Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lights, Camera, Action at the NC Museum of History

North Carolina has had a starring role in the movie industry for many years. And now the state wants to pay it back by opening its first major exhibit of the blockbuster movie industry. Running now through September 6, 2015, at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh, Starring North Carolina! celebrates North Carolina's films, television shows, cast members and production crews for the past 100 years.

More than 3,000 films and television programs have been made in the Tar Heel State and the exhibit will showcase costumes and props from such blockbusters as Bull Durham, Last of the Mohicans, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dawson's Creek, Sleepy Hollow, and dozens more. Featuring hundreds of film-related items, images, film clips, and a variety of interactive components, Starring North Carolina! will examine the NC film industry from the 1900s to the present. The exhibit will also highlight how NC became one of the nation's top film and television production locations and home to the largest film studio outside of California, EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Photography Offers a Unique Way to Explore Charleston

Capturing the essence of the Lowcountry with Charleston Photography Tours and Wild Dunes Resort

So here's a pretty cool travel concept. Tour Charleston, South Carolina through the lens of a camera. Wild Dunes Resort on Isles of Palms, just 30 minutes from downtown Charleston, has put together a unique tour that combines magical vacation moments with the scenic treasures of Charleston.

Led by award-winning professional photographer Tiffany Briley, Charleston Photography Tours offers three distinct packages from beginners to experts and from discovering historic downtown Charleston to capturing the breathtaking backdrop of Wild Dunes. Whether your interests are in the people and places of the city or seascapes and marshlands of the resort, participants can capture the essence of the Lowcountry and learn the art of image storytelling at the same time.

The varied packages include:

*Discover Charleston Package: Let a photographic tour guide escort you through the charm and
         grace of Charleston. From cobblestone streets to waterfront parks to secret gardens adorned                with ornate ironwork, this package will let you capture the true Charleston. This daily tour is              four hours long and is designed for a variety of skill levels.

*The Dunes Package: Perfect if you just want to stay on the Wild Dunes property and draw your
         inspiration from the stunning seascapes, marshlands, trails, and more. Here you'll also learn the
         basic functions of a camera, the art of composition, and how to capture the perfect moment.
         This tour lasts 2-3 hours and times vary.
* Budding Photographer Tour #NoFilterNeeded: Teens and pre-teens are led on a photographic
         adventure throughout the resort to capture wildlife encounters, spontaneous moments with 
         friends and family, and picturesque landscapes using a traditional camera or a smartphone.
         Teens can then share their creations in real time with friends back home through social media.            This tour is available Tuesday and Thursdays 9-11am.

*Charleston & Beyond Package: This ultimate photography tour is over two days and takes
         participants to the iconic and well-known, as well as the secret spots, in Charleston and nearby            locations. This tour is perfect for photographers of all levels and runs a full two days (20 hours)
         and is offered daily.

All of this AND all of the amenities that this oceanfront paradise offers including championship golf, nationally-ranked tennis, tons of varied recreation, spa services, and tasty dining options. Accommodations at Wild Dunes start at $135 per night from now through February, $229 from March through May, and $289 from May through Labor Day.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Progress into the Holidays with a Charleston Progressive Dinner

Nestled in the gardens behind Wentworth Mansion, Circa 1886 is a perfect venue for their Holiday Progressive Dinner
Circa 1886 Restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina welcomes the holidays with their Holiday Progressive Dinner tradition November 29 through December 23. Now in it's 29th year, Circa 1886 and Charming Inns welcomes guests to kick off the season with a festive evening where diners journey by horse-drawn carriage to three different venues. The evening starts off with hors d'oeuvres at 5:30 at Historic King's Courtyard Inn. Then travel to Circa 1886 Restaurant for a three-course dinner and then wind down at Historic John Rutledge House Inn for coffee and dessert. The evening costs $100 per person, excluding beverages.

Make a night of it by taking advantage of one of the Progressive Dinner Packages at either the John Rutledge House Inn or King's Courtyard Inn. The packages include a one night stay in a a standard room, two seats at the Progressive Dinner (excluding beverages), a rickshaw ride to Kings Courtyard Inn (if you are staying at the John Rutledge House Inn), carriage rides to the other venues, and a Southern Living Party Cookbook. Rates for the Progressive Dinner Package start at $400 per night.

And if Dickens is your holiday thing, join Circa 1886 on December 10th or 11th as they travel back in time to retell a classic Christmas story at their 13th Annual Dickens Dinner. Chef Marc Collins and storyteller Tim Lowry will transport guests to Victorian England with a lively retelling of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," as guests feast on a spectacular four-course dinner. The dinner is $85 per person, plus tax, gratuity and beverages. To complement the Dickens Dinner, the Wentworth Mansion will offer a special Christmas Carol Package for two guests for one night, including the Dickens Dinner (excluding room tax and beverages) from $590 per couple.

There's no Bah Humbug with Charming Inns!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Chapel Hill Inn Celebrates 90th Anniversary

Celebrating its 90th anniversary, the Carolina Inn is located on the campus of UNC,
and is on the National Register of Historic Places

The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, North Carolina first opened its doors in 1924. And they have been offering up luxurious Southern hospitality ever since. To celebrate the milestone, the are offering special anniversary dinners at their famed restaurant, Carolina Crossroads, through December, highlighted by a 90th birthday dinner planned for February 28th, 2015.

Inspired by Executive Chef James Clark, the three-course 90th anniversary dinners feature a selection of four entrees along with three appetizers and three dessert options. All for $90 per couple. Along with some of the current menu options, the seasonal entree selections may include Roasted Duck Breast served with Lemon Confit Potatoes, Turnip Puree and Sauteed Kale; Seared Rib-Eye Tender served with Crispy Duck Fat Potatoes, Roasted Tomatoes, and Arugula Puree; and Cheerwine Braised Short Ribs served with Mustard Greens, Roasted Sunchokes and Pickled Carrots.

The seasonally inspired desserts may include Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding with Chocolate Fudge Swirl Ice Cream; Coffee Espresso Creme Brulee with Toffee Biscotti Cookie; or a trio of house-made Sorbet.

On February 28th, The Carolina Inn's 90th Birthday dinner celebrates some of the restaurant's favorite dishes with a four-course wine-paired dinner in the Old Wells Room and featuring the cuisine of some of its Executive Chefs through the years. From Brian Stapleton to Jimmy Reale and James Clark, the evening will feature many historical twists on the menus and more.

The cost of the 90th Birthday dinner is $90 per person and includes a commemorative 90th anniversary ornament per couple. Hand-painted on hand-blown glass and signed by Chapel Hill artists Elaine O'Neil, these ornaments are one-of-a-kind and sure to become a collectors item.

Reservations are required for the 90th Anniversary dinners as well as the 90th Birthday Party and can be made by calling 919-918-2735 or emailing

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Asheville B&Bs Celebrate Our Veterans

There is no better feeling than thanking a veteran for his or her service. And, for the second year, the Asheville Bed & Breakfast Assocation (ABBA) is getting in on the action by offering their rooms for a one-night stay to all retired and active U.S. military personnel to say 'thank you'.

Part of the national "B&Bs for Vets Campaign," the seventeen inns that make up ABBA throughout the Asheville area are offering up a total of 57 rooms free-of-charge for a one-night stay on Veterans Day, Tuesday, November 11. The inns that make up ABBA are a diverse group that must adhere to the high standards that the association requires in terms of superior quality, ambiance, guest service, amenities, and outstanding host hospitality. Guest who choose a member of ABBA not only enjoy sumptuous accommodations and a full breakfast, but also the best tips and travel advice from local innkeepers, as well as a getaway that is based on their unique needs and preferences.

Although many are already sold out, there are still plenty of rooms remaining. The best option is to contact the individual inn of choice to check on their availability and specific policies. Here's a listing of the participating B&Bs:

* 1889 WhiteGate Inn & Cottage
* Reynolds Mansion Bed & Breakfast Inn
* Pinecrest Bed & Breakfast
* Hawk and Ivy
* Applewood Manor Inn
*1899 Wright Inn & Carriage House
* Beaufort House Inn
* Dry Ridge Inn
* The Lion and the Rose Bed and Breakfast
* Sweet Biscuit Inn
* A Bed of Roses Bed and Breakfast
* Crooked Oak Mountain Inn
* Carolina Bed & Breakfast
* Honey Hill Inn & Cabins
* North Lodge on Oakland B&B
* Chestnut Street Inn
* 1847 Blake House Inn Bed & Breakfast

Happy Veteran's Day and thanks to all who serve for their dedication and service.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Wilmington, North Carolina Named America's Best Riverfront

With so many riverfronts in the U.S., we're thrilled to announce that the American people have voted Wilmington, North Carolina as America's Best Riverfront in the highly competitive 10Best Readers' Choice Contest. With 20 American cities with renowned riverfronts pitted against one another, readers had the final say. The poll's top five were Wilmington; Spokane, Washington; Davenport, Iowa; Dubuque, Iowa; and Pittsburgh.

Located along the Cape Fear River on the southeastern coast of North Carolina, Wilmington's riverfront boasts a colorful and active Riverwalk lined with cafes, bars, charming shops, and historic buildings. Across the river, history buffs can tour the Battleship USS North Carolina. The annual Riverfest celebration every October brings craft and food vendors, live music, fireworks, mock pirate invasions, and standup paddle races to celebrate all things riverfont.

Congratulations to Wilmington, North Carolina on being named America's Best Riverfront.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Southern Season Expands and Partners for the Holidays

Southern Season is a foodie playground featuring cheeses, coffees and teas, baked goods, flowers, wine and beer, home decor, prepared foods, gourmet ingredients, and so much more.

One of our favorite foodie store has got a lot going on for the holidays. Southern Season, the Chapel Hill-based gourmet emporium, with additional locations in Charleston and Richmond, has partnered with North Carolina-based chef extraordinaire (and television host) Vivian Howard on a group of specialty gift collections that will be available in store and online for the holidays.

Chef/owner of Chef and the Farmer in Kinston, NC and host of the Peabody Award-winning show, A Chef's Life, Vivian Howard has catapulted southeastern North Carolina dining and southern ingredients into the stratosphere and has become a household name. After working under some of New York's cutting edge chefs and restaurants, Howard and her husband, Ben Knight, returned to her North Carolina roots in 2005 to open Chef & the Farmer and raise her family in the down-home environment where she was raised. Since then, she and Knight have opened Boiler Room Oyster Bar in Kinston and embarked on A Chef's Life, a PBS series launched in 2013, with one Peabody Award and a James Beard Media Award finalist nomination under its belt.

Vivian Howard for Southern Season will debut in stores with a group of specialty gifts collections filled with items that reflect her commitment and love of Southern ingredients and modern Southern cooking. The collections will be exclusive to Southern Season and delivered in a handcrafted wood crate. Some examples of the collections include "Kinston Inspiration" (filled with signature items from her hometown), "Ben's Birthday Gift" (pictured left and an assortment of some of her husband's favorite breakfast items), and "Childhood Memories" (filled with a sampling of some of her favorite snacks when she was growing up).

In addition to these unique holiday gift collections, Southern Season has also created a Vivian Howard Shop in each location featuring her favorite artisan products, gadgets, kitchen staples and more. And in early 2015, Southern Season plans to unveil a line of Vivian Howard for Southern Season products, based on some of her favorite recipes.

And that's not all that's going on with this fast-growing (and tasty) company. They have also announced two holiday pop-up stores that will be open during the holidays. A Taste of Southern Season will open in Charlotte at The Village at SouthPark on November 1 through January 5 and will feature gourmet gifts, including the Vivian Howard for Southern Season gift crates, entertaining essentials, holiday treats, and many Southern Season favorites such as cheese straws, nuts, barbecue sauces, cookies, chocolates, cocktail mixers, and more. In late 2016, Southern Season plans to open a 50,000 square foot store in Charlotte with its complete line of specialty and gourmet foods, as well as their cooking school and Weathervane Restaurant and Patio.

They will also open A Taste of Southern Season in Cameron Village in Raleigh November 8 through January 15 and will feature a carefully selected sample of Southern Season's vast assortment of local, regional, hard-to-find, and international goodies, as well as gourmet gift collections from Vivian Howard for Southern Season and other gift delicacies. There is no mention of a permanent Southern Season on the horizon in Raleigh but it certainly wouldn't surprise us.

So no matter where you are in the Carolinas, there's a Southern Season for all your holiday entertaining and gift giving needs.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Southern Cuisine Topic at Meredith College Event

John T. Edge, Director of the Southern Foodways Alliance and author of The Truck Food Cookbook

Who better to discuss the state of southern cuisine and how the influx of immigration has impacted it than John T. Edge, Director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, and some of his southern foodie friends. Meredith College and the Master of Science in Nutrition department will be hosting John T. Edge & Friends Monday, November 3 at 7p.m. on their campus in Raleigh, North Carolina.

An ardent enthusiast of all southern culinary things, columnist for Garden & Gun, Oxford American, and Southern Living, cookbook author, and winner of the M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award from the James Beard Foundation, John T. Edge will kick off the evening with a short film, entitled Cortes Fino. Made by Vittles for the Southern Foodways Alliance Greenhouse Project, the film  focuses on Cliff's Meat Market in Carrboro and how southern traditions and immigration complement and coexist.

Edge will be joined by a panel of local celebrity chefs and farmers who will offer up their expertise and experience on the subject of southern cuisine. The panelists include: Chef Ricky Moore of Salt Box Seafood Joint in Durham; Chef Ashley Christensen of Poole's Diner, Beasley's Chicken + Honey, Chuck's, Fox Liquor Bar, and Joule Coffee, all in Raleigh: Chef Andrea Reusing of Lantern Restaurant in Chapel Hill; Chef Scott Crawford of Standard Foods and Nash Tavern in Raleigh; and local farmers and entrepreneurs' Jamie DeMent and Richard Holcomb of Coon Rock Farm, Bella Bean Organics, Heirloom Provisions, and Piedmont Restaurant.

The event is open to the public but tickets must be reserved in advance.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Travelers Are Having a Love Affair in Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston's architecture along the Battery is one of the many things to love about Conde Nast Traveler's #1 city.

Charleston has done it again! For the fourth year, the readers of Conde Nast Traveler have voted Charleston the No. 1 U.S. City. Offering up fascinating history, stunning architecture, delectable dining, and some of the best Southern hospitality in the nation, Charleston was also ranked #2 in the World by Conde Nast Traveler 2014 Readers' Choice Awards.

Originally hitting the top ten list at #6 in 1993, Charleston rose to the top ranking in 2011 and has hung on to it for four years running. To celebrate the occassion, the Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau released, "A Love Letter to Charleston", a 3-minute original video that showcases the reasons that Charleston is a top-ranked destination worldwide.

In addition tot he No. 1 City ranking, Kiawah Island ranked No. 1 Island in the United States and the No. 2 Island in the world, according to readers. The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort ranked No. 17 among Top 25 Resorts in the U.S. And Wentworth Mansion ranked No. 25 in the Top 25 Hotels in the U.S.

Check out the video and find out why travelers are having a love affair with Charleston!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Win a Trip to the Crystal Coast of North Carolina

Cape Lookout Lighthouse on the Crystal Coast, North Carolina

Thinking about a fall or winter getaway to the beach? North Carolina's Crystal Coast is surrounded by crystal clear waters and bordered by sparkling beaches. For the land lubbers, there is plenty of swashbuckling pirate history, lighthouses, and ghostly treasures. If nature is more your thing, exotic wild ponies roam the shore and the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores beckons. And if you are a Nicholas Sparks fan, the Crystal Coast features some of the magical sights of his novels and movies. And don't forget about the fresh seafood and creative cuisine.

Sound like the perfect getaway? Then register for the Crystal Coast Sweepstakes and escape to the coast this fall. Here's what's included:

* Three night stay in a three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo in historic Beaufort.
* Two-night stay in the DoubleTree by Hilton on Atlantic Beach, including breakfast for two.
* 18-holes of golf with two carts for four at The Country Club of the Crystal Coast.
* $200 gift certificate to Bistro by the Sea in Morehead City.
* $60 gift certificate to Captain Bill's Waterfront Restaurant in Morehead City
* Family four-pack of admission passes to the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores
* Four tickets for a Double-Decker Bus Tour, Historic House Tour and Old Burying Ground Tour
   in Historic Beaufort.
* "A Ride to Remember" Nicholas Sparks culinary bike tour for four, including lunch.
* $500 VISA gift card to help you get there.

But you've got to hurry. The sweepstakes ends Friday, October 31st. Boo!