Cobblestone streets. Waterfront boardwalks. Riverboats. Spring and summer are just around the corner. We’re still shaking off some chilly weather, but before we know it, spring showers will be giving way to warmer temperatures, longer days and more opportunities for you to cast off your winter blues.
Fortunately, those blessed to have made our way to the Carolinas have plenty of nearby options for quick and affordable, yet fun and captivating, getaways to some of the most charming and romantic cities the South has ever made.
Use this issue’s spring and summer guide as your introductory starting point for exploring all that Wilmington, Charleston and Savannah have to offer in the months ahead.
Set on the banks of the Cape Fear River, Wilmington’s charming and historic downtown provides the perfect setting for early-evening strolls along Front St. or intimate meals and drinks with friends or family. With more than 60 bars, pubs and other entertainment venues, nearly 130 different and unique stores and shops and more than 70 restaurants, downtown Wilmington is the place to be. Each Friday, the Downtown Sundown concert series brings local and regional bands to Riverfront Park along Front St., a perfect evening delight after dinner and before heading out for the night.
Starting early this year, Wilmington Pride kicks off their 2013 activities with a “Stash for Cash” fundraiser and yard sale on March 23, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. at Riverfront Park. The main event takes over this riverside town June 8-16, with the Wilmington Pride festival slated for June 16.
In April, Wilmington hosts its annual North Carolina Azalea Festival, a truly-southern celebration of spring if there ever was one. Events this year, scheduled April 10-14, feature art shows and a coin show, garden tours, home tours, a parade, street fair and more, including featured concert performances by Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Avett Brothers. For more information, visit ncazaleafestival.org.
In the mood for some sun? Wrightsville Beach, Kure Beach and Carolina Beach are just a short drive away. In May, Kure Beach and Fort Fisher host the second annual Pleasure Island Blugrass by the River. In June, the 28th annual Carolina Beach Music Festival brings the best of beach music and more. For more on both events, visit pleasureislandnc.com.
Ibiza Nightclub . 118 Market St.
Costello’s Piano Bar . 211 Princess St.
The Toolbox . 2325 Burnett Blvd.
If history is your thing and you think you’d like Charleston, you’d better plan on making a trip to Savannah, too! Cobblestone streets, magnificent architecture and more awaits.
Situated right on the Savannah River, this Georgia coastal town is replete with fine shopping, entertainment and wining and dining. The downtown historic district features dozens of restaurants, bars and other venues to whet your appetite and thirst.
Early in the season, March 20-April 6, be sure to visit the Savannah Music Festival, featuring performances by Old Crow Medicine Show, Dr. John and the Nite Trippers, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and more (savannahmusicfestival.org).
In May, be sure to check out Savannah Riverfront’s Seafood-fest on the River, with three days of exhilarating seafood tastes (riverstreetsavannah.com). Also in May, the 37th annual Savannah Scottish Games brings out the best in Celtic culture and fun (savannahscottishgames.com).
While you’re in town, you’d be remiss if you didn’t pay homage to the Lady Chamblis, performing May 4, June 1, July 6 and Aug. 3 this summer season at ClubOne, Savannah’s sole gay nightlife attraction. Though it stands solitary, Club One doesn’t leave you disappointed. The three-floor complex offers drag, cabaret and theatre performances, as well as some of the best clubbing around.
Club One . 1 Jefferson St.
One of the oldest cities in the U.S., Charleston is a history-lover’s dream come true. Historic homes and some of the nation’s oldest churches and other historic sites, including the famous Fort Sumter, await, as dining, nightlife, museums and more beckon.
In July, Charleston Pride lights up this quaint southern town with rainbows (charlestonpridefestival.org). The annual Spoleto Festival, with the best in performance art, hits May 24-June 9 (spoletousa.org).
Other events worth checking out this season include the French Quarter Art Walk on May 3, a free tour of Charleston’s French Quarter art galleries, with fine wine, food and amazing art (frenchquarterarts.com) and the June 1 Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival celebrating the Gullah Geechee culture and history (sweetgrassfestival.org).
In downtown, fine restaurants dishing up the best in southern cuisine await your tasting with a dizzying array of delectable seafood restaurants, including those specializing in oysters.
Historic tours include those of Old Charleston, ghost and graveyard tours, the USS Yorktown, carriage tours and harbor tours. For more visit charleston.com/tours.aspx.
Want the absolute best local info on music events and concerts, restaurants, bars and other events? Check out Charleston City Paper at charlestoncitypaper.com.
Club Patrick’s . 1377 Ashley River Rd.
Dudley’s on Ann . 42 Ann St.
Club Pantheon . 28 Ann St.