Tourist Spot

What to do, where to stay and what to eat in Wilmington, North Carolina

With a bustling foodie scene and beautiful beaches just two hours from Raleigh, Wilmington is worth a road trip.

To note : Since Wilmington is my hometown, I may just be a little biased.

Here’s where to stay and what to eat, drink and do once there.

To eat

1. Benny’s Big Moment

celebrity chef Vivian Howard’s family pizzeria has delicious cocktails and pizza, plus a tangy honey sauce that I wouldn’t hesitate to drizzle over anything.

  • Address: 206 Greenfield Street
Photo: Brianna Crane/Axios

2. Indochina

It’s crazy The popular Thai and Vietnamese restaurant has a must-see back patio with a lotus pond and seating inside Thai huts.

  • Pro tip: They don’t take reservations, so expect to wait.
  • Address: 7 Wayne Drive

3. The Original Salt Pans

You can not go wrong with breakfast or lunch. If you go for lunch, have a cheeseburger (or a double).

  • Pro tip: Bring cash; the old school spot doesn’t make cards.
  • Address: 6301 Oleander Drive
a cheeseburger and crinkle fries from the original saline
Photo: Brianna Crane/Axios

4. Dockside

go here for intra-coastal views and casual fare. If you decide to rent a boat, you can park on the docks.

  • Bonus recordings: The Bridge Tender is another waterside option next to Dockside if you want a white tablecloth option. Poe’s Tavern or Tower 7 are also popular beachside choices, but they don’t have a view.
  • Address: 1308 Airlie Road.

5. Brasserie Du Soleil

A trendy French restaurant in a chic shopping district, the Brasserie is ideal for group dinners or romantic evenings.

  • Address: 1908 Eastwood Road, Suite 118

1. Jimmy’s

go here for a spiked slushie and if you want to drink with the locals.

  • Address: 5 N. Lumina Ave.

2. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

This popular the craft cocktail bar offers tons of creative mixes, like the Cotton Candy Martini.

3. Java Port City

Wilmington has several coffees to try, but I miss Port City Java the most Maybe it’s the tiny bits of shaved ice, maybe it’s nostalgia, anyway have an iced coffee here.

port city java iced coffee
Photo: Brianna Crane/Axios
To play

1. Spend the day at Wrightsville Beach

If you want To be within walking distance of tourist attractions like the pier or the Wings, look for parking between accesses 15 and 30. If you prefer a quieter beach day, park near access eight.

  • Details: Parking is $5 per hour or $25 per day.

  • Pro tip: If you’re spending the day there, head to Roberts and stock up on snacks and chicken salad (their signature item) – 32 N. Lumina Ave.

2. Rent a boat

My family have been using Entropy Boat Rentals for years. It is owned by a couple who build their own boats.

  • I recommend doing half a day and asking the owners for directions to the less popular islands.
  • Bring your own chairs, bocce ball, chili cheese sandwiches (and maybe a beer or two) for an optimal beach day.

Cost: It’s $300 to $340 for a half day (six hours) or $420 for a full day (12 hours).

entropy boat at wrightsville beach
Photo: Brianna Crane/Axios

3. Take a self-guided tour of movie and TV locations

If you were a big fan of “Dawson’s Creek” or “One Tree Hill”, you can follow this map to see some of the shows iconic filming locations.


1. Dreamers Welcome

This renovated The Victorian house has been transformed into a charming bed and breakfast.

  • Address: 118 S. 4th Street.
  • Cost: Starts around $200 per night.
wilmington dreamers welcome entry
Photo: Brianna Crane/Axios
dreamers lobby
Photo: Brianna Crane/Axios


That you want to stay downtown or at the beach, there is a huge range of Airbnbs available to suit different budgets.

airbnb wrightsville beach
The bathroom of an Airbnb beach rental in Wrightsville. Photo courtesy of Airbnb

3. Blockade Runner Beach Resort

This seaside boutique resort has been operating on Wrightsville Beach for over 50 years.

  • Address: 275, boul. waynick
  • Cost: Starts around $300 per night.