Shelves in our ABC Stores—state run liquor stores that keep prices high and make sure you can’t buy booze on Sunday—are lined with fancy little mason jars filled with white corn liquor mistakenly called “moonshine.” Locals know one thing: moonshine comes in a plain mason jar with two or three Xs on the lid and you don’t get it from the ABC Store, you get it from “a guy.”
No matter if you’re talking about North Carolina or South Carolina, the University of North Carolina—the Tarheels (and, incidentally, the only “Carolina”)—or the University of South Carolina—the Gamecocks (or cocks, for short), you just call it Carolina as if that’s ok. It’s not.
Nope, there’s Raleigh and there’s Durham, two awesome cities with an airport in between. We do have two hyphenated cities though: Fuquay-Varina and the better known Winson-Salem.
The Outer Banks are our northernmost beaches and they’re perfectly lovely, but they’re not the whole coast. From north to south there’s the Outer Banks, the Crystal Coast, Topsail Island and the Cape Fear Coast, and the Brunswick Isles.
Tea is sweet. Unless it’s hot tea, and who in their right mind orders hot tea? It’s already hot outside, and humid too, so the last thing you want is hot tea. Just take your ice-cold sweet tea and love it.
It’s tangy; thick; spreads perfectly on any kind of bread or biscuit; and it’s exactly what you need for your Pimento cheese, deviled eggs or cole slaw. And once you try it, you’ll never buy another brand again.
Yes, we have a State Toast. In fact, North Carolina’s the only state with an official toast. There are two versions, the short and the long. Most of the time you’ll hear the short version, but here’s the whole thing:
Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine,
The summer land where the sun doth shine,
Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great,
Here’s to “Down Home,” the Old North State!
Here’s to the land of the cotton bloom white,
Where the scuppernong perfumes the breeze at night,
Where the soft southern moss and jessamine mate,
‘Neath the murmuring pines of the Old North State!
Here’s to the land where the galax grows,
Where the rhododendron’s rosette glows,
Where soars Mount Mitchell’s summit great,
In the “Land of the Sky,” in the Old North State!
Here’s to the land where maidens are fair,
Where friends are true and cold hearts rare,
The near land, the dear land, whatever fate,
The blessed land, the best land, the Old North State!
When you hear it, raise a glass.
At the bar you order up a Bud or Coors or Ballast Point Sculpin IPA (which is just a Bud, now) instead of supporting one of our awesome craft breweries like Fullsteam, Ponysaurus, Mother Earth, Flytrap, Big Boss, Lonerider, Duck-Rabbit, Mystery, D9, Hi-Wire, Fonta Flora, Foothills, Fortnight, Four Saints, Trophy, Wooden Robot, Free Range, NoDa, Crankarm, Mystery, Highland, Wicked Weed, Funkatorium, Innovation or any beer from any of the nearly 200 breweries spread across the state.
Well, technically, you’re right, sort of. More than half the park—the wildest, most rugged half—is in North Carolina, and after one visit you’ll understand why 15 million people come here every year.
Whether you’re a lover or hater of the Blue Devils you know his name is Mike Krzyzewski. The easiest pronunciation: Coach K.
In North Carolina, college basketball is like politics or barbecue: you need to pick a team and stick with it. Your choices are simple on the surface—Duke or UNC—but the societal implications of wearing Carolina or Blue Devil Blue in public are long lasting. Chose wisely.
Ignore the spelling and talk like a local. Top-sul Island (pretend you’re a pirate talking about the highest sail on your ship). Body Island (sounds creepy but it’s quite lovely). Okra-coke Island (remember it like this: Okra, like the vegetable, plus coke, the drink).
Whether it’s a midnight run into the ocean along the coast, a dip in Lake Norman, a nude recreation of The Lift from Dirty Dancing in Lake Lure, or a surreptitious swim sans shorts at Skinnydip Falls (with a name like that, they’re asking for it), until you’ve decided to take a dip in your altogether, you can’t get your citizenship card stamped.
Florida travel writer Marcia Biggs shares her stories of destinations around Florida and the world.
Every time I visit the area I enjoy it more, from the Oldest City's historic charm to the beautiful beaches and natural areas nearby. This region of northeast Florida is a haven for wildlife -- particularly birds migrating through here along the Great Florida Birding Trail -- and a center for wildlife research.
|Hiking the GTM Reserve in search of birds./Marcia Biggs|
|Memorial Presbyterian Church|
Both tours were led by St. Augustine resident photographer Jackie Kramer, whose pictorial book "Sacred St. Augustine" reveals most of the historic churches and graveyards in exquisite detail. I highly recommend spending time exploring the many churches and cemeteries which are each such an integral part of the history of St. Augustine. This can be a fascinating way to spend a morning or afternoon -- as well as an awesome history lesson!
The next festival is scheduled for April 21-25, 2021. For more information, go to http://www.floridasbirdingandphotofest.com/
I love discovering incredible destinations in my own backyard. Downtown St. Petersburg has become well-known in cultural circles not only for its world-class museums, but also for its growing collection of art murals.
This fall the Shine Mural Festival brought in artists from across the country, including Canada and the Caribbean, to add 15 new murals. It's easy to stroll along the alleyways and side streets in the Central Arts District to find many , but it's even better to take a guided bicycle tour so you can see even more.
Guided walking tours of the art murals are offered every Saturday from Florida CraftArt, but the guided bike rides are only offered occasionally. I was lucky enough to grab a coveted spot on the recent Tour de Shine bike ride sponsored by St. Pete Bike Coop. Some 80 art lovers cruised around the streets of downtown on a lazy Sunday afternoon, discovering amazing murals and learning about the talented artists behind them. It was the best $10 I have spent in a while!
You can't help but love downtown St. Petersburg, which has evolved in the last decade into a super cool, laid-back and creative community. I love exploring the many art galleries and museums, restaurants and nightlife . and now I am adding Sunday bike rides and art murals to the list.
I am not sure when another Tour de Shine will be offered but you can contact the St. Pete Bike Coop and they will probably know. Happy trails!
North Carolina is for Winos
|Shelton Vineyards at sunset. Photos by Marcia Biggs|
|The scenery around Round Peak looks like Napa Valley!|
|The tasting room at Jolo Winery|
Come along with me on a train ride along the Puget Sound north of Seattle and east from Vancouver into the Canadian Rockies . all in 4 short minutes.
For more information on the Rocky Mountaineer, go to www.rockymountaineer.com
Upon entering the park, I was astounded by a massive lagoon filled with hundreds of sea turtles! Across from the viewing area is a long, sandy beach for the females to lay their eggs. Our guide said this "breeding pond" holds several hundred female green sea turtles and about 100 males. The staff monitors the beach each morning to see if there are any new nests. If so, they remove the eggs, they are incubated, and within a few months new baby sea turtles are born.
|Cute little guy!|
In addition to the green sea turtles, the farm has a large collection of holding tanks where they have rescued and care for loggerhead and even rare kemp's ridley turtles. There's even a "touch tank" where visitors can hold young sea turtles . guaranteed to give a warm, fuzzy feeling.
For more information, on the Cayman Turtle Farm, go to www.turtle.ky
|View of Jekyll Island from St. Simons Island|
Located about an hour south of Savannah and the same distance north from Jacksonville, Florida, the Golden Isles are comprised of St. Simons Island, Little St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island. The lovely barrier islands may just be the best-kept secret in the Southeast, where Southern charm and hospitality are alive and well and a world of relaxation awaits.
|King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort|
But it's hard for the Getaway Girl to stay put. There is too much to do and see on St. Simons Island, which has a year-round population of nearly 20,000. I hopped aboard the Lighthouse Trolleys for a tour and to learn about the history of the island. Fifteen plantations once grew cotton here, and you can still find bits and pieces of them, along with a historic fort, churches and graveyards amid picturesque live oak trees dripping in Spanish moss. There are shops to browse, a pier to fish off, and many miles of bike trails.
If you like fresh seafood, you'll be in heaven here on the Golden Isles. As Cap Fendig, lifelong resident and owner of Lighthouse Trolleys told me, "we love to eat here on St. Simons Island . that's why you see so many restaurants . going out to eat is something we do nearly every day." Indeed, fresh shrimp is served everywhere, along with grits, crab cakes, oysters and lots of Southern soul.
|Trawling on the Lady Jane brings up a baby sea turtle!|
If you are looking for a super relaxing ocean getaway, I highly recommend St. Simons Island. I'll post on my visit to Jekyll Island and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center next.
Well, let’s start with Tomatina, seeing as I’ve mentioned it.
Possibly the world’s biggest food fight, La Tomatina pulls in thousands from across the world on the last Wednesday of each August. Festival goers are let loose with over-ripe tomatoes and pound one another in the small Valencian town of Bunol. Once just for locals, this juicy fest has really taken off and now you need a ticket to attend.
Definitely recommend though – check out my video guide to Tomatina to find out everything you need to know.
Updated: Friday, March 5, 2021 03:11 pm
Governor Roy Cooper has lifted the modified Stay at Home order, eliminating the 10 p.m. curfew, for the entire state of North Carolina. Under the most recent executive order, additional restrictions are eased – but not lifted – through March 26 at the earliest.
The indoor mass gathering limit has been increased to 25 people, but face coverings are still required indoors if non-household members are present, regardless of the distance away. Additionally, face coverings continue to be required in public outdoor settings if unable to maintain 6 feet of distance with non-household members. This requirement includes all employees and customers of retail businesses, restaurants and personal care businesses. Exceptions include people with medical conditions, children under 5, and people who are walking or exercising alone outside (although masks are still encouraged, depending on the strenuousness of the activity).
This order allows restaurants, entertainment venues such as theaters and amusement parks, personal care businesses, museums, aquariums and more to remain open with limited capacity, and the indoor area of bars and amusement parks may now open with limited capacity. Gatherings are generally limited to no more than 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.
If traveling, individuals are encouraged to check with local governments to determine whether additional limitations are still in place (e.g., visitor centers), and to contact lodging establishments directly for their most up-to-date information. Please use DriveNC.gov for real-time information on rest areas, resources and traffic.
North Carolinians and out-of-state visitors are also encouraged to download SlowCOVIDNC, an exposure notification app that alerts users when they may have had an unknown community exposure. The app does not collect any personally identifiable information.
If exploring outside, please follow the Outdoor NC and Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics’ recommendations for slowing the spread of the virus so we can continue to enjoy nature responsibly.
More information about local restaurant resources specific to North Carolina destinations can be found via their local tourism organization, which can be found here. Visit Count On Me NC to see a list of businesses – restaurants, lodging, attractions and others – that have completed the Count On Me NC training, as these businesses are making a concerted effort to help keep everyone safe and healthy. As a guest, you can take your own pledge, too, to show you’re doing your part.
For more information on North Carolina relating to coronavirus, visitors can go to the website for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.