Summer is in full swing, and packing your bags to head to the coast is the perfect place to ease back into travel. It’s no secret that the best vacations include delicious eats, but during this time, it can be hard to know what options are available. As restaurants pivot to provide the safest experience for their customers, remember it’s always best to call and check the availability and hours at your eatery of choice before heading out! 

Read on for our good-eats guide to unique and alfresco dining options available in Wilmington and Island Beaches:

Tasty Food and Summer Views 

If you prefer to dine with a view, pull up a chair and breathe in the fresh air at one of Wilmington and Island Beaches’ alfresco options. Indulge in classic coastal cuisine at The George on the Riverwalk, where you can dine on the spacious patio with food that rivals the picturesque Cape Fear River views. Savor contemporary Southern cuisine with a Cajun flair while dining on the patio at the Pilot House, or enjoy family-friendly fare complemented by scenic waterfront views at Elijah’s Restaurant


Sample unique bar bites like Texas Poutine or Rattlesnake Bites on the dog-friendly patio at The Fork N Cork in Carolina Beach. Sip on a Mai Tai or mojito while the waves crash beneath you on the pier at The Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar, known for its Ocean Grill Burger and fresh seafood sandwiches. Or, head over to Kure Beach during the day on a weekend for a bite on the go at Beach House Burgers. Located next to the Kure Beach Fishing Pier and Ocean Front Park, this family favorite is popular for famished beachgoers hoping to soak in the last few rays of sunshine. Dine-in style beneath an outdoor canopy in the oceanfront garden at EAST Oceanfront Dining in Wrightsville Beach, where you can savor Masonboro Island fish bites or Asian-glazed baby back ribs. Or, celebrate your Southern side while overlooking Banks Channel at South Beach Grill in Wrightsville Beach.


Closing the Streets for Good Eats 

Head to Wilmington’s new alfresco dining and shopping scene, Downtown Alive, to enjoy expanded alfresco dining. The downtown streets have been transformed into an open-air pedestrian walk featuring a variety of sidewalk cafes (and even retail stores), allowing more customers to enjoy their favorite downtown restaurants responsibly. Plus, many downtown restaurants are located within walking distance of nearby hotels and other lodging options, which makes it even easier to get out and explore. Four blocks in downtown Wilmington will be closed to vehicular traffic four days a week on Thursday and Friday from 6:30-10 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Oct. 18. Advance reservations with participating restaurants are encouraged. 


Curbside, Carry Out and Delivery 

Not quite ready to dine in yet? Local favorites in Wilmington and our island beaches are ready to meet all your to-go dining needs. Whether you are chowing down on the deck of your vacation rental with a seafood pot to go or enjoying your picnic on the beach, we’ve got takeout options that will please the whole family. 

You won’t have to venture any further than your front door with the area’s delivery options. Share a gourmet pie from Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria. Or, prepare to get a little messy with a rack of ribs from Carolina Smokehouse in Carolina Beach. Feast on fresh catch with a Caribbean flair at Jack Mackerel’s Island Grill in Kure Beach, or satisfy your seafood cravings with Bluewater Waterfront Grill

If you’re in the mood for an outing, take a scenic drive and wait for your food at one of our local restaurants offering curbside pickup. Bring French fare like Boeuf Bourguignon, Steak Pommes Frites or a Crab & Shrimp Crepe home when you pick up from Brasserie du Soleil in Wilmington. Savor scratch-made pasta from Havana’s in Carolina Beach, or pick up a Friday night family picnic from Manna Ave. 123 in Wilmington, a six-time AAA Four Diamond Award recipient. If you’d rather travel on the water, cruise over to Dockside Restaurant to grab your to-go order by boat. 


Taste Carolina Feature

Can’t choose just one of the many mouthwatering restaurant offerings? Keep an eye out for Taste Carolina’s City Box program, which offers a “Taste of Wilmington” featuring samples from local restaurants and eateries. Just select your box and choose a time for contactless downtown pick-up to get the full Wilmington dining experience in one sitting. 

No matter whether you prefer outdoor eats or at-home treats, spend your summer vacation savoring the flavors of Wilmington and Island Beaches. 

Ready to go now? Find your road trip itinerary to Wilmington and our Island Beaches here.