She Explores North Carolina's
Cape Fear Coast
me. I recently had the pleasure of spending three days exploring
North Carolina's Cape Fear Coast.
It was a whirlwind introductory tour packed with a great many
lovely experiences -- proof positive that I must definitely
go back and linger. All the ingredients for a family road
trip, a couples vacation or a girlfriends getaway were right
there and ready to be discovered. I
smiled to myself as I ticked each goody off -- pleasant weather,
wonderful white sandy beaches, fishing piers and boardwalks,
informal fine dining opportunities, historical sites, gorgeous
gardens, nautical museums, pirate history and oodles of welcoming
southern hospitality. Oh, and did I mention TV and film production?
Fans of the 'big' and 'small' screen will revel in the strong
filmmaking connection in North Carolina. We did, and loved
road trip started in North Carolina beginning as we crossed
the South Carolina border and ended in historic Wilmington.
In those three days my travelling pals and I discovered absolutely
charming treasures and uncovered a great many delightful female-centered
connections. What I didn't experience myself, the women in
the area filled me in about. Here are our Journeywoman suggestions
to get you started on your own Cape Fear explorations (preferably
in a fabulous red convertible). Have fun, everybody!
connecting beach towns...
you're a sun and sand kind of girl be sure to pack your
bikini and lots of sun screen. North Carolina boasts
31 miles of island beaches -- Carolina
Beach with its warm ocean water and
fabulous Thursday evening fireworks,
Kure Beach including historic
and Wrightsville Beach
that hosts a Castles & Scoops Sand Sculpting Contest
every summer. All three sit on two barrier islands that
are part of the Cape Fear Coast. Each has a different
ambience, each offers activities and interests to suit
the whole family. To plan your own route call 1.866.534.0848
for a free Visitors Guide of the area or consult their
Fun beach facts:
despair if you don't get time to pick up a bathing suit
before you leave home. Just pop into the Redix
Department store in Wrightsville Beach.
The locals tell me that they stock everything from fishing
tackle to designer fashions and the best selection of
beachwear around. Address: 120 Causeway Dr., Wrightsville
Beach. Tel: 910. 256.2201. Website: http://www.wrightsville.com/redix.htm
Beach boasts the oldest donut shop in the area. Still
at the same boardwalk location where it began business
in 1939, Britt's Donut
Shop turns out homemade glazed donuts
by the dozens of dozens. They open only from April till
October and they have no phone. Just follow the sweet
smells to #11 Boardwalk, California Beach and enjoy.
Carolina Aquarium at Fisher Island with its children's
touch tank and other innovative programs deserves special
mention. Their aquarium gift shop is one of the best
we've seen in a long time. Journeywoman found a delightful
children's book called Sharks
for the little guy in her life. He loved it. Finally,
we'd be remiss if we didn't single out the Aquarium's
giant resident sea turtle, a female that rules one of
their largest fish tank with ease. You go girl!
little bit of Hollywood...
to the Film
Junkie's Guide to Northern Carolina (Connie Nelson
and Floyd Harris), 'For nearly two decades, North Carolina
has ranked behind only California and New York in film
production'. Dawson's Creek, Blue Velvet and the chick
flick, Dirty Dancing were all shot in North Carolina.
Movies like Betsy's Wedding contained scenes filmed
in Carolina Beach State Park and Divine Secrets of the
Ya-Ya Sisterhood used Buckner
Hill Plantation in Faison (an hour's
drive from Wilmington) as one of their locations.
in seeing the sets from Dawson's Creek? Want to learn
how commercials are made? In Wilmington, from April
Frank Capra Jr.'s
EUE/Screen Gems studios offers guided
walking tours of their premises where over 300 productions
have been shot. Enthusiastic film students lead these
walks and do their best to answer any questions you
might have. Website: http://www.screengemsstudios.com
Fun cinema facts:
Visitor's Bureau offers free FAQ sheets
with self-guided tours to locations used in 'Dawson's
Creek' and 'One Tree Hill.' Call: 1.866.266.9690
Tours of Buckner Hill
Plantation (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya
Sisterhood) are by appointment only. We suggest you
watch the film prior to your visit. It will greatly
enhance your experience. Website: http://www.carolinaplantation.com.
your eyes and ears open when you're in Wilmington. One
never knows when you'll spot a Hollywood hottie in and
around town. When Journeywoman was there there was talk
of Richard Gere coming to the area to work. Yum!
if you feel like having dinner or you'd rather catch
a film? Now you can do both at Wilmington's Hollywood
East Cinema Grill. (4402 Shipyard Blvd). Tickets
are sold on a first-come basis with deals like Two Dollar
Tuesdays or Three Dollar Saturday Matinees. Place your
food order separately when you arrive. Choose from salads,
wings, hamburgers, sandwiches. Meals are served once
the lights are dimmed. What a fun and funky idea! Call:
a treat to explore historic Wilmington.
Not far from Cape Fear's sandy beaches, this funky port
city (population 95,000) is situated on a tapering peninsula
between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River.
had only one day to scout the city center with its brick
and cobblestone streets but I could easily have used
double that time. There is so much rich history in this
area; one has the sense that each and every building
has an interesting story to tell. Once the largest city
in North Carolina, Wilmington began its economic decline
in 1960 when they lost the headquarters of the Atlantic
Coast Line Railroad company to Jacksonville, Florida.
Today, many decades later Wilmington is a city in transition.
Older historical homes and buildings taken for granted
for so many years are being bought up and restored to
their former southern stature. Yuppies need not apply
for renovation permits in this town. Those in charge
boast about their stringent guidelines and strict building
codes. Only appropriate architectural styles, colors
and add-ons are being approved and that's what makes
exploring Wilmington's historical center such a pleasure.
Be sure to take note of the wonderful front verandas
in the residential areas. Once the weather gets warmer
they become the families' outdoor living rooms and a
pleasant way for local families to connect with their
and breakfast heaven...
of these lovely Wilmington homes have been transformed
into gracious bed and breakfast establishments boasting
unique southern hospitality. Three in particular are
owned by women and are located right in the heart of
the historical district. (1) Janice Thomas, innkeeper
French House with its 1850's kitchen
has had the pleasure of hosting actors like Jeremy Irons
and Michelle Williams when they worked in Wilmington,
(2) The eco-friendly and restored Colonial
Inn is run by Candy & Kathleen,
and (3) The
River Inn, a turreted Queen Anne
home is owned by Jenny McKinnon Wright who is also an
accomplished artist. Take your pick but you needn't
worry about making a mistake. Each establishment has
its own southern charm and grace.