I’ve heard rave reviews of North Carolina (for some reason it seems like there are tons of New Yorkers from there) and thanks to a friend’s wedding I was finally able to come up with a good excuse to spend the weekend in North Carolina. I loved it way more than I imagined (I guess I thought it would be similar to Texas? But it definitely wasn’t) and I’m already dreaming up another return trip. My friend’s wedding was located in Wilmington, but because the flights to Wilmington are few in number and slightly expensive, I decided to fly to Raleigh instead and drive the 2 hours to Wilmington.
I can’t begin to explain my obsession with Raleigh. Prior to my arrival, and boy did I have a rough arrival (my plane sat on the Raleigh airport tarmac for an hour after having been delayed in New York for 2 hours so I actually didn’t land until 1am), I thought that Raleigh would be similar to Houston in that it would pale in comparison to NYC and have that boring big city vibe. I was so wrong! Its hard to describe what the Raleigh vibe is exactly, but it is definitely the opposite of boring. For starters, the food scene here is the best. There were so many restaurants I wanted to try and so little time that I knew I had to make another trip here. My friends and I are all fans of the James Beard award winning chef, Ashley Christensen, so we made it one of our goals to eat at her restaurants. Unfortunately, Beasley’s Chicken and Honey had an insane line out the door so we made the difficult decision to walk away (don’t worry I will be back!) and we later ate at Poole’s Diner instead. Poole’s macaroni and cheese is to die for- its also plated in the biggest bowl ever so be prepared to share with friends (although yes I did attempt to eat the entire bowl myself). One of my travel goals is to drink my favorite drink, bubble tea, in every destination I go to. So I stopped by Budacai for their cute little teas and loved how milky the drink was! Another unfortunate thing that happened to me on the trip (food related of course) was that because my flight was delayed so long I missed the dinner reservation at Bida Manda, an award winning Laotian restaurant. I had been looking forward to trying their unique Asian dishes and was sorely disappointed that I would be missing out. To help lighten my disappointment, however, my friends brought me to Heirloom Coffee Shop, owned by the same brother/sister owners of Bida Manda, where I was able to drink a delicious honey lavender coffee and eat a black sesame mochi donut. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the simplicity of Raleigh and I can’t wait to return!
The main reason why I was even in North Carolina to begin with was located here! I watched my beautiful friend Amanda marry the love of her life in an adorable church (and I can’t really explain how adorable it really was) on the corner of a darling street in Wilmington. I’m pretty sure many eyes teared up when the couple was exchanging vows- I know mine did!
The day after the wedding I had some time to explore the rest of Wilmington, which led me to the outdoor restaurant, Dockside. If you’re looking for southern classics mixed in with seafood, this is the place! I was finally able to get my fried green tomatoes here (something that isn’t served in the north) and the bartender was so nice that she didn’t bother charging me for my virgin strawberry cocktail.
We also walked along the Wilmington Boardwalk, which appeared like it came out of a dream with its quaint wooden buildings and clear shimmering waters. I felt as if I was in a Nicholas Sparks movie, which for those of you who don’t know, all Nicholas Sparks movies are based on locations in North Carolina. Upon further research, I realized that there are websites dedicated to visiting Nicholas Sparks filming locations so I will keep that in mind for my future North Carolina trips.
Wrightsville Beach is about a 30 minute drive from Wilmington and one of the most charming seaside towns I’ve ever seen. Its a very quiet and peaceful sort of place and I desperately wish I had more time to stroll its tiny stores or read a book on its sandy beach.
My newfound love for North Carolina was so unexpected! Where should I visit next in this beautiful state?