See & Do
Badin Road Drive-In,
This drive-in screens double features every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night in the summer. Just tune into the right radio station for sound and find the perfect spot to sit, in or outside of the car. The two digital screens offer different lineups, so there’s something sure to satisfy every member of the family. 2411 Badin Road, Albemarle. 704-983-2900, badinroaddrivein.com.
Calloway Forest Preserve, Hoke County
This 3,288-acre preserve not only allows majestic long-leaf pines to grow, but also to burn periodically as part of their nature life cycles. The Calloway Forest was originally bought by the state transportation department as part of efforts to protect the red-cockaded woodpecker. After setting up an endowment for its stewardship, the state transferred it to The Nature Conservancy. From Fayetteville, take U.S. 211 West. Look for Calloway Road on the left. The park is on the right. 910-246-0300, bit.ly/1o4WT6w.
Ellerbe Lions Club Lawn Mower Racing, Ellerbe
Bring your John Deere and drive in circles. Or just watch other people race lawnmowers around a track. One Saturday a month for much of the year, the local Lions Club hosts lawnmower races. The events typically draw a crowd of about 200 people. And the mowers get some speed, up to 70 mph. 306 Millstone Road, Ellerbe. 910-417-9537.
Hamlet Depot & Museums, and National Railroad Museum and Hall of Fame,
The rise of the railroad industry built Hamlet, and its original depot still stands, renovated in 2004 and moved farther from the tracks. Downstairs, train lovers will find a sprawling model of Hamlet as it looked in 1952. There’s another model train set across the street in a building that houses a replica of the Tornado, the first train to arrive in Raleigh along the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad. And across town, there’s more train history at the National Railroad Museum. Hamlet Depot & Museums, 2 Main St., Hamlet. 910-582-0603. National Railroad Museum and Hall of Fame, 120 E. Spring St., Hamlet. 910-280-9253.
Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge, Wadesboro
In the 1930s, Lockhart and Hazel Gaddy began to offer their property as a safe haven for more than 10,000 Canada geese each year. Their efforts led to the establishment of the Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge, which spans about 8,500 acres. The peak of the geese season at Pee Dee is from Christmas to February. But during the other months, the refuge provides a place to hunt for deer, and fish for bass and catfish. Visitors can also hike the trails or venture deep into the pines and hardwood trees. Expect to see plenty of fox squirrels. U.S. 52 North, six miles north of Wadesboro. 704-694-4424.
Rankin Museum of American Heritage, Ellerbe
This museum has an exhibit honoring Andre Roussimoff, better known as wrestler “Andre the Giant,” who lived in Ellerbe before his death in 1993. There’s also a taxidermied jaguar, polar bear, leopard and plenty more animals from around the world. Kids can dig for the teeth of megalodons and wooly mammoths or use pictures to create a food chain. 131 W. Church St., Ellerbe. 910-652-6378, www.rankinmuseum.org.
Raven Rock State Park,
This 4,667-acre destination for leisure and educational opportunities spotlights the Raven Rock formation itself, which stretches along the sparkling Cape Fear River. About half a mile upstream, an overlook offers a matchless view of the river. 3009 Raven Rock Road, Lillington. 910-893-4888, www.ncparks.gov/raven-rock-state-park.
STARworks Center for Creative Enterprise, Star
This former textile mill now is home to a gallery, ceramics supply shop and artists’ studios. Arrive early for the best chance to see glassmakers working in front of roaring furnaces that were built on site. For an extra special visit, time your trip to one of the center’s special events, including a “pumpkin patch” that features thousands of glass pumpkins in October and an ornament sale in December. 100 Russell Dr., Star. 910-428-9001, www.starworksnc.org.
Town Creek Indian Mound, Mount Gilead
No one knows the name of the Native American tribe that built a mound and village in what is now Mount Gilead. They left before Europeans arrived, but historians figure the people who inhabited the area were greatly influenced by the Pee Dee culture. Several artifacts have been unearthed at the mound, including pieces of pottery and arrowheads and hundreds of skeletons. A temple on top of the mound has since been recreated. 509 Town Creek Mound Road, Mount Gilead. 910-439-6802, www.nchistoricsites.org/town.
Browse & Shop
Antiques District, Cameron
Husband and wife Ken and Jane Fairbanks moved to Cameron in 1986 and restored the building that became their Old Hardware Antiques store – then the fourth antiques store in the small town off U.S. 1. Now consisting of a dozen stores, the Cameron Antique Dealers Association will be putting it all on display during the Fall Antiques Street Fair on Oct. 1. Carthage Street (Highway 24/27), Cameron. 910-245-1231, www.antiquesofcameron.com.
Eldorado Outpost, Eldorado
This well-stocked general store is the perfect jumping off point for Uwharrie National Forest adventures. The shelves are lined with everything you need for camping, fishing, hiking and more. Buy some sandwich fixings to tote along to the lake or stop by the nothing-fancy deli counter for a hearty meal. Be sure to take some time to get to know the folks running the store, who have tips galore to make your trip a good one. 4021 N.C. 109, Eldorado. 910-572-3474, www.eldoradooutpost.com.
Eat & Drink
Albemarle Sweet Shop, Albemarle
Customers flock here for birthday cakes, fruit bars and sugar cookies shaped like clowns. Recipes have been handed down over the years, from owner to owner. Customers order their goods and leave, because there’s nowhere to sit in the shop. But as one customer said, it’s tough to make it out of the parking lot before taking a bite. 128 King Ave., Albemarle. 704-982-1235.
Convenience Corner, Hamlet
It might not look like much, but locals can’t seem to get enough of this place. They crowd into the side of a gas station and place their orders at the counter for bacon-and-egg biscuits, cheeseburgers and milkshakes. But don’t expect a traditional dining experience with your breakfast sandwich. Convenience Corner doesn’t have tables and chairs, so customers get their food from the friendly fry cooks and head out. 801 Marlboro St., Hamlet. 910-582-2724.
Mama Noi’s Pizza & Hot Sub, Ellerbe
No matter what you’re craving for dinner, one restaurant on Ellerbe’s main drag probably has it. Mama Noi’s features American favorites – pizza, wings and burgers – but also Hibachi plates, Chinese food, Italian fare and subs. Owner Kone Daoheuang said customers want variety, and that’s what she gives them. The eatery, which draws a crowd for lunch and dinner, features a special sauce, but the recipe remains a secret. Let’s just say it adds some zing to sandwiches. 2076 Main St., Ellerbe. 910-652-2496.
Mrs. Wenger’s Restaurant, Sanford
This restaurant, founded by the eponymous Dorcus Wenger, preserves down-home hospitality and age-old recipes such as red-eye gravy. Doors close for lunch at Mrs. Wenger’s promptly at 1:30 p.m. 105 Charlotte Ave., Sanford. 919-776-2131.