Summer vacation season is here. We’re lucky to live nearly equal distance from the mountains and the coast, with so many interesting sites to visit when you feel like exploring the spaces between. This year, I’m planning a series of day trips to visit NC cities and attractions just an hour or two from the Triangle by car. So come along for a day’s road trip around NC this summer. This week I explore downtown Asheboro and discover there is more to Asheboro beyond the world-class zoo.
Like most, when I hear “Asheboro” my first association is “zoo”, and it is a wonderful zoo within a short drive of the Triangle, a must visit for families. Being the curious sort, I wanted to see some of the other attractions in the area so I hit the road (Highway 64 West specifically), Asheboro bound.
What a treat to find The Table, a recently opened farm-style bakery, espresso bar and eatery housed in what used to be an old (Asheboro Mill) office building. The light and airy interior of the restaurant shows no vestige of the pre-renovation dark paneling and drop ceiling decor. My eye was immediately drawn to the impressive milk bottle chandelier suspended from the white painted tin ceiling (and I quickly began calculating how many bottles of milk I might need to consume to recreate a smaller scale version for my home). Then the pastries under the glass counter display captured my attention: tarts with seasonal berries, cakes, savory quiches and more. Alas, I’d had breakfast before arriving, so I ordered a special house beverage called the “Sweet Baby Brown”, a cold coffee beverage of 2 shots of espresso, brown sugar and Homeland Creamery milk, poured over ice then “shaken, not stirred” to make it slightly frothy. Divine! When you do go to Asheboro, make sure your agenda includes a stop at The Table.
You have to love a city that expresses an artistic vision in even the most mundane scapes. A long mural adorns a retaining wall, reflecting scenes of icons found in the area. A trompe l’oeil train appears to emerge from the side of a building. Buildings from another era are the subject matter of another wall mural. Even the odd placement of windows above a candle shop reflect the town’s distinct aesthetic.
Perhaps the Randolph Arts Guild has some influence over that artistic vision, where large metal insect sculptures appear to be invading the red brick building from all sides. The giant ant metal sculptures are reminiscent of 1950’s horror movies, once shown at The Sunset Theatre (undergoing renovations at present).
Antique and collectible shops can be found in abundance in downtown too. Whether you’re a serious collector, or just like exploring tens of thousands of square feet of vintage dishes (and cookie jars!), time will fly as you browse shop curiosities. Then, when you’re ready to take a shopping break, Lumina Wine Bar is ready for you with wines by the glass or bottle (and beer) to sip in the cozy shop, or on the adjoining patio.
Did I mention beer? It seems as if most every city in North Carolina can boast its own local brewery. Asheboro will be no exception to this rule come early 2014. Four Saints Brewing Company is currently renovating (a popular activity around town) a 1910’s building on South Fayetteville Street. It’s certain to be a time-consuming labor of love, but the end result promises so much. I’m sure it will be worth the wait for Asheboro residents (and worth a trip for the rest of us).
And there is quite a bit more in Asheboro and area to explore. It’s a short drive to see one of the two remaining covered bridges in North Carolina, the Pisgah Covered Bridge. For those seeking more thrilling adventures, you’ll find one of the hardest golf courses in the US (just 8 miles south east of Asheboro) at Tot Hill Farm, as well as ziplining adventures above the canopy at Richland Creek.
The next time you’re thinking about visiting the zoo, remember there’s much more in the Asheboro area to explore and you wouldn’t want to miss it now, would you. 🙂