I'm bragging on everything Spring Lake has to offer on the blog! If you read Part I of my "go-to guide," you learned about some local faves where you can play hard and chow down. As this community continues to grow, we're seeing more of a variety of cuisine and outdoor recreation sites pop up in this part of Cumberland County. Whether you're a golfer who loves authentic Thai, a kayaker who needs a caffeine fix, or a skeet shooter who appreciates smoky 'cue, I have a few suggestions for how to find your brand of fun and good eats in Spring Lake, North Carolina.
Get on the Water
Since I last featured Spring Lake Outpost (SLO) on the blog, I’ve gone tubing or kayaking there three times, with my coworkers, my girlfriends, and my family. If you’re comfortable on the water and love outdoor adventures, this is the place for you. In fact, it's the only site in Cumberland County that offers watercraft rentals and a designated river route with pick-up. Bring your own watercraft or pay a little extra to rent one of theirs. Then hit the water for a 3- or 6-mile trek down the Lower Little River. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, SLO regularly hosts nighttime treks down the river.
Word of Caution: The water levels in the Lower Little River vary from day to day and can present challenging conditions for inexperienced folks. If you are a first-time kayaker, canoer, or tuber, I would advise you to 1) consider requesting, in advance, a guide to lead your group down the river (dependent on staff availability), 2) ask staff for pre-launch instructions, and 3) wear the life-vest provided.
Fuel Up on Java
First things first, and that’s coffee. Before you start your day here, you’ll want to fuel up. Cactus Creek Coffee at Spring Lake just recently opened in The Collective—a one-stop-shop business center that includes Spring Lake Outpost, Evolution Athletics (CrossFit gym), and Compass Rose Yoga (studio). Although I haven’t had a chance to visit their new coffee shop, I’ve perused their online menu. Here, you’ll find smoothies, refreshers, lattes, frappes, and more. I’ve already decided, when I visit, I’m going for the Stage Marker—almond, chocolate, and coconut yumminess!
Photo Credit: @cactuscreekcoffeespringlake
Hit the Fairway
I’m not going to claim that I golf, because I don’t. However, what I do know about Anderson Creek Golf Club is it’s been described as “a hidden treasure in the Sandhills.” Jason Scott Deegan—a prolific contributor to industry publications—used those words to describe Anderson in his article on GolfAdvisor.com (where 81% of reviewers also recommended this destination).
Tucked between NC 24-87 and NC 210, in northern Spring Lake, the club sees its fair share of travelers from all over North Carolina and beyond. As Deegan emphasized in his review, this Davis Love III design with a Bermuda fairway gives golfers the perfect excuse to explore those treasures that lie beyond the Pinehurst area. Check out Deegan’s article and pictures or read other reviews on Golf Advisor to learn more about this course.
Go for Thai
Ten miles from Anderson Creek Golf Club, you’ll find one of the most popular Asian eateries in Spring Lake, Thai-Esan Restaurant. Owner Pennapa Hinnant is known for preparing authentic dishes that are specific to Esan, the northeastern region of Thailand. When coworkers and I visited this restaurant for lunch, we were impressed by the freshness of the food and the reasonable price (just $9.50 each). Buffet features vary, depending on which day you visit.
It’s difficult to beat the buffet, but if you visit for dinner, you may order from their extensive menu and full-service bar. You’ll find the classic noodle dishes, such as Pad Thai, but also a variety of stir-fry, grilled meats, and curries. My personal favorite was the Kang Dang (red curry), flavored with fresh basil and cooked in coconut milk and red curry paste. Outstanding!
I’ve now been to Fort Bragg Clay Target Center twice, once with coworkers and once with girlfriends. This sports gem is a perfect destination for group adventures, like team-building and a girls’ day out, as I shared on the blog before. Down the road from Carvers Creek State Park you’ll find the Clay Target Center, surrounded by scenic woods. For folks visiting from out of town, there’s no need to even travel with a gun. You can rent or purchase all necessary equipment onsite. You can even receive expert instruction from one of the staff members, many of whom are military veterans.
Unlike the standard gun range, your target is not stationary; these clay targets are moving at a fast rate across the sky. Even service members with years of military training find this sport to be challenging, but that doesn’t mean amateurs like me can’t have fun and occasionally score a hit. It’s quite the adrenaline rush when you finally make contact and see that orange clay shattering into a hundred pieces. I’d recommend the Clay Target Center to anyone who’s up for a bit of friendly competition.
Treat Yourself to BBQ
If you’re visiting the South, you need to treat yourself to good barbecue at least once while you’re here. In Spring Lake, that means going to Noble Meats, just a five-minute drive from Fort Bragg Clay Target Center. Any day it’s open, you’ll find this country joint packed with both locals and soldiers from nearby Fort Bragg. Their lengthy menu features smoked brisket, ribs, chicken, and more, plus all the traditional sides and homemade sauces. The first time I tried Noble, I was transported back to my home of birth, Texas. It didn’t hurt that they make Texas caviar, either (yes, that’s a thing). If you don’t have too far to travel, bring an ice chest and take a meat bundle home from their custom butcher shop. The quality of their meat and butchery skills make it so worth it!
As I shared in Part I of this blog, you have several options for accommodations during your Spring Lake stay. There is a total of six hotels/motels here, and they’re all conveniently positioned off the main thoroughfares.
- Country Inn & Suites
- Courtyard Fayetteville Fort Bragg/Spring Lake
- Gateway Inn & Suites
- Hampton Inn Spring Lake - Fayetteville
- Sleep Inn and Suites - Near Ft. Bragg
- Super 8 - Spring Lake/Fort Bragg
Click on Map for Spring Lake Lodging
You may refer to the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s (FACVB) comprehensive list of Accommodations for more options in the communities of Cumberland County. As I mentioned before, the Spring Lake Visitors Guide is a fantastic resource for those planning a trip to this area. I would highly recommend using it to find out more about Spring Lake’s history, things to do, and places to eat. Also, in addition to all the events I mentioned above, Spring Lake and other Cumberland County communities play host to hundreds of events year-round. Be sure to check out the FACVB’s Calendar of Events to keep track of all those fun happenings.