You won’t find pre-packaged vacations in Wilmington, a must-see Southern destination where authentic heritage converges with unexpected modern offerings. Embrace genuine experiences and the city’s vibrant coastal culture through these local favorites.
Hieronymus Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar – The Hieronymus family began their commercial fishing journey in the early 1970s, sourcing the freshest catches and bounties from local areas, including the salt marshes for oysters and clams. In 1980, they created Hieronymus Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar, which is now renowned for fresh seafood entrees, oysters and more. When you step inside, you’ll see Hieronymus is more than just a restaurant; it's a living archive of cherished Wilmington memories. The shells placed inside the tables have been brought by diners over the years, and nameplates on the bar honor loyal local patrons.
Riverfront Farmers’ Market – The Riverfront Farmers’ Market has been a community hub for sharing locally grown and crafted goods for two decades. This weekly market takes place in downtown Wilmington on Saturday mornings from April through November. Just steps from the Riverwalk, stroll through the pedestrian-friendly market to find fresh produce, seafood and baked goods, as well as artisanal crafts.
Sunday Bluegrass Jams at Satellite Bar and Lounge – Located within a 1940s grocery store and restored using salvaged materials from its original structure, Satellite Bar and Lounge provides a social and spacious setting, making it a favorite for locals, visitors and their furry companions. Satellite frequently hosts live music events, including a weekly Sunday night Bluegrass Jam. Join in a fun-filled evening of dancing and twangy tunes with a drink in hand, paired with a taco from BlockTaco’s walk-up window attached to Satellite.
New Hanover County Arboretum – Stroll through the beautiful 7-acre gardens at the New Hanover County Arboretum, which is open daily and free to the public. Explore the Japanese garden, featuring an authentic tea house and a variety of Japanese maples. Pause for a moment of reflection at the water garden, one of North Carolina's largest, filled with hundreds of koi fish.
Live Oak Bank Pavilion at Riverfront Park – Experience vibrant waterfront entertainment at the Live Oak Bank Pavilion at Riverfront Park, a Live Nation concert venue nestled on the northern end of the scenic Riverwalk. In addition to hosting performances from popular artists, the venue is the heart of Riverfront Park, offering additional green spaces, a playground and a seasonal water feature.
Blue Moon Gift Shops – Bringing together dozens of local vendors under one roof, Blue Moon Gift Shops has been a shopping destination for both locals and visitors since its opening in 1999. Browse aisles full of home decor, accessories, North Carolina-made products and much more. It's no surprise Blue Moon has earned the distinction of being consistently voted as the “Best Gift Shop in Wilmington.”
Burgers at Winnie’s Tavern – Proudly serving award-winning burgers for more than 60 years, Winnie's Tavern is a local go-to spot for delicious burgers, cold beer and a friendly game of pool. One of its signature creations, the Trailer Park Burger, featuring Cajun fried green tomatoes and jalapeno pimento cheese, was featured on the Cooking Channel's "Best Thing I Ever Ate." Staying true to its roots, Winnie's Tavern continues to serve beers and sodas in chilled cans because the original Winnie believed they tasted better that way.
Cinematique Film Screenings at Thalian Hall – As one of the oldest and most beautiful theaters in America, Thalian Hall Center for Performing Arts has been in continuous use since 1858 and is home to the country's oldest painted stage curtain. The venue host hundreds of performances and film screenings every year, including the Cinematique of Wilmington Film Series, featuring a curated selection of classic, foreign and notable films throughout the week.
Fourth Friday Gallery Nights – Join in this monthly celebration, during which the community’s galleries and studios open their doors after hours. Fourth Friday Gallery Nights welcome you to get a first-hand look at the city’s creative cultural scene as you connect with local artists. Take a self-guided tour with the help of this map, with printed copies usually accessible at participating locations.
Port City Java – Since its start as a small coffee house in the 1990s, Port City Java has since flourished into a network of dozens of locations within the community and several more across the state. The handcrafted offerings have solidified it as the go-to choice for local coffee drinkers. With the presence of two roasting facilities right in town, the cafés guarantee the freshest roasted coffee for their patrons.