After seven years in the South, I have come to love SO many things about our sweet, sweet adopted homeland (despite what you may have been thinking after my last post!). Some of the 15 I’m sharing today are about the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill), some are specific to North Carolina, and a few are about the South in general, but I’m grateful for all of them. Here goes!
1. Vibrant churches. I’ll start here because though all of these reasons are fun, this one has been truly life changing. It’s amazing to live in a place where the default is that people are actively engaged in living out their faith, and to have access to earnest, active, flourishing church communities. I have learned and grown SO much by being around the Christians I’ve met since moving here.
2. Biscuits and barbecue. Y’all, the food in the South can’t be beat. Biscuits and (Eastern North Carolina) barbecue are two of my favorite examples, but there’s also fried chicken, pimento cheese, deviled eggs, hushpuppies, red velvet cake… the list goes on, and it’s all finger licking good.
3. Amazing restaurants. The Triangle is overflowing with amazing, innovative restaurants that are constantly striving for excellence. (And I’m not the only one who thinks so: Southern Living named Durham the tastiest town in the South a few years ago!) Between the empires of Ashley Christensen (Poole’s Diner, Chuck’s, Beasley’s, Joule, Fox Liquor Bar, Death & Taxes), Andrea Reusing (Lantern, The Durham), and Matt Kelly (Vin Rouge, Mateo Tapas, Mothers & Sons, Lucky’s Deli), you’ve got more quality spots than most towns can claim.
4. Bluegrass and country. I never listened to either genre before moving South, and now they’re two of my favorites! The Triangle is a great place to listen to bluegrass, especially; I got to see Steve Martin and Edie Brickell play with the Steep Canyon Rangers at Wide-Open Bluegrass a few years ago.
5. Warm ocean. This one’s pretty simple, but worth mentioning: the ocean is C-O-L-D in the north, and W-A-R-M in the South. Makes beach days even more pleasant :)
6. Greenways. The Triangle has miles and miles and miles of greenways, which are perfect for bike riding and evening walks. There’s one in our neighborhood, and we also love the American Tobacco Trail – 22+ miles of trails that wind through three counties.
7. Proximity to mountains. There are plenty of mountains in New England, but they’re all pretty far away from where we lived in Connecticut. Here, we can get to Boone in about two hours and Asheville in four — perfect, since hiking is one of our favorite activities!
8. Weekend trips. The Triangle is a fantastic launching pad for weekend trips! Greenville, Asheville, Charlottesville, Atlanta, Beaufort SC and NC, Charleston, Richmond, Wilmington, and so many more destinations are all options for weekend exploring. (Another one of our favorite activities!)
9. Community events. With three world-class universities, enterprising businesses, and awesome arts organizations in the area, our calendar is stocked with fun and often low-cost activities. Festivals, Durham Bulls games, antique fairs, pop-up shops, outdoor concerts, choral performances, and outdoor movies are a few of my favorites.
10. Duke basketball. Speaking of world-class universities :) John has been a Duke fan since middle school, and it’s a pinch-me kind of thing to live so close to Cameron. Tickets are still hard to come by, but we’ve been to several games since moving here!
11. Swimming holes. I’d never been in an honest-to-goodness swimming hole until I got to NC, but they are delightful — the perfect antidote to blisteringly hot summer days.
12. Warmer winters and springs. I think this is the classic reason to love the South, and definitely the one that most convinces John! We have four solid seasons, but cut out the bitterest cold and the rainiest, most depressing days of “spring” that New England gets in March and April. Instead, we might have a 70 degree day in January, and switch on reliably delightful days in mid-March. John is also very proud of the fact that the sun never goes down before 5pm here.
13. Southern architecture. Creaky farmhouses, gracious front porches, snuggly bungalows, plantation drama… yep, the South sizes up pretty well against New England.
14. Great chains. The mall near my house in Connecticut is sad and the butt of many jokes, so the opportunities that come with living in a more metro area still kind of blow my mind. Pretty much every awesome chain you can think of, including Whole Foods, Anthro, Crate & Barrel, J.Crew, Madewell, West Elm, and Sephora, is an easy drive. And of course, NO list of great Southern brands would be complete without mentioning Chick-fil-a — I could write an entire post about all the reasons I love them!
15. Innovation. (Almost) nothing ever changes in my corner of Connecticut, which is both a blessing and a curse. The opposite is true in the Triangle, where things are always changing, growing, trying, failing, building, and experimenting. Sometimes it can feel like a whirlwind, but it’s also exciting, exhilarating, and inspiring. One of my favorite examples? The American Tobacco Campus, which was transformed from urban blight to one of my favorite spaces in Durham a few years ago.
I’d love to hear: What’s your favorite part about the South? Did any of my reasons particularly resonate with you?