With travel returning and sunshine here to stay, it’s the perfect time for a summer getaway – but don’t take just any trip. After a year of being stuck inside, treat yourself to a vacation closer to home filled with delectable eats, indulgent drinks and unique activities that are totally worth splurging.
Read on for our guide to a splurge-worthy getaway in Wilmington:
Impressive Places to Rest Your Head
You won’t be hard-pressed to find a beautiful place to stay in Wilmington. Hotel Ballast and Embassy Suites Wilmington Riverfront Hotel both offer the comforts of a traditional hotel experience complete with well-curated suites, full-service amenities, pools and stunning views of the river. Embassy Suites raises the bar with its rooftop lounge, Cloud 9, offering refreshing cocktails complemented by panoramic river views. Or, enjoy an elegant meal at Ruth’s Chris Steak House located in Hotel Ballast for perfectly prime steaks and classic family-style sides. With accommodations this comfortable and pampering for your entire stay, you may never want to leave.
For a one-of-a-kind experience, try one of Wilmington’s unique boutique hotels. Dreamers Welcome is a design-focused former Victorian home featuring cultivated décor and luxurious amenities, like claw-foot bathtubs in each room, private yoga or massage lessons, and a complimentary vegan breakfast. Nestled in the heart of downtown Wilmington, The Hive features stylish suites equipped with king-size beds, full kitchens, living rooms and oversized walk-in showers.
In the heart of Historic Downtown Wilmington, you’ll find The Graystone Inn, a former mansion originally constructed in 1905 and a AAA Four Diamond-rated hotel. With gorgeous architectural details, intricate fireplace carvings and majestic Corinthian columns in the Grand Hall, you’ll feel like royalty.
The Verandas is a bed and breakfast housed in a Victorian Italianate Mansion, consistently awarded the AAA/CAA Four Diamond Hotel Award and well-known for its personalized customer service. The upscale guest rooms are decorated with collectibles and museum-quality art under opulent chandeliers. The luxurious public parlors, verandas, screened porch, garden terrace and rooftop cupola encourage guests to socialize and appreciate the beautiful setting of the centuries-old mansion.
A Foodie’s Paradise
Delight your tastebuds with something special while you’re in town and see all that Wilmington’s restaurant scene has to offer. For an authentic French dining experience and an extensive wine list, grab a seat on Brasserie du Soleil’s patio for dinner. You’ll enjoy classic French fare like escargot, plateaus de fromages, bouillabaisse, steak au poivre and a full raw bar. Port Land Grille boasts a casually elegant coastal setting complemented by sustainably sourced meals grilled over natural hardwood charcoal from award-winning chef and owner Shawn Wellersdick. Dine on seasonal surf and turf dishes or share several small plates in the dining room or on the outdoor patio, and make sure to save room for their desserts and artisanal cheeses paired with a selection from their wine list.
Rx Restaurant & Bar, a sophisticated Southern diner and Sunday brunch gem, brings the choicest harvest from local farmers, fishermen and growers. Their bright dishes are packed full of fresh, local produce, and the Sweet Prescriptions are a local favorite for delectable desserts. Lauded by Southern Living as one of the “10 Best Restaurants in the South,” PinPoint Restaurant’s daily changing farm-to-table menu featuring dishes like Local Golden Tilefish and Joyce Farm’s Fried Chicken promise a dish for every taste, and their special craft cocktails delight guests with surprising flavors.
Take your tastebuds to Italy with original family recipes passed down through generations from the Abruzzo region in the province of L’Aquila at Tarantelli's Ristorante Italiano. Enjoy a glass of wine at the bar before dinner, and try their Spaghetti al Formaggio Parmigiana, a delicious pasta dish prepared tableside from a flaming Italian cheese wheel.
For a creative dining experience, enjoy the colorful American cuisine at manna ave. 123, Wilmington’s only AAA Four-Diamond restaurant. With a daily changing seasonal menu, you’ll certainly find something unique to order, like a hickory-smoked pork chop with BBQ’s peas, Tokyo turnips and boiled peanut jus, or speckled trout with squash, tomato, corn and soubise.
Indulging In Experiences
Whether your idea of splurging involves once-in-a-lifetime adventures or a relaxing day at the spa, Wilmington has something for everyone. Enjoy a concert at the brand new, state-of-the-art outdoor amphitheater by the river, Live Oak Bank Pavilion at Riverfront Park, where you can catch shows from national acts. Or, visit The Wilson Center, an indoor performance center, featuring theater and Broadway shows, music, comedy and dance in the most technologically advanced performance center in eastern North Carolina.
Immerse yourself in the arts during Fourth Friday Gallery Nights each month. Set out on a self-guided tour to view exhibitions of various genres and local artists as select local galleries and studios open their doors for an after-hours arts celebration.
For a relaxing day by the pool or on the links, Beau Rivage Golf & Resort offers an outdoor pool and bar, professional tennis courts and an 18-hole championship golf course. If you’d rather shop till you drop, visit Lumina Station, a charming collection of locally-owned boutiques and distinctive restaurants, cafes and wine bars in a storybook setting.
If you’re in need of a spa day, indulge yourself at Head To Toe Day Spa and Salon, a full-service salon and spa offering a range of services like Swedish massages, deluxe facials and a black Baltic mud wrap. Both Prana Salt Cave and Native Salt Cave and Wellness provide the holistic benefits of enjoying time in a salt cave with salt-infused air from halogenerators, a traditional wellness practice.
For time well spent and for your well-being, explore the 67 acres at Airlie Gardens known as the premier gardens of the South containing formal gardens, wildlife, tens acres of lakes, more than 75,000 azaleas (best seen in the spring), the tall Airlie Oak which dates back to 1545 and a seasonal butterfly house.
Hit the town for a bit of coastal nightlife. From sophisticated wine bars to downtown speakeasies, there’s something for everyone to sip. Head back to manna ave. 123 for an evening in their lounge that hosts traveling and local musicians, or enjoy an evening at Earnest Money & Sons, the restaurant’s exclusive speakeasy extension. See why the mixologists are so well-known and order a classic cocktail or let the experienced bartender concoct a custom drink for you based on your taste using only the freshest ingredients. Discover The Blind Elephant, another speakeasy hidden away in an alley between buildings. This 1920s prohibition-style bar serves fantastic bourbon, spirits, moonshine and cocktails in a unique atmosphere, complete with a pool table and black and white films playing on an exposed brick wall.
For a wide selection of local craft beer and an amazing whiskey variety, head on over to Rebellion NC and discover why it was featured in Bourbon Review’s Top Bourbon Bars 2020. Sophisticated wine and libation choices are abundant at The Second Glass, a true wine bar with a custom wine cellar. Grand Cru Food & Wine hosts live music on Fridays and Saturdays to go along with their exceptional wines, creative tapas, charcuterie and small plate menu offerings.
The time has never been better for taking an extra special trip. Treat yourself to an experience of renewal and relaxation with these splurge-worthy ideas in Wilmington.