Solo Travelers Itineraries
Traveling alone is growing in popularity as it is a one-of-a-kind experience any type of traveler can enjoy. From setting your own schedule to partaking in your preferred activities, Wilmington, NC and its island beaches offer a variety of activities, restaurants, attractions and more that can be tailored to the travel preferences of solo travelers.
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.
There is no shortage of exceptional dining options to be found in Wilmington and its island beaches where eating solo won’t be daunting, but rather ideal. For breakfast, hop in line and taste Carolina Beach history: a famously-glazed donut from Britt’s Donut Shop, originally opened in 1939. Solo visitors to Kure Beach should swing by Happy Hippies Java Hut for a caffeine fix made from North Carolina roasted coffee beans and sip your coffee with a view from the Kure Beach Fishing Pier. Grab a coffee and an almond croissant from The Workshop at Wrightsville Beach and browse unique, handmade fossil jewelry – personally collected by the shop owners on their scuba adventures – at the same time. In downtown Wilmington, Bespoke Coffee and Dry Goods offers a large seating area with big picture windows perfect for people watching.
For lunch, grab a bite at Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar, which features bar seating overlooking the Atlantic Ocean alongside fresh coastal cuisine. Craft beer lovers will want to stop by the only brewery on the island – Good Hops Brewing – with plenty of other solo drinkers happy to engage in conversation outside in the beer garden. In Wilmington, hop on a bar stool at the Fork N Cork and try one of the lunch specials featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”, or visit Brasserie Du Soleil, which not only offers authentic French cuisine but also has a scenic outdoor dining area where visitors can have a leisurely lunch accompanied by a favorite book. Wrightsville Beach Brewery is known for its long bar inside and frequent live music outside where solo travelers can sip on a half- or full-pint, eat and groove alongside other craft beer drinkers.
For dinner, sit at Port Land Grille's bar where solo travelers will have full access to the menu featuring seasonal, sustainable farm items, or farm- and sea-to-table Italian cuisine including wood-fired pizza and homemade pastas at Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria. Indulge in tapas and a glass of wine from one of the area’s most extensive wine lists at Grand Cru Food & Wine. RX Restaurant and Bar and Coast Craft Cocktails & Calabash are committed to bringing the freshest harvest from local farmers, fisherman and growers to its tables and are not to be missed!
The streets of downtown Wilmington are bustling at night with plenty of indoor and outdoor patio options for sipping and people watching. For those looking to sip on specialty drinks and signature cocktails, visit Wilmington’s only AAA Four Diamond award-winning restaurant manna ave. 123 and snag a seat at the bar where the resident mixologist will concoct a drink using a verity of fresh juices, herbs, vermouths, bitters and always a surprising ingredient of the day while you await your meal. Caprice Bistro’s upstairs sofa bar is cozy and perfect for the solo traveler looking for a cocktail and French fare. Lula’s – an underground pub near the Riverwalk – is known for its friendly staff and customers, while any sports fan is guaranteed to make new acquaintances at Irish pub Slainte.
Did someone say outdoor adventure? Wilmington and its island beaches is the perfect location for the solo adventurer seeking a thrill. Wrightsville Beach, in particular, is known for its active lifestyle and welcoming culture with plenty of watersports and outdoor adventures. Runners and surfers alike frequent the island for weekend trips and more, so solo travelers interested in adventure will always meet a friend. Cape Fear Paddleboarding or Wrightsville SUP offer group SUP lessons where solo travelers can learn the way of the waves with others who have like interests. Sail away with lessons from the Blockade Runner Sailing School or Wrightsville Performance Sailing to experience the beautiful waterways surrounding the island and become “mates” with fellow classmates. If you would rather explore under the sea, Carolina Diving Adventures offers group dive charters to some of the most popular spots in the area, like fossil ledges located just off the coast where Megalodon teeth and various marine mammal fossils are rampant. Scuba divers and snorkelers can follow dive slates for a self-guided tour of North Carolina’s first heritage dive site located at the southern tip of Kure Beach – the Condor, a Civil War blockade runner that ran aground on her maiden voyage to the area than more 150 years ago.
At Carolina Beach, sign up for a private or group surf lesson with Olympian, ISA World Champion professional surfer Tony Silvagni at Tony Silvagni Surf School to learn a new skill on your own or with new friends. Paddle NC offers single kayak rentals for those looking to explore the natural wonders – including the Venus flytrap – of Carolina Beach State Park. If a group outing is more your style, set out for an eco-adventure guided tour or visit one of the many natural ecological environments like Zeke’s Island Reserve at Kure Beach on a tour with Kayak Carolina.
Step back in time at a number of attractions throughout Wilmington. Get an up-close look at examples of Victorian south architecture at Bellamy Mansion, originally built in 1861 as a prominent family’s residence; the Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens constructed on the former walls of the 1744 county jail and graced with colonial-style gardens; or Latimer House that was built in 1852 and now a showcase of upper-class life in Victorian Wilmington. Held the second Thursday of every month from May to September, visitors can enjoy a two-for-one visit with live music and a tour of Bellamy Mansion during the Jazz at the Mansion concert series.
Treat yourself to the best seat in the house at a show at Thalian Hall Center for Performing Arts, one of the oldest theaters in America known for its beautiful interior, or at The Wilson Center, which is the largest and most technologically advanced performance center in Eastern North Carolina. Single seats are often available closer to the stage, making it that much easier to sit back, relax and enjoy the show!
Seeking a trip filled with rest and relaxation? It’s hard not to find peace when it comes to sand, sun and surf, as each of Wilmington’s three island beaches offer more than your average beach day. Wrightsville Beach will have you wondering how you found a slice of your favorite tropical islands in North Carolina with its crystal blue water and miles of pristine sand. If you like your beach day with a side of history, venture to Fort Fisher State Historic Site and the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, where you can see the coquina rocks at low tide and peruse Civil War battlegrounds. While sunbathing on Carolina Beach, take a break from the sun and grab a cocktail over the ocean at Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar.
For the shop-savvy traveler, take a day to explore the destination’s unique shopping areas. Stroll down the Wilmington Riverwalk and enjoy the Cotton Exchange where you can peruse a number of unique shops from clothing to jewelry and antiques located within eight historical buildings. Fashionistas will love Jess James + Co for her vintage clothing and accessories and other boutique shopping in Wilmington’s Castle Street Arts & Antique District. Or discover open-air, pedestrian-friendly shopping villages, local surf shops and chic beach boutiques at Wrightsville Beach. Following a morning of being out-and-about, refresh and recharge with a manicure and pedicure from nearby Head to Toe Spa.
To feel right at home after a day full of activities, enjoy a quiet and relaxing night at one of the destination’s many bed and breakfasts known for their welcoming hosts. The Graystone Inn and The Verandas – both AAA/CAA Four Diamond award winners – offer historic charm in downtown Wilmington, while Beacon House Inn Bed and Breakfast at Carolina Beach and Kure Lighthouse Inn at Kure Beach offer a similar, intimate experience beachside. Between the Covers is North Carolina’s only literary B&B that is located in the Rohler family home in Wilmington’s downtown historic neighborhood and holds one of the largest private libraries in North Carolina. For those traveling with man’s best friend, Summer Sands Suites has dog-friendly rooms and easy access to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway at Wrightsville Beach.
Why choose just one way to experience the North Carolina coast during your solo trip when you can get a taste of them all? Throw the vacation rule book out the window, and mix and match any of the above activities, restaurants or attractions during your solo trip and enjoy all Wilmington and its beaches has to offer!