I grew up in the Blue Ridge gem, Madison County, in Western North Carolina. A majestic backdrop of Pisgah National Forest seems to rush to meet the French Broad, the world’s third oldest river. Here the rural abundance highlights the colors of fall.
It’s a county of agricultural heritage, a county in the mid-1900s that was the largest producer of tobacco in the state. The story seems now narrated by rustic barns and their unique architecture a reminder of the hard-working people who live here.
The colors along the French Broad seem to set the mountains on fire.
On the Marshall Bypass, we love the Bigger Better Burgers at Longnecks just 27 miles to Asheville where the road to Panem, of Hunger Games, begins.
The rolling mountain hills become ironed out paths of flat lands; the trees migrate to evergreens, and the signature terra-cotta soil becomes white grains of sand.
The children’s tummies grumbling and our eyes are weary! With the light of dusk, we seek rest. With a few clicks on Roadtrippers app, we find the comforts of home at Holiday Inn in Wrightsville, near the beach.
As we step through the doorway of our Holiday Inn Suite, my son exclaims, “Whoa! This is where the PRESIDENT stays.”
We bring in our bags, and Li’l Man stretches out on the couch.
The kiddos can smell the ocean air, and their speech becomes a rapid recall of their first time here to see the Atlantic Ocean.
This journey here to Wilmington has been one of family time, enjoying the scenery of fall fading from mountain ranges to coastal calm. The humidity kisses the window as sleep brings on dreams of the journey ahead.
Morning light and an inspiring place to start is the state’s most accessible beach, Wrightsville. Here the air was filled with salt water mist and the sun sparkled in golden specks as the waves broke along the shore.
We walked the four miles stretch of beach, finding seashells and getting the courage to meet the ocean.
As the sun climbed the sky higher and higher, our day became relaxing, toes in the sand and the weather perfect for curling up with one of my favorite authors, Nicholas Sparks, who happens to be from North Carolina. Our #extraordinaryjourneys was about to go from cozy reading to coastal setting as we headed south to Southport.
We crossed the Cape Fear River, aptly named for the terror of pirates and treacherous shoals that extend 30 miles out to sea.
Beyond the dense pine trees, the shore opens up to the town of colorful pastels and inspiration for the real-life settings that inspired some of Nicholas Sparks bestselling novels, the location for filming Safe Haven and A Walk to Remember. A charming historic town, with tidal rivers and murky marshes, fill the eyes.
Today, our extraordinary journeys all about SAFE HAVEN. If you’ve seen the film, Katie (Julianne Hough) winds up on the Carolina coast after fleeing a dangerous Boston police officer and then falls for local shop owner Alex (Josh Duhamel). With a few exceptions, everything depicted in “Safe Haven” exists here in South Port.
We started our Safe Haven Romance with lunch at Fishy Fishy. Here is the exact location of the General Store in Safe Haven.
Fun Fact: Fishy Fishy Cafe was disguised as “Porter’s Stowaway Tavern” on ABC’s “Revenge” pilot took place in and outside the café. For the shoot, Fishy’s interior got a complete makeover. After shooting was done, it was repainted, returning it to its original look.
Fishy Fishy is a colorful place, right on the shore. It’s a great place and good food. I had the Fish with Sweet Potato Fries.
Following dinner, I walked to the end of the street to Brunswick Avenue. The street where Alex lived in the movie. His exact address is 410 West Brunswick Street.
Back down the street in the opposite direction, past Fishy Fishy is the Old American Co., in the movie Safe Haven, it was the location of Ivan’s Fish Shack where Katie worked.
Visit the landmark at 150 Yacht Basin Drive in Southport. You’ll see it like below from the street.
It’s Nicholas Sparks’ words translated back to coastal scenery–where pelican perch on poles just off the beach.
A short drive later and we were in front of Ports Of Call Restaurant where the romantic dinner scene takes place.
We wrapped up our extraordinary journeys tour of the landmarks in Nicholas Sparks’ Safe Haven just in time to head to Caswell Beach to watch the sky reflect the season’s colors.
While the colors of home are hues of fire and the clouds look like smoke rolling across the valleys, extraordinary journeys, like this one, span across the state to Southport, a small, beach town filled with Antebellum architecture, 200-year-old oak trees, salubrious breezes and the backdrop for Nicholas Sparks novels.
This post is brought to you by Roadtrippers, Holiday Inn and my love for travel and Nicholas Sparks novels.