Solo Travel Itineraries

Perfect Solo Getaways

Solo travel is gaining popularity and Wilmington and our Island Beaches is the perfect getaway for your next solo adventure. Whether you’re a foodie, outdoor adventurer, R&R seeker or looking to try a little bit of everything, here is the inspiration for planning the perfect solo getaway to Wilmington, NC. and Island Beaches.

Active Lifestyles

DISC GOLF

The area boasts two 18-hole disc golf courses. The Joe Eakes Park course in Kure Beach features a unique terrain of sand and oak trees. This course is 18 holes with the longest run at 500 feet, great for seasoned players as well as new ones. The Northern Regional Park course is mostly wooded but not too tight and the front "9" makes good use of elevation. There's also a free nine-hole course open to the public behind Good Hops Brewing Company in Carolina Beach.

Celebration Vacations

Toast at the Coast

What better backdrop to celebrate another year anniversary with bae than the Cape Fear River or Atlantic Ocean? If you’re in the mood for a riverfront view, George on the Riverwalk is a must. If sandy beaches and the sound of waves are calling your names, make a reservation at East Oceanfront Dining or Oceanic at Wrightsville Beach. To experience some quality time on the water, hop on a sailboat and enjoy the sunset with Wrightsville Performance Sailing or take a cruise around the island with Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tours. Book your romantic stay at an enchanting inn like Graystone Inn, Darlings by the Sea or Beacon Inn Bed and Breakfast.

Beach Babymoon

Explore arts, culture and enjoy some quality time on your last getaway as a party of two. Art lovers can get lost in the masterpieces at the Cameron Art Museum while nature fans can picnic by the sea in the maritime forest at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area. Step up the romance with a horse and carriage ride through the brick-lined streets of downtown Wilmington where you’ll see the Cape Fear River, exquisite antebellum homes and more. To relax by the water, simply take a stroll along the Carolina Beach Boardwalk, The Loop at Wrightsville Beach or the Riverwalk in Wilmington. And what if a craving strikes right in the middle of your trip? Head to Carolina Beach for ice cream at Squigley’s and choose from one of 4,050 concoctions; donuts at Wake ‘n Bake, recently named the “Best Donut Shop in North Carolina” by MSN; or seasonal pies and savory biscuits at the new The Southerly Biscuit & Pie.

Trip Around the Sun

It’s no secret that birthdays are a big deal, which is why we’re sharing ideas for the perfect day. Kick off your celebration with live music at Pier 33 Entertainment, the event pier at Port City Marina, a new open-air waterfront venue in Wilmington that brings acts like Willie Nelson and Aaron Lewis to town and hosts a weekly concert series during the summer. Or head to a smaller hotspot, The Palm Room in Wrightsville Beach, for a more intimate setting. Then cheers yourself with a pint and birthday-themed brewery tour with Port City Brew Bus, or a craft cocktail delight at manna ave. 123, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot or Catch. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a surf or standup paddleboard lesson with Tony Silvagni Surf School or Wrightsville Beach Surf Camp. Lastly, don’t forget to treat yourself to a shopping spree. Selections from chic boutiques like Hallelu or Lumina Station’s outdoor shopping village will give you a new wardrobe deserving of a birthday celebration.

We are Family

Coordinate a reunion that will be remembered for years to come by hosting this year’s get together at a historic home in Downtown Wilmington, under the sea at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher or seaside at Kure Beach’s Ocean Front Park. There are plenty of family-friendly activities the whole gang can enjoy, from outdoor dining to kayaking the Intracoastal Waterway, hiking at Carolina Beach State Park or taking in a Broadway show at Thalian Hall or the Wilson Center. Family bonds will strengthen after a stay in a vacation rental.

Caps in the Air, Toes in the Sand

School’s out forever, and the water is calling your name. Celebrate with a night on the town, watersports, chilling on the beach and more. If you’re in the mood for an evening on the water, head to Anne Bonny’s Bar and Grill, a barge restaurant on the Cape Fear River. If indoor experiences are more your scene, check out The Brewer’s Kettle—a refurbished 1950’s service station—or Wilmington’s original restaurant and brewery, Front Street Brewery. Head to Carolina Beach and feel the ocean breeze on the pier at Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar or do as the locals do and head to Fat Pelican, where you can grab a brew from a walk-in cooler. Shark Bar & Kitchen, just steps from Johnnie Mercers Pier is worth the trip to Wrightsville Beach. If it’s a family affair, take everyone out on the water to enjoy a standup paddleboard or kayak adventure with Cape Fear Paddleboarding, Paddle NC or Blockade Runner Surf to Sound Adventures

Something Blue

If you’re still searching for your “something blue,” then a destination wedding on or by our waters is a must. From oceanfront ceremonies at Carolina, Kure or Wrightsville beaches to picturesque Airlie Gardens and riverfront event venues, we have romance to spare. Treat your guests to family-favorite feasts at PinPoint, Pilot House or 22 North in Wrightsville Beach or, for a more traditional reception venue, 128 South. From vacation rentals to bed and breakfasts and full service hotels like the new Embassy Suites Wilmington Riverfront in the heart of Wilmington’s River District, coordinating lodging for you and your guests will be a breeze.

Shopping

SHOP SHABBY CHIC & BEACHY UNIQUE

Bring the shabby chic and beachy unique design style back home with you as a vacation souvenir by shopping at one of our many stores that feature this form of inspiration, vintage accessories and furnishings, and décor ideas for your home!  Whether your thrill lies in airy pastel linens or distressed wooden furniture statement pieces, Wilmington offers many chic shopping boutiques with something new and original every visit.

A bright, oversized purple chair will lure you into Thrill of the Hunt, specializing in antiques and consignments. Vintage Marketplace is full of amazing home decor discoveries, like beautiful chandeliers and custom tables.  Close to Wrightsville Beach, Airlie Moon combines vintage finds with crisp linens, bath accents, clean candles and hand-milled soaps. Need one-stop shopping to find multiple gifts for all occasions? Visit Blue Moon Gift Shops, voted “Best Gift Shop in Wilmington” housing a myriad of gifts from over 100 artists, craftsmen and retailers. Locals shop at The Ivy Cottage for exclusive finds, voted “Wilmington’s Favorite Consignment Shop” and the largest antique and home décor shop in the southeast housed in three cottages. Inspired by the sea, find a treasure at Crabby Chic including coastal home furnishings and decorative accessories, where art and sea stars are a decorating staple. Dragonflies offers children’s clothing and baby gifts with personal and southern charm. Vintage shop ‘til you drop, but before you do, save time for one last stop at Uptown Market, a premier merchant marketplace offering 12,000 square feet of all that is authentic, coastal, and one-of-a-kind from farm tables to artisan jewelry and more!

SHOPPERS, NO BRANDS FOUND HERE!

Wilmington’s river district shopping isn't defined just by shopping malls or big box retailers. The highest concentration of unique boutique shops can be found at one place, The Cotton Exchange, featuring buildings in constant occupancy since the pre-Civil War decade. Eight graciously restored buildings connected by brick walkways, open-air courtyards, and gigantic heart pine beams house 30 unique specialty shops and restaurants, each a charming reflection of the style and feel of Wilmington’s 19th century working port days.

Located at the southern end of Wilmington's river district, the century-old building at Chandler’s Wharf contains an eclectic mix of galleries and shops with works of art that are unmatched in Wilmington. Find everything from cutting edge clothing, art to ceramic sculpture to original paintings and prints.

The Black Cat Shoppe in the river district is a store of inspired gifts! The store features cool kid stuff, pirate booty, zany & unusual nostalgic toys, humorous pop culture novelties, souvenirs, pranks, One Tree Hill memorabilia, and much more. 

Edge of Urge is a boutique for men and women specializing in handmade and independent designer clothing, shoes, jewelry and accessories. Edge of Urge strongly supports handmade, “Do-it-Yourself,” innovative and creative thinking. They have introduced many up-and-coming designers, as well as more established designers, to bring a matchless collection of favorite things including the locally-made “Freaker,” a-one-size fits all beverage insulator that features stylish, knit designs.

Cool & Quirky

Not Your Average Vacation

With its barrier island beaches and historic riverfront town, Wilmington, NC, is a destination of contrasts where you'll find well-known attractions such as the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA, Fort Fisher State Historic Site, Airlie Gardens, historic homes, museums and parks. In contrast, other attractions explore our quirky side. For instance, did you know about our ghost walks, haunted pub crawls, surf/SUP camps, pirate cruises, secret mailbox by the sea, and places to see carnivorous plants, endangered sea turtles, sharks, alligators, poisonous reptiles, and prehistoric creatures? And don't forget our 400+ movie/TV credits.

Even the history of the region is intriguing. The Cape Fear River, which winds its way through Wilmington, was named by early explorers when their ships ran aground and sank due to dangerous shifting shoals where the river meets the sea. Today these wrecks afford amazing diving and fishing opportunities.

THE DIMINISHING REPUBLIC

Crossing the iconic drawbridge from the mainland into Wrightsville Beach, visitors can look off towards the northeast and see a sandbar known by locals as “The Diminishing Republic,” complete with a fake palm tree and parking meter. Some claim it is maintained by a “secret society of locals” that show up when the treetop needs replacing. Boaters often anchor there on either side of the low tide to temporarily inhabit the island, which slowly disappears as the water begins rising toward high tide. The treetop is the only visible part of “The Diminishing Republic” at high tide. See if you can spot it!

MAILBOX ON THE BEACH

On Wrightsville Beach, there is a special mailbox where people pour their hearts out to complete strangers in the sand dunes on the north end of the beach. There is no name on it and the Post Office doesn’t pick up or deliver to the box. People can write letters to clear their conscious, place them in a mailbox, but never have them sent. The mysterious mailbox somehow stays stocked with paper, pens, and stories from visitors sharing their fondest beach memories year after year. The current mailbox is the second mailbox located on Wrightsville Beach. The first mailbox was a landmark on the north end of the island for 11 years and the hundreds of notes left in it can now be found on display at the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History.

HERMIT BUNKER

The renowned Fort Fisher State Recreation Area’s hermit (Robert E. Harrill) lived in an abandoned World War II-era bunker near the Cape Fear River along a salt marsh for 17 years, from 1955 until 1972. He became a hermit in 1955 at the age of 62. People heard of and came to visit the “Hermit” to listen to his philosophies and imparted wisdom throughout his stay there, and today you can still see the bunker he made into a home on the recreation area’s 1.1-mile trail. There have been many documentaries and numerous articles written about 'the Hermit of Fort Fisher' including a live stage production.

PIRATES - ARGH!

Did ye know that pirates were among Wilmington and our Island beaches' earliest visitors? Aye, it's true! Some even say William Kidd buried treasure on area islands in the late 1600s. At the Children's Museum of Wilmington, kids can dress like pirates and role-play aboard the Ahoy Wilmington! ‘pirate ship.' Kids will also enjoy Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tour's Pirate Island Treasure Hunt tour to a small barrier island that was once popular with pirates like Kidd.

RIDE THE RAILS

The Wilmington Railroad Museum rests directly across from where the original Atlantic Coast Line Railroad used to port. In 1840, this railroad was the longest continuous rail line in the world. This museum is great for engineers both young and old and allows you to tour a real life-size caboose, boxcar, and 100-year-old steam locomotive. Learn about the history of the development of railroads in the Wilmington area and the careers of famous people who were involved with railroads, such as Thomas Edison and George Pullman.

Urban Adventurers

48 HOUR ITINERARY

Short trips require less planning and less time off than an extended vacation. There’s plenty here to keep visitors busy for days on end, but this itinerary should get you started if you have just 48 hours. Read More

COASTAL HAUNTINGS

Local actors lead nightly ghost walks with tales of ghosts and hauntings in Wilmington, a city considered to be among the most actively haunted in the world. In fact, "Ghost Hunters," a paranormal reality series on the Syfy network listed Wilmington’s Battleship NORTH CAROLINA in their Top 25 Halloween picks of all time. Staff reports seeing solid walking shadows with silhouettes of people, phantom voices, moving shadows and the overwhelming feeling of being watched or followed.

Are you curious for more? Guides traverse 275-year old alleyways littered with stories of poor lost souls that still linger in the storied Port City. Check out the Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington, a family-safe, 90-minute journey that meets on the Riverwalk at the foot of Market and Water streets. At St. James Church, they'll tell you about Samuel Jocelyn, who came back to tell friends he'd been buried alive. Two centuries later visitors claim they have seen a shadowy figure leaning on a tombstone near Jocelyn's grave. Some believe it is his ghost still haunting the grounds of St. James Cemetery, one of the most haunted cemeteries in the state. If you’re over 21, the Haunted Pub Crawl meets weekend nights to explore legendary pubs. There's also a Haunted Cotton Exchange Tour.