1. Port City Java
This is number one because it's the thing I'll probably miss the most after I leave North Carolina. As a coffee aficionado, I can say that Port City Java beats Starbucks any day. It has a richer coffee flavor (probably from all of the espresso) and their white chocolate raspberry scones are to die for.
Sure, other places have beaches, but there's something special about NC beaches. How else do you explain the waves (pun intended) of tourists that swarm to NC every summer?
3. Historical value
NC is rich in history. It is home to the enigmatic Lost Colony of Roanoke. Wilmington, the place I grew up, was one of the most important port cities during the Civil War and is still a major NC port today. We've got lighthouses, pirates and legends galore. If you're looking to nerd out over American history, NC is one of the prime places to do it.
4. Azalea Festival
Every year, Wilmington, NC holds one of the most beloved festivals in the state, the Azalea Festival. It usually takes place around the first week of April, the same time that the azaleas are blooming. An important tradition of this festival are the Azalea Belles, high school girls who wear antebellum dresses and participate in multiple events celebrating the unique southern culture of the 19th Century.
5. Birthplace of food
Got the late night munchies? Cookout is the answer to everything. Other great places founded in NC are Bojangles, Krispy Kreme and Hardee's. NC is also the birthplace of Pepsi, Cheerwine and Texas Pete.
6. Foods we didn't create
We may not have invented sweet tea, but we do drink a lot of it. If you ask for tea, we're going to assume you mean sweet tea because that is the only tea that exists to us. Barbecue is another staple of the Southern diet, but depending on which region you come from, it could be vinegar or sauce-based (vinegar is better). Also, be forewarned, if you ask for a burger or hot dog "all the way," it's served with chili, slaw, onions and mustard. If you don't have a heart attack eating Southern food, you're not doing it right.
7. The accent
We can try (and fail) to get rid of a Southern accent, but even if we manage it, there are certain give away terms that are ingrained in our vocabulary. My personal favorite is the phrase, "Bless your heart," which is the most passive aggressive insult a Southerner can give you. We keep it classy.
The rivalry between NC and Ohio over the Wright Brothers is intense. The Wright Brothers may have been born in Ohio, but the first airplane was flown in Kitty Hawk, NC.
Everyone in NC knows who Dale Earnhardt is. Even if you don't watch NASCAR (*cough cough*), you know who Dale Earnhardt is. NC is the birthplace of this exhilarating sport.
10. College basketball
If you think North Carolinians are intense about NASCAR, nothing divides the locals like the ACC basketball tournament. This is a place where March Madness is actually insane. Don't be caught wearing the wrong shade of blue either (light blue for UNC and dark blue for Duke). These two colleges throw some serious shade at each other all year until they finally clash in this tournament of testosterone.
11. NC State Zoo
Hands down, this is my favorite place to go in the entire state. There's something so serene and authentic about the five mile trek through NC wilderness to see all of the exquisite animals the NC Zoo is home to.
12. Screen Gems Studio
Locals are very proud of our movie studios. It brings in a lot of revenue, tourists and most importantly, celebrities. Tons of great movies have been filmed in NC, such as "The Hunger Games," "Last of the Mohicans," "Iron Man 3," "The Crow" and nearly every Nicolas Sparks movie in existence (because the novels are set in NC as well). New television shows like "Revolution," "Under the Dome" and "Sleepy Hollow" were filmed here as well.
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