Wilmington, North Carolina and its surrounding beaches are the perfect place for a girlfriend getaway, offering outdoor activities, locally-owned shops, and incredible restaurants.
The city is an easy drive from Charlotte and elsewhere in North Carolina. You can also fly in and rent a car to explore the area, including Bald Head Island to the south and Topsail Island to the north.
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Eating in Wilmington
Despite the city’s relatively small size, you’re never far from a delicious meal.
The Workshop– This trendy coffee shop in Wrightsville Beach serves pastries and breakfast sandwiches with avocado toast and cold brew coffee. There aren’t many seats, so bring it with you to eat on the beach.
Bespoke Coffee– The trendy coffee shop is the best places to start your day in Wilmington. They serve Counter Culture beans along with light bites as well as beer and wine later in the day.
Adapt Kitchen & Juice Bar– For something healthy, visit this spot in Wrightsville Beach for coffee drinks, fresh juices, smoothies, breakfast bowls, artisan toasts, and poke.
Savorez– For colorful Caribbean-inspired cuisine, there’s nowhere better than this cozy downtown restaurant. The tuna tostadas, sancocho, and jerk shrimp tacos are incredible. They don’t take reservations so be prepared to wait.
Zeke’s Beans and Bowls– For a taste of Hawaii, head to Zeke’s. They have tuna poke, acai, pitas, coffee, and smoothies. They’re located next to the causeway to Wrightsville Beach.
Michael’s Seafood– Don’t let this Carolina Beach strip mall eatery dating back to 1998 fool you. The chowder has earned awards, but the fish of the day is also a great choice.
Pinpoint– The incredible restaurant focuses on sustainable and local ingredients, especially seafood. Their catfish was featured on the Food Network for The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Don’t miss the desserts either.
Manna– This beloved local restaurant serves dishes with fresh, local ingredients, earning them a AAA Four Diamond award and an Ocean Friendly certification. Their cocktails are also incredible.
Oceanic Restaurant– The oceanfront restaurant on Crystal Pier has the best views on the island. Bestsellers include the Carolina crab dip, crab cakes, and Calabash seafood baskets.
Drinking in Wilmington
You won’t find nightclubs and wild party vibes in Wilmington, but there are plenty of places to imbibe, no matter what your poison is.
Blue Post Billards- This membership bar has been featured in countless television shows and films. It has a great selection of craft beer and games. All you have to do is pay a one-time fee.
Edward Teach Brewing– Another favorite is this brewery near UNC Wilmington named for the pirate that trolled the Cape Fear River. They have a varied lineup of beers.
River To Sea Gallery & Wine Shop– Grab a glass of wine to enjoy as you browse through the gallery and shop. It’s a great place to pick up coastal-inspired souvenirs and artwork.
The Fortunate Glass– The cozy wine bar has over 300 bottles and 60 wines by the glass. They also have 30 craft beers and offer free weekly wine tastings on Tuesdays.
Varnish Ale & Spirits– Set in an 1800s store, the stylish cocktail bar has a strong lineup of creative drinks alongside mostly local craft beers. They also have a full menu and dancing upstairs.
Relaxing, Beauty and Fitness in Wilmington
Your girl’s weekend doesn’t have to be just eating and imbibing. It’s also a chance to relax and catch up over a class or get yourself pampered.
Pineapple Studios– This downtown pottery studio offers drop-in and pay what you can yoga every week.
Coastal Massage & Spa– Pamper yourself at this spa on the way to the beach. They offer facials, massages, waxing, body and skin treatments, and lash treatments.
Dry Loft Wilmington– Get a blow out or any other hair treatment at this salon in Wilmington. They also offer waxing and lash treatments.
Wrightsville SUP– Enjoy the calm water around Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, which is perfect for beginners to stand-up paddleboarding.
Shopping in Wilmington
Wilmington has both well-known brands and local shops, but be sure to check out Fernandina’s boutiques and antique shops.
Hey TVM Art & Apparel– This small shop sells mens, womens, and unisex clothing with artistic drawings. They also have patches, enamel pins, and accessories.
Threve Mercantile– The stylish store sells finely crafted gifts and home decor including pieces sourced abroad. Browse for stoneware, Turkish towels, and baskets.
The Wonder Shop– Wilmington’s best vintage store is in the heart of downtown, selling clothing, accessories, and other random items from the 1950s to the present.
Modern Legend Records– The trendy store sells new records, turntables, funky pins, cool clothing, jewelry, books, and gifts.
Swahili Coast– Set in a small mall, this store sells imported jewelry, towels, and clothing from Africa. It also supports small business owners.
The Workshop- The breakfast spot in Wrightsville Beach is also a jewelry store selling megalodon teeth and items made from teeth and sea glass.
Sightseeing in Wilmington
This trip may not be about sightseeing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cross a few attractions off your list during your visit.
Airlie Gardens– The premiere garden originated as a private home and now sits on 67 acres dotted with sculptures. It’s popular for weddings and as a filming location.
Wilmington Water Tours– Head out on a catamaran on the Cape Fear River to learn about the city and its surrounding ecosystem. There’s an onboard bar selling drinks and snacks.
Hollywood Location Walk– Haunted Wilmington puts on this popular walk through Wilmington’s most iconic film locations from Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill, and more. The company also runs a ghost tour and haunted pub crawl.
Trolley Pub Public Tour– What’s more fun than a peddling tour of Wilmington with your friends? The tour is BYOB but you make stops at the city’s best drinking establishments.
Fort Fisher– Stretch your legs by taking part in the miles of hiking trails in the state park. Here you’ll find a World War II bunker, Civil War museum, and the popular aquarium with local sea life.
Cameron Art Museum– Established in 1964, Wilmington’s art museum is located on the site of a Civil War battle. They showcase rotating exhibits and also have a sculpture garden and nature trails.
Wrightsville Beach Mailbox- Located at the northernmost beach access, this mailbox was placed by a local family in 2003 for people to leave notes and letters. It’s now mysteriously cleaned out with past letters now featured in the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History.
Recreation- Rent paddleboards or kayaks or even go scuba diving for megalodon teeth. The Coastal Sailing Adventure in Wrightsville Beach is a great way to see the area.
Staying in Wilmington
Wilmington has a range of accommodations from bed and breakfasts to rentals. You don’t have to sacrifice style and amenities at these girlfriend getaway-friendly accommodations.
Arrive Wilmington– The second location of the Palm Springs hotel, Arrive is set inside the former Wilmingtonian Hotel popular with the film set. It features stylish rooms with amenities like free WiFi and an onsite bar and restaurant. (Read our review here)
Dreamers Welcome– The design-focused inn in Wilmington has two properties within the city in historic homes. Each has a different vibe, offering individual rooms or the entire place.
Hotel Ballast– This Tapestry Collection property has river views, three restaurants, a library, and a free airport shuttle. Guest rooms come with coffee makers and other amenities.
Graystone Inn– Featured in countless film and television projects, the historic mansion-turned-inn was built in 1905. The AAA Four Diamond award-winner has free daily breakfast, daily wine receptions, and Egyptian cotton linens.
Stemmerman’s Inn– The 1855 VonKampen Building has operated as an inn since 1987. The six guest suites resemble apartments with exposed brick, living rooms, and kitchens.
Stella Maris Hostel – The owners of Bon Paul and Sharky’s in Asheville and Smoky Mountain Hostel in Bryson City run this hostel a few blocks south of the Riverwalk. There are dorms and private rooms along with free WiFi, parking, and a kitchen.
Blockade Runner Beach Resort– The 50-year-old beach resort was recently refurbished after hurricane damage. It has stylish rooms, multiple restaurants, pool and beach access, and activities like boat tours and sailing courses. (Read our review here)
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I visited Wilmington with the assistance of Wilmington and Beaches.