Southeastern N.C., where memories are made
Southeastern North Carolina is a place like no other. The beauty of its beaches and inland flora and fauna, and the promise of warm, sunny days lure visitors year-round. It is a place to see and a place to play. It's a place where old memories are kept - and new ones are always being made.
7 things to know
When people talk about Wilmington, they're often referring to much more than the city itself - they're talking about the Cape Fear region, which encompasses three counties and all of the nature, history and recreational opportunities that go along with a visit here. As a visitor, here a few things you'll want to know about the Wilmington area.
THE OUTDOORS: The state's biggest flathead catfish was caught right here in the Cape Fear River. It was 78 pounds. The state's biggest black drum was caught here, too. It weighed 100 pounds. To find out more about fishing, and the many nature parks and trails available to tour, see our Outdoors page.
HISTORY EVERYWHERE: History abounds, not just in the many historic homes in downtown Wilmington and other cities in the region. The area has a connection to many major American conflicts, from the Revolutionary War to World War II. For the Civil War, check out the Fort Fisher State Historic Site (largest U.S. amphibious landing before D-Day), Fort Anderson near Orton Plantation or the trenches of the Battle of the Fork, near the Cameron Art Museum. For the American Revolution, drive north to Currie (watch for the brown turn-off signs along U.S. 421 or I-40) and visit the Moores Creek Bridge National Battlefield. For World War II, there's the Battleship, of course, and the Community Arts Center at Second and Orange streets, which started out as one of Wilmington's wartime USO centers. Halyburton Park is named for the New Hanover High grad who earned a posthumous Medal of Honor as a Navy corpsman in the Pacific. Ashley High School is named for Sgt. 1st Class Eugene Ashley, who earned a posthumous Medal of Honor in Vietnam as a Green Beret in 1970.
GET SPOOKED: Wilmington and the surrounding areas are haunted. Joe Baldwin, the headless ghost who carried the ghostly light along the (now vanished) railroad tracks near Maco Station, seems to have disappeared. Others, however, are still hovering. At St. James Church in downtown Wilmington, they'll tell you about Samuel Jocelyn, who came back to tell friends he'd been buried alive. Actors claim to spot Victorian theatergoers up in the balcony of Thalian Hall, and sailors killed in action reportedly clang the bulkheads of the Battleship North Carolina Memorial. The Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington will tell you some of those stories nightly, departing from the foot of Market Street by the Cape Fear River. (For details, call 794-1866 or visit www.hauntedwilmington.com.) For more stories, read Brooks Preik's "Haunted Wilmington" or John Hirchak's "Ghosts of Old Wilmington."
THE WEATHER: You'll need your sunscreen because the weather here is bright and beautiful. Average daily highs top 80 degrees Fahrenheit from June through September; in July, the average highs stand at 89.9 degrees, according to records of the National Weather Service.
THE BEACHES: The area's beaches are large and family-friendly, with ample opportunities for surfing, kayaking, boating and other recreational activities.
FUN FOR ALL: Family fun is available in every town, from the Cape Fear Serpentarium in downtown Wilmington and the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher to the Ingram Planetarium in Ocean Isle Beach. Check out our "Destinations" pages and "See + Do" to plan where you want to take the family when you're not lounging on one of the area's many beaches.
YOU MIGHT SEE MOVIE OR TV STARS: The Wilmington area really is Hollywood East. Since "Firestarter" back in 1983, more than 300 feature films, TV movies and TV shows, including Matlock, Dawson's Creek and One Tree Hill, have been shot in the Wilmington area. For a good guide to local film landmarks, check out "Wilm on Film," co-authored by StarNews staffers Amy Hotz and Ben Steelman. EUE Screen Gems, the city's 32-acre studio complex, offers guided tours of its sound stages and back lots at noon and 2 p.m. Saturdays, beginning at the front gate at 1223 N. 23rd St. Tickets are $12 general admission, $10 students, $8 senior citizens and $5 for children aged 5 and older. For details, call 343-3433.