minutes) to reach Seagrove, a town that is recognized for having the largest concentration of working potters in the country. Enjoy a self-guided stroll to the shops (most open at 10am)h—there are more than 100 to visit—and learn about North Carolina’s sculptural history.

Next up: Continue your drive west through Uwharrie National Forest to reach the forest area’s western boundary. Pick your form of adventure in Uwharrie, which—in addition to hiking trails—is home to horseback riding, 4-wheeling, mountain biking, whitewater kayaking and great fishing spots.

“A long time ago, the Uwharrie National Forest was covered under ocean water—even though, it’s not anywhere near ocean now. It’s so rad. You still find shark teeth on west side, near a mountain called Morrow. You can also find arrowheads. And the forest is absolutely beautiful,” said Keeter.

Davenport seconded the special spot: “On the edge of Uwharrie National Forest is Morrow Mountain State Park. It’s small, right along the Pee Dee River. Several trail-running races are held there, and there are a lot of great hiking trails.”

After exploring trails in Morrow Mountain State Park and Uwharrie National Forest, continue your journey toward Charlotte to visit the U.S. National Whitewater Center. The center is surrounded by 1,300 acres along the Catawba River and features more than 30 activities on land and water—including everything from rock climbing to stand up paddle boarding to zip lines—plus 40 miles of trails. Here, locals and visitors alike enjoy on-site films, races, festivals and outdoor instruction, year-round. Grab dinner and a brew at the River’s Edge and watch the kayakers play. (Check the activities schedule, because hours of operation are subject to change.)

From barbecue to brews, pottery to flowing water and lush woods, you’ll get a strong taste of the delicious, creative and nature-loving culture of North Carolina.

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