Culinary Family Adventure

Parents shouldn’t have to narrow their dining options based on their kids’ cravings, especially on vacation. Wilmington, Carolina Beach and Wrightsville Beach have a variety of dining options – from fresh-to-table, dives and Southern favorites – that surpass your average beach fare while some offering melodic tunes, too.

Family Dining

Experience craft-cooking paired with Southern charm at Carolina Beach’s Surf House Oyster Bar and Surf Camp. Parents can dig into fresh oysters, Spanish octopus and other local seafood picks while the kids enjoy fresh items from the children’s menu such as duck and cheese grits or shrimp and seasonal veggies. The welcoming vibe and community feel create a great dining experience for families of all ages. Bring the family fun to celebrity chef Vivian Howard’s Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria in Wilmington that provides a casual atmosphere with delicious, farm- and sea-to-table Italian cuisine ranging from wood-fired pizza to classic pasta. The balance between casual and sophisticated makes this an award-winning dining experience for the whole family.

Sign up for pre-dinner paddle or surf lessons at the Blockade Runner Resort in Wrightsville Beach, then treat yourselves to a feast at the resort’s EAST Oceanfront. On Fridays, the restaurant offers a Weekly Lobster Night, and the little ones can select bites such as a shrimp basket or chicken tenders. Enjoy a family-friendly meal with a dock-side view from South Beach Grill’s recently renovated outdoor patio. At this Wrightsville Beach favorite, parents can indulge in fresh-off-the-boat catches while the kids order cheese quesadillas and pasta off of a menu designed just for them.

For a casual family dinner with a coastal vibe, check out Shark Bar and Kitchen and its recently opened second floor oyster bar at Wrightsville Beach. Ask about the fresh catch of the day while the little ones indulge in creamy mac n’ cheese or a delicious burger. Or, try the weekend brunch before heading out to enjoy the views and cast your line from Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier, a perfect family adventure.


Scenic Spots

For a casual beachfront dining scene, head to Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar at Carolina Beach. Parents can relax in the breeze with a drink and bite to eat while kiddos choose from tasty menu offerings such as a burger, bologna or pimento cheese sandwich. Wilmington’s Steam Restaurant and Bar provides a breathtaking view of the river paired with fresh fish and meat entrees while the little ones indulge in grilled chicken and turkey sandwiches. It’s a win-win for parents and kids alike to soak in the scenery and enjoy a delicious meal.

Adventure to Smoke on the Water, a restaurant tucked away from Wilmington’s downtown in a spot just off the water, for offerings parents and children will enjoy from seafood to burgers. The restaurant’s deck offers large round tables for family dinners and incredible sunset views. After your feast, walk along the pier over the water for a post-dinner family photo. The entire family can relax, eat and dance the night away to live music with a great view of the Intracoastal Waterway at Wrightsville Beach’s Bluewater Waterfront Grill on Sundays throughout the summer. Little ones will savor the kid-friendly popcorn shrimp and grilled cheese, and everyone can enjoy the Bananas Foster French Toast during Sunday brunch.

Also located at Wrightsville Beach, the recently renovated Oceanic offers a picture-worthy view of the Atlantic Ocean and is a fantastic dining option. Oceanic prides itself on serving the freshest and most flavorful catches on the island, along with its kid's menu. Following the delicious meal, stroll along the 475-foot-long Crystal Pier.

Noteworthy Noshes

Sit down for family lunch in Wilmington at one of several Guy Fieri-approved “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Dine indoors or outdoors at the cozy Fork N Cork located in historic downtown Wilmington. This menu will satisfy everyone’s cravings with offerings such as burgers and mac n’ cheese. At The Copper Penny, parents can indulge in the Hot Roasted Pork Sandwich or Beer-Battered Onion Rings, and kids can munch on fish sticks or fried shrimp to make this a one-stop lunch for the whole family.

Experience flavorful tapas in the outdoor courtyard at Ceviche’s where the little ones can enjoy Latin American cuisine with kid-friendly menu offerings such as Pollo Con Arroz (chicken and rice). Savor barbecue at Carolina Beach’s Carolina Smokehouse featured on PBS and the Food Network. The kid's menu includes dishes such as grilled cheese and BBQ sliders. Plus, the whole family will love the view of the ocean from the upstairs patio.

Swing by The Trolly Stop at Wrightsville Beach for fresh, savory hotdogs. Kids will want to snag an “Old Baldy,” a plain hotdog, while parents try out the “Battleship” or “North Carolina.” Plus, creative kids can even build their own. Create a delicious savory biscuit sandwich for breakfast at Carolina Beach’s Southerly Biscuit & Pie. The build-your-own menu includes options such as bacon, cheddar and chicken. Plus, the made-from-scratch cakes and pies will have your taste buds zinging.

Find other eats from the river to the sea like foodie favorites, fresh-to-table fare, locally owned and more here.