Coastal NC

VOL14ISS1 2018

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18 THE ORIGINAL RELOCATION GUIDE — CAPE FEAR NC | VOLUME 14—ISSUE 1 Think beaches, water, coast, and Wilmington comes to mind. The Riverfront city's popularity is at fever pitch with tourists and locals who pledge to never live anywhere else–from students at UNC-Wilmington to retirees. Wilmington is on nearly every "who's who" list of best places to visit and live. The city has been selected as one of TripAdvisor's 2018 Travelers' Choice "Top Destinations on the Rise – United States." The vibrant riverfront location, also home to three nearby island beaches, ranked third out of 10 on the TripAdvisor list for the top trending spots in 2018. Wilmington was the only North Carolina destination included in this list. Water is the elixir that draws all ages to the coastal slice of paradise year-round. Three beaches are a major part of the Wilmington destination – Wrightsville, Carolina and Kure, each with their own colorful vibe and "island culture." Hang ten on a big wave at Wrightsville, kayak on the Intercoastal Waterway or take a lazy boat ride on the famed Cape Fear River. Restaurants congregate around the water front in Wilmington where the USS North Carolina battleship holds court on the river. The award-winning riverfront and River District is the enticement that draws restaurants, shops and hotels to its edge with its historic charm and modern amenities. Nearby downtown brings culture in the form of museums, theater, entertainment and more to the city. Local shops provide retail therapy. A city park with a stage and greenspace will soon add another reason to get outside. "Downtown Wilmington remains a hotbed of economic and cultural activity" said Ed Wolverton, president and CEO of Wilmington Downtown, Inc. "New stores, restaurants and attractions are expanding the mix and variety of choices in downtown and blending well with long-time favorites. Housing options are plentiful as new condominiums and apartments complement historic homes in our National Register Historic District. The recently-expanded Riverwalk serves as a linear park connecting residences, businesses, hospitality and recreational uses." Eating out while at the beach used to consist of mom and pop joints that served up baskets of fried shrimp and oysters at a seafood shack. Those days are gone and Wilmington's culinary chops are making it a destination a much for food as for the water. Renowned chefs head up farm-to-fork restaurants that delight and surprise guests. The Cooking Channel featured PinPoint restaurant owner/chef Dean Neff on "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" (season 8 in 2018). A celebrity in the food world, Chef Vivian Howard (PBS "A Chefs Life") set the city's restaurant scene on fire in December 2017 when she and husband Ben Knight, opened their first Wilmington, eatery – Benny's Big Time Pizzeria. Food & Wine has named Howard one of the "20 Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink." Her flagship restaurant, The Chef & The Farmer, has put Kinston on the map as a food destinations with guests traveling hours to eat at the famed restaurant. Diners have a new waterfront restaurant to try: Marina Grill at Port City Marina. Try a variety of starters from crispy pork rinds and shaved country ham with hush puppies and honey butter to deviled eggs topped with fried oysters and Sriracha. Something about salt air ratchets up the sweet tooth cravings. Doughnuts and ice cream rank high on beach lovers' lists and Wilmington has plenty of both. 24/7 Wall (2018) rated Wake 'n Bake Doughnuts as the "Best Doughnut Shop in North Carolina," citing flavors such as a ghost pepper-infused chocolate glaze, candied jalapeno, chocolate cherry whipped filling and more. "Margarita-ville" is nice but when it comes to the beach, the drink of choice for many is a cold beer. Wilmington and surround area is giving Asheville a serious run for its money with more than a dozen craft breweries open and nearly a half-dozen more expected to open in 2018. Edward Teach Brewing, named for North Carolina's most notorious pirate is located inside a renovated firehouse in the Brooklyn Arts District. Readers of Carolina Brew Scene (Dec. 2017) voted Wilmington as "Best Beer Town" in North Carolina.>> BY LYNNE BRANDON Wilmington arts scene, al fresco dining, wine and chocolate WILMINGTON

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