After a spring season of staying home, summer is nearly here, and you’re probably looking for ways to enjoy a fun-filled family vacation while still safely social distancing. With spacious beaches, parks and gardens, scenic water views and delicious coastal fare, Wilmington is open for escape.

Open for Escape

Find the perfect place to escape in Historic Downtown Wilmington. The recently renovated Hotel Ballast pays homage to the coastal city’s maritime heritage, giving guests a local experience focused on history and Southern hospitality. Take in scenic views of the Cape Fear River just outside your guest room window. Snag a two-room suite to fit the whole family at the Embassy Suites Wilmington Riverfront Hotel located on the famous Wilmington Riverwalk.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Or, find your own island escape in one of our nearby beach towns – Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville. Live like a local with our wide variety of vacation rentals, or check out one of our beachfront hotels and resorts with full-service amenities. 

Open for Unwinding

Feel the cool river breeze as you partake in wellness activities found around every corner in Wilmington. Rent bikes for the whole family at Bike Cycles Shop and set out on the 11-mile, on- and off-road River to Sea Bikeway, which follows the route of the Historic Beach Car Line from downtown Wilmington to nearby Wrightsville Beach. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Whether you’re on two wheels or your own two feet, the 15-mile Gary Shell Cross-City Trail provides access to numerous recreational, cultural and educational destinations in Wilmington. Be sure to stop for a break with views at lookout station, which features a picturesque, panorama overview of the Intracoastal Waterway. 

Open for Wandering

When in Wilmington, wander through our wide-open parks and gardens to experience nature like never before. Something is always in bloom at Airlie Gardens, where you can explore 67 acres of formal gardens, wildlife and lakes. Don’t miss your chance to see the towering Airlie Oak, a live oak tree dating back to 1545. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Head to Greenfield Lake Park and Gardens, where you can rent a kayak for a leisurely afternoon on the lake or meander along the lakeside walking trails. With more than 250 acres to explore, there’s plenty of space to breathe in fresh air and spend the day outdoors with family. 

Open for Savoring

Feast on coastal fare at some of Wilmington’s unique eateries, where you’ll find something to satisfy everyone, from the most adventurous adults to the pickiest kids. Dine under the umbrellas on the back patio at Crust Kitchen + Cocktails, the perfect spot for little ones – and the kids at heart! Featuring a menu of elevated grilled cheeses and Belgian fries served three ways, you’re sure to leave this 90’s-themed restaurant feeling satisfied. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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For dinner with a view, dine alfresco at Pilot House Restaurant and choose from a wide variety of “down home” dishes with a contemporary flare. Or sample the specialties at Wilmington’s newest restaurant, Michael’s on the Waterfront, where adults can indulge in the contemporary, Southern-inspired cuisine, and kids will love the Small Fry Burger and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Caramel Sauce. 

Pilot House

Pilot House Restaurant

 

Then, treat the entire family to a delicious after-dinner dessert to go at Kilwin’s, where the sweet smell of fresh-made fudge and hand-scooped ice cream meets you at the door. For a one-of-a-kind experience, head to Buzzed Bull Creamery to watch the thrilling process of using liquid nitrogen to create premium ice cream and milkshakes right before your eyes. 

No matter how you’re envisioning your family’s summer vacation, Wilmington is open for whatever brings you joy. You can also check out family-friendly island adventures in our nearby beach towns – Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville Beaches.