Summertime in Wilmington NC

Coasting into Summer Fun

It’s time to go coastal and head to Wilmington, NC to experience our island beaches and the upbeat energy of downtown with eclectic shopping, locally-owned restaurants and historic homes along the brick-lined streets. Visit our family-friendly attractions, stroll the Historic District, premier gardens and parks, or simply relax at our beautiful beaches to catch a sunrise over the ocean. The possibilities for a rejuvenating vacation are endless.

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What to Expect When Visiting

Thank you for trusting us with your care and safety as you resume travel this summer. We encourage you to travel and enjoy responsibly by practicing social distancing and other guidelines for your safety. With safety concerns top of mind for travelers, many lodging properties are following enhanced safety guidelines provided by corporate offices, as well as guidance from the American Hotel & Lodging Association, U.S. Travel Association, and the CDC that are designed to provide consistent cleaning safety standards. A new statewide “Count on Me NC” program with the N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association, Visit NC, and N.C. State University will provide specific guidance and training to local restaurants, hotels, and other public-facing businesses on best practices. Please find on-going updates here.

Riverfront and Historic District

Take a walk along the two-mile scenic Riverwalk on the Cape Fear River and catch a magnificent sunset at one of many outdoor dining restaurants overlooking the river. Explore history through downtown’s National Register Historic District with 230-plus blocks of historic homes and buildings. View some of the finest examples of historic architectural styles at the Bellamy Mansion Museum of History & Design (antebellum), Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens (Georgian) and the Latimer House Museum (Victorian) or take a guided tour in a horse-drawn carriage. Embark on a history adventure across the river at the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA, one of the state’s most popular historic attractions.

Go on Island Time

When in Wilmington, you’re just minutes from one of our three island beaches. Catch a wave or learn from the pros in surf school at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina’s birthplace of surfing, then dine at one of several foodie-approved island restaurants. Kick back and be yourself at Carolina Beach; stroll the Boardwalk for sweet treats or take to nature at Carolina Beach State Park and hike one of seven trails spanning from the secluded flytrap trail to waterside walks. Kure Beach is the perfect summer retreat from the past with a historical touch. Experience Civil War history and its sacred scenic grounds - perfect for hiking - at Fort Fisher State Historic Site, then take the kiddos to the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher and check out the exhibits and daily dive shows.

Cool Ideas for Hot Family Fun

Cool off with the family at Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park featuring a million-gallon wave pool, lazy river, tower of slides, and more. Jump on over to Defy Gravity, a cutting-edge trampoline sports park with one of the largest trampoline dodgeball cages. Get creative with the kids with engaging indoor exhibits and creative activities at the Children’s Museum of Wilmington.

Made in the Shade

Relax under the shade of the mighty Airlie Oak at Airlie Gardens with more than 67 acres of walking paths, gardens, and historic structures. There’s always something in bloom at New Hanover County Arboretum with seven acres of scenic gardens including a Japanese garden with an authentic tea house. Discover wildlife among the moss-draped cypress trees while exploring the area by bike, canoe, or kayak at Greenfield Lake Park & Gardens.

Foodie Delights

There’s nothing like fresh seafood and Wilmington has plenty of ways to enjoy summer by dining outdoors. Take in river views while feasting on the catch of the day at Steam Restaurant & Bar or riverside at The George on the Riverwalk. Catch the energy of our downtown main streets while devouring oysters on the half-shell at Shuckin' Shack Oyster Bar, enjoying comfort food and some of the best burgers in town in a cozy setting at Fork n Cork or savoring tapas and sushi at Circa 1922.  Check out new restaurants like Michaels on the Waterfront and Floriana for delicious dishes served in historic buildings with water views. Head to Midtown to indulge in award-winning coastal creations from "Top Chef" contestant, Keith Rhodes, at Catch.

Summer Sips

Vibrant nightlife makes those long summer nights complete. Grab an afternoon beer at Satellite Bar and Lounge then cool down with a crafted cocktail on a rooftop and watch the sunset over the Cape Fear River at Cloud 9Front Street Brewery serves up an extensive menu with afternoon tours and tastings. Sip on unique takes at the Blind Elephant, a 1920’s Prohibition speakeasy, feel refined with cocktails at manna ave. 123, or sip on a local craft beer while enjoying live music at one of our many breweries and local bottleshops.

Stay for the Week

Be in the center of Historic Downtown Wilmington while taking in riverside views. Keep it cozy at a historic B&B or wake up to the sound of waves at one of our island beaches’ resort hotels or vacation rentals. There are plenty of lodging and budget options to make your summer vacation complete.