An Autumn Day-Venture in Spring Lake

October 26, 2017

On a bright autumn morning, four coworkers and I set out on a day-venture to a town just outside the northern gates of Fort Bragg. We could have spent our day out of the office anywhere in Cumberland County, but we chose Spring Lake for two main reasons: the outdoor adventures and the down-home country cooking.

spring lake

spring lake

Fort Bragg Clay Target Center

I have very little experience with firearms, and one of my coworkers had never fired off a round in her life. That didn’t stop us from falling in love with this sport, though. Pros and amateurs alike head out to the Clay Target Center to practice their skills on 12 competition-level skeet fields, six of which are overlaid with competition-level trap fields. For newbies like Stephanie and me, the basic shotgun instruction we received from our instructor was crucial.

When that shotgun is perfectly positioned against your shoulder and you yell, “Pull!”, there are no words to describe the thrill of seeing that first target explode in the sky. This ranks up there as one of the most exhilarating sports I’ve tried. For newbies or experts, the Center will be hosting several Turkey Shoots in November and December, and I see this as the perfect excuse to get in some practice and, if you’re lucky, win a turkey or ham.

Tip: Non-members pay only $8 a round (25 targets) and $5 to rent a shotgun, but to save yourself a few bucks more, bring your own shotgun shells and ear/eye protection (required).

spring lake

spring lake

Spring Lake Outpost

Within a 3-mile radius of each other are the Clay Target Center, Carvers Creek State Park and Spring Lake Outpost, which is a brand-new addition to the town. We couldn’t resist the chance to scout the place out on our day-venture. The folks running the Outpost were inspired by their own kayaking adventures down the Lower Little River one summer and decided others should be given the same opportunity. Now visitors may rent a kayak or canoe at the Outpost, or bring your own, and hit the water.

Whichever mode of transportation is more your speed, you and your crew will then embark on either a short route (3 miles) or a long route (6 miles). Yet another option is tubing, and having grown up floating down Texas rivers, I cannot wait for summer to come back around to experience this. Meanwhile, the Outpost is open year-round for kayaking, canoeing and other adventures.

Tip: Follow @springlakeoutpost to keep informed about their unique events, such as the SLO River Race on November 18th.

spring lake

spring lake

Crown Fried Chicken

Spring Lake can brag about its abundance of down-home country restaurants, and new to the scene here is Crown Fried Chicken. As you may or may not know, Southerners are ridiculously picky about their fried chicken, so it was with big expectations that our group descended on this restaurant. Narrowing down our order gave us some angst, but we landed on a combo box of dark and white chicken with macaroni and cheese, collard greens and mashed potatoes. Although we went traditional, we could just as easily have ordered fried whiting, hot wings and much more from the extensive menu.

I can’t tell you what these good people do to their chicken in the back, but the peppery batter gets a crisp on it that’s slap-your-mama good. As for the sides, all I need to tell you is, the mac and collards were just like your grandmother makes them. Our crew passed around the food, family-style, till we just couldn’t shovel in another bite. The rest went home with us in a box, because it’d be a shame to waste that kind of goodness.

Tip: Ask for a side of Crown’s sweet and tangy sauce, known as “Mumbo,” for drizzling over your chicken, and maybe grab a piece of that sweet potato pie to go.

spring lake

spring lake

Village Coffee

Because we were in Spring Lake and couldn’t resist, we stopped in at this popular coffee shop and hang-out. Our local java addicts know they can find friendly faces, freshly roasted coffee and comfortable spaces here. We barely had room after having stuffed our faces at lunch, but our crew indulged anyway. We’re talking about a cheesecake brownie, caramel frappe, chocolate croissant and banana nut muffin. Don’t even try to resist the temptations displayed behind that counter; just go ahead and splurge.

Tip: This coffee house offers a separate children’s playroom, so don’t hesitate to bring the kids along and stay a spell.

Spring Lake offers its visitors even more outdoor escapes and tasty dining options. We shared a couple destinations you should check out year-round on “Celebrate Spring in the Town of Spring Lake.” Yet another reason to visit the area is happening this Saturday (October 28th) at the town's annual Spring Lake Fall Festival—hayrides, food trucks, outdoor movie, costume contest and a ton of family fun. To see a list of more festivals, holiday happenings and events going on around Cumberland County, refer to the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau's Calendar of Events.

@springlakeoutpost pictures used with permission

spring lake

spring lake

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