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!

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Check out Seabird in Wilmington, North Carolina for a trendy seafood experience that connects diners with the seafaring community.

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