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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Essential Carolina

Posted September 11, 2007

What is the essence of North Carolina? In other words, where would you take someone to get a feel of the Old North State? Let’s say you only have a week. What is your itinerary? Let’s begin our Tar Heel odyssey in Raleigh. You pick the places we should visit.

Obviously we will run up some mileage. We can’t miss the coast but specifically where would you go? And the mountains. What’s it going to be? Asheville? Blowing Rock? The New River? There’s a lot of ground to cover.

We want this to be fun and educational but we also want the trip to bring out the unique qualities of North Carolina.  Let's avoid cliches and make this a new and refreshing look at our vibrant state.

Okay. You’re the tour guide. Let the journey begin!

The author of the most interesting itinerary will win a copy of my CD "Peaceful Journey:  A Celebration of North Carolina." 

21 Comments

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  • thecatsmeow67 Sep 12, 2007

    While heading back from the small towns that I mentioned earlier we will stop in Maggie Valley and visit with Allison and Cabe Carver at Jelly Belly's Mountian Gift Shop and pick up some mouth watering fudge( Chocolate Pecan or Pummpkin Spice) and catch up and talk some smack about Carolina and Duke. Then we'll pop back up on the interstate and head back to Raleigh.

  • thecatsmeow67 Sep 12, 2007

    We'll start in Oak Island and continue to Southport and into Wilmington and stop by Duke and take a tour of Duke Chapel and the Gardens. Then we'll stop by Allen and Son BBQ in Chapel Hill for a bite to eat and continue on our way on 40 W. We will stop in Hickory and tour the furniture markets. Before long we will be in Asheville wher we can browse the Western NC Farmer's Market and have dinner at the Moose Cafe. We will contine on to Bryson City to the Fryemont Inn for a stay overnight with the Browns and take a ride on the GSMR for the Andrews to Dillsboro excursion. When we get back we will have dinner at the Fryemont Inn that will consist of Fried Mountian Trout and green beans. The next day we will leave beautiful Bryson City and see what the towns of Franklin, Highlands, and Cashiers have to offer us in way of the falls. Of course each day we will stay at a B & B in each town to savor the uniqeness of each town. Now we are coming back to Raleigh.

  • ysq2 Sep 12, 2007

    I think I'd start in the mountains on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Doughton Park in Sparta would be my pick. It's never crowded and there's a cow pasture you can picnic in. The view is incredible, the air is always fresh and it makes for great photos.

    Then, I'd want to go to Winston-Salem for a tea in Old Salem. Buy some cookies, eat lunch, etc. Off to the School of the Arts for a dramatic performance or a gallery showing.

    Off to High Point to look at the furniture warehouses and learn more about making furniture. Then on to Lexington for dinner and some yummy barbecue.

    We'd spend the next day in Asheboro, the morning at the best zoo I've ever been to and then off pottery shopping in Seagrove. We'd swing by Stone Crow pottery in Sanford? and then through Raleigh.

    We'd stop off for a late night doughnut run at Krispy Kreme.

    Then we'd go to catch one of our unique theater productions (depending on the time of year) either Briar Patch or A Christmas Carol, both worth seeing.

  • bornbredtarheel Sep 11, 2007

    One place I would take someone is to Asheville and to the Biltmore Estate. Another is to Carolla (on the coast, one of the barrier islands) and show them the herds of wild horses. Locally, I'd take them to the Botanical Gardens in Chapel Hill, Duke Garden (I'm a definite Tarheel fan, but I'll have to agree that Duke Garden is definitely beautiful) in Durham...Hmmm...I'm not sure where else! Someone else mentioned Tryon Palace, so maybe there as well.

  • PackManSJP Sep 11, 2007

    Sorry, begin you sixth day by heading west toward Durham and Chapel Hill along NC 54, seeing RTP and the campus of "that school". ;) Head now down US 64 toward Morganton, enjoying the rural beauty of the Piedmont. Stayt the night in Morgaton and then get on your seventh day and to Ashville. Explore downtown before enjoying lunch at the Bier Gardern before heading over to Biltmore Estate to tour the largest home in the US. From hear head up to Mount Mitchel on the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the hightest point east of the Mississippi. Continue up the Parkway to Grandfather Mountain to walk over the Mile-High Bridege. Now that the day is coming to an end, head to Boone to finsh you trip, seeing all you can of this state in a week, but knowing you will need to come back every year in order to see it all.

  • PackManSJP Sep 11, 2007

    Maybe you can solve the 400 year old mystery. From here, head over to Nags Head and hike up Jokey's Ridge then head to Kill Devil Hills to see where man first took flight. From there, head back through Mateo over to mainland Dare County to see the natural beauty of the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge (If keep a lookout, you might see a bear or alligator!). From hear, head over the Albermarle Sound on the NC 37 to Edenton and tour the old town before spending the night. Start you fifth day by making your way east toward Raleigh, while going down the country roads of NC 42, 58, and 97, seeing the old tobacco barns, rich farmland, and coastal plain to piedmont transition of Edgecombe, Wilson, and Nash Counties. Head into Raleigh into Raleigh in the late morning to early afernoon and just explore downtown. Later that evening, maybe go catch a Hurricanes game or NC State game, depnding on the year. Begin day five by headin down NC 54 toward Durham and Chapel Hill. T.B.C.

  • PackManSJP Sep 11, 2007

    Tour historic Ocracoke (maybe try to find Blackbeard's Treasure!), stopping at the light house, enjoying a bikeride, speninding time on the best beach in the US, and of course, enjoying lunch at Howard's Pub. From there head north and see teh natural beatuty of the barrier islands and sounds when you take a ride on the ferry over to Hatteras. From hear, head through the villages of Hatteras, Friscc, and Buxton. Stop and see the Cape Hatteras Lgihouse and museum and explore Buxton Woods. Head north in the evening going throught Avon(Knnakeet), the Chicamacomaco villages (Salvo, Waves, Rodanthe), then go over the Bonner Bridge at Oregon Inlet and stop at the fishing Center to see the latest catch from the Gulf Stream. Fro here, head up toward Nags Head, stopping at Basnight's Lone Cedar Cafe to enjoy a great dinner before heading over to Mateo to stay the night of your third day. Begin you fourth day by going to Fort Raleigh to tour the replica fort and Lost Colony theater. T.B.C.

  • mcneillm Sep 11, 2007

    Oops, ran out of words. Back to the campground, sitting around the firepit, fishing for trout in the river, watching the kids enjoy the cold stream & dying to play in it (even if it is 60 degrees). Oh, and you could always visit the Crestwood Spa in Blowing Rock for a fabulous massage & facial that you'd die for.

  • PackManSJP Sep 11, 2007

    Ok, start in Calabash and have some seafood, then head east into Southoport and tour Oak Island and Smith Island and see the light houses. Take the ferry accross to Fort Fisher to explore that historic Civil War site, then head north to Wilmington to tour the city, the USS North Carloina, and to stay the night. From there, head up US 17 to Jacksonville and get off on to NC 24 to head to Swansboro and Emerald Isle to spend the day fishing or going to the beach(Don't for get the aquariums at Fort Fisher and Pine Knoll Shores.) Go to Atlantic Beach to tour Fort Macon then head over to Morehead to tour downtown. Then take a hop over the bridge to Beafort to spend your second night after stopping by the Duke Marine Lab to see the R/V Cape Hatteras and hear stories and learn about the ocean from the experts. From Beaufort, head up US to where it ends at NC 12 then hop on the ferry over to Ocracoke to begin an Outer Banks oddessey. (To be continued.)

  • thefensk Sep 11, 2007

    All good suggestions, but one missing: I usually try to work in Duke Homestead because it gives a great primer on the impact of tobacco ... which stretched to include textiles, power generation, transportation, and education.

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