Celebrate Independence Day from the River to the Sea
Have a star-spangled Fourth of July in Wilmington and our island beaches filled with patriotic things to do from the riverfront to oceanfront. Ooh and Aah at fireworks by the river or along a boardwalk, attend a baseball game, enjoy live music and more.
Things to Do
- Kick off your weekend fun at Friday Night Live! on the Pier July 1 with Tuesday’s Gone, a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band. This free concert starts at 7 p.m.
- Reserve tickets and head to Airlie Gardens for their Summer Concert Series. No Regretz, a classic rock and blues band, will perform July 1 from 6-8 p.m.
- Salute to the Stars and Stripes with the North Carolina Symphony as they play patriotic classics at The Wilson Center July 2.
- Root for the home team as the Wilmington Sharks take to the field July 2 and 3. Be sure to stick around after the games for spectacular fireworks displays.
- Run along the Cross-City Trail at the Battle for Independence Road Race July 4. Choose from the one-mile or 5k race, don your red, white and blue gear and hit the pavement for all-ages fun.
- Put a historical twist on your celebration at the Hannah Block Historic USO/Community Arts Center July 4th Open House from 1-6 p.m. Enjoy free coffee and doughnuts served by staff in 1940s era costumes and a special viewing of "Home Away From Home - The USO at 2nd and Orange."
- Enjoy Wilmington's 4th of July Fireworks along the historic downtown riverfront beginning at 9 p.m. Before the fireworks display, enjoy alfresco dining options, breweries along the Wilmington Ale Trail, specialty shops along the Wilmington Riverwalk and main streets and all that historic downtown has to offer.
- Head to the Carolina Beach Boardwalk for Independence Day Fireworks by the Sea & Boardwalk Blast July 1. Enjoy live entertainment, family-friendly activities and more beginning at 6:30 p.m. Then, head down to the beach to catch the fireworks at 9 p.m.
- Pair fresh-to-table meals with scenic views and live music from Tony Barnes 12-3 p.m. July 3 at Oceanic or stop by Bluewater Waterfront Grill in Wrightsville Beach to enjoy craft cocktails and live music from Dos Eddies 4-8 p.m. July 3.
- Pack a picnic and grab your lawn chairs to see “Jaws 2” during Free Movies at the Carolina Beach Lake in Carolina Beach July 3 starting at 8:45 p.m.
Food and Drinks
From barbecue to grilled hotdogs and kid-friendly meals, find food options for even the most discerning palates. Make a stop at Capt'n Bill's Backyard Grill in Wilmington for finger-lickin' barbecue dishes, made-to-order sandwiches and specials with a little sand volleyball served up on the side. In Wrightsville Beach, try Trolly Stop for fresh hot dogs and more than 1,000 topping combinations possible. Get a grilled fresh burger to go at the seaside walkup, Beach House Burgers, a local favorite in Kure Beach. Head to Topsail Steamer in Wrightsville Beach or Cape Fear Boil Company in Carolina Beach to pick up steam pots perfect for a vacation rental low country boil. For family-friendly food plus entertainment, swing by Lazy Pirate Island Sports Grill in Carolina Beach to enjoy live music on the patio, kid-friendly games like jenga and more.
Adult Beverages & Brews
Drink in spectacular riverfront views rooftop with craft cocktails at aView Rooftop Bistro or Cloud 9. Right off the Riverwalk, hop aboard Wilmington's only floating bar and enjoy the signature frozen rose at Anne Bonny's. Raise a glass at The Ivey, a new bar offering local craft beers, an extensive wine list and signature cocktails like their gin-based Poison Ivey. In Carolina Beach, swing by The Fat Pelican, voted as No.1 Dive Bar in NC, or Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar for the best fireworks view from the pier. Watch the boats navigate the Intracoastal Waterway while sipping a Yacht Bill Pain Killer at Bluewater Waterfront Grill or get casual with a Honeysuckle Lemonade spiked with vodka at Dockside in Wrightsville Beach. At Oceanic, cheers to panoramic ocean views on their pier patio with a mimosa during Sunday brunch. Or, explore some of the best local craft breweries in the area along the Wilmington Ale Trail.
Check restaurant websites and/or social media to verify holiday hours of operation and make reservations.
Places to Stay
Find the perfect place to stay to suit your lodging needs. Choose from a waterfront vacation rental fit for the whole family to a seaside resort with full-service amenities in a walkable beach town. Opt for a cozy bed and breakfast with a side of historical charm or a boutique inn in the heart of historic downtown for a quick jaunt down to the Riverwalk for prime view of the fireworks. Or, stay at a mom-and-pop motel or name brand hotel with prime firework views. Area accommodations are in high demand, particularly on holiday weekends, so book early for the best selection.
For even more fun things to do during your Fourth of July weekend celebration, check out the calendar below, which is updated daily as new events are announced.