Wake Living March/April 2024

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BRINGING THE CAPITAL AND ITS COMMUNITIES TO LIFE

HIT THE OPEN ROAD

VINTAGE VIBES: RHODE’S MOTOR LODGE

Unlock Adventure

WORTH THE DRIVE: THE HACKNEY

KNIGHTDALE’S DEPOT ON FIRST

SPECIAL SECTION: GREAT ESCAPES

March/April 2024
SHENANDOAH
EXPLORE SCENIC

Our leadership stems from an unwavering commitment to image quality, patient safety, advanced technology, compassionate care, and trust with area healthcare professionals. That's why we've earned and consistently maintain the highest accreditations from the American College of Radiology.

WAKE RADIOLOGY UNC REX HEALTHCARE
|
WakeRad.com THE OUTPATIENT IMAGING LEADER BODY
BREAST | INTERVENTIONAL | NEURO | ORTHOPEDIC | PEDIATRIC

spring into flavor

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Call today for a FREE home consultation. 919.380.8994 or 1.866.380.8994 Scan this code to visit our website or go to SunProtectionLLC.com get the right perspective… on solar protection • safety films • solar films • security films • decorative films • glare reduction • heat reduction Increase your Comfort & Improve the View while keeping your home Cooler in the summer & Warmer in the winter! with the ONLY Window Film for EVERY Season VOTED Best Window Films Tinting/Solar Protection Company
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6 WAKELIVING Let’em Fly at Urban Air Park with the ultimate adventure-filled day camp. Camp Urbie’s Adventure is the chance for kids to beat the summer heat and explore the best indoor playground around! Sky Diving • Bumper Cars • Ropes Course • Trampolines Ninja Course • Drop Tower • Zipline & More! 919•234•6580 | 1020 WCC Ln. Morrisville, NC SCAN ME! Xtreme Adventures Camp is the perfect place for your kids this summer. Your child will be in constant contact with nature, breathing pure air and enjoying outdoors. Best of all, they will have a blast! 7460 Wake Forest Rd. Durham, NC | 919.596.6100 | ZIPLINES | AIRSOFT | WATER BALLOONS | TREASURE HUNTS | ROPES COURSE & MORE!

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STAUNTON, VIRGINIA: THE GEM OF THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY

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A NOSTALGIC STAY IN BOONE

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WORTH THE DRIVE: THE HACKNEY

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THE DEPOT ON FIRST IN KNIGHTDALE

on the cover: FROM THE VICTORIAN GRANDEUR OF ITS HISTORIC HOMES TO THE NEOCLASSICAL ELEGANCE OF ITS CIVIC BUILDINGS, STAUNTON’S DIVERSE ARCHITECTURE SHOWCASES A RICH HISTORY. PHOTO BY JONATHAN FREDIN.

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contents MARCH/APRIL 2024
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Multiple year recipient of America’s Top Dentist Award

National Lecturer and Author

Adjunct Professor for the AEGD Residency of the UNC School of Dentistry

Fellow with American Academy of General Dentistry

Regional Director for The Las Vegas Institute

BEFORE AFTER Recently highlighted on Actual patient 919.556.6200 1704 South Main Street, Suite 110 Wake Forest

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

OUT & ABOUT IN WAKE COUNTY

SMALL BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT THE TRAVEL MECHANIC

GARDEN ADVENTURER DUTCH TREAT: KEUKENHOF GARDENS

ERICA CHATS OUTDOOR ADVENTURES

wakeliving

MARCH/APRIL 2024

GROUP PUBLISHER Bill Zadeits

PUBLISHER

MANAGING EDITOR

& CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Kris Schultz

ASSOCIATE EDITOR Dena Daw

STAFF WRITER

STAFF WRITER

DIGITAL & COPY EDITOR

Erin McKnight

Jaime Nolan

Tara Shiver

SOCIAL MEDIA Arlem Mora

CONTRIBUTORS

Elliot Acosta

Erica DeLong

L.A. Jackson

PHOTOGRAPHY

Lea Hart

David McCreary

Kari Ruel

Jonathan Fredin, Chief Photographer

PRODUCTION

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Dylan Gilroy, Web Designer

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Matt Rice, Webmaster/SEO

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HAPPENINGS

WRITE LIGHT

ON TREND NEVER STOP EXPLORING IN THE NEXT ISSUE: ARTS & CULTURE

S&A Communications, Chuck Norman, APR

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Kristin Black, Accounting

Lisa White, Senior Event Coordinator & Distribution Manager

Valerie Renard, Human Resources

PUBLISHER EMERITUS

Stuart Weiss

Wake Living © is published six times annually by Cherokee Media Group. Reproduction or use, without permission, of editorial or graphic content in any manner is prohibited. Subscriptions are $18/year.

WAKE LIVING

Westview at Weston

701 Cascade Pointe Lane, Suite 103 Cary, North Carolina 27513 (919) 674-6020 • (800) 608-7500

www.wakeliving.com

This publication does not endorse, either directly or implicitly, the people, activities, products or advertising published herein. Information in the magazine is deemed credible to the best of our knowledge.

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PAY IT FORWARD NC YOUTH OUTDOOR ENGAGEMENT COMMISSION
Lauren Morris

Hang in there, kiddo.

At WakeMed Children’s, we love what we do almost as much as who we do it for. That’s why, at the community’s only children’s hospital, you’ll nd all sorts of pediatric specialties, all under one roof. Physicians, surgeons, nurses, techs and support specialists, all pediatric-trained. And inpatient care, outpatient care and emergency care designed just for kids. Delivered by hundreds of experts, all of them thoroughly dedicated to a happy, healthy childhood for every one of our kids. To learn more, visit us online today.

wakemed.org/childrens

Children’s Specialties: Anesthesiology • Behavioral Health • Cardiology • Critical Care Medicine • Ear, Nose and Throat • Emergency Medicine • Endocrinology • Gastroenterology • Hospital Medicine Neonatology • Neurology • Orthopaedics • Physical Rehabilitation • Primary Care • Pulmonology • Radiology • Surgery • Urgent Care • Urology • Weight Management • And More

PICTURE THIS: You walk out of your comfy historic hotel room at Hotel 24 South (y’all, Amelia Earhart stayed here!) onto the streets of Staunton, Virginia, a picturesque town brimming with Victorian architecture and historic charm. It’s a quick stroll to The By & By café on Beverley Street for an egg and cheese bagel and a fresh cup of joe, the perfect start to a day of timeless adventure in the Shenandoah Valley. If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, keep reading!

The city of Staunton (the “other” Queen City) is the perfect place to immerse yourself in scenic beauty by foot, car, or train. In town, quaint boutiques, local cafés, and historic landmarks await your discovery. Beyond the cobblestone streets sits Shenandoah National Park, a natural playground with caves, scenic overlooks, and opportunities for hiking, biking, rock climbing, and more. Personally, I absolutely loved exploring the Grand Caverns — the oldest operating show cave in America! We went 2 miles deep into the Earth, learning about stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, and other notable formations. Fun fact: Dances and weddings have been held in the caves since the 1800s!

For history and culture buffs, Staunton’s downtown has it all. Art galleries, historic landmarks, and museums are a stone’s throw away. Catch an authentic Shakespeare performance at Blackfriars Playhouse, the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s original indoor theater. Ride a historic trolley (only 25 cents each way) and observe live glassblowing at Sunspots Studios. At the end of the long day, wine down in one of the area’s many tasting rooms or vineyards. The choice is yours!

We’ve packed this travel issue with ideas ranging from unique campsites to upscale lodging — so pack your bags (and this magazine) and enjoy the ride! Thanks for reading!

Wishing you safe and happy travels,

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Lauren Morris, Managing Editor & Creative Director editor’s letter WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Email letters to the editor to editor@wakeliving.com Submitted comments may be edited for length or clarity and become the property of Wake Living
NORTH CAROLINA PICKLE FESTIVAL MOUNT OLIVE, NORTH CAROLINA APRIL 27, 2024 9AM TO 6PM FOR COMPLETE DETAILS, VISIT NCPICKLEFEST.ORG
Jonathan Fredin

One History, Many Voices.

Palace Tours • Living History Programs • Exhibits

Experience living history. Walk in the steps of the governors who lived at Tryon Palace during the 1770’s – a time of intellectual and political turmoil. Tour the Palace, Kitchen Office and our 21 acres of beautiful gardens. Visit with the 1st Regiment NC Continental Line at their encampment and catch a musket or cannon firing. There are specialized tours, lectures, demonstrations, and special events such as Fife & Drum performances, Life on the Lesser Stairs tour, Garden lectures, Outlander tours and African American cultural lectures. Learn about colonial spinning and weaving, cooking, apothecary, clothing, dueling, and more. Experience Tryon Palace.

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www.tryonpalace.org 529 S. Front St. New Bern, NC 252.639.3525
• Gardens • Special Events

DISCOVER A NEW SIDE OF NEW BERN

As North Carolina’s second-oldest colonial town and former capital city, there’s no doubt that New Bern is a historical gem. It’s easy to spend hours strolling streets lined with beautiful architecture, art galleries, and one-of-a-kind shops. Tourists are welcomed with smiles, waves, and ice-cold fountain drinks at The Birthplace of Pepsi-Cola, where Caleb Bradham invented the iconic soda in 1898. Informative trolley tours pass moss-draped cemeteries and well-preserved homes, including the John Wright Stanly House — described by George Washington as “the finest lodging to date” on his Southern tour of 1791.

In a place like New Bern, it’s easy to get lost in a bygone era and forget about your job, your worries, or even the car that you parked upon arrival (trust us, you won’t need it)! But despite its colonial beginnings, this well-loved waterfront city has recently evolved into something your grandmother might not recognize.

You read it here first — a new New Bern is on the rise. With its vibrant art scene, bustling nightlife, and culinary and cultural prowess, this is a tale of transformation you won’t want to miss.

Nestled at the junction of the Neuse and Trent rivers, seafood lovers are in for a treat — although New Bern’s burgeoning food culture has expanded well beyond the fried “seafood joints” typically enjoyed along the coast. One of city’s newest (and most

mouthwatering) additions is Harry’s Blind Tiger, featuring seasonally driven traditional Italian fare made with local NC ingredients. Owned by local chef and New Bern native Ashley Moser, future plans for the restaurant exist within the name “blind tiger” — a Prohibition-era term meaning speakeasy. Cheers!

Following dinner, visitors will NOT want to miss a trip to Baxter’s 1892, a classic cocktail bar located in the historic Baxter Building (formerly Baxter’s Jewelry Store). Baxter’s offers delicious drinks, tasty tapas and desserts, and live jazz performances on a lifted stage. The vibe? A high-end jazz venue in downtown Chicago, circa the 1920s. Rent out their secret, soundproof tiki room, hidden behind a bookshelf wall — with access to your own private bartender and a view of the stage via a secret window.

“We’re in the reaction business, not the restaurant business,” said manager Mike Goins. “Once I give you a tour and walk you through, you’re going to want to stay for a drink. Trust me, you’re not going to get this vibe anywhere else in the region.”

Looking for classic American fare? Sink your teeth into a juicy burger at Poppy’s Bites and Barrels, a culinary love letter to our nation’s veterans. For breakfast, don’t miss the spread at Baker’s Kitchen — and be sure to pick up a bottle of butter syrup while you’re there!

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coastal escape

When it comes to watersports, visitors can take their pick. Experience the natural beauty of the area via fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding, or opt for a scenic river tour guided by a gentle coastal breeze and Captain Matthew Gotz, founder of Anchors Up Marine Solutions.

“You might see dolphins, eagles, and a mixture of critters underneath the waves,” said Captain Gotz. “Pack a picnic and pair it with a bottle of wine for a romantic sunset cruise.”

History lovers will inevitably make their way to Tryon Palace — the site of North Carolina’s first capitol building and the crown jewel of New Bern’s colonial history. Traverse the palace and

its grounds, but don’t miss the palace’s newest tour, Life on the Lesser Stairs, shining a light on the lives of the servants and enslaved persons who lived there.

“We’re in the reaction business, not the restaurant business. Once I give you a tour and walk you through, you’re going to want to stay for a drink. Trust me, you’re not going to get this vibe anywhere else in the region.”

In terms of arts and culture, New Bern knows how to celebrate. Its rich history and diverse community have paved the way for the a wide range of festivals and events that everyone can enjoy. Don’t miss the Spring Homes & Garden Tour, the North Carolina Plein Air Festival, MumFest, or a Ghostwalk around Halloween!

While New Bern continues to transform, the friendly faces, historical elegance, and touch of whimsy in this town will always stay the same. Don’t believe us? Take a trip and see for yourself — and don’t worry, Grandma will love it even more.

Exciting new restaurants, retail spots, and a vibrant nightlife scene await in New Bern! Get ready to experience the city’s effortless charm and welcoming community for yourself.

MARCH/APRIL 2024 17 www.VisitNewBern.com It’s
Time

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Carolina Ballet is excited to embark on a new world-premiere ballet set to the story of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, featuring live music with a new score from composer Aaron Severini. The show will run from March 7–24 at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in Raleigh. With brand-new sets and costumes, this is The Little Mermaid like you’ve never seen it before! carolinaballet.com/thelittle-mermaid

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Don’t forget to wear green at this year’s Raleigh St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival on Saturday, March 16, at 10 a.m. Following the parade there will be food, live music, Celtic-inspired arts and crafts, traditional Irish dance, and childfriendly activities on Leprechaun Lane. raleighstpats.org

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The North Carolina Museum of Art is hosting Art in Bloom from March 13–17, a perennial favorite among visitors, showcasing stunning floral designs based off of existing artwork within the museum. Proceeds from the event will support museum programming and exhibitions and benefit the NCMA Foundation, Inc. ncartmuseum.org

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Lace up your running shoes for the 14th Tobacco Road Marathon and Half Marathon on Sunday, March 17! The full marathon features over 20 miles of the American Tobacco Trail, and the remainder of the course is flat and fast with a downhill finish. tobaccoroadmarathon.com

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Durham Bench by Joseph Barnes of Petal & Oak Raleigh St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival

5See some of your favorite WWE Superstars in person as WWE Monday Night RAW returns to Raleigh on March 18 at PNC Arena. pncarena.com/events/ detail/wwe-monday-night-raw

6Put on your party sombrero and go south of the border for the Tacos ’N Taps Festival at Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre on April 6. Enjoy an all-you-care-to-taste beer and tequila festival served alongside some of the Triangle’s best tacos and Mexican food, plus great music, margaritas, contests, and many surprises. cary.tacosntaps.com

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On April 6–7, The Dreamville Festival — an outdoor weekend music celebration curated by hip-hop superstar J. Cole — will bring together local residents and travelers alike to enjoy incredible music performances at Dorothea Dix Park. Since its launch in 2018, Dreamville has become one of the largest annual events in the state and one of today’s most popular artist-led festivals in the world. dreamvillefest.com

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Raleigh’s Fayetteville Street will come alive from noon to 6 p.m. on April 20 for the NC ’Cuegrass Festival with great barbecue, local brews, and toe-tapping bluegrass. While this is a free-flowing event, you can also enjoy a large covered area with draft beer options, plenty of seating and shade, and a comfortable place to enjoy the festival. cuegrass.com

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The 11th Annual Festival of Legends — a local fairy festival featuring Medieval combat, mythical monsters, amazing acrobats, fantastic food, and mesmerizing magicians — will celebrate “Shiny Things” on April 27–28 at Sugg Farm in Holly Springs.

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North Carolina’s largest craft beer festival returns! Brewgaloo runs from April 26–27, and the fun begins Friday night with a sampler event from 6–10 p.m. featuring limited releases, barrel-aged and sour beers. Saturday’s street festival spans the length of Fayetteville Street and fills downtown Raleigh from noon to 8 p.m. with more than 110 NC craft breweries, local food trucks, and vendors. With two stages featuring local bands all day long, this lively festival is sure to be a good time for all. shoplocalraleigh.org/brewgaloo

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march/april

EXPERIENCE THE REAL DEAL BOUTIQUE, a new high-end luxury boutique near downtown Cary. We offer a variety of luxury goods from new handbags, shoes, cosmetics, and fragrance to fine jewelry and clothing.

Our boutique is unique in that we have so many brands you can’t find anywhere else in North Carolina. All of our merchandise is NEW; none of our items are pre-loved. We invite you to come and explore the latest fashion trends and treat yourself to the most coveted designer pieces; timeless Loewe and chic YSL handbags, stylish Céline handbags to stunning Chanel boots. We have everything you need to elevate your fashion game.

THE REAL DEAL BOUTIQUE

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If you are tired of shopping online and miss the sensory experience you can only get in person — the smell of good leather, the feel of a fine suede bag in your hands, the way a shoe perfectly hugs your foot — The Real Deal Boutique is the experience you’ve been missing. Conveniently located at 8055 Chapel Hill Road in Cary, our store is open Wednesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. Don’t miss out on the chance to indulge in some retail therapy — visit us today!

WHY WE OPENED

We are passionate about the fashion world and were tired of having to travel to do our shopping. We know that other North Carolina shoppers must be tired of the same. Since we have had an online business selling these goods for years, we wanted to bring that experience local and make it available to all.

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Visit THE REAL DEAL BOUTIQUE
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SINCE 2019, my husband George and I have logged over 50,000 fun miles traversing the beautiful continental United States. We have traveled in SUVs, rental cars, a 1982 Volkswagen Westfalia, and a 2020 Dodge Ram ProMaster conversion van.

Getting out on the road is life-changing; each trip has rewards and challenges. You will realize how little you need to have a good time. Seeing other parts of the country will also open your mind to new experiences, people, and cultures. Road trips offer endless opportunities, whether you want to immerse yourself in nature exploring national parks or continue your education at museums and art galleries — or both.

Short trips, long journeys, staying close to home, or crossing the country, these travel tips will get you started on the right foot.

Road Tripping for Success

Note: These suggestions are most applicable to two adults traveling together.

Start small: Before you set out on a cross-country expedition, start with a weekend trip. Like camping, experience is the best teacher. Shorter trips help you get comfortable being in a vehicle for long periods and learn what you do (and don’t!) need to pack.

Google everything: Successful road trips rely on researching the area you plan to visit. We took a month-long road trip through the northern part of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway in April 2022. All the amenities on the Parkway were closed until the end of May, so we knew if we were going to camp, it would have to be off the Parkway.

We visited Bryce Canyon National Park in November, and the visitor center closed on the first day at 6 p.m. The next day, we

went back at 5 p.m. after hiking all day, and they closed at 4:30 p.m. because their hours changed with Daylight Saving Time.

The key is knowing what to expect at your destination. Plan your must-do and would-like-to stops. Be flexible. Have an idea of where you want to go, but leave time for unexpected delays or places you may wish to stay longer than planned.

Save on sleep: Your three most significant expenses will be gas, food, and lodging. If you are adventurous and don’t need to sleep in a hotel every night, you can save money if you have a vehicle big enough to sleep in. It doesn’t have to be a camper van like our Westfalia or ProMaster. Even a small SUV with fold-down seats will work.

For less than $200, you can build a flat platform to put sleeping bags and pillows

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on with storage containers underneath. Last summer, we visited Michigan’s Upper Peninsula near Copper Harbor in our Toyota Highlander. We thought we would pitch a tent, but it was raining so hard that we decided to sleep in our car. The following day, the spot where we would have put our tent was underwater.

Some truck stops will let you sleep overnight. We also sleep in Cracker Barrel parking lots because they are safe and convenient. Most Walmarts will let you sleep in the parking lot, but not all. Check for signs that restrict overnight parking. Most Bureau of Land Management land offers free overnight parking.

Get road ready: Before you leave on your trip, ensure your vehicle is inspected, oil changed, fluids checked, the tires are in good shape, and you have a spare. Pack a “just in case” bag filled with a mini air compressor, jumper cables, tow strap, ax, folding saw, multi-tool, zip ties, duct tape, Vaseline, a first-aid kit, and strips of cardboard in case you get stuck in mud or snow. We also carry a shovel, rope, and two tarps — one to put on the ground and the other for a makeshift awning. Nothing will ruin a road trip quicker than bugs or mosquitoes in the vehicle, so bring bug spray, a screen for the windows, and/or a bug zapper light. Be fuel efficient: Drive the speed limit

TOP: RELAXING BEACHSIDE IN FLORIDA.

ABOVE: KARI RUEL AND GEORGE STEPHENSON ON A WINDY DAY AT SLEEPING BEAR DUNES, MICHIGAN.

LEFT: KEY ROADTRIP ITEMS INCLUDE A FOLDABLE TABLE, JACKERY 1000 POWER UNIT, WATER KETTLE, COLLAPSIBLE BOWLS, PICNIC BAG WITH PLATES AND UTENSILS, TUB WITH CAMPING SUPPLIES, CLOTHING BAG, COLLAPSIBLE SINK, AND PORTABLE SHOWER UNIT.

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CAPE HATTERAS LIGHTHOUSE ON THE OUTER BANKS

and pack as little as possible to use less gas. Download gas apps to compare prices before fueling up. We like Pilot Flying J or Love’s Travel Stops because of the discounts. Every time you stop for gas, clear out any garbage and wash the windows and lights.

Pack with purpose: Check the weather where you will be. Set out the clothes you want to bring — then cut them in half. Plan to rewear your outfits. Merino wool makes a great travel base layer because it’s breathable and controls odors. Always have something for cold weather when you go somewhere hot and vice versa. A rain poncho is a must. Wear loose, comfortable clothes when driving long hours and easy slip-on shoes in the car. Bring hardy walking or hiking shoes and flip-flops or sandals. I always leave home with two buffs. I bring a week’s worth of underwear whether I’m traveling for a few days or a couple of months. Pack your clothes in

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DRIVE ALONG THE BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY. SUNSET BEACH, NORTH CAROLINA COAST

compression sacks in different colors to save space and quickly identify the type.

Snack Smart: We like to make food ahead of time and freeze it. It will stay frozen for a few days if you have a quality cooler like an Igloo or Yeti. Freeze a few large water bottles to help keep your food cold. Keep a bag filled with healthy snacks. Sliced cucumbers make an excellent replacement for chips, for example. Drink plenty of water. We carry a minimum of 10 gallons of water at all times.

Get organized: It’s essential to have a place for everything and keep items organized for easy access. Take your time packing. Hang an organizer behind the front seats for frequently needed items, like hygiene products, suntan lotions, sun visors or hats, plastic bags for garbage, and Band-Aids. Keep storage bins or totes under your bed platform — one for camping items, another for heavier clothes like jackets, sweaters, and boots, and one for dry food. We use a rack on the back of the car if we are not traveling with our camper vans to free up space inside the vehicle.

We also keep a small tote in the front seat with flashlights, a headlamp, lighter, scissors, pen and paper, pliers and multi-tool, Swiss Army knife, hair ties, a roll of quarters for laundry or showers, cash, antacids, gum, moist towelettes, bottle opener, stamps for postcards, and a physical map of the area. A small picnic bag holds all our utensils, reusable plates, and knives.

And don’t forget ... a portable charging unit with a car charger or solar panels. Collapsible bucket or sink, travel coffee mugs, umbrella, folding chairs, pillow, blanket, and a windshield shade. SiriusXM radio for music and news. Bring two rechargeable battery-operated fans to circulate the air in your vehicle. A small day pack for each person to hold supplies or carry a change of clothes into a hotel.

Our motto is IAPOTA — It’s All Part of the Adventure. Learn to go with the flow and embrace all that comes your way, even unexpected mishaps. t

Trips to Try:

The scenic South Blue Ridge Parkway runs from Fancy Gap, Virginia, to Cherokee, North Carolina. Key points of interest include Linville Falls, Grandfather Mountain, Mount Pisgah, Appalachian Mural Trail, and the highest peak east of the Mississippi, Mount Mitchell. Stop by Boone, Blowing Rock, Bryson City, and Cherokee. You can do this 250-mile stretch in three to four days. Camping reservations are recommended from late May to October. 2.5 hours from Raleigh.

The North Blue Ridge Parkway runs from Fancy Gap to Skyline Drive at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, passing quaint little towns like Floyd, Roanoke, and Rockfish Gap. Include a few days at Shenandoah National Park and visit the wine region trail near Charlottesville. 2.5 hours from Raleigh.

Tour the nine Eastern NC lighthouses, including Edenton, Plymouth, the Outer Banks, Oak Island, and — accessible only by sea or air — Old Baldy and Cape Lookout. The iconic Cape Hatteras lighthouse in the Outer Banks is the most photographed lighthouse on the East Coast. This road trip can take five days to two weeks, depending on how much time you want to explore. 2+ hours from Raleigh.

Spend a day or two in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, then drive through the Smoky Mountains for majestic views and a step back into history. The Cades Cove Loop, an 11-mile driving tour, includes pull-offs to hike and see old structures and abundant wildlife. Check weather conditions before heading out in case of closed roads. 5.5 hours from Raleigh.

Loop the Florida coast. Start on the Atlantic side, drive south to Key West, hit Everglades National Park, head north on the Gulf side of the state, and finish on the panhandle. Allow three weeks to a month. If you don’t have reservations to camp at a state park, stop in at 4:30 to see if they have cancellations. Avoid spring break and Christmas for the best lodging options. 8+ hours from Raleigh.

MARCH/APRIL 2024 25
EDENTON LIGHTHOUSE IN EDENTON, NC.
26 WAKELIVING 107 Edinburgh South Drive, Suite 109 | Cary, NC 27511 | 984.333.0150 OUTER BANKS VACATION RENTALS & REAL ESTATE SALES joelambjr.com • joelambrealty.com • 800-552-6257 Whether you are looking for the perfect place to vacation or seeking to invest in your own Outer Banks beach house, we offer unprecedented service in making your experience the best it can be. Kick off your shoes and stay a while! Life takes you down many paths, but the best ones lead to the beach.
“ At Raleigh Radiology we are focused on you.”

9 Convenient Locations to serve you

When you’re a patient at Raleigh Radiology, we are going to make sure you are cared for with compassion and skill. The doctors, the technologists, the records team...everyone...will make you feel like you’re part of a family.

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Staunton

The Gem of the Shenandoah Valley

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STAUNTON, VIRGINIA — known as the Queen City of the Shenandoah Valley — can best be described as a Hallmark movie come to life. Surrounded by rolling hills and scenic farmland, this fantastically walkable town is known for its magnificently preserved architecture, idyllic main street, and proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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NESTLED IN THE HEART OF THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY SITS STAUNTON, VIRGINIA — WHERE HISTORY MEETS SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY.

Over the years, Staunton has been recognized as one of the best small towns in America by USA Today, Smithsonian, MSN, Fodor’s, Southern Living, and many more. In 2023, Beverley Street — the main thoroughfare in the heart of historic downtown — was listed as one of the best main streets in the country by Country Living. It only takes one visit to understand the appeal: Victorian architecture, cafés, unique shops, museums, and friendly locals seem to grace every corner. Local trolleys transport residents and visitors alike for only $0.25 each way, a particularly nice touch for those who have spent the day exploring Shenandoah National Park’s 500-plus miles of trails.

A stay in the historic Hotel 24 South, circa 1924, puts you steps away from the visitor center and most downtown attractions — and other sights are only minutes away via car. Spend a day at the Frontier Culture Museum, one of the country’s largest open-air history museums. Hike Humpback Rocks before making a stop along the Beerwerks Trail. Visit a winery after a day spent underground at Grand Caverns, the oldest show cave in the United States. Catch a live performance of Shakespeare at Blackfriars Playhouse, or take a leaf-peeping trip via the Virginia Scenic Railway. The options are endless and may seem overwhelming, but don’t worry: We have organized your trip so you don’t have to. Let us be your guide!

(More) Historical Highlights

• Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum

• Antique Fire Engine Museum

• Mary Baldwin University

• Thornrose Cemetery

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STAUNTON'S BEVERLEY STREET IS LINED WITH VICTORIAN ARCHITECTURE, GALLERIES, RESTAURANTS, AND MORE. HOTEL 24 SOUTH

WITH ITS RICH ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE, EVERY CORNER TELLS THE STORY OF THIS CITY’S PAST.

MARCH/APRIL 2024 31

“Trinity Episcopal is the oldest church in Staunton, founded in 1746. There are thousands of people buried here, including 17 Revolutionary War soldiers.”

Betsy Gaffney, church member

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History & Architecture

Boasting 35 properties and districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including one national historical landmark, it’s safe to say that Staunton — settled in 1732 — is a history buff’s dream come true. For those into historical architecture, pamphlets for self-guided architectural walking tours are available at the visitor center. Walk or catch a trolley to Trinity Episcopal Church to admire its early Gothic Revival architecture and 12 Tiffany stained-glass windows. While there, you might run into church member Betsy Gaffney — proud mother of Matt Gaffney, the world-renowned crossword puzzle constructor.

“Trinity Episcopal is the oldest church in Staunton, founded in 1746,” said Gaffney. “There are thousands of people buried here, including 17 Revolutionary War soldiers. It was the city cemetery for years before they opened Thornrose.”

One Revolutionary soldier buried on-site is Archibald Stuart, 1757–1832, whose gravestone reads: “When a youth, he fought for his country the war which achieved her independence.”

For those who are more interested in the history of photography, a visit to the Camera Heritage Museum is a must. Founder and curator Dave Schwartz, once taught by Ansel Adams himself, is on a mission to share the fascinating story of photography with everyone who walks through the door.

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TRINITY EPISCOPAL CHURCH

“Staunton was once the largest city west of the Blue Ridge Mountains and had its first photographer in 1847,” said Schwartz. “Just eight years after photography began, we had a photographer in this town.”

Originally opened in 1946 as Camera and Palette, the store became a nonprofit in 2011 and has since been visited by well-known photographers, representatives of internationally known camera collector groups, and people from over 165 countries and all 50 states. With over 7,000 cameras, accessories, and photos from every era, it makes for a fascinating guided (or self-guided) tour.

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Staunton was once the largest city west of the Blue Ridge Mountains and had its first photographer in 1847.

Just eight years after photography began, we had a photographer in this town. Dave Schwartz, founder & curator, Camera Heritage Museum

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BOASTING A COLLECTION OF OVER 7,000 CAMERAS AND ACCESSORIES, THE CAMERA HERITAGE MUSEUM IS THE COUNTRY'S LARGEST CAMERA MUSEUM OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

If you like history delivered to your eyes rather than your ears, the Frontier Culture Museum is only a short drive from downtown. Tour the grounds via golf cart or on foot and visit 11 permanent exhibits, with stops in West Africa, Ireland, Germany, and 1800s Virginia (to name a few). Costumed interpreters show the life and customs of the Indigenous Native American tribes; the arrival of the German, English, and Irish settlers; and the painful journey of the enslaved Africans to the first permanent British colony in North America. Visitors can watch and interact with a blacksmith at an Irish forge, learn how early Virginians cooked and worked the land, visit with farm animals, and simply enjoy the rolling hills and stunning views (just remember to bring comfortable walking shoes)!

“The interpreters that we have on staff are some of the best around,” said Amanda Lotts, the museum’s visitor services supervisor. “They’re so dedicated and they work so hard to make sure that what they’re telling people and what they’re showing them is accurate. The museum utilizes 188 acres, but it’s actually bigger than that. We have 11 exhibits, and eight of those are actual working farms, so at any given time you can see them planting, harvesting, or any other activity that you would see someone doing in that time period. It’s like you have literally walked back in time. It’s 2 miles if you stay just on the path, and that doesn’t count walking in and around the houses. A golf cart is worth it! It’s $25 for the day, and you have them the whole time you’re here.”

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AT THE FRONTIER CULTURE MUSEUM, COSTUMED HISTORICAL GUIDES HELP BRING HISTORY TO LIFE.
The interpreters that we have on staff are some of the best around. They’re so dedicated and they work so hard to make sure that what they’re telling people and what they’re showing them is accurate.
Amanda Lotts, services supervisor, Frontier Culture Museum
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INTERACT WITH A BLACKSMITH AT THE IRISH FORGE AND LEARN HOW EARLY SETTLERS LIVED AND WORKED.

Arts & Entertainment

Like many visitors to Staunton, we were surprised to learn that this sleepy Southern town is home to the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theater, Blackfriars Playhouse. To learn more, we signed up for a tour of the American Shakespeare Center (ASC), just steps from our hotel.

The history of the company that is now called the American Shakespeare Center started back in 1988, when Jim Warren and Ralph Alan Cohen formed the Shenandoah Shakespeare Express, a traveling troupe that used Shakespeare’s original staging conditions when performing plays.

“Ralph Alan Cohen was a professor of English who specialized in Shakespeare,” said Andrew Knight, tour guide and professor at Mary Baldwin University. “Originally he was the kind of person who thought that Shakespeare was better on the page than the stage, and more enjoyable to be read than performed. He quickly found out he was wrong — Shakespeare’s a lot more fun when you’re actually seeing it performed.”

Even better than seeing it performed is seeing it performed authentically, which is what the ASC has leaned in to since the beginning. The use of universal lighting — keeping the lights on during the performance — is particularly important.

“‘We do it with the lights on’ is our motto,” said Knight, laughing. “Shakespeare’s actors could actually see and interact with their audience, so we like to do that here. We’ve also re-created what’s called thrust staging, when you have an audience on multiple sides of the performers. In our playhouse here we have the audience on three sides of the stage, putting the actors right in the middle of the action.”

In 2001, after partnering with the City of Staunton and aided by private donors, the ASC built the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor playhouse. Since its opening, the Playhouse has welcomed nearly a million guests to over 6,000 performances. Each year is concluded with a performance of A Christmas Carol — in case you’re looking for a unique holiday experience!

For a bit of art appreciation, visitors to Staunton can stop by Sunspots Studios, a gift shop and glassblowing studio owned by Doug and Caroline Sheridan. Attend one of their live glassblowing demonstrations to watch the masters at work, blow your own glass ornament in-studio, and peruse their ever-changing gallery

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LEARN THE TRADE OF HISTORIC TAILORS AND YARN SPINNERS. THE FRONTIER CULTURE MUSEUM’S STUNNING VISTAS AND PICTURESQUE HISTORICAL BUILDINGS DRAW IN LOCAL ARTISTS. WHERE IN HISTORY WOULD YOU LIKE TO GO?

full of art glass made in-house, local jewelry, and much more. Located in Staunton’s historic shopping and dining district, the studio is conveniently flanked by a winery, cidery, and brewery.

“We’re in the middle of good times,” said Caroline Sheridan. “We have the blowyour-own ornament, so let people know! That’s a popular thing; people come here and love to do it year-round.”

For those content to watch, professional glassblower Dan Scogna can be found teaching classes in-studio and working his magic during live glass demonstrations.

“Glassblowing might not be as rare as people might think, but the opportunity to watch it and experience it is pretty rare in the grand scheme of things,” said Scogna. “Sometimes when people try their hand, they suddenly realize that there’s a lot of nuance to the process that hearing about it or watching it on YouTube doesn’t convey. Also, too, I think there’s a lot of satisfaction that comes from doing it. One mom brought her son in every year to make an ornament from kindergarten through college. There’s people who have made it a tradition, and that’s really kind of cool to see.”

Outdoor Recreation

When it comes to outdoor recreation, it’s almost impossible to create a to-do list this entire area is bursting with natural beauty just waiting to be explored. Whether you’re strolling around Gypsy Park in downtown or enjoying views of the Shenandoah Valley from the Blue Ridge Parkway, there’s plenty of ways to get your steps in — both above and underground.

Grand Caverns, discovered in 1804 and opened to the public in 1806, is the oldest continually operating show cave in the United States. During the Civil War, the cave was visited by both Confederate and Union soldiers, who left 200 verified signatures behind.

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Coming up soon! Staunton Music Festival — SpringFest, April 12–14 stauntonmusicfestival.org
ENJOY ELIZABETHAN THEATER AT THE AMERICAN SHAKESPEARE CENTER, HOME OF THE WORLD'S ONLY RE-CREATION OF SHAKESPEARE'S INDOOR THEATER. LEFT: A SKETCH OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, BY PABLO PICASSO, HANGS IN THE LOBBY.
Glassblowing might not be as rare as people might think, but the opportunity to watch it and experience it is pretty rare in the grand scheme of things.
Dan Scogna, professional glassblower

Today, visitors get to decide between walking tours or more adventurous crawling tours, for those who don’t mind tight spaces. Looking for a more unique experience? Attend their Subterranean Sound concert series and listen to live music underground!

“You get to see this wonderland that you don’t get to see aboveground,” said tour guide Anna Finch. “There’s this whole other world that took millions of years to just form, and it kind of shows you the amazing capability of our Earth.”

Fun fact: If water drips on you during a tour, you’ve experienced a “cave kiss” — one year of good luck!

If walking aboveground is more your thing, there are more than 18 trails covering 182 miles in Staunton alone. Outside of town, countless hiking opportunities range from easy to strenuous and feature waterfalls, rolling hills, and dense forest views.

At the northern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia you’ll find Humpback Rocks, 32 minutes from downtown Staunton. Spotting the rocks isn’t hard, as these prominent formations once served as a landmark guiding wagon trains in the 1840s. The best thing about Humpback Rocks is there are hiking options at every level, from the Mountain Farm trail (an easy quarter mile), to a strenuous 2-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail, or the more moderate Catoctin Loop Trail and Greenstone Trails. Enjoy a picnic and a stroll around the outdoor farm museum, or bite the bullet and hike the 2-mile round-trip hike to the rocks for spectacular views of the Shenandoah Valley and the Shenandoah National Park.

Drinks & Dining

If one of the first things that comes to your mind when you think of the Shenandoah Valley is wine, that’s for good reason: The Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail is the oldest and largest wine region in the Commonwealth, and wine lovers can visit over 25 local vineyards specializing in Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Chardonnay.

Barren Ridge Vineyards, only 16 minutes outside of Staunton, offers the quintessential Shenandoah wine-tasting experience. Located in a renovated barn, drinks and nibbles can be enjoyed overlooking a

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ENJOY A LIVE GLASSBLOWING DEMONSTRATION OR BLOW YOUR OWN ORNAMENT AT SUNSPOTS STUDIOS IN HISTORIC DOWNTOWN STAUNTON.

EXPLORE THE SUBTERRANEAN WORLD AT OUR COUNTRY'S OLDEST CONTINUALLY OPERATING SHOW CAVE, GRAND CAVERNS.

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Make a day of it!

• Natural Bridge State Park (48 minutes from downtown)

• Natural Chimneys Park (33 minutes from downtown)

• Shenandoah National Park, Rockfish Gap Entrance (23 minutes from downtown)

• Blue Ridge Tunnel (22 minutes from downtown)

• Ride the rails through the Shenandoah Valley via the Virginia Scenic Railway (roundtrip from downtown)

picturesque vineyard with breathtaking mountain views. Be sure to catch their weekly live music events, special wine release parties, food trucks, and vineyard tours by appointment!

For those who would prefer to drink downtown, you don’t have to go far. Visit Ox-Eye Vineyards’ tasting room in the historic Wharf District, cross the street for a visit to Ciders from Mars, and start your journey on the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail at Redbeard Brewing Company. All Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail breweries are located within an hour’s

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SEE THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY IN STYLE WITH A RIDE ON THE VIRGINIA SCENIC RAILWAY. ENJOY A GLASS OF WINE (OR THREE) AND MOUNTAIN VIEWS AT BARREN RIDGE VINEYARDS.

drive from one another — just don’t forget to pick up a passport at one of the 17 locations. Once you’ve collected trail stamps from eight participating breweries, you will receive a commemorative T-shirt!

With all the day drinking, you’ll certainly need some food to soak it all up and with 30 restaurants in historic downtown alone, there’s plenty to choose from. Kickstart a day of shopping on Beverley Street with a pastry and a warm cup of joe from The By & By or Reunion Bakery. Have a casual lunch experience at Mill Street Grill, a converted turn-of-the-century flour mill, and opt for an upscale farm-to-table dinner at Zynodoa Restaurant or a five-course everchanging tasting menu at The Shack. In the mood for oysters? Don’t let the surrounding hills fool you: BLU Point Seafood Co. offers a great selection of the freshest seafood.

Wherever you pull up a chair, the residents of Staunton are sure to treat you like family — and in this chaotic world, a wholesome community vibe is more than welcome.

Honorable Mentions

• Crucible Coffee Roasters

• Valley Pike Farm Market

• Sweet Addie’s Waffle Shop

• Remedy Burger

• Byers Street Bistro

“I often hear from people who have moved here that they came once and fell in love with the town,” said Charisa Knight, a 50-year resident of Staunton. “It’s a sweet little town. We have the mountains close by for hiking with beau -

ABOVE: PICK UP A PASSPORT AND COLLECT STAMPS ALONG THE BEERWERKS TRAIL, FEATURING 17 STOPS ALL WITHIN AN HOUR'S DRIVE.

LEFT: OYSTERS BEVERLEYFELLER, BLU POINT SEAFOOD CO.

tiful views of the valley. We have a vibrant downtown area that works hard to offer different events to strengthen the community and to attract tourists. Come to Staunton to see for yourself!” t visitstaunton.com

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Lauren Morris ENJOY A FULL ENGLISH BREAKFAST AT COSETTE CAFÉ.
44 WAKELIVING VirginiaScenicRailway.com 434-391-9772 RESERVATIONS REQUIRED Indulge in a unique dining experience aboard Virginia’s only regularly scheduled tourist train. With climate-controlled passenger cars, onboard narration, and captivating landscapes, our round-trip excursions provide a front row seat to some of the Shenandoah Valley’s prettiest views. FAN F A V ORIT E S T UN T O N , V Virginia Scenic Railway SCAN HERE FOR MORE INFO & TO GET TICKETS 7440 Six Forks Rd. Raleigh, NC | www.vinniessteakhouse.com | Call for reservations or 7440 Six Forks Rd. Raleigh, NC www.vinniessteakhouse.com 919.847.7319 Please call for reservations follow Vinnie’s on • Local, Seasonal Chef’s Features • Wine List of over 175 wines, including a reserve list. • Private rooms for large parties and intimate dinners. • Gift cards available in store and on our website. • Make reservations now on Thank you for voting us Best Steak House in Wake County 7 years in a row. NIGHTLY FEATURES Tuesday & Thursday All bottled wine is half price. Includes our Reserve Collection Saturday Slow-roasted, certified Angus Beef Prime Rib Complimentary Deviled Eggs Every Night VINNIE’S GIFT CARDS MAKE THE PERFECT GIFT follow Vinnie’s on

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MARCH/APRIL 2024 45 Explore the Roots of our Modern World: Visit the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library
Woodrow Wilson’s humble beginnings in Staunton to his transformative tenure in the White House, come learn about it here! 20 N. Coalter St., Staunton, VA | 540-885-0897 woodrowwilson.org
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A Nostalgic Stay in Boone

WHEN I WAS A KID , road trips and roadside motels were the norm. Flights weren’t easy to book, gas was cheap, and the sliding door on the family Astro van was ready to crush all your fingers. Packing the car was an Olympic sport that only ended when you had zero visibility, and unloading it was like playing a giant game of Jenga. Blankets, pillows, snacks, and a notepad for doodling and playing MASH were all you had for entertainment — and in my case, Michael Bolton on repeat.

Today, it’s easy to let the internet do the memory-making for us. We put our trust in a recommended Superhost on Airbnb, find a highly reviewed restaurant on Google for dinner, and call it a day. Flying by the seat of your pants while on vacation is rare these days — but an open mind goes a long way when planning a trip to remember (and nostalgia and modern comfort are not mutually exclusive).

A couple of months ago, my husband and I were invited to stay at Rhode’s Motor Lodge in Boone — a renovated mid-century motel, mere minutes from downtown. The transformation was the work of Loden Hospitality, a hotelier well known for its renovation of The Longleaf Hotel in downtown Raleigh.

I’ll be honest: Prior to this trip, my stays in Boone were almost exclusively limited to cabins found on Airbnb. Roadside motels, with their mom-and-pop vibe and retro signage, were things of my childhood. I’ve stayed at quite a few questionable establishments over the years, and they weren’t necessarily experiences I wanted to repeat.

Despite my misgivings, no self-respecting North Carolinian is going to pass up a free stay in Boone. Besides, Rhode’s promised something different — a boutique, oneof-a-kind hotel experience for those yearning for modern amenities and simpler times. With its nostalgic, retro design and on-site

restaurant, I looked forward to our late afternoon check-in — but prior to that, we had a full day of adventure ahead of us.

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Taylor McDonald Photography Dena Daw RHODE'S MOTOR LODGE OFFERS VISITORS THE NOSTALGIA OF A DRIVE-UP MOTOR INN AND THE WARMTH OF A MOUNTAIN LODGE.
YOUR
GET CAFFEINE FIX AT BOONE’S OWN HATCHET COFFEE ROASTERS!

Our day began with a visit to Moses Cone Manor, the 1901 summer home of textile magnate Moses H. Cone and his wife, Bertha Cone. After taking in stunning views of the surrounding land — all part of Moses H. Cone Memorial Park — we took a walk around Bass Lake, a 0.8-mile paved loop. The weather was frigid, so we cut the hike short and thawed out at Hatchet Coffee Roasters. To say this is a popular hangout in town is an understatement — it was was chock-full of tourists, students, and locals — but I will admit that my Smashing Pumpkin Latte was worth the wait.

In the spirit of High Country adventure, we took a mountain drive and stopped at just about every overlook we could find before winding up in downtown Boone for a little shopping spree. Pro tip: If you don’t smell like incense after an hour of browsing, you haven’t done it right.

When it came time for check-in, I was interested to see how “motor-lodgy” Rhode’s Motor Lodge actually was. Constructed in 1957 and originally known as Greene’s Motel, the motel had been run by the Greene family until 1972. The following decades were not kind — the establishment fell into disrepair and languished on the side of the road for years, just waiting to be reimagined and revitalized.

“We were looking at quite a few unique older properties up here in early 2021,” said Russ Jones, president of Loden Hospitality. “This one, to me, was the obvious choice. It was sitting up on this hill, and it’s got this really great prominence to it. It had presence. We could tell there were some really great bones.”

Once acquired, the exterior stucco was removed, revealing the original starshine breeze blocks and other mid-century details. Loden began redesigning and repurposing the property in a way that honored its history and location. The nostalgia of a driveup motor inn, paired with the essence of a mountain lodge? Yes, please.

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THE COURTYARD IS THE PERFECT PLACE TO ENJOY A DRINK AND WARM UP BY THE FIRE. BAD WEATHER? OPT FOR A GAME OF POOL INSTEAD! Taylor McDonald Photography Taylor McDonald Photography
APPRECIATE THE TERRACOTTA TILE FIREPLACE IN THE LOBBY AND DINE AT RHODE’S MOTOR LODGE’S ON-SITE RESTAURANT, CANTEEN.
Taylor McDonald Photography

We noticed all the hallmarks of a motor lodge immediately upon arrival, but nothing prepared me for the added sense of luxury. Visitors sat in large Adirondack chairs under a covered front patio, illuminated by string lights and a crackling fire pit. Inside, cozy chairs were positioned around a large terracotta tile fireplace. People milled around a pool table and game room, cocktails in hand, and dined both inside and outside at the hotel’s restaurant, Canteen — offering both breakfast and dinner to hotel guests, locals, and passersby.

The decor you see both in and out of the rooms is all carefully curated and custom made. A rug made of recycled plastic covers the original concrete floors. Tree trunk night stands, pendant light fixtures reminiscent of tent lights, and a Rhode’s Motor Lodgebranded Coleman cooler (doubling as an ice bucket) can be found in every room.

“We have washable wool blankets from Scotland that we love,” said Christine McDonald, COO of Loden Hospitality. “We wanted that kind of warmth and idea of a road trip. I remember my grandparents used to always have these kinds of blankets, so the idea of bringing that in was really important.”

When asked about her favorite special touch, McDonald had trouble picking just one.

“I can say that there’s not a single thing that you see anywhere that isn’t here for a reason,” said McDonald. “We thought about the impression we wanted to have on every single touch, down to the napkins. A lot of the custom furnishings and artwork, you’re not going to see that anywhere else. The overshot weaving, a style of historic Appalachian weaving, can be found on the walls and throw pillows. There are references to outdoor adventure everywhere.”

Unlike a traditional hotel, cabin, or Airbnb, Loden Hospitality has made a concerted effort to make sure the property “lives and breathes” Boone. One of the best things about this hotel is you don’t need Google to help discover the area. Employees are happy to share great hiking spots, restaurants, and local best-kept secrets.

Determined to make memories without technology, I used my big-girl voice (a big deal for an introvert) and asked about unique things to do in the area. The tactic paid off: On our way out of town we visited Apple Hill Farm, a mountaintop alpaca farm that my husband had to be drag me away from, kicking and screaming.

With plans for outside movie nights in the summer and guided fly fishing

and hiking trips in the spring (via Speckled Trout Outfitters in Blowing Rock), Rhode’s will soon be a one-stop shop for memory making. Our advice? Book a room before the word gets out!

“If you enjoy it here, it’s because it feels like Boone,” said Jones. “We want people who live and work in Boone to be proud of this. This is something the community can really embrace — and I don’t think you can get that in a new construction.” t rhodesmotorlodge.com

Worth the Stop!

Swing by Venture Chocolate and Wine Co. — a bean-tobar chocolate maker — for a handpicked box of bonbons or a glass of wine.

Apple Hill Farm for an alpaca meet-and-greet!

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Dena Daw
Dena Daw
Visit
Experience the largest outdoor beer garden in the High Country at Booneshine Brewing Co.
ENJOY LUNCH AND A BEER AT BOONESHINE BREWING CO. A MOTHER AND HER BABY SUNBATHE AT APPLE HILL FARM, A MOUNTAINTOP ALPACA FARM YOU WON'T WANT TO MISS!
MARCH/APRIL 2024 49 Peter and the Wolf SAT, APR 6 | 1PM & 4PM MEYMANDI CONCERT HALL, RALEIGH Michelle Di Russo, conductor Gather the kids to meet Peter and his friends—the duck (played by the oboe), the bird (flute), the cat (clarinet), and more—as they try to catch the wolf! FAMILY FUN EVENT YOUNG PEOPLE’S CONCERT SERIES SPONSOR SUMMERFEST UNC HEALTH PRESENTS KOKA BOOTH AMPHITHEATRE, CARY Plus, kids 12 and under are always admitted FREE* on the lawn! Save with Lawn Flex Passes— just $23 per ticket through April 1. Pack your picnic, lawn chairs, and blankets and enjoy great music under the stars! *Ticket required. SERIES SPONSORED BY HOSTED BY PRESENTED BY Buy today! ncsymphony.org | 919.733.2750 4516 Falls of Neuse Rd., Raleigh, 27609 919-301-8014 But it’s not just the food what set us apart! Our vibrant atmosphere will transport you to a Mexican Fiesta!

The Travel Mechanic

IMAGINE YOU’VE SAVED UP ENOUGH MONEY and you’re ready to plan the trip of a lifetime — but with all the endless Google reviews and booking options to consider, you’re feeling a little out of your depth. While the internet has certainly made trip planning convenient, it can be easy to forget that travel agencies still exist for a reason.

Lauren Doyle, president of The Travel Mechanic — a boutique travel agency based in Raleigh — enjoys taking the stress out of travel and using her industry connections to take a trip “from OK to WOW.”

“My mother, Jennie Mechanic, opened The Travel Mechanic back in 2012,” said

Doyle. “She had a vision to help others get out there and travel! She led golf groups on cruises in Scotland and the UK, yoga retreats, and even birding trips! She wanted to make sure people got to experience the world with like-minded passions.”

Shortly after the agency opened, Doyle agreed to head up the destination wedding and honeymoon division — and the rest was history.

“My mom and I were always very close,” said Doyle. “We were able to help more people that needed help with travel planning, we traveled together, and overall just had an amazing experience. I am very grateful to have her legacy live on.”

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small business spotlight
MARCH/APRIL 2024 51
LAUREN DOYLE, PRESIDENT OF THE TRAVEL MECHANIC, IS READY TO HELP TAKE YOUR TRIP “FROM OK TO WOW.”

While a plane ticket is always the answer (obviously), we still had questions about how exactly a “boutique travel agency” works. Read on to learn more!

Introduce yourself to our readers!

Hi! I am Lauren Doyle, president of The Travel Mechanic — a full-service travel agency that is family-founded and womenowned and operated! I love being a small business owner, wife to a very supportive husband, mom to two travel-loving kiddos who have just as many stamps on their passports as they do years on this planet, and a rescue pup, Nitro, who is one active boy!

The Travel Mechanic is described as a “boutique travel agency.” What does that mean, exactly?

We are not a mass-market company that has to hit certain sales quotas. We work for YOU, the consumer, providing you with unbiased advice!

Describe the process of using a travel agency, in your own words.

Using our travel agency provides a customized experience. We have you schedule a call so we can talk about your needs, wants, desires, budget, etc., and then we craft an itinerary for you. We work together to make sure it is exactly what you want, and then we get it booked. After that, we ensure you have all the details through our pre-departure email, ensuring you are totally prepared for your trip! We can customize your trip from ordinary to extraordinary!

Why would you recommend using The Travel Mechanic, when so many booking options are available online?

There are a lot of options out there, but we offer that peace of mind for you. If it is a special trip, one that you have saved up for, you don’t want to leave that up to Google or Tripadvisor reviews from strangers! We can customize an itinerary for you, based on our

experience, industry connections, and partnerships all over the world to provide you exactly what you want for your budget.

How many team members do you have?

We currently have 13 agents and are planning to add 5 more in 2024. Does each travel advisor have a different expertise? Yes, we help new agents get trained and let their passions shine on what they love. We have someone who has lived in Italy and just does Italy trips. We also have a few that are obsessed with Disney, so that is what they book! This allows us to dig really deep into each niche of travel and know it inside and out, all to provide the best recommendations and service to our clients!

What is your favorite travel destination?

It is so hard to say, but I LOVE Hawaii! It spoke to me. It has so much natural beauty, so much to discover. You just feel the aloha spirit once you step foot on the islands.

What is the most “slept on”

travel destination?

Mexico. It is easy to get to and has an amazing culture and unique places (not just Cancun) to visit and experience. The most overrated? The Amalfi coast (of Italy) is crowded and expensive. Don’t get me wrong, it is gorgeous, but there are so many other amazing places in Italy!

Any accolades you’d like to share?

We have been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, Reader’s Digest, and many more! We also have been on ABC11 and WRAL for various travel expert advice! t

thetravelmechanic.com

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EVERY TRAVEL AGENT AT THE TRAVEL MECHANIC HAS THEIR OWN NICHE — SPECIALIZING IN TRIPS TO ITALY, DISNEY, AND MORE!
MARCH/APRIL 2024 53 Whether you prefer soundside or oceanside, we’ve got you covered. Answer the call of the beach. Serving Lunch & Dinner daily, and Sunday Brunch. WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH IS CALLING! 4 Marina Street · Wrightsville Beach, NC · 910.256.8500 · BluewaterDining.com 703 S. Lumina Ave. · Wrightsville Beach, NC · 910.256.5551 · OceanicRestaurant.com Photos: Matt Ray Photography Deeply rooted in the history of Wrightsville Beach, Oceanic offers unobstructed ocean views whether dining indoors or alfresco on the Historic Crystal Pier. Sip beachside cocktails and feast on the fresh catch of the day. And enjoy live music on the pier on Thursdays and Sundays all summer. Visit OceanicRestaurant.com Serving up fresh, local seafood favorites and traditional American fare, Bluewater offers unmatched views of the Intracoastal Waterway. We’re known for our watercolor sunsets and waterfront patio, where you can enjoy live music on Sundays all summer. Visit BluewaterDining.com
PLAN YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE Come Sea Us! 2E Merchants Row | 910.363.4955 | baldheadislandservices.com Just off North Carolina’s southern coast, Bald Head Island’s 14 miles of uncrowded beaches and outdoor activities galore make it an exceptional getaway for the entire family. Call or go online to start planning your adventure.
SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION DESTINATIONS THAT NEVER DISAPPOINT
Escapes 20 24 JONATHAN FREDIN
Great
NATIONAL SEASHORE
OCRACOKE LIGHTHOUSE AT THE SOUTHERN END OF CAPE HATTERAS

north carolina Corolla

Known first and foremost for the awe-inspiring remote beaches of Corolla and Carova and their legendary long-term residents, the Corolla Wild Horses, this coastal beach village combines the lowkey Southern charm you expect to find in the South with the luxury of its high-end accommodations and amenities found in the many vacation rental houses. Notably less commercial than many seaside locales, here you’ll find breathtaking natural beauty abounds and many opportunities

for outdoor adventure await. Whether looking to relax or to make fun memories with the family, Corolla Outer Banks is the perfect place to continue those beach vacation traditions.

LOCAL LEGENDS

Where the road ends in Corolla, wild Spanish mustangs have roamed the shores for centuries. Many visitors set out to explore these remote beaches by taking a guided four-wheeldrive tour. Seeing these wild horses in their natural habitat can be an unforgettable experience. Also, climb the 220-step Currituck Beach Lighthouse for an unbeatable 360-degree view of the area, and enjoy a tour of Whalehead, a 1920s-era mansion.

BEAUTIFUL BEACHES

The Currituck Outer Banks beaches are some of the most tranquil on the East Coast and provide the perfect backdrop

to enjoy a good book, listen to the waves, or simply spend time with loved ones, enjoying what the beach has to offer. Spend a relaxing afternoon sampling award-winning wine and beer from our local wineries and breweries, shop for treasures at eclectic boutiques, enjoy mouthwatering North Carolina barbecue and freshly caught seafood from a local restaurant, or enjoy an awe-inspiring sunset over the Currituck Sound.

Planning to stay a week or a weekend? There are accommodations in our area to meet your needs on the Corolla Outer Banks. Vacation rental homes offer amenities including swimming pools, hot tubs, in-home theaters, gourmet kitchens, and petfriendly options. Corolla also boasts an oceanfront hotel, a pair of inns, and a luxurious bed and breakfast.

OUTDOOR ADVENTURES

With water literally

everywhere surrounding this barrier island, there are so many adventure opportunities. From surfing to kayaking, to parasailing high above the coast, you can find plenty to do to make new memories here.

When it’s time to take a break from the beach, enjoy what mainland Currituck County has to offer. Here you can explore the many unique shops and farm markets along US-158, as well as H2OBX Waterpark.

Find your treasure in Corolla Outer Banks. For more information and to request a free Currituck Outer Banks visitor’s guide, call (877) 287-7488 or explore corollanc.com.

Great Escapes 20 24
It never gets old. Grab your inner tube and your inner child. There's no limit to how many times you can walk the beach, explore history or marvel at the mustangs. But one thing's for sure: you'll always want more. CorollaNC.com

north carolina Kinston

BBQ FEST ON THE NEUSE

It’s early on the first Saturday morning in May, and the breeze from downtown Kinston carries smoke and a sweet hint of the mouthwatering sizzle of pork that has cooked low and slow over enormous grills all night. Welcome to the BBQ Fest on the Neuse — “the largest whole hog cookoff in the world.”

More than 90 cook teams from across the United States

gather each year on the banks of the Neuse River in Kinston to roast whole hogs through the night in preparation for judging the next morning. The sweet aroma that fills downtown Kinston is the result of these cooks perfecting their golden brown crisp skin and tender, flavorful pigs — splayed on giant grates of custom cookers. Winners of the tastiest hog go home with bragging rights, cash awards, and a custom-made chopping board.

For more than 40 years, this popular festival has kicked off the spring-summer season Down East with two days of cooking, live music and events, a car show, and shopping from vendors of all kinds including pottery, T-shirts, toys and more.

THE 2023 BBQ FEST ON THE NEUSE WILL

FEATURE:

• Country music artist Easton Corbin

• 150+ vendors including food trucks, arts & crafts, home & garden, Got to Be NC, jewelry, farmers market & festival merch

• Carolina Classic Car & Truck Show and Coastal Plains Bike Show

• Beer, Wine & Spirits Garden featuring Kinston’s own Mother Earth Brewing & Social House Vodka

• Super Grit Cowboy Band and opportunities to twinkle your toes with the Kinston Shag Club

• Fun for kids of all ages at Inners Shows & Amusements and The FUN Zone

And, of course,

• The “Chop Tent” where you can savor Eastern North Carolina’s BEST barbecue, cooked, chopped, and sauced on site. Come early; barbecue is available from 11 a.m. Saturday until it sells out, and they always sell out.

SEE YOU

MAY 5 & 6, 2023 AT KINSTON’S BBQ FEST ON THE NEUSE!

KINSTONBBQ.COM

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ANY OLD BARBECUE BEST-IN-THE-NATION

THE FIRST WEEK OF MAY EACH YEAR Kinston is host to the BBQ Fest on the Neuse. This is not just any barbecue festival, it’s the largest whole hog cook o in the world. More than 90 cook teams gather downtown and fill the air with a sweet hint of pork cooked low and slow. This is the event that defines “what is good barbecue.” Want a front row seat? Come judge for yourself.

BBQ FEST O N T HE NEUSE
VisitKinston.com KINSTON

north carolina Brunswick Islands

A PLACE THAT WILL STEAL YOUR HEART.

Perhaps you recognize the name North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, or you know us as one of our six intimate beaches — Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Oak Island, Caswell Beach, and Bald Head Island. Either way, there’s a magical connection that takes place here on these 45 miles of wide, sandy beaches. Simple and real is what we are all about. No flashy neon. No large theme parks. As odd as it may sound,

perhaps what we “don’t have” is the very reason so many families return to NC’s Brunswick Islands year after year, generation after generation.

But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. It’s just that our experiences are authentic, laid-back, and much more memorable.

At the far end of Sunset Beach lies a two-mile stretch of shoreline completely free of development. The only hint of humankind is The Kindred Spirit Mailbox, a favorite among visitors and the inspiration for the Nicholas Sparks novel Every Breath. Within this unassuming mailbox tucked in the dunes are notes and stories of wishes, reflections, and loves lost and found. Read a few pages and appease the Kindred Spirit by leaving a story of your own.

The Brunswick Islands are home to North Carolina’s oldest and newest lighthouses. Old Baldy, built in 1817, is the definition of postcard picture-perfect. The Oak Island Lighthouse towers 169 feet above sea level. Plan a climb to the top of both for unsurpassed views of the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Fear River, and winding marshlands.

Summer especially offers family bonding time with free outdoor movies, concerts, and markets. Kayak or paddleboard along the many area rivers and

creeks or the Intracoastal Waterway. Be awed watching newly hatched sea turtles make their way to the ocean. Savor the catch of the day while seated along the dock at a waterfront restaurant.

These are just the beginning of a long list of things to do. It’s easy to see why NC’s Brunswick Islands just might become your family’s forever beach destination. Visit NCBrunswick.com and request a free vacation guide.

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north carolina Edenton

KNOWN FOR ITS HISTORY, EDENTON, NORTH

CAROLINA HAS UNDERGONE AN EXPANSIVE ARTS AND CULTURAL RENAISSANCE. IT ONLY TAKES ONE VISIT TO SEE THIS FIRSTHAND.

Seemingly around every corner is an Instagram-worthy view. For many, Edenton offers the ideal combination of historic charm and scenic beauty.

Edenton’s history is impressive. Established in 1712, it was North Carolina’s first Colonial capital, a place where signers of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution lived and worked alongside one of the first justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. The 1767 Chowan County Courthouse, still in operation today, is considered the most preserved Colonial courthouse in America.

It was in Edenton in 1774 that the first organized female political activity in the Colonies took place. Penelope Barker and 50 other women conducted the Edenton Tea Party to protest taxes on British goods.

A stroll through this bayside town showcases immaculately maintained homes, including Penelope Barker’s house, which

sits on the bay and serves as a welcome center. A few steps away is the departure point for the Edenton Trolley Tour, a popular attraction for visitors. From spring to fall, Edenton Bay Cruises provide daily maritime excursions along the town’s coastline.

Locals are breathing new life into the arts scene. A new mural is on display on West Water Street featuring some of the town’s signature historic landmarks: the Edenton teapot, the Cupola House, the Roanoke River Lighthouse, and the Edenton Trolley.

Another nice aspect of Edenton is small-scale lodging. A half-dozen inns, several in grand houses, offer the opportunity to relax in a comfortable atmosphere. Meanwhile, numerous vacation

rentals are available with their own distinctive personalities. Travelers arriving by boat can take advantage of boat slips that are free of charge for two nights.

To learn more about the Prettiest Small Town in the South, go to VisitEdenton.com or call (800) 775-0111.

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Johnston County

EXPLORE JOCO — WE’RE RIGHT NEXT DOOR

Johnston County, affectionately known as JoCo to those in the know, is just 30 minutes east of Raleigh — far enough away from the urban areas to offer visitors the charm of farm life and small-town living!

The county seat, Smithfield, is home to many cultural sites and a thriving downtown that offers gems like the Ava Gardner

Museum. By far, the biggest draw to JoCo is outlet shopping at the Carolina Premium Outlets, featuring name-brand stores like Coach, Columbia, Nike, and Polo. Right next door to the outlets, grab a bite to eat at the Old North State Food Hall — enjoy multiple regional vendors under one roof. Grab a drink to pair with your meal from the Longleaf Tavern located within the food hall.

In the southern part of the county, Benson is home to Broadslab Distillery, offering tours and tastings of moonshine crafted by master distiller and owner Jeremy Norris. Broadslab is part of the JoCo Beer, Wine and Shine Trail — a self-guided craft beverage trail covering eight locations in the county — along with regionally celebrated

north carolina

craft breweries and awardwinning wineries.

Explore the NC Civil War Trail that begins at the Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site east of Four Oaks and ends in Clayton, which boasts a vibrant downtown with local restaurants, shops, and even a cocktail lounge. For hiking and recreation, try Clemmons State Forest or Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center.

Explore a variety of attractions, attend local festivals,

discover unique boutique shops, meet some good people, and experience JoCo’s emerging food scene — always served with a generous helping of true Southern hospitality.

For more information, call (919) 989-8687 or visit johnstoncountync.org

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north carolina Pender County

PENDER COUNTY, BURGAW, AND TOPSAIL ISLAND — AN IDEAL DESTINATION FOR THOSE SEEKING A PEACEFUL GETAWAY WITH OPPORTUNITIES TO EXPLORE HISTORY AND ENJOY DELICIOUS SEAFOOD.

Welcome to Pender County, Home to Burgaw and Topsail Island — from the beach to the county seat, where you will find we are a great place to visit and vacation.

We are renowned for our picturesque settings — including our historic downtown and sun-splashed stretches of beaches — our history, and our succulent blueberries.

Pender County offers a

beautiful landscape for the perfect vacation. If you’re seeking a retreat to unwind, come visit with us. Relax on the sandy shores, indulge in a meal at one of our various fine locally owned restaurants, and savor local entertainment, wines, and craft beers.

Topsail Island and Pender County await you for your next special event or life milestone. We offer a diverse selection of venues for weddings, receptions, reunions, or conferences among our expansive beaches, charming farms, and historic landmarks.

For a family getaway, bring the kids to frolic in the waves or try surfing. Embark on a fishing trip or a kayak adventure on the Intracoastal Waterway. Trek a segment of the Mountainsto-Sea Trail or explore the Hometown Hollywood Tour in

the town of Burgaw.

Locals and visitors call Burgaw “Blueberry Town,” and its culture is built around all things blueberry. Pluck your own blueberries and delight in the Annual NC Blueberry Festival.

Delve into marine life with Ecological Marine Adventures or visit the renowned Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, a sanctuary for endangered sea turtles. Unwind on a serene sunset cruise with our charters and witness playful dolphins in waters once roamed by pirates.

Immerse yourself in our rich history with a tour of Moores Creek

National Battlefield, the sole National Park in southeast North Carolina, where the Patriots secured their first victory in the Revolutionary War. Explore interpretive exhibits, walking trails, and reconstructed earthworks as well as picnic spots, a historic walk, and year-round special events.

On Topsail Island, explore the Missiles and More Museum, showcasing the groundbreaking Operation Bumblebee, the birthplace of guided missile technology, and much more history and pirate lore.

Come visit Topsail Island and Pender County. Our attractions, venues, and events promise an unforgettable experience.

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Making Memories 60years

Since 1964, the Blockade Runner Beach Resort has been Wrightsville Beach’s cornerstone for cherished memories. Join us to celebrate our diamond anniversary amid modern amenities, oceanfront dining, family activities, and pristine gardens in a stunning location that offers beach access to both ocean and sound. Experience a legacy of hospitality and craft your own unforgettable stay.

Wrightsville Beach, NC | www.blockade-runner.com | 844-409-5608

Wilmington north carolina

WILMINGTON AND BEACHES TRAVEL GUIDE FOR 2024

From the vibrant riverfront to three island beaches just minutes away, Wilmington embodies the best of the Carolina coast. Enjoy outdoor adventures while savoring the rich history and cultural charm of the area.

Immerse yourself in an abundance of refreshing vacation experiences. Explore the award-winning Wilmington Riverwalk, a scenic gateway to unique dining, shopping, riverboat cruises, and more. Visit the site of the Civil War’s largest land-sea battle, Fort Fisher State Historic Site, set to open a major expansion with a new visitors center and exhibits this summer.

Explore top attractions like Battleship NORTH

CAROLINA, Carolina Beach Boardwalk, North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, and Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park. Enjoy pirate-themed adventures with Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tours or Carolina Beach’s Island Cruises, and embark on the new Wilmington Pirate Walk. Watersports, state parks, island cruises, Southern gardens, and museums also deliver authentic family fun.

Dine al fresco at waterside restaurants, including the new Tequila Comida & Cantina Waterfront, a two-story riverfront spot with outdoor seating and marina views, featuring a premium tequila library. The reopened RX Chicken & Oysters serves freshly speared fish and harvested oysters, while the new G Prime Steak & Cellar is curated by esteemed Triangle restaurateur Giorgio Bakatsias.

ATTEND UPCOMING EVENTS:

Feast Wilmington • March 22–24

NC Azalea Festival • April 3–7

Carolina Beach Music Festival • June 1

Fireworks by the Sea & Boardwalk Blast • Weekly •

Memorial Day – Labor Day

Cape Fear Kite Festival • Nov. 1–3 NC Holiday Flotilla • Nov. 30

Explore more things to see and do! Call (877) 945-6386 or go to WilmingtonAndBeaches.com

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20 24
Escapes

Dutch Treat: Keukenhof Gardens

WHIMSY — AND WONDERFUL FLOWERS — ON PARADE garden adventurer Written and photographed by L.A. Jackson
MARCH/APRIL 2024
TOP: DRIVEN DAFFODILS LEFT: FADING TULIPS SUCH AS THESE ‘PURPLE DANCE’ PRETTIES STILL PUT ON A SHOW. RIGHT: WELCOME TO THE SPRING BLING OF KEUKENHOF GARDENS.

WHEN SPRINGTIME ARRIVES

in all its visual glory, I occasionally cross The Big Pond to catch European gardens at their seasonal floral finest — and I’m rarely disappointed. Recently, I took a trip to the Netherlands, where flowering plants from fall-planted, spring-blooming bulbs are, simply put, national institutions.

And in the Netherlands, the belle of the spring-bling ball is Keukenhof Gardens (keukenhof.nl), with its 80 acres annually displaying over 7 million bulbs. Tulips, of course, are the main attractions, but they have plenty of eye-catching competition from impressive concentrations of daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses, anemones, irises,

lilies, and fritillaries, as well as stately trees and colorful perennials.

Waiting for me were broad open beds of blooming bulbs, some massed in busy kaleidoscopic mixes, while others were concentrated swaths of striking singular colors. And whether the flowers were tucked into winding beds or regimented straight rows, being gorgeous was the one thing they all had in common.

The spring beauty of Keukenhof is, unfortunately, fleeting. Due to the bulbs’ limited bloom times, the gardens are only open from the middle of March until May, so, if you are interested in going, plan accordingly.

I could have taken a 45-minute jaunt by train or bus to Keukenhof from Amsterdam, but instead, it took me eight days to arrive at the garden’s gates. No, I didn’t get lost. Instead, I sailed on Viking’s “Tulips and Windmills” cruise (vikingrivercruises.com), which included opportunities to explore cities such as Hoorn, Arnhem, Brussels, Antwerp, Haarlem, Ghent, and Bruges before, on the final full day of the excursion, arriving at Keukenhof — a Dutch treat that was certainly worth the wait! t

L.A. Jackson is the former editor of Carolina Gardener Magazine. Want to ask L.A. a question about your garden? Contact him by email at lajackson1@gmail.com.

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A COLORFUL TULIP ADMIRER

TOP: ORCHIDS, ANTHURIUMS, AND OTHER COLORFUL INDOOR PLANTS ARE DISPLAYED IN KEUKENHOF’S GREENHOUSES.

MIDDLE: THE GLORIOUS BLOOMS OF ‘GREEN MILE’ TULIPS

BOTTOM: SCULPTURES ARE PART OF THE KEUKENHOF EXPERIENCE.

MARCH/APRIL 2024
GRAPE HYACINTHS AND DAFFODILS CREATIVELY CONTAINED

OUTDOOR ADVENTURES

BY THIS POINT in the year, with the holidays long behind us and summer still a few months away, I’m itching to go somewhere! It’s my birthday month, and I’m

always more interested in experiences than tangible gifts, so an adventure is a must. I’ve requested to swim with sharks in Florida (again), and this time my husband says he will be staying ashore with the kids.

Thankfully, here in North Carolina, you don’t have to go far to find your next adventure.

Let’s start with local activities:

PARK IT: Downtown Cary is like rolling through a Hallmark town. More than 20 years in the making, the new Downtown Cary Park is incredible and well worth the wait. With a playground, gorgeous outdoor spaces, public art, and way more, it’s fun for the whole fam-

ily. That includes fur babies! Check out the dog park and visit the Bark Bar. There are several delicious eateries nearby, including one of my favorites, Scratch. To make a staycation of it, book a room at The Mayton and stay for a delicious brunch at Peck & Plume.

GRAB A PADDLE: Kayaking isn’t just a summer adventure. Explore the waterways by kayaking or canoeing along the Neuse River, Lake Johnson, or Lake Wheeler. Rentals and guided tours are available to experience the beauty from a different perspective. Don’t forget to bring along a floating cooler so you can stay out on the water all day.

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PLAN
YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE WITH ERICA’S SUGGESTIONS.
KAYAK SEASON STARTS NOW! DOWNTOWN CARY PARK

TAKE A HIKE: Being outdoors is a proven mood booster, and luckily we have a ton of local trails! William B. Umstead State Park, Falls Lake State Recreation Area, and Lake Johnson Park offer trails of various difficulty levels, and being outdoors is a proven mood booster. Umstead alone has over 20 miles of hiking trails with diverse landscapes including forests, lakes, and creeks that are so pretty we’ve even taken family photos there.

VISIT FEARRINGTON VILLAGE:

Enjoy a beautiful patio lunch on a historic farm near Chapel Hill. Afterwards, take a stroll through the gardens or say hello to one of the farm animals — and don’t forget the afternoon tea. I personally love taking the kids to grab brunch at The Belted Goat, walk around the bookstore, and check out the farm animals. If you want upscale eats at a ForbesFive Star and AAA Five Diamond restaurant, check out the Fearrington House Restaurant. Pro tip: There’s also a spa. Treat yourself.

DINE AL FRESCO: Pack an old-school picnic and head to Raleigh for the Rose Garden or a personal favorite, the JC Raulston Arboretum. A botanical garden near NC State University, the arboretum features a diverse collection of plants, trees, and garden spaces. The Lath House and Japanese Garden are definitely worth a visit and ensure lots of picturesque moments.

UP, UP, AND AWAY: North Carolina is a beauty to see from above the trees, and Pittsboro has several hot air balloon operators ready to take you there. Mark your calendars for the Balloon Glow & Laser Show in Holly Springs June 7–8.

Feeling a day trip? Here are few options our family has enjoyed:

SEAGROVE: Known for its rich pottery tradition, Seagrove is home to numerous studios and galleries. You can even make your own pottery, creating a forever piece for

your home. For the history lovers, check out the North Carolina Pottery Center — a museum dedicated to preserving the heritage of North Carolina pottery.

ASHEBORO: Visit the North Carolina Zoo, one of the largest natural habitat zoos in the world. We went here with my in-laws at the start of the year, and the shuttle makes it possible for all ages.

WILMINGTON:

Get your salty air fix with a coastal day trip. Off-season beach visits are the best! Grab lunch along the historic riverfront, visit the Battleship North Carolina, or relax on the beautiful Wrightsville Beach. We have also rented ATVs to drive around, which brings loads of fun!

LINVILLE GORGE: For adventurous souls, head west to the “Grand Canyon of the Southeast” for some rock climbing! Check out rugged cliffs, dramatic overhangs, and multipitch routes. Looking Glass Rock near Brevard is another option good for climbers of varying skill levels.

And a splurge just outside of North Carolina:

HOT SPRINGS, VIRGINIA:

About 4 hours from the Triangle, The Omni Homestead Resort is one of the most stunning historic places to stay in Virginia. Travelers have been coming to the region for centuries due to the healing mineral properties of the nearby warm springs.

What adventure are you planning in 2024? Whether you’re staying local or hitting the road, drop me a line and let me know your must-see spots. @EricaDeLong t

MARCH/APRIL 2024 71
THE NC ZOO WILL GIVE EVERYONE IN YOUR FAMILY AN EXPERIENCE TO REMEMBER. CONQUER THE GRAND CANYON OF THE SOUTHEAST (OR PRACTICE AT TRIANGLE ROCK CLUB).
72 WAKELIVING Thank you for voting us Best Eye Doctor! 3150 Rogers Rd.,Suite 110 • Wake Forest, NC 919.263.9163 • mcphersonfamilyeyecare.com Convenient evening, early morning and Saturday hours. We’re FOCUSED on Families At McPherson Family Eye Care, we provide comprehensive vision care for the whole family. Our eye doctors are leaders in their fields and offer diverse areas of expertise to provide the very best vision and medical care. 2024 1130 Buck Jones Rd., Raleigh, NC, 27606 919.380.0122 \ ReysRestaurant.com Hours: Mon-Sat: 5-10pm Sun: 4-9 pm 6 private rooms seating 6-200 guests! Contact: Christina Reeves at Christina@ReysRestaurant.com

on trend

HIKING IS BEYOND A PHYSICAL JOURNEY; IT’S A SOULFUL VENTURE THAT LIFTS YOUR SPIRITS.

Never Stop Exploring

IT’S TIME TO UNPLUG FROM YOUR DEVICES , calm your mind, and prioritize self-care by embarking on a hiking trail. Inhale the fresh air, and delight in the natural pathways that Wake County has to offer.

Bond Park – Cary

Enjoy a beautiful view of the lake or explore a wooded trail that ventures into a more natural terrain with a 2.1-mile loop hike.

Crowder County Park – Apex

A serene path meanders through wooded landscapes and circles a pond, providing opportunities to observe birds and butterflies.

Durant Nature Preserve – Raleigh

Hiking around lakes and dense forest,

you can be one with nature on 5 miles of peaceful pathways.

Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve –Cary

With four trails of varying difficulty, you can explore diverse landscapes. Hikes range from 0.7 miles to 1.2 miles.

William B. Umstead State Park –Cary and Raleigh

With over 34.5 miles of interconnected trails and two entrances in different towns, you’ll find ample space for serene exploration. The extensive trail network promises a rewarding and tranquil hike.

Falls Lake State Recreation Area –Wake Forest

25 miles of hiking, lake views, and an incredible observation of the majestic migra-

tion of monarch butterflies in spring and fall will elevate your hiking adventure.

Lake Johnson Park – Raleigh

Access 1.5 miles of natural trail along the west side of the lake or 2.8 miles of paved greenway on the east side.

Lake Crabtree County Park –Morrisville

Embark on over 6.5 miles of hikingonly trails or 9.4 miles of multi-use trails also open to mountain bikers. Find a brochure from their trailhead kiosk for lots of helpful info.

Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve – Raleigh

Three loop trails within this 157-acre property weave through an oak-hickory forest, meadows, and beside a farm pond. t

MARCH/APRIL 2024 73
WILLIAM B. UMSTEAD PARK
74 WAKELIVING 600 New Waverly Pl., Suite 310, Cary, NC Schedule today 919-678-6900 DR. VIJAY SHESHADRI | DR. LISA GRANA | DR. RONALD ROGERS | DR. CASEY COOPER | DR. SUBHRATHA MAREDIA Ob/Gyn • 3D Mammography • Midwifery • Rejuvenation GROCERY DELIVERY • ON-ISLAND CATERING • FRESH NC SEAFOOD • USDA PRIME MEATS • LOCAL PRODUCE • FINE WINES • GOURMET CHEESES Whether the day’s plans include a picnic for two in a kayak, an oyster roast on the side porch, or a potluck cookout on the beach, we’re here to help you break bread with family and friends. GOOD FOOD makes for GOOD TIMES. Hours vary seasonally | 8 Maritime Way | 910-457-7450 facebook.com/MaritimeMarket | claudepope@yahoo.com maritimemarketbhi.com WELL-STOCKED DELI • CAFÉ SERVING BREAKFAST & LUNCH • FAMILY MEALS TO GO USDA PRIME MEATS • LOCAL PRODUCE • • GROCERY DELIVERY • ON-ISLAND CATERING • FRESH NC SEAFOOD • USDA PRIME MEATS • LOCAL PRODUCE GOURMET CHEESES • WELL-STOCKED DELI • • USDA • PRIME MEATS • LOCAL PRODUCE

pay it forward

North Carolina Youth Outdoor Engagement Commission

WHEN JOE GRAY WAS A TEEN, he took a life-changing senior class trip to Aspen, Colorado.

Gray, who is visually impaired, attended the Tennessee School for the Blind. He traveled with his classmates to Aspen to learn how to ski with the help of instructors and guides.

“That ski trip helped me to be more comfortable with my visual impairment and more confident,” Gray said.

MARCH/APRIL 2024 75
photos contributed by the NC Youth Outdoor Engagement Commission

To this day, he considers that ski trip integral to helping him understand his own capabilities. Already a high school athlete in both track and field and wrestling at the time, he went on to become a track and field Paralympian with Team USA.

So when Gray came to work as a community employment specialist for North Carolina’s Governor Morehead School, which serves students with visual impairments, he was eager to propose a similar senior class trip. He had the support of the administration, but he needed the funding to get them there.

Thanks to a Go Outside Grant, or “GO Grant,” from the North Carolina Youth Outdoor Engagement Commission, four seniors and three staff members from the Governor Morehead School traveled to Aspen last year.

The trip exemplified the mission of the NC Youth Outdoor Engagement Commission. In an era when many students spend their time indoors and on screens, the organization wants kids and teens to get outside and connect with nature.

Founded in 2015, the Youth Outdoor Engagement Commission accomplishes that goal by funding trips, projects, and initiatives, according to Alan Pomeroy, program director for the organization.

GO Grants can be used to support field trips, such as camping, hiking or fishing, he said, as well as to build and maintain structures such as greenhouses or fishing docks, or to purchase equipment like tractors or kayaks.

Any public, private, or charter school or 501(c)(3) nonprofit can apply for a GO Grant, Pomeroy said. While the grants are the organization’s longest running program, they are not its only program.

More recently, the Youth Outdoor Engagement Commission began awarding funds for Trailblazers Outdoor Clubs. More than 80 schools applied last year, with 33 of those awarded $10,000 to form an outdoor club at their school.

As of January 2024, the NC Youth Outdoor Engagement Commission had awarded funding in 97 of North Carolina’s

76 WAKELIVING
ABOVE: A GO OUTSIDE GRANT FROM THE NORTH CAROLINA YOUTH OUTDOOR ENGAGEMENT COMMISSION ALLOWED FOUR SENIORS AND THREE STAFF MEMBERS FROM THE GOVERNOR MOREHEAD SCHOOL TO TAKE A LIFE-CHANGING TRIP TO ASPEN LAST YEAR. RIGHT: THANKS TO THE GO GRANT, GOVERNOR MOREHEAD STUDENTS HAD OUTDOOR EXPERIENCES AND ADVENTURES.

100 counties, totaling roughly $7.5 million.

Then there’s the Patch Program for anyone under 18 to apply to receive patches for completing three different outdoor activities, such as archery, horseback riding, or catching fish. The program encourages youth to try different outdoor activities, Pomeroy said.

Through these various initiatives, the NC Youth Outdoor Engagement Commission touches the lives of young people who already participate in outdoor activities, as well as those who have never tried an activity before and do so thanks to this funding, he said.

“The most rewarding part is seeing firsthand the impact of the work we’re doing,” Pomeroy said. “It’s just wonderful to see students who have not had opportunities to do these things before be able to do them and realize these experiences are out there.”

Teachers often tell Pomeroy of the challenges of finding funding in this realm. Now he also hears stories of students who discover a passion for something they’ve never tried thanks to Youth Outdoor Engagement Commission funding.

Gray’s experience with the Governor Morehead students speaks to that life-changing effect. Before he found the GO Grant, Gray said he wasn’t sure who would be willing to fund the trip.

“When you talk to some people about fundraising to take these visually impaired students to ski, sometimes people say, ‘Why would you do that?’” he said.

“Sometimes I just have to tell people, I did that. You may think this is impossible, but for my students, this is possible.”

The NC Youth Outdoor Engagement Commission indeed saw it as possible. His students came home from the trip with greater awareness, self-confidence, and an increased ability to advocate for themselves. For many, it was their first time on an airplane, let alone on skis. They stayed in a hotel and had to get themselves ready each day in a new environment. The impact reached far beyond learning to ski, he said.

“They are now more comfortable and

confident that their visual impairment is a characteristic of who they are, but it doesn’t define who they are,” Gray said.

The NC Youth Outdoor Engagement Commission estimates it’s reached more than 270,000 youths across North Carolina. Pomeroy says the benefits extend beyond those who directly receive funding. For example, a community garden can produce food that goes to other students or community members, and new kayaks will serve students for years to come.

Looking ahead, the NC Youth Outdoor Engagement Commission has a goal to touch the three remaining counties not yet helped by its programs — Caswell, Pamlico, and Anson — and continue to expand awareness about its mission and available funds throughout the state.

The NC Youth Outdoor Engagement Commission is funded in part by the North Carolina General Assembly and through donations. To learn more or support the organization, visit gooutside.nc.gov. t

ABOVE: THE NC YOUTH OUTDOOR ENGAGEMENT COMMISSION’S GOAL IS FOR NORTH CAROLINA YOUTH TO GET OUTDOORS AND CONNECT WITH NATURE -- AND PERHAPS TRY SOMETHING THEY’VE NEVER TRIED BEFORE.

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TOP: SIGHT GUIDES LEAD GOVERNOR MOREHEAD STUDENTS THROUGH NEW ADVENTURES.

The Hackney

DRIVE ABOUT A HUNDRED

MILES EAST from the Capital City cruising down US-264, and when you reach where the Tar River becomes the Pamilco, you’ll find yourself in Washington, North Carolina. Proudly declaring itself the Original Washington — the town was founded in 1776 and the first town to bear George Washington’s name — the once sleepy town has been re-energized in the past few years with a flurry of businesses, hotels, and restaurants taking root. Endowed with a picturequest waterfront, historic buildings, and friendly locals, the idyllic town is close enough to Wake County for a day trip but far enough away to feel like a getaway.

The Hackney, a passion project from first-time restaurateurs Susanne Hackney and Nick Sanders, became a key element of Downtown Washington’s revitalization. The restaurant and distillery embodies the duo's uncompromising vision to deliver the pinnacle of dining experiences.

“If we were going to put our heart and soul and our life savings into something, we wanted it to be the perfect dining experience,” Hackney said.

Spurred by a distillery course that Susanne bought Nick for his 50th birthday, the two decided to leave their corporate jobs in pursuit of creating a distillery and restaurant.

Inspired by other Eastern North Carolina towns with destination restaurants like Tarboro’s On the Square and Kinston’s Chef & the Farmer, Susanne Hackney believed that her hometown of Washington could become a gourmet retreat. During a visit to Washington’s downtown in 2016, a vacant former bank building caught her eye.

“As soon as I walked into the building that now houses The Hackney, I fell in love! It couldn’t be built today. It is beautiful with amazing features,” she said. “The beauty was under lots of horrible decades of bad decor, but it was there. I was hooked.”

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worth
the drive
THE HACKNEY'S RENOVATED BUILDING FIRST OPENED AS A FIRST NATIONAL BANK IN 1922.
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GRILLED SWORDFISH WITH CONFIT POTATOES, ROAST CHICKEN JUS, AND HERB OIL
“AS SOON AS I WALKED INTO THE BUILDING THAT NOW HOUSES THE HACKNEY, I FELL IN LOVE! IT COULDN'T BE BUILT TODAY. IT IS BEAUTIFUL WITH AMAZING FEATURES. THE BEAUTY WAS UNDER LOTS OF HORRIBLE DECADES OF BAD DECOR, BUT IT WAS THERE. I WAS HOOKED.”
– SUSANNE HACKNEY, CO-OWNER

Opened in 1922, the building at 192 W. Main Street lived many former lives, housing banks, office spaces, and radio stations over the decades. The building sat dormant for 11 years until The Hackney team purchased it in 2017.

Transforming the vacant space into The Hackey encompassed a year of planning and six months of renovation, but the endeavor yielded a grand setting with elegant features such as wall-length windows, sky-high ceilings, and crystal chandeliers. Original fixtures such as the flooring, ceiling moulding, and Tennessee marble provide a glimpse into the building’s history.

“We knew finding a great chef was critical for the restaurant, but we weren’t sure how that was going to happen in Washington,” Hackney said. The budding restaurateurs were steadfast on the notion of hiring a chef who saw The Hackney as something more than a notch in their resume.

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TOP: EXECUTIVE CHEF JAMIE DAVIS SKILLFULLY HIGHLIGHTS SEAFOOD IN DISHES LIKE SEARED SCALLOPS. BOTTOM: ESPRESSO MARTINI WITH ILLY ESPRESSO AND VODKA.
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THE HACKNEY’S FISH AND CHIPS FEATURING THEIR POPULAR CATFISH

“We wanted (a chef) that's in it for the long term too and felt connected to the vision (for the restaurant), plus (the town of) Washington — to really have that same aspiration for James Beard or Michelin.”

“Magically, that (chef) seemed to have landed in our lap,” Hackney said. They received Jamie Davis’ résumé from an acquaintance and hired him as executive chef when The Hackney opened its doors in 2019. This January, Davis was named a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast.

A restaurant lifer, Davis started as a dishwasher at 16. He worked his way up through kitchen jobs, eventually joining the Army as a cook and attending culinary school after his military service.

Finding inspiration from the neighboring coastal waters, Chef Davis showcases his passion for seafood within The Hackney's menu, which changes daily based upon availability of locally sourced ingredients. He breaks down the fish in-house, serving up exceptional dishes like grilled swordfish with chicken jus and herb oil.

“Our catfish is really something that people absolutely love,” Hackney noted, referring to filets dredged in local Tidewater Grain Co. rice flour and perfectly fried.

Elevating a comfort food classic, Davis pairs fried catfish or local shrimp with NC stone-ground grits and complex flavors from lobster broth, smoked trout roe, and more.

The distillery side of The Hackney was in the works long before the restaurant. After completing his distilling course, Sanders purchased a still, and he and Hackney set out to develop the recipe and branding for their craft gin brand.

“We focused on gin because it was a combination of botanicals,” Hackney said. “We worked on figuring out what botanicals to use, going from batch one to 100 and doing focus groups.”

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THE HACKNEY FEATURES SEASONAL COCKTAILS LIKE THE WINTER WEATHER, WHICH INCLUDES THE DISTILLERY’S AWARD-WINNING GIN AND BLUE CURACAO. RIGHT: CO-OWNER NICK SANDERS WITH HIS DOG, AN ENGLISH HUNTING LAB NAMED MAPLE. BELOW: NC STONEGROUND GRITS PAIR WITH FRESH-CAUGHT LOCAL SEAFOOD.

Through trial and error, they developed their flagship spirit, 1000 Piers Coastal Carolina Gin, with botanicals from fresh citrus, lemongrass, kaffir lime, and more. The distillery offers tours, tastings, and bottle sales.

Restaurant patrons can opt for a tasting or select a gin-based cocktail like the Salt of the Earth with salt, lime, and cucumber. The Washington Sunset introduces homemade cherry cordial for a fruity option named after the golden hour splendor of the surrounding town.

The next time the road calls you to explore beyond the confines of Wake County, follow the river east to Washington for a stop at The Hackney. It’s worth the drive. t thehackneywashingtonnc.com

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THE HACKNEY’S EXECUTIVE CHEF JAMIE DAVIS WAS NOMINATED FOR A 2024 JAMES BEARD AWARD FOR BEST CHEF: SOUTHEAST. THE HACKNEY’S ON-SITE DISTILLERY FOCUSES ON GIN AND OFFERS TOURS AND TASTINGS.
84 WAKELIVING NC Oysters GO WILD with nc-seafood.org Visit the NC Oyster Trail to tour a working shellfish farm, savor the coast’s distinct flavors and discover local oyster lore. NCOysterTrail.org 218 S Blount Street, Raleigh, NC | 919-829-9998 | brewerybhavana.com

Matcha-Do About Nothing

from Umbrella Dry Bar

IN HONOR OF THE ARRIVAL OF SPRING, we bring you Matcha-Do

About Nothing — a nonalcoholic cocktail from Umbrella Dry Bar that is dangerously delicious without all the next-day unpleasant feels. This alcohol-free martini captures the essence of the season, blending a grassy matcha flavor with Free Spirits Gin and Everleaf Forest, an aperitif with hints of vanilla and saffron.

At Umbrella Dry Bar, bartenders skillfully utilize nonalcoholic spirits, housemade syrups, fresh juices, bitters, and floral accents sourced from around the globe. Gather your friends and raise a glass as you celebrate the worry-free indulgence.

¾ ounce Free Spirits The Spirit of Gin

¾ ounce Everleaf Forest

¾ ounce lime juice

¾ ounce vanilla matcha

¾ ounce aquafaba

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and double strain into a Nick and Nora glass.

Note: Aquafaba, the liquid component of canned chickpeas, adds body to the drink.

About Umbrella Dry Bar

Meg Paradise and Kevin Barry opened Umbrella Dry Bar on New Year’s Eve, redefining the cocktail experience for those embracing sobriety or simply seeking delectable beverages. Within an intimate space, you will swoon over the moody lighting, cozy ambience, and flavorful nonalcoholic cocktails. Complementing their vivacious beverages, they offer delectable bites such as charcuterie and Mediterranean boards, and feature pop-ups with accomplished chefs.

umbrelladrybar.com

MARCH/APRIL 2024 85 celebrated spirits

ARTS + CRAFTS FESTIVAL

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TM

hop on top from lynnwood brewing concern

Boasting a delightful combination of flavors with prominent notes of citrus, tropical fruit, and subtle hints of pine — courtesy of bountiful American hops such as Citra and Simcoe — Hop on Top manifests West Coast IPA excellence here in Raleigh. At 7% ABV and 55 IBU, the golden brew strikes a perfect balance.

Elevate your flavor journey by pairing a glass of Hop on Top with recommended dishes from Wilson’s Eatery: Relish the zesty kick of their Sweet Devil Flatbread or savor the combination of delectable LBC beer cheese and braised pork in their Pork Nachos.

About Lynwood Brewing

In the summer of 2013, Lynnwood Grill inaugurated a small craft brewery in the back of the restaurant. Two years later, Lynnwood Brewing Concern packaging brewery and taproom opened its doors. In 2018, Wilson’s Eatery joined the scene, seamlessly connecting to LBC with a spacious outdoor beer garden where friends, family, and even pups are all VIP guests. Enjoy a relaxed hangout with delicious house-made sodas, wine, cider, nonalcoholic beer, and seltzers. lynnwoodbrewing.beer | @lynnwoodbrewing

MARCH/APRIL 2024 87 celebrated spirits
BY JONATHAN FREDIN

The Depot on First in Knightdale

A revitalized historic home turned restaurant now offers Southern hospitality with panache and precision. The Depot on First, a new farm-to-table eatery in downtown Knightdale, melds vintage architecture with modern accompaniments to provide an intriguing destination dining experience.

Proprietor Christopher Critzer purchased the early 1900s Sears, Roebuck and Co. house several years ago after considering how he could elevate a property he believed was underutilized. The home was formerly owned by Joseph R. Hester, the town’s first medical doctor.

“My main desire was to optimize this property by putting a modern spin on a historic home,” Critzer said during a recent Friday afternoon conversation at the restaurant.

But the softspoken Virginia native and Wendell resident also said he and his fiancée, Carmen Wooten, had grown tired of traveling to Raleigh every time they wanted a nice dinner.

“Part of my motivation for taking on this project was somewhat selfish because there was no other place around here providing the type of food we’re serving,” Critzer shared. “This location gave us a great opportunity to change that.”

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THE EXQUISITE DUCK SCARPARIELLO

ABOVE: THE SLOWROASTED PORK BELLY STARTER IS PAIRED WITH APPLE SLAW.

LEFT: THE REVITALIZED SEARS, ROEBUCK AND CO. HISTORIC HOUSE PROVIDES THE PERFECT SETTING FOR AN UPSCALE RESTAURANT.

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Following several years of painstaking planning, engineering, and structural alterations, which Critzer said required tenacity and creativity, the 157-seat restaurant opened for business in October 2023.

The Depot on First encompasses more than 5,000 square feet of space, including several dining rooms, an inviting bar area, a large brick fireplace, and an expansive patio. Durable hickory floors support handsome acacia wood tables. Wrought iron chandeliers and Edison lights suspend from the ceiling, while limewash textured walls provide an upscale-yet-unfussy vibe.

It’s only fitting that such striking décor be paired with first-rate cuisine. Talented Executive Chef Kevin Stratton, who hails from Vermont, curated an inspired menu that features seasonal, locally sourced provisions.

“Most of the items on the menu are local to North Carolina,” said Stratton, who received his training at New England Culinary Institute. “We use Joyce Farms in Chapel Hill for poultry and duck, Ridgefield Farm in western North Carolina for their grass-fed Brasstown Beef, and Cheshire Pork in Goldsboro. We get our fingerling potatoes and green beans from Blue Sky Farms in Wendell.”

Among the starters, you can’t go wrong with lobster sliders, crab-stuffed mushrooms, or the top-selling crispy pork belly.

“We slow-roast the pork belly in the oven in apple cider and then make a spicy, smoky sauce,” Stratton said. “We pair it with a nice apple slaw.”

As for entrees, consider the dry-rubbed ribeye steak (available in 12- and 18-ounce

portions), the lobster ravioli, or the superb duck scarpariello, the chef’s spin on a classic Italian American dish with sausage, fingerling potatoes, and green beans served in a balsamic pepperoncini sauce.

“The duck scarpariello is a well-balanced dish that’s my favorite on the menu,” Stratton said with a smile.

During our visit, we couldn’t get enough of the rosemary-tinged pecan-encrusted rainbow trout that tasted like it was caught earlier the same day. According to Stratton, the trout, snapper, scallops, and shrimp all come from local waterways.

Also worth strong consideration: wild mushroom and beef risotto. The dish features slices of fork-tender ribeye, cremini and porcini mushrooms, and a red wine and thyme demiglace.

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THE PECAN-ENCRUSTED RAINBOW TROUT IS AS FRESH AS YOU’LL FIND ANYWHERE NEARBY.
“It’s a classic New York-style cheesecake that we whip homemade caramel into, and we cook the Pink Lady apples in a local apple cider. This dessert generally sells out every day.”
— Kevin Stratton, Executive Chef
MARCH/APRIL 2024 91
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THE IMAGINATIVE SMOKESTACK CRAFT COCKTAIL IS FINISHED IN A GLASS SMOKING BOX.

“The risotto is earthy but still quite palatable,” Stratton said, adding that he uses various approaches to cooking in the kitchen.

“I don’t tether myself to any certain type of cuisine or culinary methods,” he said. “I like to employ French and Italian styles, but I also use Asian techniques to keep things interesting.”

Whatever you do, don’t miss the signature dessert involving an otherworldly burnt caramel apple cheesecake.

“It’s a classic New York-style cheesecake that we whip homemade caramel into, and we cook the Pink Lady apples in a local apple cider,” Stratton explained. “This dessert generally sells out every day.”

Food is served on modern, coupeshaped dinnerware.

When it comes to libations, The Depot on First’s stylish bar is well stocked with diverse offerings.

“We have been slowly expanding our bourbon selection,” said beverage director Zechariah Williams. “We currently have about 65 varieties, and bourbon comes from Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and elsewhere.”

Williams said other spirits are sourced from local producers like Oak City Amaretto, Durham Distillery for Conniption Gin, and Weldon Mills for Rey Coyote Tequila.

Inventive craft cocktails include Hell on Wheels, a gin-based eye-opener with orange juice, brut, and house-made habanero honey syrup; the jalapeno- and tequila-charged Steam Engine; and the Smokestack featuring a mystical blend of mezcal, Wild Turkey bourbon, lime and grapefruit juice, and bitters that’s finished in a glass smoking box.

Red and white wine is available by the glass and bottle, and select local beers are offered on tap.

The Depot on First is open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner beginning at 4 p.m. Plans call for Sunday brunch starting sometime this spring. Reservations are recommended. An intimate private room seats 16 guests, and a large partially covered patio provides a nice view of nearby Knightdale Station Park. t depotonfirst.com

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ACACIA WOOD TABLES ARE AMONG MYRIAD CLASSY ACCOUTREMENTS AT THE EATERY. SOME 65 VARIETIES OF BOURBON AS WELL AS LOCALLY CRAFTED LIBATIONS ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BAR.

Not Sleeping Well?

Do you find yourself feeling tired throughout the day? During the night, do you ever wake up gasping for breath? You may have sleep apnea, which, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), impacts 18 million adults in the United States.

Here are some other things that may keep you up at night. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, sleep apnea may raise the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. In fact, 80% of morning strokes and heart attacks can be directly related to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is the most common type of sleep apnea caused by the muscles in the throat relaxing when you sleep. Up to 90% of those with OSA go undiagnosed. These alarming facts triggered the NSF to declare sleep apnea a significant public health burden in 2021.

Let’s take a look at the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

Symptoms

While chronic snoring is often thought of as the most common symptom, others include:

- Daytime sleepiness or feeling tired

- Gasping for breath during the night or waking with shortness of breath

- Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking

- Morning headaches

Diagnosis

For an accurate diagnosis, a sleep study should be conducted. At Supremia Dentistry in Wake Forest, state-ofthe-art technology means you can partake in an ambulatory sleep study from the comfort of your own home. It’s also more cost-effective than an overnight

study at a sleep clinic. A home test uses a simple, lightweight, and portable monitor, along with sensors and a mask, to track your breathing, oxygen levels, and breathing effort. The results are then analyzed by a sleep specialist.

Treatment

OSA is often treated by wearing a sleep machine. You may have heard people talk about sleeping with a CPAP, which stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. By wearing a face mask, this machine forces air through the nose and mouth to keep the throat from collapsing during sleep. You may also realize improvements simply by wearing an oral appliance. This looks similar to a mouthguard and is customized to keep your throat open by repositioning your jaw or tongue to

prevent airway obstruction. This therapy is considered the gold standard for the treatment of mild to moderate OSA and produces great results.

If you aren’t getting a solid night’s rest and feel like you could benefit from an at-home sleep study, contact the award-winning team at Supremia. Their friendly and compassionate staff will help you get to the root of the problem.

Edmond W. Suh, D.D.S., is the owner of Supremia Dentistry in Wake Forest. He is an international lecturer on advanced esthetic dental procedures, and leads an award-winning team that has completed extensive training and continuing education to implement the latest technologies and techniques. For more information on obtaining the smile you deserve, call (919) 556-6200 or visit supremiadentistry.com.

MARCH/APRIL 2024 95 SPONSORED CONTENT
CONTRIBUTED BY DR. EDMOND SUH, D.D.S.
TO VISIT YOUR DENTIST.
IT MAY BE TIME

happenings

Author and Raleigh native Jackson Cooper released A Kids Book About Kindness in late 2023. The book uses interactive prompts and colorful images to highlight the difference kindness can make and provides children with a “kindness toolkit” to spread positivity to others. Cooper has held arts nonprofit positions in North Carolina, New York, and Pittsburgh and taught classes at North Carolina State University, Duke, and UNC-Greensboro.

“When I began to write this book, I wanted to position kindness as a practice, something that requires work and repetition much like an actor learning their lines or a singer warming up before a show,” Cooper said. “A Kids Book About Kindness is full of easy, simple things children and caregivers alike can do every day … and they don’t take much to do!”

The book is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop. jcooperarts.com

Raleigh in North Hills later this year. The full-service wine bar and restaurant will be the sixth Foxcroft Wine Co. location, offering a food menu “inspired by winedriven cultures” plus the Foxcroft Wine Club, monthly themed wine dinners, and other events. Renovations are underway on the building, which formerly housed Midtown Grille, to expand the patio and create a laid-back, cozy interior.

“We’re excited to bring our homegrown wine bar and restaurant concept to Raleigh. North Hills is a perfect fit for us to start building a community in Raleigh,” Hunter said. “Our business model is unique, and we hope that Raleigh residents will embrace us.” foxcroftwine.com

Briana and Roger Kornegay — the duo behind our 2023 Readers’ Choice Award winner for Best Social Media Account @RaleighFoodTrap — will open the first North Carolina location of The Yard Milkshake Bar at Seaboard Station in early 2024.

The location will feature an exclusive menu item, The Raleigh FoodTrap, a combo of red velvet and chocolate ice cream with chocolate drizzle served in a jar loaded with red cream cheese icing and dark chocolate shavings, topped with a slice of red velvet cake from Favor Desserts. Follow @RaleighFoodTrap and @TheYardMilkshakeBar for info on the grand opening.

North Carolina FC Youth soccer club held the 11th annual Kick 4 a Cause event Jan. 27 at WRAL Soccer Park. In honor of NCFC Youth’s 50th year serving the Triangle, the event benefited the club’s financial aid fund, which distributes more than $400,000 each year to make soccer accessible for all who want to play, regardless of financial circumstances.

“Without financial aid, my kids would be able to play soccer on some level, but they would not be able to play at the level they do today,” said Laura Alvarez, who has four children in the NCFC Youth program, including one who recently committed to playing for UNC-Chapel Hill. “Thank you for providing my kids with an opportunity to make dreams and watch them come true.”

Kick 4 a Cause was presented by Galatians Community Health, a nonprofit focused on providing health care to underserved communities. 132 four-person teams in children’s and adult divisions competed, raising a total of more than $31,000. ncfcyouth.com

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NCFC Youth
Charlotte restaurateur Conrad Hunter will open Foxcroft Wine Co. Jonathan Fredin

Self-described nomadic knitter

Krista Ann passed through Raleigh in mid-January as part of a journey through all 50 states to meet fiber artists, visit local yarn shops, and share their stories. Ann and her husband have lived in an RV since 2019, traveling the country full time with their cat, Phinny. She knitted on all seven continents in 2022, and her work has been featured in shows including Stranger Things and iCarly. She owns a knitting education app, The Knitting Rockstar Academy. explorewithknitsy.com

RobotLAB Raleigh held a grand opening Feb. 21 for its facility at 4 Copley Parkway in Morrisville. Attendees enjoyed robotics demonstrations and discussions on the future of automation in the Triangle. RobotLAB offers robots tailored to restaurants, hotels, assisted living facilities, schools, and other businesses, as well as training programs and additional services. robotlab.com/raleigh

TowneBank held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its 50th banking location, the North Ridge Financial Center on Falls of Neuse Road in North Raleigh, on Jan. 25. TowneBank purchased the site in 2020 and completed construction on the 15,000-square-foot building last fall. The center offers private, commercial, and retail banking; wealth management; and Towne Insurance services.

“We are thrilled to bring our services to North Ridge and create an added focus on the North Raleigh community,” said TowneBank Triangle President Brian Reid. “TowneBank was built on the values of integrity, innovation, and excellence. We are eager to serve the people and businesses in this community with these values at the forefront of what we do every day.”

Friedrich will take over in May, leading news teams across all platforms, including WRAL-TV, FOX 50, wral.com, streaming platforms, and more. Friedrich has worked as a news manager for more than 20 years, including stints in Washington, DC; Houston; and Baltimore.

“I consider WRAL to be on the Mount Rushmore of content centers,” Friedrich said. “Their commitment to covering stories important to the Triangle and its dedication to showcasing what makes North Carolina unique and special is unmatched in the nation.”

The Historic Raleigh Trolley offered a Black History Trolley

Tour highlighting Oberlin Village Feb. 24–25 in honor of Black History Month. The route started at Mordecai Historic Park and included tours of the Historic Turner House and Oberlin Cemetery along with information about the area’s history.

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News Director Rick Gall will retire after 19 years with WRAL-TV. Mike

write light

Fly fishing

A red-shouldered hawk takes its breakfast to-go while dining recently at Falls Lake Dam in Raleigh.

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