She Explores North Carolina's
Cape Fear Coast
best way to acquaint yourself with a new place as well
as to meet other tourists visiting the area is to take
an introductory walking tour. One of Wilmington's local
treasures is longtime resident and historian, Bob Jenkins.
From April till October, he leads city tours twice a
day (10 a.m. & 2 p.m) under the banner of Wilmington
Adventure Walking Tours. Bob has an
absolute passion for the history of the region which
he imparts with an exaggerated southern drawl, lots
of dry humor and a gleam in his eye. Walkers convene
at Riverfront Park at the foot of Market Street. Bob
is hard to miss. He'll be wearing a straw hat and carrying
his signature walking stick. Tel: 910.763.1785. Fee:
out the river front...
sure to sashay along the River
Walk on Water Street -- a portion of
brick and wooden walkway bordering the Cape Fear River.
Antique light standards, mini parks and scenic overlooks
create a lovely, relaxing atmosphere as you take your
evening stroll. Chances are you'll see the Henrietta
III Riverboat as it cruises by with
passengers on deck watching you, watching them. The
Battleship North Carolina,
the most decorated battleship of World War II is now
a wonderful floating museum on the Cape Fear River.
On Friday evenings in May visitors can enjoy films on
her deck, under the stars, just like her crew did during
the war. At $1.00 per ticket, plus $1.00 for popcorn
and sodas this makes for great local entertainment.
Nothing like a good film combined with day dreams of
all those yummy sailors who made this battleship their
home. Website: http://www.battleshipnc.org/
it to a woman! It was Sarah Jones, the wife of a wealthy
industrialist who in 1901 was responsible for the first
formal gardens in Airlie. Today
Airlie Gardens (300 Airlie Road) is
a lovely oasis for visitors and locals alike. Plant
walks are the fourth Wednesday of each month with Katie
Elzer-Peters, Head of Gardens. The walks are free with
admission and leave at 10:00 AM from the Garden Services
Center. Want to go off and explore on your own? Be sure
to stop at the classical Italian
Pergola Garden, the Minnie
Evans Sculpture Garden, and the Camelia
Garden with its collectIon of antique
camellias (circa early 1900). All pure delight. Website:
Fun floral facts:
part in a local tradition that is a perfect example
of Southern hospitality and traditions. Each April North
Carolina welcomes spring with the North
Carolina Festival, the Azelea
Garden Tour (www.azaleagardentour.org)
and the annual Azalea
Home Tour (www.historicwilmington.org).
Everybody comes out to celebrate -- there are street
fairs, clowns, live entertainment and a fabulous parade
to introduce Queen Azalea and her local princesses.
food is not for sissies...
are huge, fried chicken is fabulous, pecan pie calls
out to you and corn bread hush puppies are irresistible.
There's surf, there's turf and there's key lime dessert.
have to diet before or after your trip so you might
as well forget the calorie counting and just enjoy.
Want to sound like a Southerner when you're ordering
your meal? Ask for sweet
tea which is simply iced tea as they drink it in
the South -- brewed with the sugar or sweetener already
is always looking for informal, women-friendly eating
spots. In Wilmington I met friends at the Front
Street Brewery (9 N. Front Street) and
enjoyed the food and lively atmosphere. Since the noisy
downstairs bar is devoted to the sampling of micro-brews
we headed for the first floor level where the gourmet
pub meals are served. Menu items range from fried green
tomato starters to a delightful salmon salad to peppercorn
steak as well as chicken in mustard cream sauce. Dessert
selections include berry ice cream, cheese cake, pecan
pie and chocolate goodies almost too decadent to mention.
Service was pub-style informal but most attentive.
Journeywoman style, we also asked one of the local women
where she and her girlfriends like to go in the evenings.
Connie offered these two female-friendly recommendations
French bistro/wine bar on the Riverwalk is called Le
Catalan. This is a great place to watch
one of Wilmington's southern sunsets, enjoy after-dinner
drinks, sample lite fare, and practice your people-watching
skills'. Website: www.lecatalan.com.
downtown restaurant that is a favorite amongst my girlfriends
is Circa 1922.
When we’re with a group we get tables but when
we’re alone or just two of us, we sit at the bar
to order. Portions of food are tapas-size and they have
early evening appetizer specials. Circa 1922 boasts
a great wine list--and they will pour half-glasses of
wine on request. They have both male and female bartenders
that are friendly and easy to talk to. The place is
always upbeat, and on weekends there’s live music,
usually piano or jazz combo. Finally for ladies who
love chocolate as much as I do, the warm chocolate bar
cake is a must—chocolate cake with warm chocolate
syrup inside served with kahlua ice cream and whipped
cream…mmmmmm!' Website: www.circa1922.com
shopping in Wilmington...
expect retail chains like Gap, Pottery Barn and big
department stores. Wilmington's historic center supports
individual merchants and that's what makes shopping
here so much fun. You never know what you're going to
find. Journeywoman suggests you begin by popping into
the Old Cotton Exchange,
now a warren of over 30 unique specialty stores and
restaurants. Check out Kringles
Korner (910.762.7528) for souvenir Christmas
in the Wind, a full service kite shop
(1.800.691.8034), and Two
Sisters Bookery (910.762.4444) where
you'll find the latest books on how to cook like a lovely
Southern belle. All three places make great stops for
a travelling woman's gift shopping spree. Website: http://www.shopcottonexchange.com
the unusual. While window shopping on South Front Street
(#20), Journeywoman discovered
Planet, a gift shop that stocks a large
variety of rubber duck bathtub toys. We couldn't resist
a scuba diver duck, a cowboy duck and an angel duck
complete with wings and halo. They were $2.95 each.
Even if you're not a collector, these funny yellow creatures
make sweet gifts for anybody young or old who has a
sense of whimsy and humour. Tel: 910.341.0036
doors up on the same street is one of the oldest antique
shops in the area. Antiques
of Old Wilmington (25 South Front Street)
was established in 1892 and is one of more than 35+
antique shops in the Greater Wilmington area. Expect
to find examples of interesting light fixtures, sweet
lamps and assorted accessories from days gone by. Then
on to 27 South Front Street where you'll have great
fun poking through the eclectic collection of goodies
at Virginia Jennewein
& Julie Courtwright Antiques. Still
haven't found what you need or want? Ask for a copy
of the free 'Guide to
Greater Wilmington Antique Shops' leaflet
available at either of these shops. It's compiled by
the area's Antique Dealers Association and contains
a map with short notes on all member shops and dealers.
really want to go back in time, pay a short visit to
Tom's Drug Store,
a Wilmington landmark since 1932 (1 North Front Street).
Plunk down $5.00 and a staff member will hand over a
small brown bottle of astyptodyne, advertised as an
old family elixir since the early 1900's. Made from
the region's long leaf pine trees it's a purported natural
cure-all for aches, pains, scrapes, bites and cold symptoms.
While we won't vouch for this touted healing wonder,
I did try a teeny bit under my nose. It made my eyes
water but it cleared my sinuses immediately. Call: 910.762.3391
know that there's nothing like an elegant shop that
sells elegant clothing for elegant women. In Old
Wilmington's City Market,
Ropa, Etc. (120-B Front Street) takes
first prize in this category. Expect to find lines from
Liz and Jane, Flax, Willow and Cut-Loose -- all in easy
care fabrics. We loved their Pure hand-knit sweaters
as well as their interesting collection of handmade
jewelry. This shop will be Journeywoman's number one
stop when we return for our next spree (910. 815.0344).
For the thirtysomething woman expecting fashion that's
a little edgier, you must pop into Sambuca
owned by a young Wilmington local who
is adept at staying ahead of the trends. We loved not
only her clothing lines but also the way she displays
her cool inventory. Address: 20 N. Front Street.
to the maximum! Back at Old
Wilmington's City Market (119 South
Front Street), four female entrepreneurs invite you
to check out their offerings. Karen owns Ladybugs
that stocks an old fashion candy collection and an interesting
selection of gifts (910.815.0808). You'll recognize
Lisa's shop, Found Handmade
Boutique by the pink sewing machine
displayed front and center. Her previously owned sweaters
with newly applied appliques will make your mouth water
Eclectic Everything is exactly as the
name implies -- new art, gently used designer clothing,
new custom pillows, a collection of antiques and much,
much more. Sarah, the proprietor also serves as an unofficial
tour guide in the market - helping visitors find their
way around downtown (910.200.9595). Finally, Aurora's
Vintage Jewelry is an absolutely funky
find. Her mini shop showcases a hodge podge collection
of fine costume jewelry -- true collectibles -- early
Miriam Haskell, Coro, Trifari, Kenneth J. Lane, etc.
(910.352.7551). Happy shopping everybody!