Known as the gateway to Cape Fear Coast beaches, Wilmington is a port city in North Carolina approximately 60 miles from North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Just an hour’s drive from the Grand Strand makes Wilmington a perfect daytrip for visitors and locals alike. This coastal city is steeped in history and filled with attractions and enticing restaurants.
Downtown Wilmington spans 300 city blocks and is recognized as one of the largest downtown communities of its kind with cobblestone streets and small-town coastal charm although it is a major city with all of the amenities. The waterfront downtown region is where the action is in Wilmington with its 1.75-mile Riverwalk lined with restaurants, galleries and shops in the Historic District.
A dynamic, 24-hour destination, Wilmington has something for everyone. With its eclectic mix of locally owned and operated shops, it is a shopper’s paradise with one-of-a-kind merchandise that cannot be found anywhere else. Elite boutiques mix with funky little college-centric vintage shops. For the art lovers, there are galleries virtually around every corner featuring local and regional artists. For the foodies, there are wine and cheese shops, bakeries and a locally acclaimed store that specializes solely in Italian Olive Oils.
For those of you who enjoy a tour, there are many tours available in Downtown Wilmington, both self-guided and provided by several tour companies. The mode of transportation is also optional via horse drawn carriage, a local trolley or a tour boat cruise along the bordering Cape Fear River. You can explore the attractions in Downtown Wilmington, or you can opt for specialty tours such as historical walking tours, moonlit ghost tours or pub crawls/dining tours taking you to the best local brews and restaurants in town.
If you prefer a self-guided walking tour, the Riverwalk is the place to start. It is a 1.75-mile boardwalk that runs parallel to both Downtown Wilmington and the Cape Fear River. It is well-lit at night with decorative hanging street posts, providing a safe, scenic route to catch some fantastic views of Wilmington’s best attraction. Open 24/7, it is also popular with joggers, walkers and runners.
The Cotton Exchange and the 1914 Murchison Building are located along the Riverwalk as well as the USS North Carolina Battleship, which is docked along the harbor, with artifacts from World War II’s naval combat history. If you would like to sit down , relax and enjoy the open water views, there are benches and embedded stools throughout the Riverwalk route.
If sightseeing is what you enjoy, located in Downtown Wilmington are many well-known sights within walking distance making it easy to explore at your leisure. You will want to explore the three pre-Civil War estates—Burgin Wright House, Bellamy Mansion and Latimer House. The Cape Fear Museum and the Children’s’ Museum of Wilmington are also located downtown as well as the USS Battleship North Carolina which is anchored along the riverfront.
If you would like a night of dining and theater, Wilmington’s theater scene if outstanding and the dining in Downtown Wilmington is incredible. There are many cafes, coffee houses, diners and fine dining establishments throughout the district. If you would like a quiet, romantic dinner before going to the theater or afterwards, you can try the critically acclaimed French cuisine or delicious seafood dishes by some of the region’s greatest Chefs.
The heart of the theater scene is in Downtown Wilmington with exceptional productions at approximately a dozen community theaters. You can also see the latest show at the historic City Stage at Level 5 located in the heart of the downtown region. It is a small, refined, 220 seat, century-old theater, without a bad seat in the house, featuring a rooftop bar with incredible views of the city during intermission. Thalian Hall, which first opened in 1858 and has been home to thousands of productions without pause, is another great option for the theater lovers. Every genre from Shakespeare to musicals is well represented, so you can see a different show every night that you are in Downtown Wilmington.
If you would like to go out dancing, club hopping or just peruse the local venues, there are plenty to choose from in Downtown Wilmington and within walking distance from each other. The after-hours scene in Wilmington is very diverse with every style of bar, club, and music venue represented. You can shag the night away, rock out to a punk rock band, or listen to live jazz. From piano and cigar bars to rooftop night clubs, you can make the choice while walking the safe streets until you find the perfect venue for your night out.
Wilmington is also known for its many festivals, especially the Azalea Festival which is the largest festival along the southern Carolina coastline. Book a daytrip to the Azalea festival and you will not be disappointed or to see what other events you might want to experience, go to www.wilmingtondowntown.com/explore. There is sure to be enough entertainment and activities to fill your daytrip and more. Enjoy and be safe.