By Todd Bush Photography, courtesy Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority
Published April 04, 2017
Bigger isn’t always better, especially when planners want to imbue their events with small-town charm, hometown charisma and downhome friendliness.
These North Carolina and South Carolina destinations greet guests and groups with historic downtowns, fresh fare and charming character.
Pittsboro, North Carolina
The North Carolina town of Pittsboro offers meeting planners “some great contrast,” said Neha Shah, director of the Pittsboro-Siler City Convention and Visitors Bureau. Just a 45-minute drive from Raleigh and Chapel Hill, the 4,000-person town and surrounding area provide “rustic elegance” along with a small-town downtown, a local foodie culture and some funky finds.
The newly built Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center opened this year, marking the county’s entrance into the meetings and conference business. Groups can reserve all or part of the 6,000-square-foot exhibit hall, the lobby area or one of four meeting rooms ideal for 30 to 40 people.
When it comes to dining, local is king. Chatham Mills is a converted historic mill that houses Chatham Marketplace, a co-op grocery store, the Oak Leaf restaurant and event space with exposed bricks and beams. Just steps away, visitors can sample honey wine at Starrlight Mead.
Located on a former working farm, Fearrington Village today is home to a 32-room luxury inn, a fine-dining restaurant and a spa. Meeting groups will find small meeting suites tucked in historic buildings around the property, the largest of which can hold up to 35 people, and guests will also find a bookstore, boutiques, a cafe, a coffee shop and a beer garden.
Beaufort, South Carolina
In the coastal South Carolina town of Beaufort, historic buildings and palm trees line Bay Street, the main downtown thoroughfare, and brick-paved side streets lead to a waterfront park on the Harbor River with views of the downtown marina and Woods Memorial Bridge.
The Beaufort Inn’s variety of lodging and event venues “are the best way to meet in Beaufort and be in the center of downtown in the middle of it all,” said Robb Wells, director of tourism, of the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The inn transformed a vacant neighboring grocery store into Tabby Place, a modern event venue with indoor space for up to 320 guests and a large patio. Nearby, Tabby Garden can accommodate 300 guests, and just behind the historic inn, groups of 80 can gather beneath patio lights and palm trees in the brick-paved Garden Courtyard.
Planners can use classrooms or the 461-seat theater at the University of South Carolina’s arts campus in historic Beaufort, and groups can tour and reserve meeting space at the 50-acre Penn Center.
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