Trees make shady High Point the perfect summer escape. Not only do the maples, oaks, cherries, and pines give ample coverage from the sun, but they also lure woodworkers to this town founded in 1859, cementing its status as the Furniture Capital of the World.
Fortunately, High Point believes that furnishing your home need not cost a fortune. Whatever you desire--rugs, chairs, beds, armoires, entertainment centers, tables, lamps, curtains--may all be found in the area known for some of the best prices anywhere. Plus, the town itself provides a top-drawer mini-vacation. The money you save on furnishings will more than pay for a weekend of swank hotels, fine meals, and smashing golf.
Because High Point shutters most of its doors on Sunday, you should get a jump on your trip by arriving Thursday evening. Or better yet, come Sunday night, and plan your "weekend" for Monday and Tuesday when the crowds are gone.
Fares into nearby airports typically range on the pricey side. Many visitors opt to drive. Either way, consider making your base of operations Grandover Resort. Opened in 1999, it sits just minutes from most of the major furniture outlets, and though it strikes us as a posh hotel geared for the business set, Grandover also caters to bargain hunters. Room rates officially start at $189 per night, but we called a week before visiting and snagged a special rate of $149. Though that's more than we generally like to pay for lodging, the hotel's 36 holes of golf, gorgeous tennis courts, and deluxe spa facilities will give you a welcome break from shopping; 1-800-472-6301 or www.grandoverresort.com.
For a less expensive alternative, bunk at the J. H. Adams Inn, a gorgeous house on the National Register of Historic Places. This is no musty bed-and-breakfast. With 30 unique rooms, first-class furniture, and loads of Southern charm and personality, the Adams Inn instantly became one of our favorites. Room rates begin at $109; (336) 882-3267.
In fact, to really start your weekend off on the right claw and ball, make reservations at the Adams' on-site restaurant, Southern Roots. We adored the pan-seared Chilean sea bass on Hoppin' John risotto, garnished with a divine tomato-basil relish sauce and red pepper salsa ($25). The twice-baked corn-and-herb pudding ($17) was also a fantastic summer dish.
Stores in High Point fill up, especially on weekends, so don't linger in bed. The first stop, Boyles Distinctive Furniture, opens at 8:30 a.m; (336) 812-2200. Upon entering Boyles, you may get the impression that we've sent you to some fancy-schmancy place with high prices. Not so. The tickets on furniture from Baker, Bernhardt, Henkel-Harris, Henredon, Ralph Lauren, Southampton, and Thomasville are as much as 50% off retail. The guest book logged bargain hunters from as far away as Texas, Hawaii, Nigeria, and Thailand. We think that's due, in part, to the superior service. Thoughtful displays give ideas worth stealing, and the salespeople are attentive but not pushy.
After Boyles, ease across the parking lot to Ziba Oriental Rugs; (336) 812-2242. You may not need a handmade rug, but the 20,000 square feet of Persian splendor is sure to impress. Stacks of new, antique, contemporary, formal, casual, traditional, and funky area rugs await inspection. Any size, color, and price is available. Just ask.
For lunch, head to Marisol on High Point Road; (336) 852-3303. At night an appetizer costs $9 to $15, but during the day, the restaurant's kitchen churns out the same delicious food at half the cost. One of the more expensive items on the menu ($14) may also be the best: Knife & Fork Grilled Lobster Quesadilla stuffed with avocado, coriander salsa, and shaved red onions.
Ready for more shopping? Take the afternoon to head to tiny Thomasville, just 8 ½ miles from High Point. There you can visit the Thomasville factory outlet for displays, seconds, and overruns; (336) 476-2371. Also, don't miss downtown's quaint park bedecked by a giant chair.
Any remaining time you have left today should be spent relaxing. Play golf or tennis, get a massage, or check out the Furniture Discovery Center in High Point; (336) 887-3876. You need to rest up for tomorrow, which holds the big kahuna of furniture shopping.
Unwind with dinner at Giovanni's; (336) 852-8890. Though the atmosphere feels dated, the excellent staff and hearty fare more than make up for the Reagan-era decor. In fact, fans of authentic Italian food from the Valle d'Aosta region will be surprised to find this cuisine in the hills of North Carolina. The pastas are fresh, and the veal and chicken superb. A great dinner can be had, with a glass of wine, for less than $25 per person.
Furniture shops abound in High Point. A simple drive through town would provide at least a dozen we could write about in this space. If you ask locals for a specific type of furniture, say wicker or American Colonial, chances are they'll be able to direct you to the perfect store.
But no trip to High Point should take place without a stop at Furnitureland South; (336) 841-4328. Behind a huge 85-foot-tall highboy sits the area's largest showroom, a million square feet stocked with every stick of furniture imaginable.
There are rooms that look like New York City apartments. Some resemble Montana ski lodges. Others seem to hail from Key West or pre-revolution Cuba. In the bedding area, there are 73 different kinds of mattresses to bounce on. Type "patio furniture" into the computer kiosks scattered throughout the property (or at www.furniturelandsouth.com), and you'll get hundreds of examples.
We found two nightstands, a chest, dresser, queen-size bed, and mirror for just $1,721. A leather chair that retails for $1,164 cost only $582. An 86-inch-long sofa (complete with eight-way, hand-tied springs) normally sells for $3,103, but here it sported a price of $1,500. Best of all, the staff of 180 decorators and salespeople are extraordinarily helpful.
Set aside at least a day here--doors open at 8:30 a.m. and close at 5:30 p.m. (They're open until 8:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday.) Eat breakfast in the coffee shop, Bear Rock Coffee and Treats. Lunch on fresh salads and hearty sandwiches (all less than $10) at Bear Rock Cafe, the in-house restaurant. Then head home with your treasures.
This article is from the July 2004 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.