I first started visiting Wilmington when I lived in Raleigh, N.C. I quickly fell in love with the views of Kure Beach, the charm of the riverwalk and the small-town feel of the city. We loved it so much that we’ve been back since moving to Greenville, S.C.
Here are my favorite things to do and places to eat in Wilmington, N.C.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at Hotel Ballast in downtown. The hotel is right on the Riverwalk and the views are spectacular.
Things To Do
You can’t go to Wilmington and not take a stroll along the Cape Fear River. My favorite time to walk the Riverwalk is in the morning.
Hit the Town
Wilmington is full of all kinds of cute shops. A few of my favorites are Old Books on Front Street, the shops inside The Cotton Exchange and all the boutiques.
Famous Filming Locations
If you’ve seen One Tree Hill or Dawson’s Creek (two of my favorites), you’ve seen Wilmington. The Wilmington website gives the perfect info for the filming locations here: One Tree Hill and Dawson’s Creek.
The Historic District & Arlie Gardens
If you’re in the mood to house hunt (and by hunt, I mean dream), take a walk through the Wilmington Historic District or go for a drive through Arlie Gardens. The houses are beautiful!
Hit the Beach
There are so many beaches to choose from in the Wilmington area. My favorite is Kure Beach. I suggest driving all the way down to Fort Fischer and parking across from the museum. Parking is free.
Carolina and Wrightsville Beach are lots of fun too. There’s a really cute boutique in Wrightsville called Hallelu. I drove by it so many times before actually making the trip there. Don’t make that mistake.
Side note: If you’re in Carolina Beach, do yourself a favor and stop by Britt’s Donuts.
The Best Coffee Shops
Bespoke Coffee and Dry Goods
Bespoke is probably our favorite thing about Wilmington, and when staying downtown, it’s our go-to morning coffee stop. Their cappuccinos are excellent.
Drift Coffee and Kitchen
Located between downtown Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, Drift is the perfect stop to start your beach day. They serve coffee, treats and healthy foods.
Restaurants & Ice Cream
Eternal Sunshine is a place frequented by the locals, and we know why. We highly recommend their classic breakfast, but we also hear they’re known for their eggs bennedict.
Oceanic may have been my favorite part about our last trip. Located in Wrightsville Beach, this spot is serving up fresh seafood and ocean views. They don’t take reservations, so be sure to get there early.
Bluewater Waterfront Grill
We love eating on the water – can you tell? This time we settled for the Intracoastal waterway and took in the view of the boats. I highly recommend Bluewater.
Copper Penny was the first place I visited in Wilmington and one of my favorites to this day. Guy Fieri visited the joint in 2018 and approved too.
Did you really take a beach vacation if you didn’t get ice cream? Boombalatti’s is serving up the best in the Wilmington area, and they have vegan options too!
We have a few other places on our list for next time. Here are some restaurants people have recommended: Cloud 9 Rooftop Bar, Indochine (Thai and Vietnamese), Seabird, Flaming Amy’s, The Basics, Wake n’ Bake Donuts, South Beach Grill and The Little Dipper.
Looking for more East Coast recommendations? Check out this post about Charleston, S.C.
Have you been to Wilmington? Comment below and tell me your favorites!