Strike a New Chord this Fall

Fall in love with Wilmington and beaches all over again as a new season debuts new experiences. It's the perfect time to explore our towns and neighborhoods full of distinct character, where each greets every visitor like a local. A dining renaissance boosts our renowned foodie scene with locally-sourced cuisine sure to please every palate. Tour around town on a horse-drawn carriage ride or a guided Segway tour through one of the largest historic districts in the country. With a lively arts scene, attend an internationally acclaimed film festival or go on a gallery crawl. On our island beaches, get active with a number of fall sporting events, see hundreds of kites soar high in the sky and taste around town on a Tasting History Tour. Whether you indulge in fresh-to-table cuisine, join in on bluegrass jam sessions at a brewpub, embark on a scenic river cruise, or epic island excursion, choose to stray off course.

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Fall Festivals & Sites

Experience fall's festive happenings. The IRONMAN 70.3 triathlon returns to Wilmington, Oct. 19, watch as athletes compete in the 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run. Craft beer connoisseurs can sample from over 100 craft breweries and wineries alongside live music and food vendors during the Lighthouse Beer & Wine Festival, Oct. 26. Named "One of the Coolest Film Festivals in the World," and an international celebration of filmmaking, performance and technology, Cucalorus Festival attracts over 22,000 travelers and showcases nearly 200 worldwide films alongside performing arts, Nov. 13-17. Savor the sights, sounds and flavors of autumn from a fresh perspective.

A HALLOWEEN GETAWAY TO DIE FOR

Named one of the most actively haunted cities in the country, Wilmington makes for a spooktacular Halloween getaway. Get a scare and a buzz on a Haunted Pub Crawl or a Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington where history and famous haunts are combined. Beneath the cloak of moonlight, explore Poplar Grove Plantation on a paranormal ghost tour or visit some of the "Spookiest Cemeteries in the U.S." according to Fox News Travel. Family-friendly Halloween events include spooktacular Halloween fun aboard the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA, a day of pumpkin-themed celebrations at the Children's Museum of Wilmington, Trick or Treat Under the Sea at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher and a Halloween ghost trolley and haunted barn. For the brave, the maritime forest trail at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area transforms into a downright terrifying haunted trail. For the fun, jam out to live music and sip on bewitching beverages at SeaWitch Cafe and Tiki Bar or a night of the living dead at Satellite Bar and Lounge. Get our full Halloween roundup here. 

Savor Homegrown Flavor

Situated between the river and sea, Wilmington offers a variety of fresh-to-table options featuring ingredients from local farms and waterways. With dishes complemented by seasonally-driven ingredients, Rx Restaurant & Bar values local farms and farmers so much, their names can be found on the menu. With an everchanging menu and standout dishes like the cornmeal-crusted N.C. catfish, PinPoint Restaurant delivers high-end, inventive dining and was named among "The South's Best Restaurants" by Southern Living. Italian cuisine meets southern coastal at celebrity chef Vivian Howard's Benny's Big Time Pizzeria with farm-and sea-to-fork fare. Seafood and vegetarians alike will find palate-pleasing options at Catch with dishes like "dirty south" oysters and a vegetarian/vegan platter with NC sweet potatoes. For Latin flair, head to Savorez where ceviche and entree dishes are part delicious and part works of art. Make the most of mild temperatures and dine al fresco at waterside spots with oysters by the dozen and panoramic river views at Elijah's Restaurant or Smoke on the Water.

Expand Your Horizons

Invigorate your vacation where wellness meets eco-adventure. Nature lovers can discover seven acres of scenic gardens including an authentic tea house, koi fish water garden and Japanese maples at the Arboretum at New Hanover County. Explore one of the South's premiere gardens home to walking paths, a Butterfly House, the nearly 500-year-old Airlie Oak and enchanting settings at Airlie Gardens. Embark on an eco-adventure aboard a catamaran with Wilmington Water Tours or keep it simple with a scenic sunset cruise along the downtown Wilmington riverfront with Cape Fear Riverboats. Kayak beside majestic live oaks draped in Spanish moss at Greenfield Lake Park and Gardens or walk along the five-mile trail. Get active on dry land while pedaling your way along the 11-mile on- and off-road River to Sea Bikeway or hop on the Gary Shell Cross-City Trail, a 12-mile off-road trail for both bikers and pedestrians.

Wander In New Directions

Discover lively neighborhoods, each with their own vibe and charm while soaking in the arts and culture of Wilmington. Find rhythm and soul in the Brooklyn Arts District as you start your evening at Flytrap Brewing for unique ales or inside a 111-year-old historic firehouse at Edward Teach Brewing then catch a concert at the historic Brooklyn Arts Center at St. Andrews. Gallery hop during Fourth Friday Gallery Nights and get a two-for-one at Bottega Art and Wine, a quirky wine and beer bar decorated from inside-to-out in local artwork. Treasure-seekers can find take-home antiques, vintage clothing and turntable favorites in the Castle Street Arts & Antiques District and end the evening at Cape Fear Playhouse, a 50-seat black box theatre. In the growing South Front District sip vino accompanied by small plates at The Second Glass or pop in New Anthem Beer Project and enjoy a cold beer inside the airy, modern taproom. For a cozy yet funky vibe, head to Satellite Bar and Lounge for live music, movie nights and the Signature Sunday Evening Live Bluegrass Jam. History meets architecture on a self-guided or horse-drawn carriage tour through the 230-plus National Register Historic District. See examples of antebellum architecture at the Bellamy Mansion Museum of History and Design and explore Colonial-era gardens at the Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens. Art lovers can browse the Art in Bloom Gallery for an eclectic mix from paintings to ceramics.

Toast to the City Life

From cocktails to ale trails, sip big city flavors at local speakeasies, breweries and rooftop bars. Hideaway at The Blind Elephant, a local speakeasy and jazz up your evening with live piano alongside Moscow mules on tap or swing by the sophisticated Tails Piano Bar and Lounge that transports guests back to the days of Gershwin and Fitzgerald. While an AAA Four Diamond Restaurant, manna ave. 123 also delivers award-winning craft cocktails, wines and spirits from around the world. Sip on craft cocktails and local ales rooftop with stunning river views at Cloud 9 or grab frozen cocktails on a floating barge at Anne Bonny's Bar and Grill. Craft beer lovers can hop on the Port City Brew Bus to travel along the Wilmington Ale Trail stopping off at local breweries and bottleshops. When the sun goes down, jam out with live music at the scenic Hugh Morton Amphitheater at Greenfield Lake Park or stop by Bourgie Nights for craft cocktails and live music in a lounge with phenomenal acoustics. 

Explore by Land or Sea

Warm weather extends well into fall at our three island beaches. In Kure Beach, embark on a guided eco-kayak tour to Zeke's Island Reserve, one of the most important shorebird feeding habitats on the East Coast. Explore salt marshes, a maritime forest and keep your eyes peeled for unique seashells and rare migrating bird species. Taste around town with a Tasting History Tour in Carolina Beach stopping off at sea-to-table restaurants and immerse yourself in its blossoming foodie scene at area restaurants where surf-camp culture meets locally foraged, inventive dishes. Elevate your fall getaway in Wrightsville Beach with a SUP fitness class or a scenic cruise to explore uninhabited islands full of wildlife and wonder. 

Live Like a Local

Immerse yourself in the local culture of Wilmington and beaches on your next getaway. Hear tips on which craft beer or cocktail to order, find the area's best SUP spots and scenic tours, discover hideaways frequented by locals and hear how residents explore Wilmington and beaches year-round. Area chefs, musicians, artists, brewers and more give their recommendations on what to see and do beyond the sand, shore and popular attractions. Browse through the list of notable locals to find niche recommendations, view a series of videos and read stories and blogs to discover experiences catered to different types of travelers. Get the 4-1-1 with our new locals guide.

Find the perfect place to stay

Reserve a suite at full-service hotels and resorts and take advantage of amenities like a rooftop bar, farm-and sea-to-table restaurants and oceanfront gardens. Boutique area hotels offer a curated experience along the Wilmington Riverwalk or in the Historic District where area shopping, attractions and nightlife and are just steps from the front door. Renovated and modernized hotels and vacation rentals at our island beaches put you steps from the shore. From historic bed and breakfasts and modern full-service hotels to oceanfront vacation rentals, you'll find accommodations for every type of stay and budget. Book your fall getaway now!