Food and Hiking in Coastal DE and NC in March.
February 27, 2011 8:58 AM   Subscribe

Traveling during March to North Carolina, Crystal Coast/Southern Outer Banks region, from NYC metro area. Instead of inland, though, we're taking the coastal route (Rts 13/17 south of Philly) with an overnight stay in Delaware. Looking for non-chain restaurants, hiking, history/science, and the cheaper end of antiquing.

We're in the off-season and we don't seem to quite be in the tourism pamphlet demographic anyway (approx age 30, couple without kids, I get bored on the beach in the summer.) Lodging is set. We are taking two days to drive down and back, to be more leisurely, and we're staying less than a week.

Hiking preferences are for smaller hikes or high geocache-density areas, over Nat'l Parks or the like. One minor, but important for coastal areas dietary restriction: I eat fish but not shellfish. I'm not sure if this region is South enough to get good Southern food, but we're totally down with that, as well as recommended local brewery type places.
posted by cobaltnine to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I can't really help you with the drive part of this, but I'm a former local of that part of NC, so I can add some thoughts there. I'm sort of assuming you'll be in the Beaufort/Morehead City area, so feel free to ignore the specific suggestions if you'll be somewhere else.

Crystal Coast is definitely Southern, there'll be plenty of good Southern food. North Carolina seafood is heavily slanted toward shellfish, but there should be plenty of fish as well. Most seafood comes deep fried, which is not to everyone's liking, but it how we like it. A specific restaurant suggestion in Morehead City, on the nicer end of the spectrum is Floyd's 1921. It's pricier than most stuff in the area, but in my opinion worth it. It's good Southern food, with a heavy focus on seafood. I'd also recommend trying some eastern NC barbecue while you're here. Ask around for the best local place, the place I was going to recommend is apparently closed.

As for stuff to do: Fort Macon State Park just north of Atlantic Beach has some interesting history, and I'm sure there's plenty of hikes, although its been a while since I've been there. I'd also recommend the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, and the Core Sound Water Fowl Museum on Harker's Island for a bit of local history.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:10 AM on February 27, 2011

Best answer: Hmm. Not quite along 13, but not *that* far off...

Better for walking and birdwatching than hiking, but check out Bombay Hook. If you were a fan of crabs, I would have told you to eat at Boondocks, which is decidedly non-chain and a local favorite. The Dogfish Head brewery in Milton, Del. offers tours and has a restaurant, and a stop there would take you close to Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, which offers walking trails. If it's at all warm when you get there, bring heavy-duty mosquito repellent.
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:59 PM on February 27, 2011

Best answer: Captain Bob's in Hertford, NC for fish, BBQ, sweet tea, hush puppies, layer cakes, banana pudding, and delicious sides.

Also highly recommended is one of the most beautiful little towns in the east, Edenton NC, on the Albemarle sound. At the end of this April they're holding their biennial Edenton Pilgrimage, a chance to snoop in some of the gorgeous old homes. We used to eat at Lane's (or maybe Laney's) in town but I'm not sure they are still around. There are higher-end places in town, but we are so hooked on Captain Bob's that we eat dinner there every night.

Are you going as far as Wilmington, NC? It's pretty lively and also has a downtown historic district with lots of architectural gems. Good BBQ at Jackson's Big Oak.
posted by sevenstars at 2:57 PM on February 27, 2011

Best answer: Once you're on the Outer Banks, I recommend the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station historic site in Rodanthe. It's a smart little slice of heroic local history: the life-saving boats and equipment used by insanely brave folks and their dedicated wives and families, going out in storms to rescue sailors whose ships were sinking on the rocks and then taking care of the survivors. It's one of those labor-of-love citizen-funded museums and was a surprisingly vivid and interesting little stop (but I kinda get off on that stuff so YMMV).

Hiking preferences are for smaller hikes or high geocache-density areas, over Nat'l Parks or the like.

There's a nice short hike around the north pond of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge; you'll see tons of birds, then can walk across the road a few feet and hang out on the dunes and ocean. It's a great place to stop for a nature break. Jockey's Ridge State Park is also good for hiking over big sand dunes in a fairly small park (bounded closely by development on all sides), but it's still possible to lose yourself in the sand if you want to and is a fun way to spend a few hours (sunset over the dunes is great, if you can time it).

Oh, and sevenstars is right; Edenton really is a beautiful waterfront colonial town, with some fascinating and varied architecture and lots of history, including exhibits and walking tours related to Harriet "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl" Jacobs, who spent 7 years hidden alone in an attic before escaping north. It's about a half hour out of your way on 17, depending on where you turn.
posted by mediareport at 8:03 PM on February 27, 2011

Response by poster: Marked everyone as best because these were all really good, thought-out answers. We didn't hike in any of the areas picked (we tend to go where the caches are) but they looked good. I ended up having crab (as crab cakes) and liking it, so I did manage to succumb to the shellfisheries a bit :)

We hit Captain Bob's on the way back home, which was handy while travelling, because we hit the buffet lunch and got a sample of everything - and didn't have to stop again.

Dogfish Head's brewery is closed on Mondays, which is when we were nearby. The restaurant was open, though; good pub food and oh so wonderful beer. I'm inspired to try more of the ones I can find locally now; I had the chicory stout because I don't think I've seen it before.
posted by cobaltnine at 2:43 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

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