Despite dire warnings from my military spouse friends of what Fayetteville is or isn’t, I must say they were all wrong. So very wrong.
I was excited to join #SoFay17, a behind the scenes tour of Fayetteville, NC. The tour was organized by SoFluential, a digital publishing, marketing, and communications agency owned by my friend Krystel Spell, creator of Army Wife 101; and the Fayetteville Convention and Visitors Bureau. The goal of the tour was to treat a group of military influencers to a day of Fayetteville fun in a way we’ve never experienced before. Mission accomplished! Sisterhoods were formed, adventurous sides were discovered, shopping happened, and there was enough loving, laughing and girlfriend-to-girlfriend convo to make one of America’s most patriotic communities blush.
After a 6-hour late night drive back to NC, we were happy to call it a night at the TownePlace Suiteson Skibo Rd. The kids were fast asleep on the pull-out sofa bed. We rested comfortably on a plush queen bed with luxurious crisp linens (my fav), comfy mattress, custom down comforter, and enough fluffy pillows to annoy the heck out of my husband lol.
1. Rainbow Restaurant. The tour started bright and early on a partly cloudy Saturday morning. Breakfast is the most important and my most favorite meal of the day, so we kicked off the day with an all-American breakfast at the Rainbow Restaurant. In every town across America, there are certain places that define the community. The Rainbow Restaurant does just that. Its been around forever and has a laid back atmosphere and a warm family feel. The portion sizes are generous, and it’s perfect for any budget-conscious foodie.
2. White Trash Colorful Accessories. A fun and eclectic gift shop that delivers products with feminist messages and imagery, while mixing vintage and shabby chic home furnishings and décor with colorful wearables and accessories. And love is definitely on display at the “Lock Your Love” gate affixed to a wrought iron gate outside of White Trash. The idea was borrowed from Paris, France and is to symbolize lasting love and has definitely become one more icon for downtown.
3. Cotton River Outfitters. A small town store for the Southern Lifestyle. The owner Tyler started this brand while he was still in college and recently settled on Fayetteville as home to his first flagship store. Cotton River Outfitters carries unique styles and outdoor products that are popular with southern traditions and culture and creates the ultimate southern experience. I’m a retail junkie and found the aesthetics and visual merchandising to be refreshing and inviting but yet swanky and fun.
4. PRESSED: A Creative Space. First, the owner Ashley is #squadgoals. We go way back to 2010 when we first met at GROWCO. Ashley designed PRESSED while her husband was deployed overseas. In 2015, she opened Pressed-Creative Space that features uniquely curated clothing, stationary, home decor and so much more. And I had my first Locco Pop experience. It was likely the best thing cold to hit my lips and was so needed for the hot and humid, not-so-natural-hair-friendly, summer NC day.
5. Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex/Poe House. Yes people, there’s a museum in Fayetteville. It’s a regional history museum that interprets southern North Carolina history. Next door is the Poe House, home of Edgar Allen Poe, not to be confused with the poet and author, Edgar Allen Poe. Nope. This Edgar Allen Poe was an affluent Fayetteville businessman. The tour makes for a perfect day for any history buff at heart. You’ll learn about life in the first decades of the twentieth century and the changes that defined this era by touring the home. The tour highlights women’s and children’s roles, and African-American history that was even new to me and many others on the tour. My favorite part was learning about the traditional garments worn by women in this era. Let me tell you, those garments make Spanx look as comfy as your yoga pants.
6. New Deli Restaurant. It’s the the land of delicatessens. The restaurant offers many fresh and healthy sandwich choices from specialty grilled cheese to pizza and paninis. Not to mention it’s a much better alternative to burgers and fries. The highlight was the dessert apples drizzled in toppings galore. What a treat! You can order the apples in more than 25 flavors.
7. Winterbloom Tea. Skip your usual coffee run and head over to WinterBloom. I promise it won’t disappoint. Imagine walking into a peaceful oasis in the center of downtown. Well, because you need an occasional break from the hustle and bustle of the city. That’s WinterBloom. Its mission is to provide Fayetteville with premium loose leaf tea while offering a tradition of health, vigor, and Zen through tea. The owner Josh was super friendly and very knowledgeable about all things tea. He’ll ask you how you’re feeling and what your goals are for the rest of the day. And based on your response, he’ll prepare a special blend to ensure you have a good, balanced day. I kinda feel like I need Josh on speed dial.
8. The Climbing Place. As a mom of three, I’m always looking for indoor fun for the kids. Indoor rock climbing is a great way for kids to get some needed activity in year-round. Why not let them run wild and bounce off someone else’s walls for a change, right? Not to mention, rock climbing requires concentration, discipline, persistence and strength, all qualities we’re happy to expose the littles to. As a first timer, Nadia really took the time to show us how to climb properly. It looks intimidating, but it’s much easier than you think, sort of. They recently reopened after recovering from Matthew’s devastation with a few much needed upgrades to include AC, new floors, five new kid attractions and plans to open a birthday center. You’ll definitely win some cool points from the kids for this trip.
9. Ramen Tsubaki. We recently moved back to NC from Okinawa, Japan. So I was delighted to indulge in some Japanese cuisine. Ramen is a very popular noodle soup in Japan. Like Starbuck’s, there’s literally a Ramen spot on every corner in Japan. This spot offers the usual Shyoyu (soy sauce), Miso, and Shio (salt) options with pork, chicken or seafood broth and a variety of appetizers and fun fruity (non-alcoholic) drink options. As you enter the restaurant, the staff greets you in unison “Irasshaimase”. Traditionally this is only used in stores and restaurants to greet customers. That’s when I knew we were in good company.
10. Wine & Design. Where happy hour and crafting intersect. Come and let one of their experienced instructors show you the joy of painting while unlocking your own inner-creative nature, in a festive communal atmosphere. I wouldn’t call my piece a masterpiece, but it was definitely a memorable evening of art, wine, music and good friends.
My take away: Small town charm, southern hospitality, and a united small business community are both alive and well in Fayetteville. I gathered, life in Fayetteville means a quaint, yet thriving downtown with just enough big city amenities, and plenty of outdoor possibilities to include a stroll downtown, an array of walking trails and the 77 acres Cape Fear Botanical Garden. That’s on my list to visit for my next day trip to Fayetteville.
Disclosure: I partnered with the Fayetteville Convention and Visitors Bureau to write this post. All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of the FCVB.