Are you thinking about visiting the NC coast this Winter or need Spring Break vacation ideas? Then set your eyes and plans on Wilmington, NC and Beaches. Since relocating to Raleigh 7 years ago, my family and I love doing day trips to this city. It’s one of our absolute favorite NC coastal regions. While summer is always fun, we have discovered a weekend during the winter low season is also very enjoyable. At the end of January, we had the pleasure to spend 3 days and two nights here. After a quick 2 hr drive, we arrived and were ready for the fun to begin! Take a look at our itinerary and save for your future visit to Wilmington, NC and Beaches.
FRIDAY/Day 1- Mayfaire Town Center • Brunches • Rounds Golf • Ombré Nail Spa • Lumina Wrightsville Beach • Solstice Kitchen + Cocktails
I like it when we can arrive -park the car—and do all the things: eat, play, shop, get pampered—all in one place. Mayfaire is that place! With over 90 shops and restaurants, there is something for everyone here. Our first stop was lunch at Brunches.
This daytime only restaurant is open 7 days a week from 7:30am-3pm. Offering all the brunch favorites like Shrimp & Grits, Chicken & Waffles and much more. Brunch without mimosas is, well, not really brunch! They have mimosas in many different flavors and fruit combinations. They had a $2.95 deal when we were there, so hopefully you can catch that deal on your visit to Brunches in Wilmington. Service was pleasant and food was delicious. Cute interior and great upbeat energy were the vibe. While the mimosas were the highlight for us parents, our daughter enjoyed her choice of avocado toast. We were now fueled for an afternoon of fun and headed across the way to Rounds.
Rounds Golf & Lounge is Wilmington’s premiere indoor golf and games venue. They offer virtual versions of more games other than just golf. We played Baseball, Soccer, Lacrosse, Basketball and of course GOLF!! Loads of fun for the entire family. They have a full bar and also Ledo Pizza menu if you get hungry. So if you’re in the mood for indoor sports, check out Rounds Golf & Lounge. Now that we had indulged in our sporty sides, it was time to do something girlie with my daughter at Ombré Nail Spa.
I enjoy getting vacation nails done and anticipated having a Mommy and Me date at Ombre Nail Spa. Schedule an appointment or walk in and get ready to be pampered! They offer every color under the rainbow but it is their kindness and professional talent that sets them apart from the rest. I was even offered a glass of wine to enjoy during my service, while my daughter chose bottled water. We loved our red & pink nails and were now in official weekend getaway mode and ready to check-in at Lumina on Wrightsville Beach, a Holiday Inn Resort.
Mayfaire Town Center is just a 10-15 min drive from this resort, making it a very convenient place to stay when visiting Wrightsville Beach or Wilmington. Checking into the newly renovated and reimagined Holiday Inn Resort Lumina on Wrightsville Beach was delightful. I loved the beautifully designed lobby and the comfy library area. They also have fun board games/jumbo Connect 4/ table tennis on the ground level. Throw in their cute coffee snack bar, so needless to say they had me at check in!
This resort boasts both indoor and an outdoor pools with two hot tubs. The Lumina has direct beach access which means fun in the water is always a priority. Make sure to use the fantastic fully equipped fitness center with a Peloton bike and you have the best lodging experience complete with fantastic amenities.
This resort has all you need for a memorable stay including an on-site restaurant, Solstice Kitchen + Cocktails.
Per their website:“We have a passion for market-fresh ingredients, honest cooking and a beach-elegant atmosphere that’s welcoming to all. With creative dishes made in-house daily, our chef-curated menu is loved by locals and traveling foodies alike.“
After dining there for both dinner and breakfast we all couldn’t agree more! They offer a Kids Menu and an extensive Drinks Menu. We enjoyed the service and our food was .. award winning Chef’s Kiss! The breakfast buffet includes a made to order omelet station and plenty of yummy options. Just feast your eyes on some of what we had:
SATURDAY/Day 2- The Workshop • NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher • Airlie Gardens • Savorez • Cape Fear Museum of History and Science • Drift Coffee & Kitchen • Indochine
Saturday morning plans were jammed packed, so we only had time for a quick bite and decided to stop for breakfast at The Workshop. Located almost directly on Wrightsville Beach, this is a unique place to not only get a great cup of coffee or smoothie but also to shop for things like Shark teeth jewelry, Megalodon teeth! The owners are avid scuba divers and express that love of underwater by making and selling jewelry made of Shark teeth! Necklaces and earrings align the walls, which makes this a fun place with good coffee and they make an awesome panini to go with it!
We had timed tickets for admission to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher and could not wait to see the baby otter pups (Stella, Mae, Selene born May 21) and sea turtle hatchlings (Pip and Scout), which were new since our last visit. Playful, smart and curious are the top three words I would use to describe those adorable otter pups. One actually came right up the glass in front of my camera to say hi. What we like most about this aquarium is their dedication to educating visitors on conservation efforts in the oceans and beaches locally and around the world. We saw baby sea turtles that were rescued in August and are being nursed back to health prior to releasing it. Tip: Stop by the whimsical gift shop and take an aquarium souvenir home!
It was an unseasonably warm January afternoon, so we headed to the amazing Airlie Gardens. Airlie Gardens is a 67-acre public garden oasis in Wilmington, North Carolina. Although it was the middle of winter there were still some flowers in bloom and beautiful nature to enjoy. The “bottle chapel” is a must see work of art composed of somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 bottles and surrounded by angel sculptures and mosaics. It honors African American artist Minnie Evans, who worked as the Airlie Gardens gatekeeper from 1949 to 1974. The sunlight catches the bottles differently depending on the time of day. It is remarkable to see in person up close. Dozens of public art are all around the gardens and we loved seeing pieces we had never noticed on prior visits. The gardens are great to visit any season but staff will kindly advise what’s in bloom in winter.
For lunch, we headed to downtown Wilmington for some Latin cuisine at Savorez. The brainchild of North Carolina’s own, Chef Sam Cahoon, Savorez is his beautifully crafted cuisine with a southern take and tribute to Latin flavors. The vibe of the restaurant is casual, colorful, intimate yet inviting. The menu had inventive cocktails for us adults and wonderful food options for the whole family to enjoy!
Next, we headed to the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science in downtown Wilmington. You could opt to walk from Savorez to the museum and there is also plenty of free museum parking if you decide to drive. Founded in 1898, it is the oldest history museum in the state and is a Smithsonian Affiliate. It has history, science, in depth exhibits and plenty of hands on fun for everyone!
We wanted to continue to enjoy the splendid weather, so we strolled downtown and ended up at Drift Coffee & Kitchen. Bright with a smart design, Drift has some interesting coffee choices for a late afternoon pick me up. I went with the “Blue Cloud”, while my daughter opted for a Chai latte and husband a vanilla latte. We took a seat, had a few pastries and relaxed/laughed for a moment to unwind.
We went back to relax a bit at the resort and got ready for dinner. We were excited to finally go to the infamous Indochine restaurant. It has been consistently voted as Wilmington’s most acclaimed Thai and Vietnamese restaurant for 15 years. The amazing ambiance of this indoor/outdoor space transports guests to Southeast Asia. Having spent some time in Thailand, I immediately recognized the authenticity of this unique restaurant. Our dining experience was beyond great, thanks to the terrific service, fantastic flavors and an overall memorable meal.
Sunday morning prior to checking out we enjoyed the breakfast buffet at Solstice. The buffet had enough choices to please anyone. The made to order omelet station was the biggest attraction! Pancakes, french toast and everything in between were there to get charged up for another day on the Carolina coast. Special shout out for the cinnamon rolls and chocolate croissant pastry! The view of the Atlantic from our table set the mood for another great day.
SUNDAY/ Day 3 – Marina Grill • Riverwalk • Wilson Center
After taking a morning stroll on the beach, it was time to say goodbye to Wrightsville Beach and head to downtown Wilmington for a Sunday Funday! But first Sunday Brunch at Marina Grill.
Directly on the Riverwalk, Marina Grill is the place for an elevated dining experience on the Cape Fear River. Marina Grill has a sophisticated nautical aesthetic, great food & drink. They offer live music on some dates and great service.
Their website states:Our restaurant strives to maintain strong relationships with local farmers, butchers, breweries, and fishermen. These friendships allow us to source most of our ingredients locally. We work hard to bring our patrons the freshest seasonal ingredients”
We enjoyed dining at Marina Grill and would definitely return, especially because it’s convenient to one of favorite things to do when downtown and that’s simply walking along the Wilmington Riverwalk. There’s so much to explore along the Riverwalk that we discover something new each time but also enjoy the familiar.
Next, we headed over to the Wilson Center. Located at Cape Fear Community College, The Wilson Center is Wilmington’s major performing arts venue. We were there to see the US tour of the Broadway musical ANNIE!! This was our first time at the beautiful Wilson Center and we were impressed by the great lineup of upcoming musical acts, Broadway plays and concerts. The auditorium is state of the art and there is ample parking at the venue. If you love performing arts, consider adding a theater outing to your vacay to do list!
Great matinee to end our stay in Wilmington NC and Beaches. Building these NC Coast memories with my #HeighPartyof3 family will last a lifetime. Make sure you and your family make Wilmington, NC and Beaches a must to destination in your future family travels.