11.12.2019

North Carolina Is a Top Southern State for a Road Trip

Post updated in 2019

I've said for a long time that North Carolina has a lot going for it. We have the mountains, the coast, vineyards, golf courses, history, delicious food, and diverse culture. We well maintained highways with well-equipped rest areas. In my opinion, North Carolina has some of the best rest areas in the U.S.  There are areas for dogs to walk, ample parking for cars and recreational vehicles (RVs).

In 2019, WalletHub named North Carolina as the best state for a summer road trip, up from the 4th place spot in 2017.  With road warriors in mind, WalletHub compared the 50 U.S. states based on 33 key metrics to find the most fun, scenic, and wallet-friendly road-trip destinations — plus those that’ll have travelers pulling a quick U-turn.  Each year, we get more restaurants, more attractions, and more people wanting to move to this southern state with Carolina blue skies. 
Source: WalletHub

North Carolina is divided into regions. North Carolinians refer to these regions as the mountains, the piedmont, and the coastal plains. The terrain is different all over the state. We have over 70 public airports. If flying in on an International flight, then Charlotte, N.C, or  Raleigh, N.C. are your best bets for cities to arrive into with the least amount of connecting flights. You can rent a car, or look for an RV rental in North Carolina to use for your road trip.

U.S map


Arriving in Charlotte, known as North Carolina's Queen City, will put you closer to our mountains and piedmont regions. From Charlotte, you about two hours from Asheville, N.C. and the scenic Biltmore Estate. Charlotte has a great amusement park called Carowinds, a professional sports team, NASCAR Hall of Fame Museum and an outdoor rafting center.  It's also close to the quaint town of Salisbury, NC, where the popular drink Cheerwine was invented.

Arriving at  Raleigh-Durham-International airport will bring you closer to our coastal regions and Piedmont. From Raleigh, you can get to Wilmington, N.C. in two hours, the Southern Outer Banks in three hours, the Brunswick beaches in three hours, and the Outer Banks in three and half hours. The towns of Greensboro and Winston-Salem are just over an hour away.  Kitty Hawk is known as the place where the Wright Brothers were first in flight.

Love to relax around vineyards and enjoy wine? Then you may want to visit the Greensboro-Winston-Salem area and visit the Yadkin Valley area vineyards. It's the only area in North Carolina where the soil can grow grapes comparable tho those found on the West Coast and in Europe. This area is producing some award-winning wines.

Love Craft Beer? North Carolina ranks high in craft beer production. You can go just about anywhere in our state and find a local brewery. Asheville, N.C, Charlotte, and the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill areas have the most breweries in a concentrated area, but you will find breweries throughout the state these days.

North Carolina Local Beer Taps


Are you a fan of the PBS show, "A Chef's Life?" then take a road trip to Kinston, N.C. and dine at Vivian Howard's restaurant, "A Chef and A Farmer.".  Reservations are a must, and if you want to go a weekend night, you need to make those reservations several months in advance.

Love history? We have historic sites in almost every town in North Carolina. Raleigh is our state capital.  New Bern, N.C. houses Tryon Place, the former NC Governor's Palace when we were a colony. New Bern is also the site of where the drink Pepsi was created. The waterfront towns of Edenton and Beaufort had pirates walk the streets. We have battlefield sites, and even a museum devoted to actress Ava Gardner, who was born in the North Carolina town of Smithfield.

If you are a golfer, you may want to visit our Sandhills region in Southern Pines, where some may say there are more golf courses than people.  That's not really true, but this terrain is filled with sand, pine trees, and is home to a PGA golf course. Southern Pines is located about 30 minutes from NC Zoo in Asheboro, N.C.  This area is also known for its beautiful pottery in Seagrove, NC.

Ideas for a scenic road trip through North Carolina are endless. I love the mountain town of Blowing Rock, where you can walk across the swinging bridge at Grandfather Mountain. The Blue Ridge Parkway runs through our North Carolina mountains. You can hop on it near Asheville, N.C, and take it into the Boone area. The Indian reservation, Cherokee, N.C. takes you to the Smoky Mountain National Park. In Franklin, N.C., you can take a scenic rail ride on the Smoky Mountain Railroad.

Map  of North Carolina _Great State to Road Trip

I am not a travel agent, but I know North Carolina well. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Visit my OutaboutNC social community to see where locals like to go, and you can also follow my own Instagram account.

Request your map from NC DOT and start your adventure. Read the places to visit articles on NC Tripping.com and enjoy exploring. VisitNC has a list of accommodations. There are over 300 campgrounds in the state, so we certainly have something for every traveler, adventure style, and budget.  If you are thinking of moving to North Carolina, be sure to watch my YouTube show, The House Stalkers. 


Happy road tripping!


RV on scenic road


My thanks to RVshare for being a November HineSightBlog.com sponsor. To search for the perfect RV for your North Carolina, visit RV rental, North Carolina.  My sponsors keep me at my desk writing editorial content, #OutaboutNC and house stalking on YouTube. 

10.31.2019

Quick and Easy Pantry Meal: Pasta and Bean Soup

I like to eat soups, especially in the fall and winter.  My children not so much, but I just give them pasta with butter and then make what I want for dinner. I have found that if you keep chicken stock in your pantry, pasta, beans, and canned tomatoes, then you can pretty much make some type of soup.

I made this soup recently by rummaging through my pantry and old cookbooks. It's a great soup using pasta.

Use your Pantry and serve this easy pasta and bean soup.

Pasta and Bean Soup

Ingredients:

1/4 cup of olive oil plus a little more for drizzling
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of fresh or dried rosemary
2 14 oz diced tomatoes
Salt and Pepper
7 cups of chicken stock
6 ounces of pasta (elbow or tiny shells)
2 19-ounce cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed. 


Instructions:

Heat oil in a large stockpot. Add garlic and rosemary and saute for about two minutes. Add the tomatoes plus salt and pepper. Simmer for several minutes. 

Add the chicken stock and bring soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes. Add the pasta and cook 7 to 10 minutes. 

Add the canned beans to the pot and simmer for several minutes.  Add salt and pepper, if needed. Once the soup is in serving bowls, drizzle with olive oil to taste. 

Serve with my cornbread


This soup is excellent later in the week. It also makes enough to freeze. 

Are you a soup lover, too?

#Soups for weeknight meals. Quick and Easy from your pantry with #pasta #beans and #tomatoes. Get dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes with this soup recipe. Budget-Friendly, too.


Updated 2019

My thanks to Louisiana Eye and Laser, with offices in Monroe, Louisiana, for being an October HinesSightBlog sponsor. The Monroe location offers routine eye care to LASIK eye surgeries. 

10.21.2019

The Backstory on The Raleigh Bungalow in the Historic South Park Neighborhood: House Stalkers Episode Two

In Episode Two of the House Stalkers on YouTube, Heather and I explored parts of Raleigh, North Carolina's inner beltline area in downtown Raleigh. We originally wanted to stalk a home in the new Caraleigh Commons neighborhood off of Maywood Avenue, but that didn't work out because all homes in this new downtown neighborhood are custom, and a home was not far enough along in the construction process for us to view on our shooting day. We'll revisit these homes by CitySpace another time.

Not getting into a home didn't deter us from shooting that day. I suggested stalking some new construction about a mile down the road in Raleigh's historic South Park neighborhood.


White House


You can view the full seven-minute episode two: Downtown Bungalow: The House Stalkers on YouTube now.




This bungalow/modern farmhouse featured in the show sits on a historic downtown Raleigh street near Shaw University. Homes in this area in Raleigh are undergoing revitalization at a rapid pace. Home prices are increasing just as fast as the remodeling. The home featured in this episode had an asking price of $408,000 and was already under contract when we visited.

 Isabel Moss, a realtor with Fonville Morisey and also co-owner of Moss Construction and Design in Raleigh agreed to let us stalk impromptu and boy, are we glad. The original property on this corner lot was a duplex, built-in 1930.


The Before: raleigh duplex built in 1930:

Moss transformed the bungalow-style duplex into a 1400 square feet modern farmhouse with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. The remodel also included a coveted carport.



modern farmhouse

remodel of home includes a carport





There were many things about this home that we loved. We saw the house empty, but it is even more quaint furnished.  Be sure to check out the show and see the tile in the bathroom.


living room of home and kitchen. Blue couch. Staged


This South Park home is very close to Transfer Food Hall at the corner of Davie and East Street in Downtown Raleigh. It was where we chose to dine for the lunch portion of the show to tie in the flavors of the neighborhood and tap into my OutaboutNC community on Instagram.  I love this new space in Raleigh. It houses twelve vendors in one gorgeous space. Housed in the historic Carolina Coach Garage and Shop, it is a unique gathering place in Raleigh, where different communities can connect through food.  I've dined at Transfer Food Hall many times now, but for the show, we had Tuna Poke Bowls from Bul-Box.

Tuna Poke Bowl at Bul Box inside Transfer Food Hall


I've also dined at Locals Seafood and Dank Burrito plus had a visit to Burial Brewing. I highly recommend Transfer Food Hall as a place to visit when in Raleigh.

We're going to visit another Moss Construction and Design in show three in another part of Downtown Raleigh.  Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel Leigh Powell Hines and ring the bell so you will not miss it when we drop a new episode.


a white modern farmhouse



My thanks to October HinesSightBlog sponsor, Flooring by Design, carpet installer in Raleigh.  The Flooring by Design team is ready to assist your home project to suit your lifestyle and budget.

10.16.2019

A Travel with Purpose Idea: Bahamas Vacation #Ilovebahamas #BahamasStrong

In between carpool lines, cheer practice, and walking the dog, I start fantasizing about vacations as it gets colder and darker earlier in North Carolina.

Usually, my daydreams start with my picturing a quiet, tropical destination (even though I'm not really a sit-on-the beach type gal) where I see blue waters, white sandy beaches, and refreshing cocktail in my hand. My children are off splashing around because they are at a resort having fun. Will is happy because he paid for all food and drink in advance, so he doesn't have to tally up the food bill every time he charges it to the room. And I'm happy because I'm not doing laundry, or cooking a meal that no one wants to eat.

Ahh, glorious family vacations. Aren't they wonderful?

The truth is family vacations are usually a mess at cetain points when you are experiencing them with your kids. As parents, you probably stated at least one time on that vacation, "With that attitude, we won't be vacationing next year!"

But, you know that is not true. Once you get home, you will only remember the priceless vacation fun. That's what we do.

PLAN a Bahamas Vacation in 2020


As you start vacation planning or even fantasizing about destinations like I do, consider a Bahamas vacation. Hurricane Dorian, as a category five hurricane, was devastating. As someone who lives in a state where hurricanes are frequent, I know first-hand how devasting these storms can be for the economy and tourism in the areas that were hit. It's more important than ever to get those dollars flowing and to let people know that 14 islands are ready for visitors in the Bahamas. In this interactive  Bahama island finder, you can find the most perfect island to visit for your family.

map of the Bahamas with islands open
Photo courtesy of  Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation 


There are many places to donate dollars to help the area, but to choose to help the economy by planning and experiencing a vacation in the impacted area allows you to do even more for the area to help with recovery. From dining in local restaurants to local tour experiences, you are helping the area's economy. 

I traveled to Nassau in 2001 for a wedding with Will. We were not yet married, but Will told me that one night on the island, he wanted to " impromptu propose" to me because the setting was perfection. He, of course, had no ring plus it was someone else's' happy occasion, so he bit his lip and proposed a few months later instead while I was sick with a sinus infection, wearing a sweatshirt and watching Saturday Night Fever.  Maybe we should redo our experience. 

Leigh and Will in Nassau in 2001
July 2001 in Nassau, Bahamas

Eighteen years later, it's hard now to remember trips before kids. However, I remember we stayed an extra day so we could dine at the Graycliff Restaurant, an iconic five-star restaurant in a historic inn that is still in operation today. The base hotel for wedding guests was a Marriott resort, at the time, which I think could be the  Melia Nassau Beach now.

The Graycliff offers even more culinary adventures for travelers to experience.

  • Graycliff Chocolatier Factory – Located in the historic Graycliff Hotel, the Graycliff Chocolatier Factory is The Bahamas’ first interactive chocolate factory. From tasting tours to children’s activities, Graycliff Chocolatier offers something for everyone to experience chocolate in a new way. 
  • Graycliff Culinary Academy – The Graycliff Hotel is also home to the Graycliff Culinary Academy, where visitors can take interactive cooking classes with the hotel’s five-star restaurant’s Executive Chef Elijah Bowe and his team.

  • Graycliff Cigar Rolling – Vacationers can tour the award-winning Graycliff Cigar Company and even take a cigar-rolling lesson with one of the company’s 16 master rollers.

Baha Mar: Pack with Love Initiative 


White Sandy Beach and Gorgeous Baha Mar Resort Complex
Photo courtesy of Baha Mar Resort Media Office 


Baha Mar, developed a few years ago to revitalize the island's Cable Beach, houses three luxury resorts, including the Rosewood, SLS, and the Grand Hyatt. I always told myself that I would stay on Paradise Island when I went back to visit the Bahamas, but now, I'm not so sure. These resorts have my attention, and you all know this whole blog was started because of my hotel obsession.

Post-Hurricane Dorian, this Nassau resort, is offering the Pack with Love program where guests are encouraged to pack an item or two that symbolizes love and comfort for the victims. Articles can include clothing, stuffed animals, baby items, educational items, books, and small toys. Guests will have the opportunity to deliver their items directly to local shelters if they desire. There is also a collection on site. Baha Mar is also home to the Beach Sanctuary at Baha Mar, which is an experience that allows guests to immerse themselves in the natural beauty and the wildlife of the Bahamian Islands.


Man swimming with fish



Other resorts in the Bahamas are also offering special incentives to help you get there to visit and plan a vacation for all budgets.

If you would like to donate to the island's relief efforts, here is an approved list of  Hurricane Dorian relief agencies working with the tourism boards you can be confident your dollars are going to be used precisely as intended.

Bahamas Vacation Guide


Travel Sites to Help You Plan a Bahamas Vacation:

Official Nassau Paradise Island: The Bahamas
The Islands of the Bahamas: Official Site
Grand Bahama Island
The Out Islands of the Bahamas


Other Midlife Perspective Members Bahama Vacation Guides for Planning/Relief Donations

Discovering Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas
Travel to the Bahamas Now: #BahamasStrong and Relief Efforts
Bahamas Cruising
Bahamas Romantic Getaway for Two
7 Reasons to Visit Nassau Now

My thanks to Empire Chevrolet Buick in Wilkesboro, NC, for being an October HinesSightBlog sponsor. Empire Chevy Buick is the place to search for pre-owned certified vehicles. All vehicles undergo a 172-point vehicle inspection and a thorough reconditioning process.  My blog sponsors like Empire Chevy Buick keep me at my desk writing editorial content, house stalking on YouTube and OutaboutNC. 

10.10.2019

Roasted Garlic and Anchovies Make NC Chef's Teddy Diggs Fall Radicchio Salad Recipe a Winner

When North Carolina Chef Teddy Diggs, owner of Coronato Pizza in Carrboro, gave me his recipe for radicchio salad with his homemade caesar salad to make at home, I had no idea that I would become such a big fan of anchovies.

Anchovies are the fish that make most people go, "Ewww!" But, the little fish has some big health benefits. In fact, I was not even sure if I had eaten anchovies before buying them for this recipe.

Radicchio Salad with Anchovy and Roasted Garlic Dressing


Chef Diggs whose accolades go from cooking at the White House to studying under Chefs in Italy to working in high-end hotels has brought Roman-style to pizza to the South. He doesn't serve pizza with anchovies on the menu, but his fall salad, dressed with roasted garlic and anchovy dressing will make you an anchovy lover, too. I promise.

Chef Teddy Diggs of Coronoto Pizza


I ran into Teddy and his family at the NCRLA Culinary Chef Showdown last week. I raved about my version of the salad. He told me that this salad will be part of his restaurant's fall menu because radicchio is in abundance this time of year. When I made the salad, I used romaine lettuce because I could not find radicchio in August. Chef Diggs told me that romaine or even tender kale were good home substitutes because, for the home chef,  radicchio is not always in your grocery store. The bitterness of the lettuce complements the saltiness and boldness of the anchovies and roasted garlic in the dressing.

Roasted Garlic and Anchovy Make an Italian Caesar Dressing. This salad is with romaine lettuce


Roasting the garlic is also key to give this salad dressing recipe with anchovies another dimension of flavor. He told me that many Caesar dressings use garlic, but it's typically fresh garlic cloves. He believes roasting the garlic enhances the flavor of this homemade caesar dressing even more.

Chef Diggs likes to use anchovies from Italy's Amalfi Coast packed in oil. You can use salted anchovies, but they will need to be rinsed for about twenty minutes before blending them into the dressing. I went to Whole Foods Prime to buy my anchovies. I could not find any from Italy so I put some from Spain in my cart, but in the end, when they arrived at home, my anchovies were substituted for Reese flat fillets of anchovies imported from Morocco. They worked and I loved the dressing. Chef Diggs recommends the Delfino brand.

anchovy fillets by Reese

Delfino Anchovy fillets from Amalfi Coast


This salad serves four, but I have to admit to you that I ate the entire salad for lunch. It was that good. I want to make it again with the radicchio for fall or better yet, maybe I should just go to Carrboro to Coronato Pizza instead.

radicchio salad with delfino anchovy fillets


Coronato Pizza's Fall Radicchio Salad with Roasted Garlic and Anchovy Dressing (The Better Caesar Dressing)


Ingredients:
● 2 head of roasted garlic
● 6 filet oil-packed anchovy or 4 salted anchovies rinsed and soaked in water
● 1/8 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnishing
● 1 egg yolks
● 1 1⁄2 cup blended oil (80 % olive oil/ 20% canola oil)
● 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
● 2 tablespoons lemon juice
● 1⁄4 cup water
● Kosher salt as needed
● 12 to 14 ounces radicchio (5 red-leaf endives, 3 long Treviso or 1 large round radicchio di Chioggia, or a
mixture), cored and cut in 1/2-inch-wide slivers, washed and dried
● Extra virgin olive oil, black pepper, and 1⁄2 lemon as needed, for dressing the salad
Note: I substituted Romaine for Radicchio. Tender Kate is also a substitute

Directions:
For the dressing:
Combine all roasted garlic cloves, anchovies, Parmigiano cheese, egg yolk, vinegar, and lemon juice in a food processor and blend until smooth. While the food processor is running drizzle in the oil. The mixture will begin to emulsify and thicken. Use the water to adjust the consistency of the dressing as desired. Season with salt. Reserve the dressing until use.

For the salad:
Place the cleaned radicchio in a mixing bowl and spoon about a 1⁄2 cup of the dressing over the lettuce. Crack fresh black pepper over the bowl, drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and the juice of half of a lemon, or about 2 tablespoons. Mix ingredients together thoroughly.
Plate the dressed salad evenly between 5 plates and finish with finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

My thanks to October HinesSightBlog sponsor McNeill Nissan of Wilkesboro, NC 2020 Nissan Rogue.  The Nissan Rogue is awaiting your test drive at McNeill Nissan today. My blog sponsors keep me at my desk writing editorial content that I love to share and OutaboutNC. 

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