Today we take you down route #64/#87 a bit to the little town of Saxapahaw where you can walk along the might Haw and then have a much-deserved brew or cup of coffee.

Saxapahaw, a former mill-town on the banks of the Haw River in the piedmont of North Carolina was originally settled by the Sissapahaw Native American tribe. Since the closure of the mill at the end of the 20th century, Saxapahaw has enjoyed an economic and cultural rebirth, connecting its rich southern heritage with dynamic new initiatives in food, sustainable agriculture, art, entertainment, environmental stewardship and education.

Less than an hour from Apex and Cary by way of route 64W and then 87N, it is perfect for a relaxing half-day trip to a place where good food and refreshments and a relaxing hike along the river are your only needs and expectations. And maybe the best thing about Saxapahaw is that once you park your car (no meters or parking garages) you won’t need it again until you are ready to go home.

Among the worthwhile points of interest there are the Saxapahaw General Store, formerly a convenience store and gas station that had served the community for many years. Today it is a gathering place for locals and visitors alike where they can all enjoy good food, drink, and even get provisions.

The Eddy Pub was born with the intention of being a central gathering place for the community of Saxapahaw. Enjoy  chocolate peanut butter cupcakes with whipped dark chocolate ganache frosting and topped with toasted peanut, a specialty of the Village Bakehouse with a cup of special blend coffee at the Eddy Pub.

At Haw River Farmhouse Ales, you can enjoy crafted special brews steeped in Belgian tradition and elevated by local creativity. The brew master says his mugs are full of flavor and native ingredients, more than just something you drink, an experience meant to be shared with those around you.  The 3,000 square-foot brewery, located on the ground floor of the rivermill, has a small tasting room and patio just steps away from the banks of the Haw River.

Cup 22 is a beautiful two-level riverside coffeeshop located in the Haw River Ballroom. Gourmet coffee, teas, espressos, frappes, smoothies and locally baked goods both sweet and savory are among their specialties. There are also riverside outdoor decks, and access to walking trails on the river.

Every Saturday, May through August, there is Saturdays in Saxapahaw, including a farmer’s market (5 p.m. to 8 p.m) and live music on the lawn ( 6 p.m. to 8 p.m) featuring some of the best music NC has to offer and a thriving Farmer’s Market with locally produced cheese, eggs, baked goods, flowers, honey, organic meat, and wine. There are also food trucks and activities for children.

Saxapahaw Island Park is conveniently located in the middle of the Haw River and spans 30 acres of walking trails, and has a playground, and a meadow in addition to nearby river access. There are two miles of sandy, easy to navigate trails and also more challenging, windy trails created by wandering fishermen. There are also views of the surrounding river and a nature playground.  You can walk there from “downtown” or hop in your car for the 30 second trip to its island parking lot.

Left Bank Butchery is located in the old “drug room” of the mill where dyes were once mixed, offers fresh, hyper-local charcuterie, cut and cured with care. Left Bank is a whole animal butchery focused on local products and sustainable agriculture. All their meat is sourced from farms within a five-mile radius.

 The Haw River Ballroom, an intimate music venue that boasts a multi-level space and superb acoustics, is deal for concert-goers and performers alike. The first floor is spacious with high ceilings while the overlooking second and third-floor balconies offer respite from the mosh-pit below. As an added bonus, the balconies also lead to the outside so you can grab some fresh air and sneak in one last view of the Haw River.

 Saxapahaw Lake was created by the dam just upriver from town.The dam slows the river here to create what has long been called “Saxapahaw Lake.” The water above the dam is always deep enough to paddle and calm enough for a leisurely up and back paddle. The lack of current makes the lake perfect for beginning paddlers. You can put your canoe or kayak in at the small boat access and explore hidden coves along the riverbank, take in the scenery, and keep an eye out for wildlife. The lake is perfect for an early day paddle followed by good food, ale, and company on the the other side of the road.

Come to Saxapahaw, relax a while, and then head home with renewed spirit and vision.