The Group Travel Leader

MAY 2017

The online home of The Group Travel Leader, America's leading publication for the group travel industry. Articles on hot destinations, attractions, news and travel trends from across the country and around the world.

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4 1 GROUP TRAVEL LE ADER T H E From little towns to big cities, the Carolinas are home to a plethora of thriving downtown communities. Even some of the smallest mountain towns now count art galleries, coffeehouses and excellent restaurants among their attrac- tions, and larger cities continue to host award-winning entertainment from around the world. Below are five lively downtowns worth visiting in North and South Carolina. Handmade crafts, fine arts, barbecue, beer and celebrated chefs: They can all be found in at least one of these destinations. W I L M I N G T O N , N O R T H C A R O L I N A "No matter your age, Wilmington can take you back to your childhood in an instant," said John Sneed, vice president of sales and services with the Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau. With its beaches and the riverfront, the city offers several set- tings within close reach of one another, which allows Sneed and his colleagues to "build an itinerary around just about any special interest." The downtown area is part of a 230-block National Register Historic District. It is bordered by a 1.75- mile riverwalk along the Cape Fear River. Visitors might not know where to start, with the more than 200 shops and res- taurants within walking distance of the ri ver. Suggested places include the Cotton Exchange, a series of historic warehouses that were converted into shops, restau- rants and coffeehouses, and the Old City Market. For history buffs, Wilmington has something for every era. The Burgwin- Wright House was built about 1770. After a taste of Colonial Carolina, jump for- ward in time at the antebellum Bellamy Mansion. Round out the day by visiting the Latimer House, built in 1852 but now preserved in the Victorian style. Alternatively, if military his- tory is more to a group's taste, the Battleship North Carolina is just across the river. To take a guided tour around downtown Wilmington, all visitors have to do is pick their mode of transport and subject matter. But the choice is a difficult one, and the CVB can provide information about tours on foot as well as by boat, Segway, horse-drawn carriage or trolley. Follow the Wilmington Ale Trail to explore the local craft breweries; Front Street Brewery offers daily free tours and tastings, and has a restaurant on-site. The film tours are very popular; the city has more than 400 movie and TV credits. Sneed can also put groups in touch with a local guide who is knowledgeable about the area's African-American history. W W W. W I L M I N G T O N A N D B E A C H E S . C O M B Y F I O N A Y O U N G - B R O W N Courtesy Wilmington & Beaches CVB Courtesy Beaufort Regional COC A BEACHFRONT FESTIVAL IN WILMINGTON SUNRISE OVER THE BEAUFORT SHORELINE

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