A 3 Day Family Fun Itinerary in Wilmington, NC and Beaches @WilmingtoNCoast @WrightsvilleBeachNC

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

Making Memories at Mayfaire

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 OmbrĂ© Nail Spa.

Plan a perfect pamper date 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!

STAY | Lumina on Wrightsville Beach

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:

Whether you are having dinner or breakfast with a view, Solstice Kitchen + Cocktails is ready to serve you!

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!

Breakfast at The Workshop

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.

Take a coffee break at Drift Coffee &!Kitchen

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.

Travel with your tastebuds to Indochine

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!

Greetings from the Wilson Center at CFCC
Leslie H. of SobeSavvy.com and Family at Wilson Center at CFCC in Wilmington,NC to see Annie | Photo Credit: Ken Oots
www.ootsinteractivemedia.com

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.

Thanks for the memories Wilmington,NC and Beaches

Girls Trip Travel Guide @WilmingtoNCoast @CarolinaBeachNC

If you have been following me for awhile, you know that I love to travel and am very fond of NC’s coast. Specifically Wilmington NC’s Historic River District & Island Beaches. I have visited and enjoyed many of it’s family friendly options, so I was really excited to plan a Girl’s Trip. After reading my prior blog posts about Wilmington, my friend wanted to experience it together. Here is a look at our 24 hour itinerary that I organized via TripIt app.

STAY | Aloft Wilmington Coastline Center

My Top 3 reasons for choosing ALOFT Wilmington are as follows:

1. It’s new (just opened Nov 2021) and modern

2. It’s convenient to the Riverfront, Downtown Wilmington, so could walk to most places

3. Full service– has gym, restaurant, bar, rooftop bistro and a coffee bar onsite

DINE | Sips & Eats

If you are a seafood lover like me, then you must dine at Seabird in Wilmington, NC

My friend and I are both foodies, so we were looking forward to dining out during our trip. Our number one focus for cuisine was seafood. We knew that being on the coast was going to be our opportunity to eat local and enjoy fresh seafood. But first…. coffee. Casa Blanca Coffee Roasters (in addition to their amazing coffee, we loved the avocado toast) , Aloft Coffee Bar, and Bespoke Coffee and Dry Goods are just a few places where you can enjoy a great cup of coffee and more in Wilmington.

Casa Blanca, Aloft Coffee Bar, Bespoke Coffee

Dinner reservations are a must at Seabird in Downtown Wilmington. We enjoyed wine perfectly paired with NC oysters, fresh seafood dishes created by Chef Dean Neff and great service at this restaurant.

Raw & Baked NC Oysters + SoftShell Crab at Seabird

For after dinner cocktails, we headed to Cloud 9 Rooftop Bar. There was live entertainment in addition to a nice atmosphere. If you want a small bite, they have a bar menu also. We could walk back to our hotel from there, which was a plus.

Chilling on Cloud 9

At Carolina Beach, we enjoyed lunch at Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar. With oceanfront views, a fun bar area and delicious coastal fare, this restaurant combines the best of beach eats.

Eat and Drink Local at Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar

PLAY | Things To Do

From strawberry picking, shopping local and having fun at the beach~ there’s so much fun to be had in Wilmington,NC and Carolina Beach

We arrived on National Strawberry Picking Day, so the first thing on our to do list was to visit a pick-your-own strawberry farm just outside the city limits Lewis Nursery and Farms with homemade strawberry ice cream and a plant shop.

That evening we checked out a comedy show at Dead Crow Comedy Room and the next day got our steps in along the Riverwalk.

Downtown Wilmington~ Dead Crow Comedy Room & Riverwalk

What’s a girls trip without shopping?! We both love to shop local and picked up some artisan goods at the Riverfront Farmers Market on Saturday morning.

Shop jewelry, teas,candles and more at the Riverfront Farmers Market

No trip to the coast is complete without spending some time near the water. As we made our way to the sand, we stopped at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk to take in the sights and have a classic glazed donut from Britts Donuts.

B is for Boardwalk and Britts Donuts

Spending a relaxing day at the beach was just what we needed. No chairs, no problem. Being able to rent an umbrella and chairs from Tony Silvagni Surf Schools was such a convenience for us. They provided great customer service and made our time at the beach very comfortable.

Getting some Vitamin Sea at Carolina Beach

Grateful for the memories made and the opportunity to share this trip guide with you! I hope you are inspired to make your way to Wilmington,NC & Carolina Beach soon. For more ideas be sure to visit https://www.wilmingtonandbeaches.com/

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.

đź‘€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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Summer Fun Day Trip Itinerary for Families Visiting #WilmingtonNC River District & Island Beaches @wilmingtoNCoast

Living in Miami for almost 20 years meant falling in love with the ocean and the beach. So for Fathers Day I thought it would be great to take my husband and our daughter for a Sunday Funday in Wilmington River District & Island Beaches for Fathers Day.

Depart Raleigh, NC | 9:00 am

Beach chairs ? check. Towels and cold water? check. Beach snack? check. Gas tank full and we were off. A quick 2 hour straight drive on I-40 East puts most Triangle residents in downtown Wilmington. Another great thing about the ride is it cuts thru farm country and there are many opportunities to pull of the highway to a farmers produce stand and pick up some ripe plums, peaches or berries to snack on! The beauty of a day trip is that you really don’t have to pack or plan much. Just get up and go!

Arrive Wilmington,NC| 11:00 am

We headed to the Wilmington riverbooth information center on Riverwalk at the foot of Market Street to pick up maps, guides, coupons and more from the Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau. They have 2 locations conveniently downtown.

Stroll River District | 12 pm

We spent some time strolling and window shopping in the historic River district. They have everything from vintage clothing boutiques, restaurants and we particularly enjoyed a little Italian food store. As is tradition we took a pic of our little girl by the fabulous fountain! It was Sunday so the Artisan street market was in full swing. Local vendors and artists had booths with unique art and gifts for sale.

Lunch Downtown Historic Wilmington| 1 pm
Strolling had us all hungry but we also wanted to make our way to the beaches. We ended up at this great spot called The Reel Cafe. They let us order some fish and chips to go. It was plenty for us all to snack on during the quick drive to the beaches.

Visit NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher | 1:30 pm

Who doesn’t love an aquarium? Not just any aquarium but the famous NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. This world class aquarium is adjacent to the beach so after exploring all of the wonders of the natural oceans we strolled took a dip in one !! From Albino alligators and a majestic Bald Eagle, this aquarium allows visitors to experience the wild close up. Sharks and giant groupers can be right around the next turn! My daughter loves the hands on areas where she can touch horse shoe crabs and real stingrays. How exciting! They have a cute outdoor patio cafe and kids play area. This aquarium also gives visitors some outdoor experiences. Behind the main building is their now famous Lorikeet Landing habitat. You can walk inside with pre made nectar for purchase and the happy Lorikeets will actually land directly on you and eat from your hand. Some can be a little aggressive so I laid my nectar on the ground for them to feast. Make this a must do activity on your trip to this wonderful facility.

Play at Kure Beach | 2:30 pm
Kure beach is a local favorite. There are many beaches to choose from along this portion of the coast and each has their own different flavors. Kure beach lets dogs get their chance at a ocean dip so my daughter {who is a big dog lover} was delighted at the happy hounds. The surf was not too strong so we did some body surfing and playing with the incoming tides. A great couple of hours just relaxing enjoying the ocean.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Byypnp-nhWe/?igshid=1h5wy588s9ka7

Explore Carolina Beach Boardwalk|4:30 pm
Next up was Carolina Beach Boardwalk. This beach has some traditional carnival like rides and small roller coasters. It reminded me of a small Coney Island. Pizza and ice cream shops were everywhere. When you visit the Boardwalk make a beeline to the world famous Britt’s Donut Shop. This is siimply the lightest most delicious glazed donut ever. They only make one kind so don’t worry about having a problem choosing one! Made fresh on premise and dropped still steaming warm in your bag. Simply the best. After all the eating, we wanted to work off some calories so we hit up Wheel Fun Rentals. We rented a fun double pedal bike and went off on a self guided tour of the area. Great exercise and a wonderful way to see more of the area.

Dine at Michael’s Seafood Restaurant in Carolina Beach | 6:00 pm
No trip to Wilmington and the Beaches would be complete until we have a early dinner at Michaels. This venerable seafood restaurant never dissapoints. The chowder is amazing. A bowl is never enough! The main even was the seafood platter. Crab legs, shrimp, corn and mussels oh my! As always the service was great as was the food and drinks. We love this place. Make sure you make this your place too.

Depart Wilmington,NC| 7:30pm

On our way back to 40-W, I heard ” I want Pelicans” from the back seat. Pelicans is our favorite snoball/snowcone spot back in the triangle so we were happy to see them in Wilmington. We grabbed 3 of them for the road. A sweet ending to a sweet day in Wilmington & The Beaches.

For more info on the happenings in Wilmington and Beaches go to http://www.wilmingtonandbeaches.com