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Crystal Etheridge's E-City

Posted on 12/03/2020 by Crystal Etheridge

coast guard airplane - air station Elizabeth City, NCcrystal etheridge and family taking selfie with Our E-City sign at Art Walk

Home is Where the Coast Guard Sends Us

When it comes to top picks, Coasties want to know what’s to love about an area. Responses to such are all perspective but I have been impressed with our first four years in the Elizabeth City area and am proud to call it my military home. Prior to caravanning with my military man, I was born in Pennsylvania but raised in the mountains of North Carolina. We had many homes in Madison County, seemingly always hopping from one house to the next. The constant movement became second nature to me. I’ve had prior dwellings in eastern Tennessee and northern New York and have spent over five years in Wilmington, NC. Upon marriage, the Coast Guard sent us to Delaware, where we lived on an Air Force base in Dover one year and off base the next. We were thrilled when we got orders for our home state and I treated this move no differently from others. I always seek out options for both myself and my family whether that pertains to eateries, shopping, and entertainment or just the community. 

Eateries

two kids eating in an artsy alleyway - Ives Alley, Elizabeth City, North CarolinaI’m not a local but I love feeling as such. I enjoy walking into a place and being treated as if I’m a regular even though I have a toddler and dining out seems like a task at times; that in itself leaves the biggest impression on me. We can always count on Andy’s Pancake and Steakhouse to eat comfortably with our toddler in tow. We have had many wonderful family meals there, no matter the time of day. Another family favorite to dine in at is La Tiendita Mexican Restaurant. The chips and queso keep our lad busy and content and our food is always brought out promptly, which is best for us since our son likes to hurry us along.

The variety of types of cuisines available in our area also shouldn’t be taken for granted. Montero’s, Paradiso, and The Mills are on the top of my personal favorites not only because of their menu options but also their involvement in the community. Island Breeze is a gem serving flavorful Jamaican dishes and the owner has a heart of gold. Volcano and Toyama’s both offer sushi options that are much sought after. Honestly, compared to many of the places I’ve lived, the variety of local eateries Elizabeth City offers blows them out of the water. There are many other chefs in this area just as passionate about their food and our community. Some are considered “finer dining”, but they accommodate families with younger children, too.

While I do have my personal Elizabeth City favorites, I encourage everyone to try something new whether it’s the place that just opened downtown or that more established restaurant with a special dish you’d always heard of, but have yet to try. Dine in, take out, or have it delivered! Become your very own Elizabeth City foodie and whether it’s to your expectation or not, take note of their many efforts. Running a business isn’t easy and resiliency is an ongoing task, especially during a pandemic.

Shopping

man reading book in bookstore - Elizabeth City, North CarolinaOkay, so we don’t have a Target but we do have several incredible boutiques that are fashion forward. I don’t physically make it into these stores much, but Elle Lynn Boutique does an incredible job listing their options on their Facebook page for folks to snag and I enjoy being able to shop Lazzy Frog’s website and doing free in store pick up. I love that they have clothing and accessory options for children, too. If ever we are in need of a book, Recycled Reader is our first go to. For home decor and interior design, you could stroll through Brackwater Brush Studio for eye catching pieces. For an array of furniture options, there’s Sawyer’s House of Furniture. Elizabeth City also has a couple antique stores that also offer estate auctions and it feels like winning the lottery sometimes. Coppersmith Antiques puts them online for you to view and bid on. If you haven’t checked those out yet, you are missing out! Also, the Downtown Waterfront Market, flea markets, vendor based businesses, and craft shows are always sought after, benefiting many residents with home businesses.

Entertainment

kid playing on splash pad at park in Elizabeth City, North CarolinaOur son is an only child so I like having options for fun outings for him. There are a couple areas with trails and boardwalks for us to explore, the Fenwick-Hollowell Wetlands Trail being a favorite. There are plenty of playgrounds for us to choose from and, during the summer, there’s the extra perk of the splash pad at Fun Junktion and the splash pad behind Sonic. Storytimes are offered by the public library and even several businesses such as Page After Page and Party In a Box For Kids, LLC have joined in on offering such. We have been itching to try out Das Danmine Family Fun Center, it’s been on our bucket list for a while, and are looking forward to our first visit there.

Speaking of first, our initial introduction to the Museum of the Albemarle was to attend their free tot time and it inspired me to go back to explore their historical artifacts and to attend more of their events. Furthermore, Elizabeth City is blessed with Port Discover, Northeastern North Carolina's Center for hands-on science. We personally have many fond memories of our son engaging in their toddler areas and activities. Also, the love Brothers Farm Market pours into their farm so that others may enjoy it has been greatly appreciated. We thoroughly enjoy their Fall festivities and are looking forward to their strawberry fields. Given all that we have experienced in Elizabeth City alone, I have truly felt like this area has been perfect to raise our son in.

Do I ever get to enjoy “Me Time”? Of course, I do! Prior to COVID, the YMCA played a big role in our family’s lives with their fitness options and childcare services. Now, that time has been filled by spending time playing disc golf and tennis. As for a night out with friends, it would definitely consist of food and drink but there are also paint parties at Studio 511, cake classes at Flour Girls, string art classes at Zaribel’s, trivia night at Ghost Harbor Brewery, a performance from Encore Theater, Arts of the Albemarle, or College of the Albemarle, as well as other events to incorporate into plans when desired. Additionally, bowling at Albemarle Lanes or a movie at RCE Theaters are always fantastic options for impromptu fun.

father and son fishing from boat in Pasquotank River, Elizabeth City

Let’s be real though, it’s not just about “happy wife, happy life”. My husband has equally been satisfied living in this area especially with boating and golfing options. We have a small fishing boat and enjoy our days taking it for a stroll on the Pasquotank. Even if there are no bites, we enjoy the beautiful scenery and wildlife. It’s always great seeing others take advantage of it as well. We frequently see sailboats, kayakers, and an assortment of water sports. While he’s a recreational fisherman, he would golf every day if he could. We have spent many days (with our son in tow, too) at Knobbs Creek’s Par 3 Course and driving range.

Community

Elizabeth City shoreline, downtown farmers market with historic buildings and welcome flags

I consider myself resourceful and upon each move, I latch onto local newspapers and social media accounts; they’ve always played a huge role in providing me with upcoming events and relevant information. I have been especially impressed with not only Elizabeth City entities utilizing these methods but community members as well. The support they have for one another has been especially evident during pressing times such as the Government Shutdown. I would ask friends living elsewhere what their city was doing in response to such and they said it would be like crickets or that they hadn’t heard much on the matter. Not Elizabeth City. The love here is loud and proud.

During the Government Shutdown, any individuals impacted were offered meals, groceries, and gift cards by several local restaurants, churches, and organizations; a type of help that was reciprocated during and after. A year later, COVID hits and the community members know where to put their dollars. It’s been months of investing and determination by both business owners and patrons to help keep local entities afloat and spirits lifted by utilizing them however possible. Elizabeth City businesses hustle all the time and the extra weight COVID has caused really makes their efforts all the more impressive. From shutdowns, to COVID, to peaceful protests, the grace the Elizabeth City community has shown has been incredible to witness. 

Final Consensus

harbor thoughts mailbox with flag up and river in the background, Elizabeth City, North CarolinaWhile I’ve never shook a pom pom, I consider myself a cheerleader of a sort. I get especially enthusiastic over ambitious endeavors and any involved in making an idea our reality. There have been notable efforts entrepreneurs have made in Elizabeth City that I felt were missing from most places I’ve resided before. Even to this day, when I go visit my childhood hometown, I yearn for there to be more options for my family and friends who stayed. All of the efforts new and seasoned businesses make are truly remarkable. New businesses deserve that special attention they initially receive and those that have been around for years have proven that they’re an essential piece to the community and we are grateful for their presence.

If you’ve read this far, it’s easy to assume that I live in Elizabeth City with how much we frequent there for our wants and needs, but we actually live in Shiloh. Virginia shopping could easily be achieved by sparing maybe another 15 minutes of a commute, but we hardly do such. We prioritize Elizabeth City for all of the reasons listed above and look forward to the return of events. I won’t lie, it is super convenient that we live so close to the Outer Banks and Virginia Beach that we can go for day long beach trips and then return to our little house in the country. We personally prefer the charm Elizabeth City and immediate surrounding towns offer. The people are incredibly nice here making “Harbor of Hospitality” all the more true.
 

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