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 statewide “Count on Me NC” program with the N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association, Visit NC, and N.C. State University provides specific guidance and training to local restaurants, hotels, and other public-facing businesses on best practices. Find a map and list here of businesses who have completed "Count on Me NC" training. 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 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 in or take out from 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.

Beaches Summer Trip Ideas

After a season of staying home, you’re probably looking for ways to enjoy a fun-filled summer family vacation while still safely social distancing. With spacious beaches, parks and gardens, scenic water views and delicious coastal fare, our island beaches are open for wandering, exploring and more. You can check out family-friendly island adventures in our nearby beach towns – Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville Beaches.

Cool Ideas for Hot Family Fun

From Downtown's Historic River District to the Boardwalk and beyond, find fun things to do this summer. Cool off with the family at Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park featuring a million-gallon wave pool, lazy river and more. Rent kayaks, paddleboards and bicycles from area outfitters, pick up a seafood steam-pot to-go, and relax on a getaway to the coast.

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 and Alfresco Dining

When the fresh-food cravings hit, head to Wilmington's new alfresco dining and shopping scene, Downtown Alive. Downtown streets turn into an open-air pedestrian walk featuring a variety of sidewalk cafés and retail stores that are expanding to the streets to safely serve customers and allow diners to enjoy our restaurants responsibly. Four blocks in downtown Wilmington are closed to vehicular traffic four days a week on Thursday and Friday between 6:30 – 10 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. through September 7. Advance reservations with participating restaurants are encouraged.

There’s nothing like fresh seafood and Wilmington has plenty of ways to enjoy summer by dining outdoors or picking up curbside. Pick up takeout or take in river views while feasting on the catch of the day at Steam Restaurant & Bar or riverside at The George on the Riverwalk. 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 to-go from "Top Chef" contestant, Keith Rhodes, at Catch. Island beach favorites include Jack Mackerel's Island Grill featuring Calabash platters and local softshell crab sandwich, Bluewater Waterfront Grill known for delicious seafood plus beautiful marina views, or go casual on the pier with fish tacos at Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar while taking in panoramic ocean views.

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 9. Feel refined with cocktails at manna ave. 123Front Street Brewery serves up an extensive menu in the oldest running craft brewery in Wilmington, or sip on a local craft beer 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.