Ask a Local: North Carolina Transcript
Wilmington Speaker 1:
I've always loved the ocean. I’ve always loved the environment of the ocean. When I moved to Wilmington, one of the first things I did was get a surfboard and just went out into the ocean. Immediately fell in love with surfing. It was truly amazing, and it was almost like a spiritual thing for me – just wanted to stay in the ocean as long as possible.
I moved down to Wilmington to find a teaching job. And I decided I really liked it here and I didn't want to move away from Wilmington. Wilmington has a great small-town feel. It’s a place where everyone knows each other's names. And you get on the beach and it's not all the hustle and bustle of a big city.
Wilmington is one of the most historic towns in the United States, and you're going to go through all these historical homes that were built during the Civil War, past these old courthouses where movies are still filmed today. And you’re going to go past Wrightsville Beach, which in its own flavor, has this great history to it, lots of surfing. And then you can kind of come down into Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. That's more of the smaller town, not quite as touristy, but still has that real coastal community feel. We've got one of the greatest boardwalks in the country. We’ve got amusement rides, and if you have kids, they can go to the beach, they can go to the parks, they can go on the nature trails. They’ve got this endless amount of space to play.
Wilmington has one of the coolest nicknames; it’s called “Hollywood of the East,” and we have lots of different movies and TV shows that have been filmed here. There’s a lot of actors that stay in Wilmington that love it so much; some of them start their own acting camps. But it also kind of spawns off lots of different theatrical performances.
Wilmington Speaker 2:
As an actor, Wilmington is amazing in terms of its performing arts community. There are dinner theater productions, live music, poetry slams, karaoke nights, improvisation, live comedy events.
Wilmington Speaker 1:
And that also leads to great live music. Lots of actors perform in bands and we have a great live music scene that’s in Wilmington and on the beaches.
If you come to Carolina Beach, and you go nowhere else, you have to experience the Fat Pelican. It is literally one of the greatest dive bars in the world. You never know what you're going to find. Unique bar.
Wilmington has an amazing greenway system that is slowly being connected to all the islands, which is pretty cool. It's a really neat open space to be able to ride your bike clean across the whole county and to be able to experience all these magical areas.
Wilmington, Kure Beach, Carolina Beach – we all have amazing restaurants. We actually have world-renowned chefs that continue to come here, and it’s kind of one of those neat places where the fisherman still catch the fish and the oysters come locally. Britts Donuts is world-famous. It wins one of the top donuts every single year. People come from all over the country just to eat a donut. It’s the same donut; you’re only getting a glazed donut. It opens at 8:30; you should probably start lining up at 8 a.m. It’ll be a long line and one of the local secrets is you go and you sit at the counter, and you get either a hot chocolate or a cup of milk, and you can get your donuts without having to wait in line.
This is one of the best places in the world to learn to surf because it has such a long coastal area and sandy beaches and beautiful sandbars, which are perfect for small waves. And we have a huge coastline, so it spreads everybody out so you're not surfing through a million people, which is one of the reasons a lot of people want to come here to surf.
So, I have probably one of the most unique non-profits in the country. It’s based on using the ocean as a healing factor. And we take many different people with disabilities into the ocean to have that peaceful moment, to catch those waves, and then they feel that energy and it gets into them and then they just want it again and again and again and again.
One of the things that I think makes this coastal community one of the greatest communities, possibly in the world, is this beach floor mat. And what it is, is it’s a mat that lays on the sand and it allows someone in a regular wheelchair to come down onto the beach and it gives true independence.
In Wilmington, you have this amazing historical town blended with the coastal community. There’s endless amounts of things to do, always kind of exciting things happening, and you can go stick your toes in the sand and get in the ocean and just enjoy it.
We talk to a lot of guests here who are visiting and the common phrase is that, “I don't know what it is about this place, but I really love it here.” My friend and I had a couple of friends in Raleigh that were part of the music scene here and I just really had this like sense of longing to be here, and it just felt like a really great place to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. And turns out, I just wanted to stay in Raleigh so, here I am.
I’ve just always loved food and always been fascinated by it. And I became a chef because I owned a restaurant. Raleigh is this unlikely culinary epicenter. And I think the role of the farmers market can’t be underestimated. We have a very large farmers market about a mile-and-a-half or two from downtown. Then we have international immigration communities, and so that makes somebody who is into food have access to a bunch of ingredients that they might just read about in Saveur that month.
Our businesses just happen to be housed in one building, but we have events like at least three or four nights a week, and when we opened this rendition of Kings, having a place for bands, it was really important to me for them to have a great experience when they came through on tour. Then we also have comedy and we do jazz improv downstairs at Neptunes.
So, what makes Raleigh a tourist destination? What we have is a lot of creative endeavors. We have great museums. They get really great national exhibits and then all of the restaurants surrounding that. Van Nolintha and his sister, Vanvisa, they are from Laos and opened Bida Manda down the street.
Welcome to Bida Manda. We are one of the first Laotian restaurants in the United States. Bida Manda [are the] Sanscript words for “father” and “mother.” So it’s very special to have the parent’s portraits greeting our friends and family and neighbors into this space.
And then they opened a brewery, Bhavana. And they have a flower shop and a little bookstore. And that sounds completely disconnected, but it’s not. Ashley Christensen, the owner of Poole’s Diner, just won outstanding chef in the nation, and I think she really figured out that connection between bringing people together to cook, bringing people together to eat and then bringing people together to give.
ALTA Bread is a phenomenal bakery. They source their own whole-grain wheat and mill their own flour. They’re not open every single morning, but when they are, they pretty much sell out of stuff. You can’t not go there. Across the street or I guess catty-corner from CAM is one of the older-newer restaurants in Raleigh called Humble Pie. Retail, oh God, we have Raleigh Denim, who are doing amazing things with fabric and exploring the textile history of North Carolina. Yeah, I mean that's just like in this four-block radius. That’s pretty crazy, right?
So, there's a new boutique hotel in Raleigh called guest house that’s owned by Matt and Nichole who are this amazing couple that have just the best sense of design and hospitality. In the way they’ve renovated it, it has maintained the original story of the family that used to live there. It was owned by the first African American mail carrier and the way they've built it out, yeah, it's a wonderful place to stay.
Raleigh creates this general culture of creativity and potential. That is the thing that has, like, really made this place be as special as it is. The more the city grows with people doing all of these independent projects that are becoming the landscape, I think that that is going to be the thing that makes our city grow in a very thoughtful and creative way.