If you ever find yourself in realistic distance of taking a trip to the coastal port city of Wilmington, North Carolina it comes highly recommended by us! We have overlooked this town for a blog post option a few times simply because it feels so close to home. We forget that not everyone can just pick up and go there. However, it's certainly planned trip worthy. It has such a welcoming, local vibe that you often forget you are just visiting. In fact, after awhile it becomes hard to admit you're just visiting. It's certainly one of those places you could stay for awhile.
When to Visit:
Since this is a coastal town the first time that comes to your mind is probably summer. With the sun and sand to heat you up and the surf to cool you down this is the most popular season for visitors but if you are up for a slower pace and mild temperatures then Wilmington can be a pleasant place to be in the spring, fall, and even winter. Each season has it's own perks and (few) drawbacks so take your pick and watch this city bring charm to any of them!
How to get Here:
The most popular way to get to Wilmington is via the good ol' American road trip. The city is located at the eastern terminus of Interstate 40 which makes it easy to access and within a days drive of much of the southeastern US. One picture opportunity to look for on your way out of town is the famous "Barstow California 2,554" sign located on the side of the interstate.
What to do:
1) Stroll the Downtown Riverwalk
Arguably the most popular thing to do in the limits of the city is the Riverwalk that offers an abundance of good views of the Cape Fear River on one side and Historical Downtown on the other. During the summer months and most weekends year-round you will find vendors set up along the walk along with numerous restaurants and shops.
2) Enjoy a Beach Day
The Wilmington area offers access to some of North Carolinas best beaches. With just a few miles of driving from downtown and you can find yourself at Kure, Carolina, or Wrightsville beaches. A few more miles north and you'll find yourself at Topsail Beach, while a few more miles south and your at Oak Island. I mean, really! Trying to hide from the ocean in this town is nearly impossible.
3) Check out Some Historical Homes:
For some it may not sound exciting, but for us we just LOVE to explore the historical charm and architecture that flows from many of the homes in Wilmington. Being an old port city, Wilmington offers exceptionally beautiful, and large historical homes, many right on the water in downtown. If you're looking for a more formal showing of one of these magnificent residences check out tours at the Bellamy Mansion right in downtown.
4) Test your Sea Legs on the USS North Carolina
For the history lovers out there, or for those who just want to check out a cool ship the USS North Carolina is conveniently located across the river from the riverwalk. Tours of the ship are available for an affordable price but views from the riverwalk are free. The ship is lined with history and information, this exhibit also serves as a memorial to the thousands of individuals from North Carolina who lost their lives during World War II.
If you're looking to enjoy a good meal, look no further! Wilmington has tons of options, some fancy, some not so much! It's really whatever you're in the mood for. Some of our favorites include the Dixie Grill and Dock Street Oyster Bar. There is a place for every occasion!
6) Check out the Azalea Festival
Wilmington is home to the North Carolina Azalea festival, a one of a kind event that happens every April in this southern port town. The festival originated in 1948 as a celebration of community and has now grown to host big name musicians, vendors of every kind, food, events, and so much more. It's the largest of it's kind in the State and truly a can't miss, even if it's just once!
7) Kure Beach Scenery
We mentioned above that Wilmington is home to many gorgeous beaches. However, heading out to Kure Beach, if simply for the scenic views is a must! These magnificent live oaks line the streets and offer the perfect opportunity for a shaded picnic or just a nice walk. It's one of our favorite spots!
8) Explore Fort Fisher & The Aquarium
While you're exploring the beautiful trees of Kure Beach you might want to take a short drive to the Aquarium. It's right there! Enjoy free shows, animal encounters, and even an albino alligator. For a short fee this can be your family adventure for the day!
9) Airlie Gardens
Offering 67 acres of southern paths, blooms and gardens, Airlie Gardens is a perfect destination. It offers concerts, venues for weddings and other events, and unique wildlife. It is a perfect outing for a sunny, relaxing day.
For those rainy day festivities head over and check out one of Wilmington's many Museums. They offer a broad range from The Cape Fear Museum, to the Museum of Bizarre , to the Children's Museum. Learn about the Rail Industry at the Railroad museum, or even snakes at the Cape Fear Serpentarium and everything nautical at the North Carolina Maritime Museum. Wilmington is spilling over with information! Go check it out!
We hope you enjoy your visit in this North Carolinian Port City!
We are the Best's! Jo and Mo. We have been immensely blessed with many opportunities to see various parts of the world. We live an average, working life in Raleigh, NC but through our many opportunities have developed a passion to see the world. Our goal is to share with other desiring travelers different tips and experiences from around the world as we begin to check them off our bucket list. If anything, we hope to provide a little sense of motivation and adventure to those wishing to embark on their own journey!
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