While summer may be winding down, Wilmington and its island beaches are ramping up as the perfect autumn getaway for families needing a change of pace for in-home learning or working from home, couples searching for a retreat or quarantine pals with cabin fever. With some of your favorite summer activities available well into the autumn months, mild weather, smaller crowds and off-season rates, fall is the new summer in Wilmington and beaches.
Morning Splendor. Still on Deck.
Whether you’re seeking soundside, beachside or riverside views, find off-season deals on stays from plenty of spacious vacation rentals, full-service hotels and resorts, boutique inns and cozy bed & breakfasts to choose from. Check out lodging partner websites directly to discover off-season rates, and look for weekday stays (Sunday through Thursday) for the best savings. Lodging properties, restaurants and other businesses are also practicing enhanced safety protocols in response to COVID-19, and many are participating in Count on Me NC, a public health initiative committed to keeping everyone healthy and safe. Find a list of local businesses that have completed the training program here.
For first-class amenities and spacious rooms with a view, look to one of our full-service hotels or island resorts. Immerse yourself in Wilmington’s rich history and culture at the recently renovated Hotel Ballast or choose a two-room suite at the Embassy Suites Wilmington Riverfront Hotel, both of which are situated along the scenic Riverwalk within walking distance of local shops and dining spots, including many with waterfront views and outdoor seating. Head across the bridge to Wrightsville Beach for a room with oceanfront views at Shell Island Resort or Holiday Inn Resort Wrightsville Beach. Adventure seekers and those looking for a relaxing escape alike will enjoy a stay at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort, where you can also enjoy surf-to-sound adventures like kayaking, surfing, sailing and more.
For something equally luxurious but more intimate, look no further than one of our quaint boutique inns. ARRIVE Wilmington is a lowkey luxury neighborhood hotel with a mid-century feel, perfect for a relaxing stay just a block from downtown. With exterior room access and a cozy outdoor courtyard featuring a bar and fire pit, ARRIVE makes for the perfect socially distanced accommodations. On a quiet, tree-lined street just a short walk from downtown, the Victorian-style Dreamers Welcome offers the conveniences of a hotel with the privacy of a home rental. Begin your day with a complimentary vegan breakfast and relax in the comfort of your room with a private yoga or massage session. Wilmington’s newest boutique hotel, The Hive, is located in the heart of downtown with carefully appointed suites featuring spa-like bathrooms for the perfect weekend retreat.
Choose one of our cozy bed & breakfasts to experience ultimate Southern charm and history. Located in the historic Carolina Heights neighborhood, Between The Covers is a literature lover’s paradise featuring one of the largest private libraries in North Carolina. The longest continuously operating B&B in Wilmington, C.W. Worth House Bed & Breakfast offers history, charm, riverfront views and nearby beaches. Recognized as one of the Top 10 Most Romantic Inns in the U.S., the Graystone Inn is defined by elegance and deluxe amenities — making for a perfect couples’ getaway.
Live like a local with a wide variety of vacation rentals to choose from for every size family and budget, from oceanfront houses and centrally located cottages to campground cabins. With amenities like private pools, porches with views and fully stocked kitchens, you’ll be ready to relax with all the comforts of home. Or better yet, rent one to work from home.
Coastal Fare. Still in Season.
Whether you crave alfresco dining on the waterfront or grabbing a seafood pot to go, there are plenty of coastal flavors to savor this fall. Enjoy a small bite and beverage or a full-service Northern Italian meal with a gorgeous waterfront view while dining on the balcony at Floriana. With seasonal ingredients sourced from local producers, this Italian bistro shows off its passion for food through maximum freshness and quality. Dine in luxury in a private outdoor courtyard at the recently opened Quanto Basta, known for artisanal Italian dishes passed down from Chef Timothy Grandinetti’s family. The full bar complements a carefully created menu where you can experience the true Italian meaning of quanto basta — “as much as you like; as much as you need.”
At Rx Restaurant & Bar and Pinpoint Restaurant, savor fresh-to-table dishes made with ingredients gleaned from local farmers, growers and fishermen. A feast for the senses, Catch is a local eatery showcasing daily specials crafted from seasonal fresh seafood paired with hand-picked produce by award-winning chef Keith Rhodes. To discover all that Wilmington’s culinary scene has to offer, visit Downtown Alive to enjoy four blocks of expanded outdoor dining and shopping, making it easier than ever to safely savor while social distancing.
Same Adventures. More Stretching Room.
Staying active on vacation has never been easier or more enjoyable. Through early September, grab your yoga mat and find your fall flow in scenic Airlie Gardens, or sign up for an all-level yoga class aboard the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA. Enjoy the mild fall temperatures with social distance-approved activities like kayaking or biking. Perfect for mountain bikers, hikers and runners alike, Blue Clay Bike Park features 8 miles of an extensive trail system suitable for all levels. Embark on an excursion with Mahanaim Adventures to experience some of the area’s best kayaking, birding, backpacking, hiking and more with the help of expert guides and provisioners.
Yoga at Airlie Gardens
Trails and Ales. More Room to Wander.
With stunning sunset views over the water and mild temperatures, discover whatever helps you unwind. The iconic Wilmington Riverwalk features nearly two miles of scenic walkway alongside the historic Cape Fear River, along with an unbeatable view of the iconic Battleship NORTH CAROLINA moored across the river. Experience a quintessential autumn activity with the Wilmington Ale Trail, the ultimate beer-lover’s guide to local breweries, bottle shops and bars.
Become one with nature at Airlie Gardens. Wander along the trails to discover the beautiful 67 acres of formal gardens, wildlife, lakes and more. Don’t miss this year’s annual art exhibit, Squirrels!, on display through November 30, which features larger-than-life, imaginative statues placed throughout the grounds for visitors to enjoy. Greenfield Lake Park & Gardens is the perfect place to spend a fall day enjoying nature with family and friends. A year-round birding oasis, the 250 acres of parkland offer plenty of biking and walking trails to explore.
Golden Hour View. Happy Hour Mood.
Enjoy breathtaking views while sipping on craft cocktails, ice cold brews or a glass of your favorite wine at one of Wilmington’s restaurants known for their bold beverages. Open seasonally March through November, Cloud 9 offers 22 local brews on tap, a robust wine list and stunning views of the Cape Fear River and Historic Downtown Wilmington from its rooftop bar. For a one-of-a-kind experience, Anne Bonny’s Bar and Grill features a wide selection of small plates and signature drinks, including frozen rosè and sangria. Located just off the Riverwalk, Anne Bonny’s is Wilmington’s only floating bar and grill.
manna ave. 123, Wilmington’s first AAA Four Diamond recipient, is the perfect spot for wine aficionados. Featuring an ever-changing dinner menu served in a relaxed, sophisticated ambiance, manna ave. 123 offers a regular wine list or a Reserved Wine List composed of rare, allocated and limited wines. Or, sample a seasonally curated menu including craft beer and cocktails at Board & Barrel Coastal Kitchen. For a more casual experience, spend a perfect fall evening around the fire pit at Smoke on the Water, where you can sip local brews and nosh on a menu of signature seafood and BBQ recipes.
With plenty of accommodations to choose from and a wide array of restaurants and activities to still enjoy well into fall, Wilmington and beaches offer everything you need for a COVID-friendly getaway.