Wilmington Directions & Parking

A trip to the coast is just a short drive or flight away. Getting to and around Wilmington and our Island Beaches is easy with an international airport, convenient access to highways and many parking options to choose from.


The major East/West Interstate artery I-40 leads to Wilmington, NC and our Island Beaches. The destination is centrally located midway between New York and Florida, just off I-95 and I-40. The area is also served by Highways 17, 74/76, 117, and 421 as well as Greyhound Bus Lines. Interstate I-95 is 73 miles away.

To and from Wilmington International Airport (ILM)

The Wilmington International Airport is located off US-74/Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway in Wilmington. Air travelers arrive just 3 miles from downtown Wilmington, 10 miles from Wrightsville Beach, 19 miles from Carolina Beach and 22 miles from Kure Beach. Rental cars and taxis are available at the airport terminal.

Map at a Glance


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

Here are some travel tips that should help minimize delays:

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.



Upon arrival in Wilmington by car, the city has 970+ metered parking spaces located downtown, four parking decks and 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 always free of charge.

For information on charging stations for electric vehicles, please visit our FAQ page and click Transportation and Accessibility. 

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.

Downtown Wilmington Parking

Wilmington parking fees help support projects and services that enhance the visitor experience. Recent improvements and upgrades to parking facilities paid for by user fees include:

  • Installation of new security camera system at all parking decks for improved safety
  • Upgrades and installation of new parking and revenue control system at all parking decks that permits faster transactions at exit, improved pay stations, pay options and customer security
  • Construction of the new River Place parking deck to increase number of downtown parking options
  • Future Plans
    • Elevator modernization, painting and repairs
    • Pedestrian walkway development out of Market Street Parking Deck and quicker entry and exit

Find more information about parking locations, payment options, rates and more on the City of Wilmington website.