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Live Local, Live Small: Plans to rediscover what makes Wilmington so unique

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One of my Live Local New Year’s resolutions is to do 50 things I haven’t done before. The hope is these experiences will help me learn more about our area and shed light on our deeper economic ties to each other. The encore editor lady had some really great ideas for me to try—things I would never have thought of on my own. The more we talked about it, the more it seemed obvious this list should be opened up to our readership for suggestions. If we could come up with such diversified lists between two people, what were we missing that a larger group could suggest?


The Cape Fear Serpentarium, located in downtown Wilmington. Photo by Christian Podgaysky

It was surprising when I started thinking about things I haven’t done before (or in almost 30 years), in spite of having lived here almost all my life. For example, I have never been surf fishing. How sad is that? There are people who literally travel here from Ohio just to do that and other beach–related things. Yet, in three decades, I haven’t taken advantage of the daily opportunity to try it.

Below are 40 things I plan to try in 2015, and 10 additional new experiences are on the table. So, I want to know: What should the reading public learn about our area?   

1. I want to go kayaking.

2. I want to try my hand at surf fishing.

3. Visit the Burgwin Wright House—I haven’t been since a school trip I took when I was 7 years old.

4. Go to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

5. Vist Fort Fisher historic site. Again, I have not been since an elementary school trip.

6. Visit Moores Creek Battleground for a re-enactment.

7. Visit Brunswick Town and Fort Anderson

8. Visit Halyburton Park. I actually haven’t been there.

9. Attend a Wilmington Sharks baseball game.

10. Drink a beer at the Barbary Coast.

11. Take one of the horsedrawn-carriage tours.

12. Tour Oakdale Cemetery. I have walked through it on my own, but I have  not had a real, formal tour.

13. Camp at Carolina Beach State Park. Naturally, this will be put off until my ’68 VW camper is ready for a test camp.

14. Visit the Wilmington Railroad Museum. Though I loved it as a child, I have not been since they moved to Nutt Street.

15. Visit Wrightsville Beach Museum of History.

16. Try raptor hunting.

17. Walk part of the Mountains to the Sea Trail. It doesn’t come through here, but it is important to our state. However, we are slated to be part of the East Coast Greenway, which will be a scenic trail from Maine to Florida.

18. Eat a Britt’s Donut. I know, I know: shame, shame, shame on me.

19. Mail a letter to the mailbox at Wrightsville Beach.

20. Visit South of the Border. Seriously, Jock just will not stop when we drive past. Sigh.

21. Visit the Bald Head Island lighthouse (Old Baldy).I have actually never once been to Bald Head in my life.

22. Visit Southport—I haven’t been there since 1986, but I hear it has changed a bit.

23. Visit the World’s Largest Frying Pan in Rosehill. Why not?  They needed a claim to fame, and that is certainly one. It will be a nice day trip, and I don’t think I have ever been to Rosehill. I hope they have a bookstore, too.

24. Go see the Maco Light (alcohol might be involved with this one).

25. Visit the The Ingram Planetarium at Sunset Beach.

26. Visit the vineyards nearby: Silver Coast Winery and Duplin Winery.

27. Spend a day as a brewer’s apprentice.

28. Attempt to blow glass.

29. Attend a UNCW sporting event.

30. Go to Winnie’s: eat, drink more.

31. Do the Nicholas Sparks tour. His books and movies have driven a tremendous amount of tourism to our area, and it’s something I need to learn more about.

32. Tour the Cape Fear Serpentarium.

33. Take the Haunted Pub Crawl tour.Though I have seen it while visiting several of my favorite downtown haunts, I have never actually taken the tour.

34. Take a horseback trail ride.

35. Go to the fencing class on Tuesdays at Tileston Gym.

36. Eat at Goody Goody Omelet House. I haven’t been; not even once. How sad is that?

37. Eat at Merritt’s Burger House on Carolina Beach Road.

38. Go to the Starway Flea Market. I am told it is economics boiled down to the purest essence.

39.  Learn to surf—or at least try. Again, people come here from all over to do this, and I have never once gotten close. Well, in my younger days, I certainly got close to surfer boys, but not the actual sport. Now, I not only live at the beach, but I own a VW. I think there’s a law that when those two things collide, one must learn to surf. I am bravely prepared to pave the way for the frumpy, middle-aged, fat-lady surfing clique. You laugh now, but watch out: We might have our own category in the nationals in a few years.

40. Take a river taxi. They connect Wilmington and Brunswick County in the most direct way possible. If this isn’t essential to understanding the development of our area, then what is?

And that’s my list. Do you have a business that offers any of these services or classes? Do you have experience with any of these aspirations? If so, please, get in touch so we can connect. If you have sage advice that can prevent a trip to the emergency room as a result of a clumsy middle-aged lady trying to experience our beautiful area, please, share any and all wisdom, too. Here at encore, we are (and I personally am) injury-adverse.

Email encore to suggest things for the Live Local columnist to try in 2015. It can be something you have always been curious about, something you personally love, or if you have an unusual business that deserves more attention, send that idea along, too. Please, note: I am not going to get a tattoo just for a story, and I removed all my body piercings almost 10 years ago when I visited the Dead Sea. (There are times in life you just don’t tempt corrosion.) Also, Whispering Pines, the nudist colony in Brunswick County, would not be considered a “new” experience for me—though, I certainly would welcome an excuse to go back. 

In all seriousness: This is a great opportunity to help me and many other people learn what makes our area special and different. Please, join us in making this a banner year for rediscovering our home. Also, please, wish me luck and no injuries! I will report back as events unfold.

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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