On the Road


The Coastal Town for Everyone

Written by Kiley Pettit

From the idyllic white-sand beaches of three surrounding islands to a quaint downtown riverfront, the historic port city of Wilmington, North Carolina, is a timeless escape for any traveler. Located minutes from the Wilmington International Airport and just over three hours east of Charlotte, the coastal city is easily accessible. With versatile activities and experiences, travelers and locals alike relish Wilmington's picturesque views and bask in the charming, tranquil atmosphere.

Find plentiful activities and attractions in Wilmington's three main areas. Stroll along the wooden 1.75-mile riverwalk nestled along the Cape Fear River, offering year-round mesmerizing sunsets, spacious outdoor restaurants, and hundreds of shops, attractions, and nightlife. Across the river sits the must-visit Battleship North Carolina, a war vessel that served in the Pacific Ocean during World War II now functioning as a widely-loved museum. 

Wander away from the river to reach the cobblestone avenues lined with boutiques, cafes, museums, and ravishing Victorian mansions in the city's historic downtown area. Take in the Southern beauty for yourself with a walking tour among the Spanish moss. Explore the area’s 400+ filming locations—you might find yourself on infamous sets from Dawson’s Creek or One Tree Hill! At nightfall, end your evening enjoying freshly harvested seafood from the North Carolina marshlands at chef Dean Neff’s, Seabird. For insights into Neff's commitment to sustainable sourcing, read our sea foraging article or explore recipes for whelk stew, dead man’s fingers salsa verde, and mussels. 

During the warmer months, venture across the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge to discover pristine beauty at Wrightsville Beach, arguably one of the East Coast’s finest surfing spots. Pack your beach reads, fill your coolers, and plunge your chairs next to the famous Crystal Pier and enjoy a soothing day on the Atlantic shoreline. Feeling a bit more adventurous? Spend the day weaving through the scenic intracoastal waterway on a paddleboard, kayak, or guided nature tour. If you find yourself in Wrightsville during the spring, don’t miss the 67 acres of stunning oaks, tulips, and azaleas at Airlie Gardens. Grab a bite at Panamanian beach cafe, Ceviche’s, or vegan-based, The Green House, on the way back to your downtown stay at Aloft Wilmington at Coastline Center or Hotel Ballast

The raw coastal charm of Wilmington, North Carolina is a haven for travelers craving seaside serenity and adventure!

explore Wilmington heading-plus-icon

A table spread of pasta drinks and appetizers at Olivero
First Look

A First Look at Olivero

After two years of envisioning his return to Wilmington, North Carolina, Sunny Gerhart will open his restaurant Olivero today, September 6.

TLP Featured Image ()
In the Field

Marsh to Menu: Carolina Sea Foraging

In the marshlands around Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, Ana Shellem takes chef Dean Neff sea foraging to harvest a bounty of seafood.

The Green House in Wilmington
Dining Out

Root of the Matter: Wilmington’s Green House

In Wilmington, North Carolina, the Green House is not just an homage to the restaurant’s plant-based menu—it’s an entire experience.


Poached Whelks

Try these carnivorous mollusks by blanching, shocking, removing from the shell, and adding to an aromatic stock for perfectly poached whelks.


Dead Man’s Fingers Salsa Verde

Seabird's Dean Neff utilizes foraged dead man's fingers (seaweed) to add a salty brine to this bright and herby salsa verde.


Cava Mignonette

Bright flavors of cava and citrus in this mignonette will blend with the sharpness of vinegar for the perfect companion for your oysters.


Seabird’s Eastern Seafood Cioppino | Video

When it comes to the cioppino at Seabird, chef-owner Dean Neff admits to packing it into a quart container to sip on the drive home from work



Chef Dean Neff uses a surplus of peppers to make sambal sauce that gets used to enhance the flavor of dressings and cocktail sauce.


Seabird’s Sorghum Pork Ribs

While seafood is often the star at Seabird in Wilmington, their pork ribs use a peppery rub and sweet lacquer to create a customer favorite.


Whelk and Shiitake Stew

Whelks might be an unlikely candidate for stew, but combined with umami flavors and a creamy base, this shiitake whelk stew can't be missed.

On the Road

Outer Banks

A string of barrier islands, North Carolina’s Outer Banks stretch more than 120 miles south, hugging the Atlantic coast.

On the Road


The darling of Southern food, Charleston brims with award-winning restaurants and chefs. Recently, Lowcountry mainstays are making room for more global palates.

Bluffton City Guide Feat
On the Road


Welcome to Bluffton, South Carolina, where the locals are friendly, the food is fresh, and the history is rich.