There’s much more to Wilmington than meets the eye. While visits during the summer months certainly mean soaking up the destination’s iconic sunny days and warm water at the beaches, a fall getaway to our coastal city offers mild temperatures, fewer crowds and plenty of the activities you love in the city still in season.
Get active on your next vacation with a variety of outdoor activities that will keep you moving. Greenfield Park is home to 250 acres of lake and green spaces featuring biking and walking trails just waiting to be explored. A year-round birding oasis conveniently located near Historic Downtown Wilmington, keep your eyes peeled for a variety of coastal species along your way.
Take to two wheels for a ride along the scenic River to Sea Bikeway. The 11-mile on- and off-road bicycle route follows the Historic Beach Car Line from downtown Wilmington to Johnnie Mercers Pier in nearby Wrightsville Beach and is comprised of a combination of residential streets, off-road paths and a few roadways for a variety of coastal scenery.
Head out for a jog along the lively and scenic Wilmington Riverwalk that stretches nearly two miles. Enjoy views of the Cape Fear River on one side while you pass restaurants, boutique shops and galleries on the other.
Take your wellness routine to the Cameron Art Museum to get your steps in at the outdoor art park while viewing installations from artists like Vollis Simpson, Mel Chin, Tom Spleth and more. Marvel at the unusual and large whirligigs and the unique artist-made outdoor seating. Visit after Nov. 13 to experience “Boundless,” a new sculpture from North Carolina artist Stephen Hayes. The life-size, bronze sculpture depicts 11 members of the U.S. Colored Troops and is situated on the exact sandy soil where they once fought for their freedom. After exploring the outdoor art park, grab a locally sourced bite to eat at the CAM Café.
Take to the Water
There’s no better way to explore than by water when in Wilmington. Take in all the fall hues the city has to offer on a sightseeing trip along the Cape Fear River with Bizzy Bee Water Taxi, or tour the riverfront with Cape Fear Riverboats. Wilmington Water Tours offers relaxing sunset cruises, including signature cruises on select days like the Champagne Sunset Cruise, the Music Sunset Cruise and more.
If you’re searching for something a little more active, grab a paddle and head out on a kayak excursion. Mahanaim Adventures provides expert guides and all the equipment you need to get active on the water. The area is rich in scenic beauty and abundant in wildlife. Many of the area’s waters flow through tracts of undeveloped land, creating the perfect opportunity to see birds and other wildlife in their natural habitats.
Anglers will be eager to cast their line on a fall fishing excursion with Feel Good Fishing Charters & Adventures. Offering inshore, nearshore and offshore charters, Captain Andre Nel may not be able to promise what you’ll catch, but he can certainly promise a fun day on the water. Fortunately, fall is one of the best times of the year for fishing, so the odds are in your favor. Fish the inlets, estuaries, creeks, flats and nearshore ledges to see if you can reel in the catch of the day.
Fuel your inner foodie with delicious bites from Wilmington’s diverse and impressive restaurant scene. For casual yet refined Southern fare, don’t miss out on the opportunity to dine at Rx Restaurant & Bar. Thanks to ingredients from local farmers, fishermen and growers, the flavors in their fresh dishes shine. Visit for fresh, modern brunch or dinner dishes, or indulge in their signature Sweet Prescriptions like the Salted Caramel Mousse Cake or the Fried Ivanhoe Blueberry Pie. Dine indoors or on their covered outdoor area.
Get an authentic taste of Italy at Tarantelli’s with a selection of fine Italian dishes made using original family recipes passed down through generations from the owners’ home region of Abruzzo. Guests will delight in the Spaghetti al Formaggio Parmigiana, an exclusive Italian specialty made with flamed whisky, light marinara sauce and delicious melted parmigiano reggiano cheese, served tableside from an authentic Italian cheese wheel. Dine indoors or on the outside terrace.
Wilmington’s only AAA Four Diamond award recipient, manna ave. 123 curates its menu from the freshest ingredients to create colorful, American dishes. Although the menu changes daily, you can find delicious creations like the house-made cavatelli with fennel sausage, sweet pepper ragu, ricotta and pistachio.
Delight your palate with fresh flavors from award-winning eatery Catch. Chef Keith Rhodes uses hand-picked produce and seasonal fresh catch from local fishermen and organic growers in the daily specials. Try the Crispy Skin Salmon Filet with stir fry drunken noodles and a miso honey glaze or the Rare Seared Ahi Tuna with coconut-saffron risotto, spinach, oyster mushrooms and sesame beurre blanc.
The vibrant flavors of Latin American-inspired cuisine shine at Savorez in downtown Wilmington. Chef Sam Cahoon stays true to his Southern roots while paying tribute to the colorful cuisine of Latin cultures. Dishes like Tres Cochinitos, a grilled pork loin over black bean-bacon puree with warm pork belly and bean salad, are sure to make a mark on your taste buds.
Make the most of oyster season this fall with a trip to Seabird, a seafood restaurant well-known for its oyster bar in downtown Wilmington. Dine in the new outdoor seating area to enjoy fresh oysters and other delectable dishes like Crispy Flounder or Seared Bavette Steak with potato and gouda gratin.
Light Up the Night
Sit on the outside patio at Satellite Bar & Lounge or experience the funky yet modern setting indoors featuring rustic open spaces crafted with salvaged materials from the original structure, a 1940s grocery store. Enjoy an amazing selection of wines and almost 250 craft beers in addition to a selection of gose, ciders, hard seltzer, hard kombucha, champagne splits and a full bar.
There are three levels of fun at Reel Café, with live music on the first level, dancing on the second and a sports bar with pool tables and cocktails on the roof. The Rooftop Bar is heated during the chillier months and offers scenic views of the Cape Fear River.
Spend your evening surrounded by laughter at Wilmington’s only full-time comedy club, the Dead Crow Comedy Room, newly located in Lush Garden Bar. Featuring nationally and locally acclaimed live comedy, this local favorite promises a wildly funny time. Enjoy drinks in their spacious outdoor beer garden paired with a bite to eat from local food trucks and prepare for a night of laughs. Or, if you feel like you have what it takes, try your hand at Open Mic Night every Thursday.
Purchase tickets for a live theater performance, musical act or feature film at Thalian Hall Center for Performing Arts, one of the oldest and most beautiful theaters in the country, for a unique evening well spent. Opened in 1858, the theater now hosts more than 500 events in its three performance venues each year.
Venture past the beach this fall in Wilmington and explore all that the destination has to offer. From restaurants fit for a foodie, active adventures on and off the water and a vibrant nightlife, you won’t be disappointed.