Welp, 3 days and 1,000+ miles later we’re back and more knowledgeable than ever about North Carolina! And I must say, y’all sure do LOVE your state :) You need to steal Virginia’s motto and start saying North Carolina Is For Lovers! Haha… I haven’t received that many emails or tweets about a blog post of mine in years ;) Thanks so much to everyone who shared their advice and tips with us while down there – they helped a lot!
Here were my thoughts on the two main places we checked out (we also visited other random towns, but only drove through to get a quick glance in between areas):
I absolutely fell in love. So beautiful and cozy there!! A bit smaller than I had remembered from visiting years ago (like when I was 15), but then again it had everything I was personally looking for anyways: old downtown feel, everything walkable, shops, restaurants, WATER, and historic mansions everywhere that inspires me to own my own one day ;) I was pretty much sold on the place from the second we parked our car and walked into the first coffee shop we saw. I WANT TO LIVE THERE!!
But unfortunately I can’t say the same about the Mrs :( She agreed with everything I thought and loved about it, but it was a bit too small for her taste, and she likened it to other places I’d love to live saying it was “a great place to visit, but probably not to live.” BOOOOO… My dream is to live in vacation areas! Haha… Oh, and the beaches there? Awesome!! I took Baby $ on the sand for the first time and he watched the seagulls roam freely amongst the crashing waves. I could get used to that real fast.
The next day we headed to Durham, and I must say I’ve never visited a place that SOOOOO many people had recommended before getting there. Locals are crazy proud of that place! And I could totally see why as it’s definitely as “hip” as everyone described it to us, though *much* different than Wilmington. We went from old money and water to young money and brick, haha… But you could tell the culture there was pretty rich, and there definitely seemed like there was more to do in Durham than in downtown Wilmington too, at least for our ages.
Unlike with Wilmington though, our thoughts were flip-flopped. The wife wanted to lay down roots there after only 15 minutes, haha, while I was still soaking it all in waiting to really “get it.” Mostly because it had gotten so built up with everyone’s outpouring of love for the place that my expectations were pretty dang high :( And I also couldn’t find any cool residential places in the heart of downtown where I’d be looking to live too – not that the time we spent there (3 hours) gave it any justice.
I guess that was the biggest difference between Wilmington and Durham at first glance – the way they look vs. what it’s really like to live there. So we def. need to go back and do some more exploring – something the wife is already trying to work back into our schedules :)
OH! And our Car Savings Trick?
It went swimmingly too :) Not only did we get the upgraded SUV when we only paid for the entry-level size (that’s the heart of the trick for anyone who missed it last week: reserving the class one-level down from the car type you actually *want*, in hopes you get a free upgrade to it when you go to pick it up later), but we snagged an additional $15 off as well when we signed up to their “small business” account :) Which is something new (and free) Enterprise is now offering that grants you 10% off your first rental, and 5% off all future rentals too. It’s awesome, and totally caught me off guard, haha…
So our total car costs ended up coming in at $135 for the long weekend instead of the $200 it should have been ;) It was definitely worth the risk!! (Though admittedly it came close to backfiring too – the location I reserved the car at (not an airport one which is always the best) had run out of ALL suvs as was crazy backed up with people. But the second I walked into the store – literally, JUST that second! – someone had returned one and I was fortunate enough to nab it. Even though of course they SHOULD HAVE HAD IT ANYWAYS cuz that’s why you reserve these things! Ugh… But I kept my mouth shut and squirreled away my savings super excited to blog about it later, haha… so yay!)
Another funny/embarrassing thing?? My fly was down the ENTIRE time I was there getting my car!! And not any of those 15+ people told me about it! Haha… Arghhhhhh… But perhaps that also helped me secure those savings, eh? A guy can wish! ;)
A Total Success!
Altogether it was a major success of a weekend, and if you can believe it Baby Money was an angel!! He rarely acted up, and now we know he’s a road tripper just like his parents – woohoo! I’d be in a much different state of mind right now had things gone differently, haha… And all combined we spent a grand total of $418 for the trip – $82 less than we budgeted for. With the car rental and gas ($180) being the most. Something I don’t miss from my last SUV! (But it’s safe to say we’ll be getting one here in the near future for sure… MAN that made the whole trip easier!)
Back to the real world now though… Gotta make sure to put those next locations on the calendar so we can keep up our momentum here! Thanks again for all your tips everyone! :)
How did you end up doing this weekend? Get into anything fun or memorable?
PS: Here were the two restaurants we ate at and enjoyed too – For all those foodies out there:
— In Wilmington: The George on The Riverwalk – Heated outdoor seating overlooking the water!
— In Durham: El Rodeo, in Brightleaf Square – my favorite area there so far :)
[Photo on left of Wrightsville Beach by J$. Photo on right of a Wilmington building by Ally Mauro]