Visitor Parking, Pets and Other Frequently Asked Questions

From where to go and how to get there to parking options and insider tips, make planning a trip to Wilmington and Island Beaches easy with a list of the most frequently asked visitor questions and answers. Not seeing the answer you need? Reach out to our Visitor Information Specialist or stop by one of our Visitor Information Centers.

Know Before You Go 

  • Tips for Travelers via US 17/76/421 during Temporary Bridge Construction (mid-January through May)

    From Jan. 11 through the end of May, travelers to and from Wilmington along US 17/76/421 will experience traffic delays as the NCDOT performs preservation maintenance to the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge. Portions of the bridge will remain open to traffic during construction, and the NCDOT will have clearly marked detours in place.

    Beginning Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. NCDOT will be closing both eastbound lanes through March 31. While the NCDOT plans to have all lanes open during the N.C. Azalea Festival, April 1-8, both westbound lanes will close on April 9 through May 23. *Future dates subject to change

    Plan Ahead

    Allow extra travel time for potential delays or to navigate a detour by departing a few minutes early and avoiding peak travel times.

    Avoid Weekday Rush Hour Traffic

    Wilmington’s bridge traffic is generally the heaviest from 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Planning to arrive to and depart from Wilmington outside of these hours is likely to help shorten delays.

    Detour Routes
    During the eastbound lane closure, drivers can take the Isabel Holmes Bridge, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and College Road or Interstate 140. The NCDOT will use message boards to alert drivers to the optimal route(s). Maps of the detours can be found here

    For additional details and real-time travel information, visit DriveNC.gov.

  • For the best beach parking experience, stay in the center of the action and book a place to stay on the beach or check for proximity to the beach in our walkable beach towns! If not staying on the island or beach, best time of day to find parking availability is in the early morning by 9 a.m. Visit our beaches during off-season for free parking in Carolina (Jan. 1 - Feb. 28), Kure (Oct. 1 - March 15) and Wrightsville Beach (Nov. 1 - Feb. 28).

    • Carolina Beach:
      • Paid parking is in effect year-round.
      • March 1 - Oct. 31, 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. $5/hour or $25/day; Nov. 1 - Dec. 31, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., $2/hour or $10/day.
    • Kure Beach:
      • Paid parking is in effect March 15 - Sept. 30 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
      • Parking rates are $5/hour or $20/day, weekly pass for $100 or full season pass for $225.
    • Wrightsville Beach:
      • Paid parking is in effect March 1 - Oct. 31 from 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
      • Parking rates are $5/hour or $25/day.
      • Paid parking is in effect 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. in the following parking lots: South Lumina Parking Lot (near the Oceanic Restaurant), East & West Salisbury Street Parking Lots (adjacent to Johnny Mercer's Pier), North Lumina Parking Lot ("L" shaped lot) and North Wrightsville Beach Parking Lot (adjacent to Shell Island).
      • Paid parking is in effect 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. in Wynn Plaza.

    Find more information here on transportation and accessibility in Wilmington, Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville Beach.

  • Check out local rental companies for all your beach gear like umbrellas, carts, beach chairs, cabanas, canopies and more.

  • Prepare in advance for visiting our most popular attractions with these insider tips.

    • Wilmington:
    • ​Wilmington's Historic Walking Tours​
      ​These tours are popular and tend to sell out. We recommend making reservations in advance or calling ahead to check on availability.
      • Historic District Walking Tour requires reservations ahead of time. To make your reservation, please call (910) 762-0492 ext. 2
      • Historic Wilmington Walking Tour offers specialized walking tours on select Sundays of each month. Reserve your spot online or call (910) 338-6443 for more information.
      • Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington/Haunted Pub Craw offers tours year-round. Call (910) 794-1866 for more information or visit their website to purchase your tickets.
      • Tour of Old Wilmington offers tours daily, call (910) 409-4300 for more information and for tour availability.
    • Carolina Beach:
      • Access passes for 4X4 are required year-round at Freeman Park. Passes must be displayed on the vehicle's dashboard. Daily passes are sold only at the entrance of Freeman Park using a 24 hour pay station: April 1 - Sept. 30, Monday-Sunday $50 per day; Oct. 1 - March 31, Monday-Sunday $30 per day. Visit the town of Carolina Beach's website for more information.
      • Carolina Beach State Park is open yearly from December to January 7 a.m. - 6 p.m.; February 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.; March to April 7 a.m. - 9 p.m.; May to September 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.; October 7 a.m. - 9 p.m.; November 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. and closed Christmas Day. Visitor Center (1010 State Park Road) is open daily from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. and closed on Christmas Day. There is no fee to enter the park. Fees apply to boat slip rentals, boat launching and camping. Check the state park's website for more information.
    • Kure Beach:
      • The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher requires advance ticket purchase online.
      • Fort Fisher State Recreation Area's 4WD Beach is open: Sept. 15 - March 31 24 hours a day; April to May 8 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.; June to Aug. 8 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.; Sept. 1-14 8 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. and closed Christmas Day. Beach vehicle access permits are available for sale at the park's visitor center (1000 Loggerhead Road) daily from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Permits are $20 per day Monday through Friday and $30 per day on Saturdays and Sundays. Annual passes are available for $150. Go to Fort Fisher's website for more information. 
      • Fort Fisher State Historic Site is open Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., closed Sunday, Monday and most major holidays. Admission is free.
    • Cruises and water tours are extremely popular in our destination - especially in the summer. We recommend booking your tickets in advance, calling ahead or checking the company's website for availability. Find a full list of operators here.
  • Wilmington and its island beaches are home to some of the state's best chefs and restaurants serving fresh coastal cuisine, Southern-inspired dishes, farm-to-table entrees and kid-friendly menus. Before heading out, we recommend calling ahead or visiting the restaurant's website/social media to book reservations and/or to confirm hours of operation. Discover local eateries in Wilmington, Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville Beach.

General Information

  • Yes! Please call us at (910) 341-4030 with your information questions and requests or you can request information.

  • The University of North Carolina Wilmington is located at 601 S. College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403. Find more information about the university including things to do on campus and places to stay nearby.

  • Yes! Please contact our Sales and Services team who can assist you with your questions and planning. Find more information on Meetings & Conventions, Groups & Weddings or planning a Sports Event, including venues, services and more.

  • Sales and use tax on purchases, including food, clothing, and other retail are taxed at the rate of 7%, grocery store food designed to take home is 2%, and prepared food at restaurants is 7%. In addition to the 7% sales tax, there is a local county room occupancy tax at a rate of 6%.

Transportation and Accessibility

  • The City of Wilmington has 970+ metered spaces downtown, four city-owned and two other parking decks plus two surface lots. City decks on 2nd Street and Market Street are free the first 30 minutes. You can park free of charge at on-street meters after 6:30 p.m. daily and all day Sunday. Parking in metered spaces is $2.00 per hour and is enforced Monday - Saturday, 9 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. Metered on-street parking for those with properly displayed, valid handicapped placards is free of charge. Find more parking information including a map of city lots available.

    One hour parking is available on some downtown residential streets. Be sure to observe all posted parking signs and time limits on residential streets in downtown Wilmington as some are permit-based only.

  • Bike Cycles Shop rents bicycles and provides delivery for a fee. Shore Break Bikes offers bicycle rentals for pick-up as do many outfitters at our island beaches. Find a full list of bicycle rental outfitters and more information about bicycling in the area including trails and self-guided bicycle tours.

  • The Gary Shell Cross-City Trail and River to Sea Bikeway are two of the major bicycle trails found in Wilmington. Find biking trail maps for the Wilmington area and information on biking and nature trails.

  • No, the Wilmington Riverwalk is designed for pedestrians. Find information about bicycling and nature trails in the area including trails and self-guided bicycle tours.

  • For information on free beach ability equipment and services, call Carolina Beach Parks and Recreation at (910) 458-2977, Kure Beach Fire Department at (910) 458- 2014, Fort Fisher State Recreation Area at 910-458-5798 and/or Wrightsville Beach Parks and Recreation at (910) 256- 7925. Find a list of handicap accessible hotels, restaurants and attractions. For more vacation and travel information for people with disabilities, visit ACCESS North Carolina.

    • City of Wilmington Parking:
      • The Market Street Parking Deck has Chargepoint DC-Fast Electric Vehicle Chargers and ChargePoint Level 2 Electric Vehicle Chargers on the ground floor
      • The 2nd Street Parking Deck and the RiverPlace Parking Deck have ChargePoint Level 2 Electric Vehicle Chargers
    • Businesses in Wilmington:​​
      • Tesla Supercharging Station in Mayfaire Town Center
      • Homewood Suites Wilmington Mayfaire
      • University of North Carolina at Wilmington’s Central Parking Deck
    • Carolina Beach/Kure Beach:
      • 1140 N Lake Park Blvd STE J, Carolina Beach - (3) Level 2 charging stations
    • Wrightsville Beach:
      • Wrightsville Beach Park - Four (4) Level 2 Electric Vehicle Charger

Things to Do

Food & Drink


View Island Beaches FAQ