From Sites to Spirits: A Night with North Carolina Tourism

On Tuesday night, I got a fresh taste of what North Carolina has to offer. And it was good.

Inside the New York Public Library, more than 20 North Carolina Division of Tourism representatives from across the state shared the latest on what was happening in their respective cities, counties and regions. With a roundtable format, officials gladly talked about what made their locales worth a visit.

photo(96)photo(92)Their reasons were as varied as what’s found in their locales: culinary, culture, history, the outdoors and other long-time or new attractions that appeal to any visitor. From Ashville through Winston-Salem, here is a roundup that reflects signature finds in and around NC.

photo(97)photo(95)North Carolina’s culinary scene has been getting a boost with local food finds and growing chef reputations. 2013 was a good year for the city of Durham, in getting accolades for its restaurant scene in various publications. On hand at the New York Public Library, Matt Kelly of Durham’s Mateo Bar de Tapas served up Camarones con Arroz, featuring North Carolina shrimp with sofrito and Anson Mill “Carolina Gold” Rice Grits.

Fellow city Asheville also carries its Southern culinary weight. Chef John Fleer of Rhubarb, a new restaurant, dished out Lime-Ginger Cured Sunburst Trout, featuring this local catch. French Broad Chocolates presented its caramels made with locally grown Sorghum Molasses, and housemade truffles with Nicaraguan Dark Chocolate. North Carolina is also recognized for barbecue, and, so in rounding out the evening’s Destination Dining corner, Samuel Jones of Skylight Inn served up pork sliders with cored cabbage and mayonnaise slaw.


April is North Carolina Beer Month, and last’s year launch of this theme had more than 30 breweries all over the map participating. A state wine trail is also holding ground and spirits such as vodka and hard cider are emerging as well.

On Tuesday night, cocktails featured Covington Vodka, a gourmet vodka distilled from sweet potatoes in rural eastern Snow Hill, to Defiant Whisky, Blue Ridge Distilling’s single-malt American whisky from Golden Valley. Beers from a decadent cocoa-infused Imperial Stout from Winston-Salem’s Foothills Brewing to a ginger pale ale brewed by Durham’s Fullsteam Brewery.

photo(98)Also with food, argitourism has become a key player. Homegrown is the tagword for Haywood County, in North Carolina’s western region, which is promoting farm to fork experiences, aquaculture, agricultural communities, and even craft breweries. For example, county officials is anticipating a new pale ale to be released early this year in honor of the region’s hops and brewing.

From mountains to shorelines, North Carolina has plenty of outdoor attractions. The hit film The Hunger Games brought more attention to DuPont State Forest and Pisgah National Forest, which are known for waterfalls and hiking trails.

The well-recognized Outer Banks continues to be a popular destination, due to the Wright Brothers’ early experiments with flight, and the majestic Corolla Wild Horses. The entire OBX can now be explored through a drive along the NC 12, a newly designated two-line National Scenic Byway that threads this string of islands together.

Another new feature focuses on the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina initiative, a partnership between the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area and the North Carolina Arts Council, promotes the unique music that was born and bred in this region of the state by aiming to support musicians and music related businesses.

There is a lot more to find in North Carolina, definitely more than I could list in this post. Learn more about North Carolina by logging onto

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