The best of Wilmington, NC for locals?
April 28, 2014 3:58 PM   Subscribe

A good friend of mine is moving to Wilmington, NC for work this summer, and I want to send her off with a care package of gift certificates to some of the best stuff in the area. Can you help me locate some great resources?

Specifically, I'm hoping to find:

- The best yoga and spinning/cycling studio (ideally in one business, but I am still interested in individual recs!). My friend is extremely experienced, so I'm looking for a really dedicated and well-trained studio rather than a place that just offers low key yoga classes as part of their routine.

- An awesome spa and/or hair and nails salon. Preferably, something kind of fancy and luxurious.

- Cool shops and boutiques that might appeal to a late-twenties, urban, fashionable woman.

- Good stores/resources/restaurants for clean eating, vegetarian and/or vegan lifestyles.

- Anything else a new resident should know about!

I saw this previous question, but it didn't seem to hit any of these areas and had very little response. I've googled around about this stuff, but it's harder than expected to find answers to a few of these queries.

I'm hoping there's some cool Wilmington folks out there who can help me out! Thanks.
posted by theantikitty to Travel & Transportation around Wilmington, NC (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Hi! I'm a native Wilmingtonian; I lived there when I was young and moved back for a little while after college. A couple of quick food recommendations that might fit the bill:

Tidal Creek Co-Op - great grocery option for her based on what you've described above. Wilmington also has TJs and Whole Foods these days, so its less of novelty, but still great!

Flaming Amy's - burritos and more, including homemade salsas (I still dream of the pineapple jalapeno), and lots of vegetarian and vegan options. One of my first stops when I go back.

One thing to be aware of as you search - as Wilmington has grown exponentially in the last 20 years, traffic has gotten terrible. This is made worse by the design of the city, as dictated by geography - it's long and skinny. As a result, for a smallish city, it can take a surprisingly long time to get from one part of town to another. I would recommend finding out what part of town she will live/work in and focus on searching there.
posted by marmago at 5:24 PM on April 28, 2014

Maybe poke around Encore's site a bit? Their dining guide is here (although the veg*n link is dead). I searched for yoga on that site and found these results but the second result is Reefer Madness the Musical so take that search engine for what it's worth.

What's On Wilmington might have some good info, too.
posted by Beti at 5:29 PM on April 28, 2014

Hi! I wrote the question referenced in your post. I've now been here about 6 years and lived/worked all over New Hanover County.

First things first…Wilmington isn't really the safest place to live. Please remind your friend to be safe. As in, there are definitely places she shouldn't be. Does she know what neighborhood she will be staying in?
Second, yeah, traffic sucks. Like, growing up I've lived in DC, Orange County CA, Charlotte, outside Atlanta…screw Wilmington traffic. It's awful. There are tricks, but the best bet is to not leave the house during morning and afternoon rush hours. Mass transit is pretty much non-existent, cyclists frequently get run over, and we are the car wreck capital of North Carolina. No, I'm not making that up. Also, DUIs, so cab-it EVERYWHERE.

Beware the bar scene. It's really, really easy to get sucked up in it and all the drama. Totally not worth it, very expensive, and generally boring after awhile.

My salon is also a spa; it's not particularly "high end," but I know the owners and I always get a good haircut. Sage is also pretty ecologically conscious and is a relaxing atmosphere over near Wrightsville. There are many choices, but I've been going there for close to 3 years.

As far as food, Indochine is very popular and reasonable; I think their Vietnamese is tastier than their Thai-inspired dishes. For Thai, I'd go to Big Thai or Talay Thai in Leland (yes, I know, Leland; but really, it's good). Epic Food Co. seems to do pretty well; I've never eaten there, but my friends and coworkers seem to like it. Flamin' Amy's is okay; Islands is cheaper and tastier. We have a lot of tourists and a lot of college kids, so most of the eats are chains. I'd have more recommendations if your friend was as carnivorous as I am. But she does need to travel down to the Boardwalk at Carolina Beach and eat a half dozen Britts Donuts. Seriously. They'll change your life. I live 45 min away up in Ogden, and I still will drive down there to eat a few.

In addition to the Co-op, there are Farmers' Markets on the weekends in the summer, a Whole Foods on Oleander Dr, a Trader Joe's on College, a Fresh Market on Military Cutoff at Mayfaire, and Lovey's Market at Landfall.

There are a ton of shopping choices for clothes and whatnot; I wear a uniform for all of my jobs, and the area is so casual that my normal wardrobe is composed of sweaters, tshirts, shorts, jeans, and a few sundresses. Wish I had more for you there.

Wilmington is weird, because it's insular, and prior to the finalization of I-40, it just kind of existed down here on its own. The native Wilmingtonians keep to themselves, and there are a ton of Northerners. Then, there are the rest of us from other parts of the state and neighboring states, and we all seem to get on pretty well.

Oh! Another bit of pertinent information: this area is EXTREMELY socially and politically conservative. Religion is still pretty important, and if you're an agnostic-leaning socialist like myself, you might feel a little marginalized.

I'd love to give you more information if you guys have any specific questions. Feel free to reply in this post or MeMail me! I wish your friend good luck in her travels!
posted by sara is disenchanted at 6:42 PM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Island Passage is a cute shop I like to visit if I have extra time downtown in Wilmington. Lots of stylish and unique items, brands like French Connection and Seven for All Mankind, etc. I can rarely afford the $200 jeans there, so I stick to the sale rack.

South Beach Grill is a decent spot just off a slew of public accesses on the beach--could be nice for your friend to pop in for lunch or dinner if she's spending the day at the beach?

My family also enjoys the Trolly Stop, which is a hot dog place that offers veggie options, too (although...not sure if their vegetarian option is vegan). Also right off the beach at Wrightsville for casual beach day food.
posted by magdalemon at 7:47 AM on April 29, 2014

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