A Cape Fear naturalist with a master's degree in environmental science and captain's credentials from the United States Coast Guard, Captain Joe Abbate is just the guy to follow into North Carolina's swamps and coastal waterways. Joe and his nautical team at Wrightsville Scenic Beach Tours lead expeditions along the Atlantic coast that range from birding tours to sunset expeditions to excursions in which passengers learn to talk like a pirate from Don Juan Cortez, a swashbuckling historical reenactor. The company's fleet consists of two ships: Shamrock, a 27-foot, motorized catamaran that can carry up to 22 passengers, and Island Hopper a 22-foot skiff that can navigate both the open water and marsh grass.
The photogenic port city of Wilmington, North Carolina, may look familiar to visitors—it’s been the setting of various TV shows and films, among them Dawson’s Creek and Cape Fear. The pristine, natural surroundings are the ideal setting for Mahanaim Adventures, a family-run business helmed by Don and Diane Harty. They make it their job to showcase the natural splendor with which the area flourishes, such as salt marshes, loggerhead sea turtles, great blue herons, and 2,000-year-old bald cypress trees whose cousins' branches are actually covered by toupees. Together, the duo harnesses their extensive outdoor adventure experiences—and even CPR and first-aid certifications—to lead a wide range of nature jaunts, helping participants explore the picturesque rivers, shark tooth–laden islands, and verdant woods during kayaking and backpacking trips.
Wilmington Water Tours' owners decided to fulfill a lifelong dream, bought a boat, and took to the waters. The owners' passion for boating and local history soon garnered attention, and with the help of some friends, they founded Wilmington Water Tours to show off local history and sights.
Today, they own the Wilmington, a wake-canceling catamaran with a fully enclosed, heated cabin capable of seating up to 49 people. Groups board the vessel to explore the waters of Cape Fear. They cruise the coastline, watching the silhouettes of buildings transform into molten-colored spires in the sunset. They can also explore the history, wildlife, and mysterious channels of the Cape Fear River. Sometimes they just absorb the sounds of the state, inviting a musician to play on their Acoustic Spotlight tour as they drift down a river or pull loop-de-loops in the harbor.
In a city known for its Hollywood ties, it’s no surprise that many of Wilmington's residents moonlight as actors. Such is the case with Cape Fear Segway Tours' guides, who tap into their flair for theatrical performances and excellent autograph penmanship, as well as their intimate knowledge of Wilmington’s famous filming sites. Cape Fear Segway Tours also offers advanced tours for seasoned segway riders and Two hour Historic tours that glide past museums and historic landmarks.
Holiday Art Shows gathers together a wide array of contemporary and traditional artwork for arts and crafts fairs held in Lexington, Kentucky; Wilmington, North Carolina; and St. Augustine, Florida. Visitors can shop for paintings, photography, and sculptures to decorate their homes or drape themselves in handmade jewelry and fiber art. A knowledgeable jury reviews each artist's offerings to ensure a high-quality selection.
Spread across Lu Mil Vineyard's 58 acres are an antique museum, a handful of cabins for overnight stays, a tasting room, and of course grapevines. Rows upon rows of sweet muscadine grapes are cultivated at the farm, named for its late owners, Lucille and Miller Taylor. In addition to producing a suite of wines, Lu Mil sells a selection of house-made jellies, jams, and NASA-engineered spittoons.