Sunday, August 7, 2011

Slippin' Southern Explores Wilmington

Wilmington boardwalk near our hotel
Last weekend we decided we needed a little getaway from the farm fields of Snow Hill so our family drove down to Wilmington to hand-deliver a lovely order to one of our newest retailers that has just started carring our signs in the downtown historic waterfront district. We blew into town around 2:00 pm, very exhausted since we had just spent the last few days producing three new large retail orders plus getting out many of our lovely Etsy customer's orders too. And we've done it all during this fabulous heat wave we've been having on the East coast.

A Proper Garden, a great place to shop y'all
 Once we arrived downtown, which we knew little about, we went straight to Ann Street and into our newest retailers great brick and mortor location, A Proper Garden, which  is very charming. It's a little garden, a little historic, a little artsy and Lotta cool. After exchanging introductions with Peg, the owner, a great fun lady, and wandering around her cute shop then popped across the street to Elijah's and took a table at the bar which overlooks the beautiful Cape Fear River. We were starved, hot and wanted to take in the waterfront for a moment and this was the place to do it. While sippin' martinis we sampled their wonderful oysters Rockefeller, Oysters Elijah's (over flowing with crab dip) and some nice, chilled. peal-n-eat shrimp. While I was relaxing here I felt totally relaxed and that there must be so much to explore here. I wanted to jump up and see it all and at the same time, just sit right there all afternoon.

A little further down the boardwalk near Elijah's
If you are a water-lovin', southern crab like me, yes, I'm a Cancer, you'll love the downtown waterfront. I was totally in my happy place here. All of the shops, hotels and restaurants in Wilmington sit right on the river and are connected by a very nice dock-like boardwalk. It would be possible, but not on a hot day like ours, to walk from any of the hotels all the way down to any restaurant you wanted. On this weekend, there were several weddings going on so brides maids and groomsmen peppered every establishment we went in to.

I love staying in hotels. I love the crisp cool sheets, the quiet seclusion and the fact that no one in the world knows where I am when I'm there. Across the river from our hotel room sat the majestic USS North Carolina, a WWII battleship that was totally restored with proceeds from the school children of NC along with the help of a few investors. We didn't bother to tour the ship on this visit since the heat was unbearable but we do plan to come back when the weather gets cooler this fall. I also love touring battleships, the USS Alabama in Mobile is a great ship to visit too, I went there many times as a kid.

The Dixie Grill, a great place to get grits in the city
On Sunday morning we got dressed and did what Susan always wants to do in a new town, get a good cooked breakfast. And in Wilmington, look no further than the Dixie Grill on Market street. The experience begins as soon as you drive up to the door. The look is very 60s throwback. There is a huge Peter Max 7-Up sign just inside and all of the walls are covered with kitchy paintings for sale by local artists. The service was phenomenal. We loved that we were seated in the kitchen so we could see the cooks making everything. This place is atmosphere on steroids, booths, lots of vegetarian items on menu too, Plus, on top of everything there was live music too! I felt like we were in a hip eatery or diner in Chicago, it was one of the most surprising places we've seen in NC, no offense Bojanles'.

NC Aquarium Aligator saying Hey Y'all
Our plan for this overnight trip was to see a little of the town the first night and then go out to the beaches the next day. But it was so hot that we decided to do something that was a little darker and cooler.... so we went to the NC Aquarium. And just as I had hoped, it was cool, dark and very interesting. It's located out on Kure Beach at Fort Fisher. Among the many exhibits we saw, I was most impressed with the alligators in the atrium entrance including an albino alligator. Also on the inside, there was an Open Oceans Exhibit that let you actually hold live sea urchins, star fish and touch horseshoe crabs.

Susan and me enjoying Sweet Tea at the Dixie Grill
I have to say, since our home is in the middle of a corn field, Wilmington is now added to my list of new happy places to visit in North Carolina. It's got water, food, drink and so many things to see y'all, we will return for more very soon, heck, I'm even thinkin' of a second home here.

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