Want a change of scenery? Here’s where to STAY, EAT, EXPLORE in @WilmingtonNCoast! #travel #familytravel #WilmingtonNC #CarolinaBeachNC #SobeSavvy

2020 has been a unique year to say the least. Challenges that none of us could have guessed a year ago have filled all of our lives since March. Like many of you, home school and working from home has become a mainstay. My #HeighPartyof3 family were in need of a change of scenery, so we opted for a roadtrip to Wilmington, NC over this past Thanksgiving Day weekend. If you are not familiar with Wilmington, it’s an iconic coastal city that is both urban and beachy at the same time with a down home friendliness and great food and hospitality scene. We have visited this destination a few times (read about past visits: here) and our familiarity made the choice that much easier. If you are in need of a change of scenery, here’s where to STAY, EAT, EXPLORE in Wilmington, NC!

STAY

Social distancing is a invented term due to COVID-19 and picking a place that takes that seriously led us to Embassy Suites by Hilton Wilmington Riverfront. They have instituted a industry leading room cleaning sanitation program called Clean Stay. They have partnered with Lysol to ensure the highest level of cleanliness at the property.

This hotel’s proximity to the riverwalk and historic downtown makes this a awesome choice for those wanting to explore this part of Wilmington on foot. Hubby took a jogging map the hotel has and went for a birthday morning 3 mile run! We had a spacious modern suite with a enviable Cape Fear River view. Great stay at a nice property!

STEAM Restaurant & Bar, located inside the Embassy Suites Wilmington Riverfront had a special Thanksgiving Brunch. The STEAM staff served the buffet with socially distanced tables and sanitized protocols in place. We had a table with no one in our immediate area so we got a chance to relax and enjoy a turkey dinner along with some locally sourced oysters and shrimp! Great service and wine/cocktail list made this a great choice.

EAT

In addition to STEAM , there are amazing family dining options in the area that offer takeout as well as dining in with Covid safety measures in place. Here are some places we enjoyed:

Hops Supply Co.: We had eaten a heavy “thanksgiving” at lunch time and didn’t quite think about the fact that almost NOTHING is open after 3 or 4 on Thanksgiving and needed a place to get something light. Enter Hops Supply Co. A restaurant that happens to be THE place in Wilmington for craft beer, wine on tap and food of course !We opted for curbside pickup of their Bistro Salad and a side order of asparagus. The.salad.was.everything !! Enough for two and incredibly good. The candied walnuts and blue cheese crumble combined with their incredible balsamic vinaigrette equaled perfection. When times get more back to normal I look forward to returning to try their beer and other food selections.

Slice of Life Pizzeria & Pub: Everyone likes pizza but my husband and daughter LOVE pizza. Lucky for them {and me} that one of the best pizza places ever at Slice Of Life. Voted Best Pizza and Best Late Nite Eatery in Wilmington for several years in a row, Slice Of Life got the unofficial stamp of approval from a 9 year old. You can customize a pizza with their myriad of toppings. We opted for half cheese and half Pineapple ham and mushroom. Simple perfection. We will definitely return!

The Basics: Located in the heart of everything downtown on Front street is The Basics. This mainstay has been a dining favorite for years. Everything from a casual breakfast to a dress up for dinner party can be had in this one restaurant. We had celebrated my birthday here a few years ago abd returned for breakfast this time. Shrimp and Grits, Chicken Biscuit and pancakes for the not so little one were ordered up this time. A few daytime cocktails included a Tequila Sunrise that was simply perfect.Yum Yum Yum. Just look at these pics and they say it all. There is nothing Basic about The Basics!

EXPLORE

Wilmington Riverwalk: Wilmington’s iconic riverwalk has been under construction for a few years now. It’s popularity had taken a toll and they are now renovating and expanding this wonderful walkway that doubles as a jogging route. We enjoyed taking walks during our stay here and made a fun IG reels video (that you can watch: here) to take you along the Riverwalk with us! Hugging the Cape Fear River this walkway gives visitors a great way to experience what I call the “backside” of downtown. Restaurants, shops and hotels line the riverwalk as well and you can see some of the most beautiful sunsets from here. You could also book a cruise tour aboard The Henrietta riverboat to learn more about Wilmington.

Carolina Beach: One of the best features of Wilmington is it’s proximity to many beach areas within a 30 min drive from downtown. Carolina Beach is one of them. We took a stroll along the boardwalk, enjoyed gelato while sitting in one of the swings and simply enjoyed being outside with nature. A walk on the beach is all that we needed to get some relaxing time together and a change of scenery.

Wilmington Tours: History is everywhere in Wilmington and sometimes it can be hard to figure out where to start when it comes to exploring historic Wilmington. Enter the Wilmington Tours App. Located in the Google Play store, this app features 5 full length city tours that include: African-American History, Pub Crawl Wilmington, Civil War Wilmington, 2nd Street to the River, and 3rd Street & East. We downloaded the African American Tour and since it was raining we drove to some of the historic sites that included the home of one of Wilmington’s most prominent black families, a rare intact urban slave quarters and different street corners of significance. This interactive tour is highly informative and literally made history come to life. I highly recommend this app for any visitor to learn about the history of Wilmington. Next time we will choose another tour from this amazing app!

Airlie Gardens: These public gardens are 67 acres of natural historic beauty. Airlie Gardens are a treasure not just of Wilmington or Hanover County but a treasure of all of North Carolina. While these gardens are beautiful any day of the year, we went for their annual “Enchanted Airlie” Holiday light spectacular. This is the hot ticket since 2005 and this year, while a little different still was as popular as ever. Timed tickets ensured it was not too crowded. Over a million lights adorned natural and man made things throughout. Different themes could be found everywhere. We all loved “Swan Lake” and the butterfly house exhbit. So many colors and with Holiday tunes playing, everyone was into kicking off the Christmas season! It even “snowed”. My daughter simply loved the whimsical atmosphere of it all and it will be a treasured memory.

๐Ÿ‘€Watch my full recap of opening night at Enchanted Airlie>> here.

We are thankful and grateful to be able to spend some quality time together and get a change of scenery in a neighboring city that we love to explore. This was our first time going to Wilmington,NC as a kick off to the holiday season and we may just make this a new family tradition! Before you go, be sure to check in with Wilmington and Beaches to plan your vacation. We hope that you are inspired to visit soon!

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