Expand Your Horizons

From old traditions to newly sparked interests, there are countless ways to expand your horizons and stray off course in Wilmington and our Island beaches. Gear up for spring renewal as visitors are encouraged to bask in the arts, culture and azaleas during the annual North Carolina Azalea Festival. Savor river breezes while exploring the historic brick-lined streets of downtown then dine al fresco. See the Battleship like never before on a behind-the-scenes tour. Celebrate and participate in craft culture of a different kind during Cape Fear Craft Beer Week or curate your own night out from celebrated waterfront restaurants to rooftop, wine and sofa bars. Extend your vacation time to our island beaches for miles of sand and shore, a bustling food scene and peaceful retreats in your favorite destinations. Whatever your path, enjoy your twin journeys from the river to the sea.



Winter Riverside Respite

You don't have to wait for spring to indulge in a riverside escape. There is no off-season in Wilmington, known as a cultural gem for our theater groups, live music clubs, coffee, food and jazz festivals plus a downtown Riverwalk with shops and celebrated restaurants bringing the river district to life. Take in views of the brick-lined streets of Downtown Wilmington at Bespoke Coffee & Dry Goods and climb aboard the caffeine high, Jan. 26, during the Wilmington Coffee Crawl. Have a cultured night out at Cameron Art Museum featuring live music in the CAM Cafe Thursday evenings and light up your night with the Art of Illumination Exhibit. Music lovers will be in heaven at the NC Jazz Festival, Jan. 31 - Feb. 2, one of the largest traditional jazz festivals in the Southeast featuring Bruce Harris, Chuck Redd and more. Or catch a concert from renowned acts like Arlo Guthrie or Sarah McLachlan at The Wilson Center then wine down with small plates and an extensive wine list at The Second Glass in the bustling South Front District. Cozy up with your sweetie, Feb. 8-15, on a Romantic Valentine Carriage Ride through historic downtown or find the perfect piece of artwork, Feb. 16-17 at Art for All in the eclectic Brooklyn Arts District.

Have A Spring Affair With Wilmington

Start your spring in Wilmington with an Azalea Affair. Noted as a Top 20 Event by Southeast Tourism Society, the North Carolina Azalea Festival, April 3-7, displays the pageantry and tradition of our coastal community. Soak in arts and culture with street fairs and a juried art show and sale, tour historic homes, stroll through immaculate gardens and find your own rhythm at concerts featuring internationally-known acts. Craft your own spring getaway while sipping local brews and experience the city’s thriving beer scene during Cape Fear Craft Beer Week, March 22-31. Pair your ales with small plates, March 30, where 20 local chefs partner with 20 breweries sampling their best at Cape Fear Craft & Cuisine. Walk it all off with a self-guided gallery crawl every fourth Friday of the month where select galleries and studios open their doors for a night of arts and culture during Fourth Friday Gallery Nights.

Family-Friendly Getaway

Family vacations help adults find their inner kid again and kids explore and learn more. Visit with Wilmington’s oldest resident, a 200-foot-tall giant ground sloth at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science then blast off at the hands-on Space Place Exhibit where little astronauts can learn and play with a robotic arm, microscopic experiments and more. Spend time at the Children’s Museum of Wilmington with magical, hands-on exhibits. Kids can climb high in the whimsical toddler treehouse, set sail in a pirate ship, shop for dinner in the Neighborhood Market, discover the ecological surroundings of Wilmington and our island beaches with Sea and Me as well as more exhibits and daily activities. Play classic arcade games or race go-karts at Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park. Jump on trampolines or channel your competitive side at one of the largest trampoline dodgeball cages in America at Defy Gravity.

Tours and Tales

Don’t just visit signature attractions and places, immerse yourself in the stories behind them. The Hidden Battleship Tour, March 23, speaks to the explorer at heart where you can see un-restored areas like the Radio II and ammunition handling on the third deck, the Captain's Cabin, and climb inside the fire and guns control tower atop the ship feeling like a soldier on the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA. Grab a tasty cocktail or drink from the bar and enjoy live acoustic music as you cruise down the Cape Fear River on a Wilmington Water Tours Sunset Cruise. The stately gardens of Bellamy Mansion will be blooming with traditional heirloom plants nodding to the creations of Mrs. Bellamy herself, take a guided tour through the gardens, mansion, carriage house and hear the stories of those who built the home on the eve of the Civil War. Hop aboard Springbrook Farms' guided carriage tour led by rescued horses and a costumed carriage driver to peruse the 230-block National Register Historic District hearing the stories behind Wilmington's stately mansions. Film buffs can relive Wilmington on the big screen with a 90-minute Hollywood location walk through a city that serves as one of America’s largest living film sets.

Eating Local

From southern comfort to farm-to-table, foodies find their fit in Wilmington. There’s no mistaking you’re in the south at Dixie Grill where dishes like delectable shrimp n’ grits or Cajun turkey meatloaf add new meaning to the phrase comfort food. Taste the sea with local lump crab cakes, cast iron black swordfish and more curated by Top Chef contestant Keith Rhodes at Catch or elevate your evening out with tapas like tuna tartar accompanied with an extensive wine list at Circa 1922. Enjoy an artful approach to dining out at PinPoint Restaurant, recognized by Southern Living as "One of the Best New Restaurants in the South," or at RX Restaurant and Bar where the Chef uses an in-season approach with dishes like Brasstown sirloin and Carolina Heritage pork. Celebrate a special evening at Port Land Grille with the wood-fired bone-in filet. You can keep it low-key with a classic Margherita pizza at celebrity chef Vivian Howard's, Benny's Big Time Pizzeria then catch live music at Bourgie Nights or a comedy show at Dead Crow Comedy Room. Sip cocktails on a rooftop bar at Cloud 9 where river views are endless then cozy up with your significant other in the sofa bar at Caprice Bistro. Island time meets white tablecloth on nearby Carolina Beach at Surf House Oyster Bar & Surf Camp with dishes like roast oysters Bienville.

Island Time

Trade city vibes for island time with a visit to our three island beaches, each possessing their own personality and things to do. Enjoy a new kind of island blue at the Pleasure Island Seafood Blues & Jazz Festival, April 13-14. Get active on the water at Wrightsville Beach and watch or participate, April 24-28, in one of the largest SUP competitions in the world, the Carolina Cup. Venture to Kure Beach and find your own hidden sanctuary at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area as you cruise along the beach (permit required) and browse local arts and crafts oceanside, April 27, at the Kure Beach Street Festival. Witness Venus flytraps and carnivorous plants in their native habitat at Carolina Beach State Park and hike beside the water.

Find the perfect place to stay

Reserve a suite at full-service hotels and take advantage of amenities like a rooftop bar and indoor pool. Renovated and recreated, boutique area hotels offer a curated experience along the Wilmington Riverwalk or historic district where area shopping, nightlife and attractions are just steps from the front door. From historic bed and breakfasts and modern full-service hotels to oceanfront vacation rentals, you'll find accommodations for every vacation and budget. Book now as spring and summer rentals go quickly.