Coastal NC

VOL14ISS1 2018

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10 THE ORIGINAL RELOCATION GUIDE — CAPE FEAR NC | VOLUME 14—ISSUE 1 CAPE FEAR LIVING Cape Fear Living BY VERA WILSON It's a bright sunny day in downtown Wilmington, and the bashful breeze along the Riverwalk makes the wait to board the boat a pleasant one. But it's not long before you're welcomed onto the Captain J.N. Maffitt, a Cape Fear riverboat that's been taking locals and visitors on scenic cruises along the waterways of the Cape Fear region for over 30 years. And there's no better way to absorb and appreciate this coastal area of North Carolina than by boat, so anchors aweigh! As the vessel leaves the dock and plots a course on the sprawling Cape Fear River, a glance to the right brings into view the city of Wilmington. Make a note of the numerous waterfront restaurants like The George on the Riverwalk, so you'll know where to eat when your tour has ended. Fans of the popular 1980s TV series 'Matlock' will recognize the courthouse; the program was part of the first wave of movies and television shows to be filmed in the area, earning the city the nickname Wilmywood. It's not unusual to see filming anywhere in the region, which has attracted filmmakers for many years to its diverse and beautiful surroundings. A little further down the river, you'll see students walking on the campus of Cape Fear Community College, one of the crown jewels of the state's college system along with UNC- Wilmington just a few miles away. The northern tip of Wilmington showcases a new marina with nearby residential living in the form of modern apartments and condominiums. Further inland you'll find businesses and neighborhoods that are thriving. For those who prefer a Bohemian vibe, there's plenty to do in the up-and coming Brooklyn Arts district. Eclectic shops like Athenian Press & Workshops and Vintage Vagabond on Wrightsville Avenue or Castle Street's antique store district are the perfect places to find exceptional gifts. As the cruise leaves the city in its wake, it's only natural to turn your head to the opposing side of the river, and all of a sudden you're more in the world of Huck Finn than any television star. The captain's careful to navigate the piece of driftwood jutting out of the water, where a row of turtles are soaking up the sun. A glance to the shore brings into view a line of ghost trees, bald-cypress trees so named because they remain standing for decades despite being dead. Against the slow-moving river, the trees create an eerie swamp-like scene, representative of much of the ecology of the river as it moves through the central part of the state. Then it's time for the boat to turn around and head back east. The USS North Carolina, a decommissioned battleship turned museum, comes in the line of sight. Soon the boat passes under the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, the gateway to one of the fastest growing areas of the country, Brunswick County. Let's take a quick break from our boat ride and head to dry land to explore some of this county's towns like Leland, St. James and Southport. A relatively new town, Leland represents a more affordable alternative to its neighboring beach communities and Wilmington but still offers the conveniences of larger locales. A week doesn't go by that a 'Grand Opening' sign announces the arrival of a new restaurant, store or neighborhood. Further south lies St. James, basically a vast residential neighborhood turned township in 1999. Known for its active retirees who are searching for fun in the sun, they make good use of the town's four golf courses, tennis and pickleball courts, swimming pools and a full service marina and beach club on the shores of nearby Oak Island. But St. James is not just attracting seniors; it's no surprise that visiting kids and grandkids fall hook, line and sinker for the area and buy a new home just blocks from the grandparents. These young professionals know that jobs are plentiful in the region as Wilmington has something of a reputation as an entrepreneurial center with companies like Live Oak Bank, nCino, Castlebranch and N2 Publishing getting their sea legs in Wilmington and adding staff at a steady pace. Large established employers in the area include industry giants PPD, Corning and General Electric. >> waterways, miles of beach, and the seafood!

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