Soft against the Atlantic Ocean, Wilmington is most popular for its beaches. But when you've had enough solar radiation, there are also plenty of museums, galleries, aquariums and other cultural attractions to check out, as well as historical sites, fine seafood restaurants and numerous golf courses.
With the area's proximity to the sea and mild weather year-round (aside from the occasional hurricane), the beach life is what draws most people to Wilmington. Wrightsville Beach is a favorite spot for tourists, although it can be quite crowded during the summer season. If it is, there are many other activities in Wrightsville. You can kayak out to Masonboro Island, cycle around the loop or flutter over to Airlie Butterfly House at Airlie Gardens. For less-busy beaches, try relaxed Kure Beach at the southern end of Pleasure Island or Carolina Beach, where you'll find farmers markets, fishing, fireworks every week and music on the beach.
You can take in the vintage architecture around the historic district of downtown Wilmington on a charming horse-and-carriage tour. Also downtown you'll find the Battleship North Carolina, majestic Bellamy Mansion, the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science, the Wilmington Railroad Museum and the hands-on Children's Museum. You can get out on the water aboard a Cape Fear riverboat cruise. Or take a step back in time on a tour of Poplar Grove Plantation. If you're a fan of reptiles, slide over to the Cape Fear Serpentarium. Kids can spend many happy hours at the Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park. And if you're here in the high season, check the schedule of performers in the summer concert series.
Dining and Shopping
At Wrightsville Beach you'll find a lot of restaurants by the pier, many of them specializing in local seafood. There are plenty of both casual and upscale eateries in the area. Or you can head to Eastwood Road downtown and choose from a wide variety of cuisines, including Japanese, Italian and several steakhouses. The Riverwalk area is home to a bustling restaurant and nightlife scene. In the summer you can hear live music at the Riverfront Stage or at the Downtown Sundown series.
Like any tourist destination, Wilmington has myriad places where you can leave your money behind and take home some local merchandise. A lot of the galleries, shops and boutiques are clustered downtown. Two large shopping centers are the Cotton Exchange and Westfield Independence Mall, where you'll find department stores like Dillard's, JC Penney and Sears. Just off the beach is the outdoor shopping center of Mayfair, where you can buy upscale items despite the flea-market atmosphere.
2828 MARKET ST
12 E Columbia St, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480, USA
9 S. Front St
5 S. Water St