#TRAVEL | Visit #WilmingtonNC & Island Beaches to Enjoy Nature and Discover What’s In Bloom🌹

TRAVEL | Visit Wilmington NC & Island Beaches to Enjoy Nature and Discover What’s In Bloom! Photo Credit: SobeSavvy.com

You all know the saying ..”April Showers Bring May Flowers“,well my #HeighPartyof3 decided to put the theory to the test and headed to Wilmington NC & Island Beaches to discover What’s In Bloom! In the past, we have visited during the summer as a fun, “Family Travel” destination and also spent a “Daycation” in Wilmington NC & Island Beaches because for us it’s just a 2 hour roadtrip from Raleigh, NC.

This was our first time traveling to Wilmington NC in the Spring and I thought instead of flowers as a gift for Mother’s Day, why not experience botanical gardens and more in this beautiful city! With just 24 hours to explore, there is so much to get outside and do here. Take a look at our weekend itinerary filled with nature-theme activities the whole family can enjoy!

DAY 1 Arrive Saturday

Wilmington + Wrightsville Beach

Before you explore, make your first stop at the main Visitor Information Center, located at 505 Nutt Street in Downtown Wilmington. It opens on Saturday at 9am and is open daily except for Thanksgiving/Christmas. You can get any questions answered by staff, pick up maps, guides and vacation coupons!

Pick up an Official Visitors Guide and more at the main Visitor Information Center | SobeSavvy.com

Take a self-guided walking tour at Airlie Gardens , a 67 acre historical garden in Wilmington. We took advantage of the complimentary tram ride and learned so much about the lush gardens and its rich history. Go and see a 468 yr old Airlie Oak, Azaleas, and the Butterfly House. Learn about Minnie Evans, an African American woman who was a domestic who sold her artwork at Airlie. She once said ” God has some 600 shades of green, and He dressed the world with them.” She died in 1987 and local artists created the Bottle Chapel, a memorial sculpture garden, in 2004 in her honor. It was such an amazing sight to see!

Walk thru Airlie Gardens and learn about history while enjoying nature | SobeSavvy.com

All that walking will surely work up an appetite! Sweet & Savory Café is close by and offers a Saturday Brunch. This farm to fork restaurant in Wilmington is known for its variety of menu choices and fresh baked goods at their bakery.

Dine at Sweet and Savory for Saturday Brunch for a variety of Farm to Fork dishes | SobeSavvy.com

SobeSavvy Tip: Short on time or rather have a quick bite to go? Grab something at Port City Java. I enjoyed an iced coffee for a caffeine boost before our next activity!

Port City Java uses the Japanese Iced Coffee method for a more flavorful,bright,complex brew and its oh so good| SobeSavvy.com

We checked in at the Hampton Inn Wilmington/Downtown and got changed into our bathing suits for some fun in the sun at Wrightsville Beach, located just 15 mins away from Downtown Wilmington. It’s a spacious, clean beach with clear blue waters and is one of the most environmentally friendly beaches in the state. We collected shells to take home as a souvenir and our daughter played by the shore until it was time for dinner at Oceanic Restaurant attached to Crystal Pier. *Be sure to check back here for my #FoodieFriday review of our dining experience at this restaurant. Wrightsville Beach is a walkable beach town with the beauty of nature all around!

Play, Relax and Start a Seashell Collection at Wrightsville Beach | SobeSavvy.com

The Arboretum at New Hanover County closes at 8pm which made it a great last stop of our day. It happened to be prom night and many people were there to capture the perfect photo. Visit the 7 acres of nature trails and gardens, which include a Japanese tea house, gazebo, children’s cottage, ability garden and water garden for FREE!

See the beauty of blooms for free at The Arboretum at New Hanover County | SobeSavvy.com

DAY 2 Depart Sunday

Kure Beach+ Carolina Beach

Sunday,Mother’s Day..all I want to do is sleep in but when you have a six year old daughter who’s motto is ‘Carpe Diem’, you get up early and seize the day! We enjoyed brunch with a view in Wrightsville Beach at Bluewater Waterfront Grill (which you can see a few of my photos here + stay tuned for my #FoodieFriday feature) before our visit to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher in Kure Beach. It’s worth the short drive from Wilmington to see more than 2500 animals and the 2 special exhibits: Dinosaurs! and Butterfly Bungalow. The cherry on top of our Sunday Funday at the Aquarium was when one of the butterflies landed right on my husband’s hand! My whole family had a fin-tastic time at this attraction learning just how much animals and nature are connected to each other.

Visit the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher to be inspired by nature and all its wonder | SobeSavvy.com

We did not plan to have another beach day but our daughter’s pleas and the call of the ocean breeze encouraged us to stop at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area. It is right down the road from the Aquarium so it really was a convenient stop. This public beach is great for bird watchers because alot of nature is unspoiled here.

Kure Beach is a pure and natural playground for beach goers, bird watchers and nature lovers | SobeSavvy.com

Did you know that one of the only places in the world where you can see the Venus flytrap growing in its native environment is at Carolina Beach State Park? See the rare Venus Flytraps for FREE and learn about one of the world’s most unique carnivorous plants!

Head to the Carolina Beach State Park for a tour along the Flytrap Trail | SobeSavvy.com

SobeSavvy Tip: Ranger-Guided tours of the park’s Venus flytrap trail are available Saturday and Sunday mornings at 10am. I recommend the guided tour, as the flytraps can be hard to find on your own. Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes with socks for this guided tour. Insect repellent is highly recommended as are long pants. You can always change back into shorts and sandals in the park’s visitor center bathrooms. The hikes meet at the flytrap trail head and depart promptly at 10am so be sure to arrive in time to park and meet. If you gey hungry after hiking the nature trails, go a half a mile to dine at Michael’s Seafood and enjoy fresh seafood dishes like loaded oysters and snow crab legs!

Dine at Michael’s Seafood, conveniently close to Carolina Beach State Park | SobeSavvy.com

Thank you to Wilmington and Beaches CVB and the attractions who welcomed my family and I to experience nature-theme activities and feature them in my 24 hour itinerary. I hope you and your family will review this travel guide and take the opportunity to visit Wilmington NC & Island Beaches soon to see What’s In Bloom!

#TravelTuesday~A #Daycation in @WilmingtoNCoast #FamilyTravel #WilmingtonNC #WrightsvilleBeach

Summertime and the living is easy..especially if you have a coastal city/beach destination within road trip reach!  Our family headed up 40 east and in 2 hours we were at our destination:  Wilmington, NC & Beaches

With our little girl in tow, we planned a ‘Sunday Funday’ that included a city tour, a fun children’s museum to explore, good eats galore and playtime by the shore!  This was our first visit to this charming Southern city but definitely will not be our last. They have a variety of activities suitable for everyone ! Discover below just how fun our Daycation in Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach was.

Where to Go/What to Eat: Wilmington
Before you get started in any city, I think it is travel savvy to get visitor information. Located at the foot of Market Street, the RiverFront Visitor Information Booth was our first stop. They are open daily..how convenient!  The welcoming staff gave us great tourist tools for our visit and even snapped a family photo to celebrate the start of our Wilmington adventure! 

Before exploring the historic streets of Downtown Wilmington, voted the #1 “Best Al Fresco Dining Neighborhood” by USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards,  we decided to grab a bite. And since it was Sunday, I said, “Let’s do Brunch” !  The Pilot House, a waterfront restaurant with scenic views of Cape Fear River, is known for its steak/seafood selections and for having the only bar that faces the river. Our daughter enjoyed the kids menu choice of grilled shrimp and fresh fruit , while the seafood lover in me had to have the chargrilled oysters topped with lump crab meat! It was amazing! I also had a half sized ceasar salad with shrimp. My husband enjoyed the French Toast from the a la carte Sunday Brunch menu.If you are foodies like us you must try a dining experience at The Pilot House. 

Next we went sightseeing in Wilmingron’s National Register Historic District via a Horse-Drawn Trolley Tour. Dan, our costumed driver, was a funny yet informative tour guide who took us on an unique adventure. We learned some of the rich history of the city and got to take in its beauty and Southern charm. We saw classic architecture, specialty shops, moss-draped live oaks, Wilmington’s historic houses, mansions and more! It’s also nice to know the horses are rescued horses and if you like, you have the option of taking a picture with the horses at the end of the tour. 

Having fun while learning is something our #outandaboutAva loves to do. So when we discovered that The Children’s Museum of Wilmington was located in downtown, we walked over for a family play date!  There were lots of hands-on exhibits and plenty of opportunities to stimulate our soon to be 5 year old imagination. Her favorite area was the Magnetic Minds Science Center, where she could explore and experiment.I had fun too letting my inner child run wild!

Where to Go/What to Eat: Wrightsville Beach
The beach is always recognized as the ultimate family vacation destination and Wilmington,NC has 31 miles of Island Beaches to choose from making it the #1 reason to visit!  We took the easy 20 minute drive from Wilmington across the scenic Intracoastal Waterway to visit Wrightsville Beach

Spacious and clean, this beach with it’s crystal blue waters was the backdrop for some relaxation and family fun in the sun!  Our little one enjoyed collecting shells and playing with her new Wilmington beach ball.We just happened to find parking near public access to the beach close to the newly renovated Crystal Pier. Here are few pics of memories made on the sandy shores of Wrightsville Beach !

A sunset dinner at Bluewater Waterfront Grill was the perfect way to end our day in this beautiful beach town. It is popular on Sundays as they have Live Music on their large patio, so we made sure to get there early. They have an outdoor bar and seating available or you can enjoy dining inside. This restaurant had quite a vibrant dining scene and good food to go with it! Whether you are going for sips and sites or having lunch/ dinner (I highly recommend the coconut shrimp and the filet mignon entree), make sure to get to Bluewater Waterfront Grill. 

It was National Tequila Day, so I made sure to order a margarita or two… on the rocks, no salt please !

Cheers to a wonderful daycation in Wilmington, NC!  I look forward to future visits and I’m already gathering a list for next time. And with Wrightsville Beach being such a short drive away, you can bet we’ll be back soon !  

* These are the latest postcards our daughter will add to her collection 🙂 Thanks for the memories Wilmington,NC !