This Wilmington North Carolina Hotels guide will give you all the information you need to plan a great vacation to Wilmington. Wilmington is one of the South’s best kept secrets. It’s filled with gorgeous old homes and gardens, and the city is known as “Hollywood East” for its large production studio and the number of movies and shows that have been filmed here, including “Dawson’s Creek,” “One Tree Hill” and “Iron Man 3.” But along with its historic attractions and Hollywood appeal, Wilmington is loved by visitors for its relaxed beachy vibe, its slow Southern gait and its swelling foodie scene.
Wilmington NC Weather – When to Visit
The best times to visit Wilmington, North Carolina, are from March to May and September to November when room rates and temperatures drop (lower 70s to lower 80s) from their summertime highs (high 80s). The months between June and August is high season, when the city and nearby beaches are crowded.
Wrightsville Beach receives high praise for its wide ribbon of sand, which is easily accessible and lined by hotels, vacation homes, restaurants, bars and shops. There are restrooms and showers at several beach-access points. Since the beach is situated several dozen miles from the Gulf Stream, it offers travelers warmer, almost transparent waters.
Best Wilmington Tours & Activities by Viator
Sunset Sail Tour from Wrightsville Beach
Cruise through the waters of Wrightsville Beach aboard a 42-foot (13-meter) yacht during this small-group coastal sailing adventure. Enjoy scenic views of the surrounding waterways and barrier islands, and catch a glimpse of marine life. Soft drinks, juice, bottled water, and light refreshments are provided on board the boat. Plus, choose from morning, afternoon, or sunset cruises to best suit your schedule. Learn more about the Sunset Sail Tour.
Wrightsville Beach Fishing Trips
Let Capt. Jennings Rose of North State Guide Service take you to fish and explore the water around Wrightsville Beach! We are dedicated to ensuring you have a excellent experience on the water. Fishing trips, family outings, scenic cruises and dolphin tours; we’ve got you covered! Over 10 years of professional guiding experience. Learn more about the Wrightsville Beach Fishing Trips.
Take a 2.0 hour sailing cruise on a Sparkman and Stephens Sailing Yacht. With your small-group, engage on this classic 42 ft yacht, that accommodates a 6 passenger maximum for an intimate cruise through the waters of Wrightsville Beach. This tour is a spectacular way to see the waterways, barrier islands, and marine life surrounding Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina. Learn more about the Afternoon Sail.
The captain works with the guest to design a custom outing based on his 30 years of cruising experience in the local area. With knowledge of the local sea conditions and coastal ecology. you build a custom experience. Learn more about the Private Charter.
Best Wilmington Restaurants
Rx Restaurant & Bar $11 – 30
They create dishes that highlight the region’s organic farmers and fishermen. If their family of farmers is growing it, it’s on their menu. That same philosophy is applied to their seasonal cocktail menu, and they feature local craft beers on their rotating taps. Telephone: 910-399-3080 Web: Rx Restaurant & Bar
Manna Ave. 123 $11 – 30
The menu is uses the freshest ingredients from local farmers and fisheries to create colorful, American dishes. The restaurant is also famous for its craft cocktails that utilize unique, fresh ingredients. Manna Ave. 123 is the first and only restaurant in Wilmington to receive the prestigious AAA Four Diamond Award. Telephone: 910-763-5252 Web: Manna Ave. 123
Pinpoint Restaurant $11 – 30
Pinpoint Restaurant is known for its menu that changes daily and a selection of local raw oysters on the half shell. Pinpoint was named among “The South’s Best Restaurants” by Southern Living. Be sure to try the Cornmeal Crusted N.C. Catfish which was featured on The Cooking Channel’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” Telephone: 910-769-2972 Web: Pinpoint Restaurant
Steam Restaurant & Bar $11 – 30
Steam brings American cuisine to Wilmington using locally sources good ingredients. With an extensive wine & beer selection, plenty of cocktails, & beautiful views of the Cape Fear River, Steam is your go-to downtown restaurant. Telephone: 910-726-9226 Web: Steam Restaurant & Bar
Catch $11 – 30
Modern seafood cuisine served alongside vibrant organic produce and herbs – Catch is a feast for the senses. An award-winning eatery with a passion for Southern cuisine made new again. They serve the best seafood found across North Carolina’s Cape Fear Coast. Telephone: 910-799-3847 Web: Catch
Best Wilmington Nightlife
Reel Cafe Rooftop Bar
Enjoy dining in the restaurant with everything from snacks to entrees, live music in the courtyard Oyster Bar, dancing in the second-floor dance club and sports bar with pool tables or cocktails on the Rooftop Bar overlooking the Cape Fear River. Telephone: 910-251-1832 Web: Reel Cafe Rooftop Bar
Ogden Tap Room
With over 40 beers on rotating tap, enjoy this family-friendly taproom’s extensive casual dining menu. Mentioned in the Garden and Gun Guide to the South’s Best Burgers, they also offer chalkboard lunch and dinner specials of traditional pub favorites. Telephone: 910-821-8185 Web: Ogden Tap Room
Showcasing amazing local, regional and smaller national acts, this intimate venue has brilliant acoustics for a great night out and live music. Enjoy all Bourgie Nights has to offer on your next night out with their unique bar and great live music. Telephone: 910-763-5252 Web: Bourgie Nights
Satellite Bar & Lounge
A favorite for both locals and visitors for over a decade for the amazing selection of wines, Southern Sweet Iced Tea, nearly 250 craft beers in addition to gose, cider, hard seltzer, hard kombucha and champagne splits, a friendly staff, live music and a dog and family-friendly attitude. Telephone: 910-399-2796 Web: Satellite Bar & Lounge
Waterline Brewing Company
Located in an historic 1940s era warehouse beneath the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, we’ll distribute keg beer locally, give tours, and welcome you to sit and enjoy our brews in our expansive tasting room. Everyday find delicious organic munchies like hummus and chips, and Special Events find Yoga, Farmers Markets, Food Trucks, Wine Tasting, Live Music and of course Octoberfest. Telephone: 910-777-5599 Web: Waterline Brewing Company
I love going to Wilmington! Due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, much of the local economy is based on port trade. I like the fact that it’s a thriving film and television industry. And my favorite, Wilmington has many museums, cultural centers and a World War II ship that has become a memorial to the fallen.
Yes, so much to see and do in Wilmington. Sounds like you are very familiar with the area. Thanks for visiting beach travel destinations.
Hi my dear, I am really happy I get to read another article of yours. So beautiful and nice describing that tears come into my eyes, I do love it wishing to be there just right now ohhhhhh. So amazing.
I love when you describe step by step, what you can do and can not do in every place for instance in Wrightsville Beach, the restaurant, nightlife, hotels, flights wow, all in one, well done!
Unfortunately I do not have any experience to share with you as I never been there but I definitely want to go if this pandemic will ever finish.
My question, did in this part of the globe, for instance in Wilmington North Carolina the gates are open to receive visitors/tourists without any restrictions?
Thank you for sharing this wonderful article with us, many blessings to you.
Hi there, yes you can travel to North Carolina without any travel restrictions. Of course you will need your mask for restaurants and stores. But other than that, no worries. I hope you can visit soon and enjoy your vacation to Wilmington North Carolina.
The Hive in Wilmington seems like an excellent choice, particularly for couples, great two-person trips to enjoy and the amenities are actually quite impressive. I love the fact that each hotel room is fitted with a wardrobe and a private bathroom. The hotel isn’t far from Wilmington International and there are some interesting places to visit in the immediate surroundings. The Hive also does free cancellations just in case travel plans are affected, seems they thought of everything. Great choice!
Sounds like you are ready to head to Wilmington and stay at The Hive 🙂 Excellent choice!
Wilmington is yet another hidden gem. I love visiting this site, as there are always beautiful holiday destinations displayed, and all so tempting.
If I holidayed here I would definitely go on the 2-hour afternoon sail as well as the sunset sailing cruise as I love being out on the open waters, although fishing isn’t really my thing.
And the perfect way to end the day would be at Bourgie Nights with their live entertainment.
Sounds you have a wonderful time planned. Yeah, I fished my whole life and it is not something I am going to do anymore. I do love the water tho. Being on a boat, paddle boarding, kayaking or just splashing around. Thanks for the visit.
Hi, I have never been to North Carolina. We were supposed to go there for our niece’s wedding. Then the pandemic hit. They rescheduled twice and canceled twice. In the end, they did a small ceremony with most of the broader family connecting on Zoom. So North Carolina is still on my list. You have given me some great ideas for places to visit. Thanks, Andy
You’ll love North Carolina. And the coast is beautiful for sure. Hope you can make it a vacation soon! Thanks for visiting my Wilmington North Carolina Hotels guide.
Great article, Leahrae!
The best vacation spot is the one that nobody knows about. It sounds like this spot in North Carolina is somewhat unknown, at least compared to say, Disney World or something. Also, I like your tip about going before or after the summer, which is when it gets busy (that’s something I do myself when I go to the beach).
Also, I had no idea this was a popular filming location or that Iron Man 3 was filmed here. That’s pretty awesome! Maybe I could meet Tony Stark while I’m beachcombing for crab shells! (Do they have crab shells on the east coast?)
Anyways, this was an interesting read!
Thanks Isaac, I am glad you enjoyed. I live on the #1 beach in the U.S. and I don’t visit it quite simply because it is way to crowded and touristy for me. I prefer the less traveled quieter beaches. You will find that on the North Carolina coast for sure. Thanks for stopping by Isaac.
Wilmington looks absolutely beautiful and I can see why you say it is one of the best kept secrets of that area. My nephew lived there for a few years, and never actually shared the secrets of Wilmington in the way that you have done. Between the sailing trips and the fishing trips, it will be a hard choice as to which one will be best, so it might need to be both.
What would be your recommended minimum length of stay in Wilmington to get the most out of the town?
I would spend at least a week in Wilmington. That gives you time to relax, enjoy and explore. You’ll really enjoy Wilmington. Thanks for stopping by.
Thank you for the informative article. Travelers to Wilmington-North-Carolina , should look no further. This is a very helpful article enabling the readers, travelers to make informed decisions because you left no stone unturned. I was just wondering however if they are written in order as per your recommendation. I guess that could also make decision making better.
Yes, decisions are easily made from my recommendations 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
This looks like a lovely and amazing place to visit. Especially after this long lockdown that we have all been undergoing over the past year or so, most people will be itching to get away somewhere nice on holiday. I’m in Scotland on the other side of the pond but i do hope to visit the united states some day. This is definitely an area i’d like to visit so it’s been good to read about this place.
Glad you enjoyed! Hopefully you can visit the North Carolina coast soon. Thanks for stopping by.
It looks we’re coming right up on the best time to visit Wilmington, NC!! This looks like a great place with plenty of water activities to enjoy! I’d love to do an afternoon sail with the Sparkman and Stephens Sailing Yacht followed by a laid-back evening at Bourgie Nights! Hopefully, it’s within walking distance to The Verandas so I can have that 3rd drink. Thanks for posting!
Sounds like you have it all planned! You’ll enjoy for sure!
Thanks for this comprehensive guide on where to stay and eat in Wilmington, NC. Visiting Wilmington is on my travel list of places to see, once this pandemic subsides.
I always enjoyed the scenery and the beaches of Wilmington while watching Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill, and the old houses were beautiful.
Thanks for mentioning the best times to travel there, as I don’t want to put up with a lot of crowds or super hot weather. It’s nice to see a selection of restaurants as well, and the prices are reasonable.
It really is a great beach destination. Along with everything else they have to offer. I am glad you enjoyed. Thanks for visiting my Wilmington North Carolina Hotels guide.
I am in love with your site already. Great destinations, and wonderful reviews of places to visit and eat at.
Wilmington North Carolina Hotels is a lovely article that has provided all the places to get great food. I just need to get there. In fact, a whole lot of places have become must-sees after I started reading about them on your site.
So glad you enjoyed your visit to Beach Travel Destinations. Please come back to visit!
What an amazing post! I loved it from top to bottom. The fact that you mentioned various film productions makes this article that much more interesting to potential customers.
On top of this, you do a wonderful job of providing the 411 (i.e. location, phone number, and best time of the year) for just about all your places highlighted — try to have a stronger close though.
In my opinion, the first half of your article is the best. The second half is very complementary and enhancing.
If I seriously wanted to vacation to this landmarks, I wouldn’t hesitate to join. Overall, you go above and beyond to set the tone and beach vibe. Thanks for such a refreshing read!
Thank you so much for visiting Beach Travel Destinations and taking the time to leave me comments!