Every year around this time I get the same feeling. It’s that nagging, obsessive case of wander lust where I just need to get out of the country. Unfortunately, being a poor college kid makes jumping on a plane and jetting off somewhere in the middle of the semester a little difficult. Sometimes I try to curb the urge by reading travel blogs or diving into the plans for my summer travels, but often that just makes the urge to go even worse. So, in an attempt to calm the travel bug, Dan and I decided to embrace some local travel. Our destination: Pittsboro.
Pittsboro is right outside of Chapel Hill, and I had been hearing from a few of my friends that I absolutely had to go before I graduated. Now at first glance there really isn’t a lot to the town of Pittsoboro, and the downtown district is one short street of antique shops and restaurants. But the ambiance is that of a quiet and quaint little town where everyone knows everyone else and is proud of it.
Dan and I were starving by the time we parked, so our first destination was lunch. With only a few options, we quickly decided on S&T Soda Shop. We had heard from everyone that this was the place to go in Pittsboro, and we immediately understood why upon entering. The restaurant is designed to take you back in time, and it really succeeds in doing so. There is intricate wood work, old-school decorations, and a large ice cream bar. The menu is your typical soda shop cuisine of hamburgers and club sandwiches, and since Dan and I are vegetarians we quickly found the only options that really catered to us (grilled cheese and veggie wraps). The food was pretty good, but we had really only come for one thing: a banana split.
We knew that S&T was known for their extra-large and extra-tasty banana splits, so we came ready to down some ice cream. But no one warned us that it would be the largest banana split we have ever seen. The breakdown included two bananas, 12 scoops of icecream, five inches of whipped cream, strawberries, pineapple, chocolate sauce, sprinkles, and cherries. No need to say we didn’t even come close to making a dent in it. And all that for the small price tag of $7. It was absolutely delicious (although how could anything like that not be incredible?!) and if you are ever passing through Pittsboro I would highly recommend stopping just for this legendary banana split.
With stomachs filled passed their capacity, we spent the rest of the afternoon browsing the thrift stores and antique shops. All the shops are definitely great go-to places if you are looking for an eclectic or interesting find, and just some of the choices include toys, local art, and furniture. After debating about the purchase of a four-foot tall birdcage we really had absolutely no need for, we ended up leaving empty handed.
There are two things we found particularly interesting about the town of Pittsboro that really set it apart from other similar towns. Number One: Pittsboro has its own currency called the Plenty. The Plenty was actually created in Carrboro (Chapel Hill’s neighbor) but it has really taken off in Pittsboro. The point of the Plenty is to keep local commerce flowing, which we think is awesome. Number Two: The Chatham County Courthouse, built in 1881, tragically caught fire last March while undergoing renovations. A symbol of the city, Pittsboro is working on restoring it again.
Dan and I really did have a great time in Pittsboro, and while it may not have been an exotic country in Asia, it was a great supplement for foreign travel. We also really, really, really would encourage others to embrace local travel and get to know their own neck of the woods a little better. You may discover something extra-ordinary or just eat the best banana split of your life, but it will be worth it.