A perfect pet-friendly destination no matter the time of the year, Wilmington welcomes dogs of all shapes, sizes and pawprints. From numerous dog-friendly restaurants and dog parks and other activities fit for four-legged friends, there are plenty of things for you and your pup to do in Wilmington and its surrounding island beaches.
Day 1: Explore Wilmington with your Furry Friend
Start your day off on the right foot by visiting Cheeky Monkey Coffee Co and grabbing a cup of joe just the way you like, along with a pup cup for your furry friend. Once you've fueled up for the day, take a stroll through historic downtown Wilmington to check out the many quaint shops on Market and Front Streets. Don’t forget to stop into Unleashed, the Dog & Cat Store to get a new toy or treat for your four-legged friend. With the Wilmington History Tours app, you and your pup can take a self-guided walking tour of Wilmington's riverfront and historic district to learn about the area's rich culture and history.
After a morning full of exploring, rest your paws in the South Front District at Satellite Bar’s pet-friendly courtyard and enjoy a nice, cold local brew. Grab a bite to eat at Block Taco, a unique taco joint adjacent to Satellite with a walk-up window for easy ordering for you and your pup. In the afternoon, explore downtown Wilmington and walk along the Wilmington Riverwalk.
Then, it’s on to New Hanover County Arboretum, a 7-acre botanical garden that allows you to bring your dogs as long as they are on a leash. Enjoy a pleasant stroll while capturing countless photos of man’s best friend at the Japanese-themed garden. Take a moment to sit back, relax and bask in the beauty of the surrounding nature.
If you have some extra free time during the afternoon, visit one of the area’s dog parks, including Long Leaf Park, Empie Dog Park, Greenfield Park and Ogden Park.
Finish off the day at a dog-friendly brewery. Located in the Brooklyn Arts District, Flytrap Brewing specializes in American and Belgian ales. Enjoy a pint with your pup in the beer garden, or grab a few to-go. Or venture over to the Cargo District and join the paw-ty at Ruff Draft Dog Park & Bar, Wilmington’s first off-leash dog park and full-service bar.
Day 2: Active Adventures with your Dog
Get an early start to the day at Folks Café, a local favorite for its delicious fresh Argentinian empanadas and a good strong iced coffee.
Lace up your walking shoes or rent a bike from Bike Cycles Shop and pick a stop on the Gary Shell Cross City Trail for you and your pup to explore Wilmington. The greenway trail is 15 miles long, with stops at several points of interest and parks, including the Heide-Trask Drawbridge. Be sure to make a stop at the bridge’s new lookout station to get a picturesque view of the Intracoastal Waterway.
After spending the morning working up an appetite, stop by Anne Bonny’s Bar and Grill to grab a bite. Located on a barge, this floating bar and restaurant has a covered dog-friendly area that is enclosed during cooler weather. With a variety of menu options from the land or sea, this is the perfect place to recharge for your next adventure. If you saved room for dessert, hop across the street to Lazy Jack’s Ice Cream Shack where they have a dog-friendly peanut butter ice cream.
Next, take your dog for an afternoon of adventures with Hook, Line & Paddle. This local canoe and kayak outfitter can set you up with everything you need for a guided water adventure with your pup. Time permitting, make a detour to Keg Island and let your dog run and play in the water.
After two full days, finish off your trip to Wilmington with an authentic French dining experience at Brasserie du Soleil. You and your pet can dine on the pet-friendly patio overlooking the pond.
Pet-Friendly Places to Stay
Pet-friendly lodging choices in Wilmington include hotels, small inns and vacation rentals. Located in the heart of Downtown Wilmington, boutique hotel The Hive welcomes all good pups to stay in its pet-friendly suites. Stay with DREAMERS by DW, a renovated Victorian home that combines the features of a boutique hotel and the freedom of a rental home, making it the perfect spot for pet owners. Peruse the website for a full list of pet-friendly accommodations.