Wilmington is more than just another destination to visit. It’s a small city at the coast where seagulls fly overhead while enjoying a boardwalk along the Cape Fear River. It’s a small city with a vibrant downtown spanning blocks filled with local retail shops, restaurants, breweries, and coffee shops. It’s a small city with all the big city attractions like art museums, orchestras, conference centers, and luxury hotels.
Wilmington is a small city that caters to every kind of traveler.
I return to Wilmington every couple of years because it’s one of the most photogenic small cities in the south. Charleston has their cobblestone streets and window planter boxes and wrought iron gates. Wilmington has much the same.
Check out my collection of favorite travel photos I have captured in Wilmington and I’m certain it will inspire you to visit the heart of the Cape Fear region.
Downtown Wilmington straddles the Cape Fear River. In the distance, the iconic Cape Fear Memorial Bridge stretches across the wide river.
The Cape Fear Riverwalk is a great place to for a walk to enjoy the scenery of the river.
Wilmington Water Tours is an even better way to see the Cape Fear River. The covered pontoon boat cruises up and down the river past downtown, the Battleship North Carolina, and the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.
Wilmington Water Tours has a small bar in the back of the pontoon boat where Toni serves mixed drinks.
After WWII, the Battleship North Carolina was brought to Wilmington and permanently parked along the Cape Fear River. The museum ship offers hours of exploration through gun battery rooms, the mess hall, crew quarters, and the command deck.
The SECU Memorial Walkway offers a rare opportunity to walk around the Battleships North Carolina and enjoy it from an entirely new perspective.
Downtown sidewalks are wide and shaded by trees. Dozens of local retail shops, restaurants, breweries, and coffee shops are waiting for your arrival!
The Cotton Exchange is a collection of 8 historic buildings near the waterfront filled with local retail shops. Visitors can explore from building to building through connected hallways while visiting the unique shops.
Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn (above) is one of the restaurants in the city and a local favorite for burritos. The Marina Grill (below) is one of the newest restaurants and a gorgeous space to enjoy savory meals.
The appetizers at The Marina Grill (above) are a great start to a meal at the riverfront restaurant. Front Street Brewery (below) has been craft beer since 1994, but the pulled chicken nachos are the best reason to visit.
Waterman’s Brewing (above) is one of nearly two dozen breweries spread throughout the city. Although I’m not supposed to pick favorites, Waterline Brewing Company (below) was my favorite evening in Wilmington.
There are nearly as many coffee shops in Wilmington as breweries – a perfect balance. Bespoke Coffee & Dry Goods was a great place to get some work done while enjoying a fresh coffee and tasty pastry.
The Burgin-Wright House is one of the house museums in Wilmington – and the curators still use the original key to unlock the front door!
Bellamy Mansion is another house museum. During the Christmas holiday season, the house is wonderfully decorated.
The Cameron Art Museum features worldwide artwork in a gorgeous museum about fifteen minutes from downtown.
The Cape Fear Museum of History and Science features an intriguing model of Wilmington’s colonial-era waterfront. It’s a giant model occupying an entire room of the museum.
Wilmington is filled with interesting local retail shops. Rocket Fizz (above) is the local franchise of a chain of shops selling craft soda. I had no idea there was so much craft root beer in the world! At Krazy Mikez (below) shoppers will find shirts, mugs, and gifts revolving around the various television shows and movies that have been filmed in Wilmington.
Chandler’s Wharf is a former waterfront warehouse converted into an indoor shopping mall. Local artwork, antiques, books, and even a coffee shop fill the large warehouse just minutes from the Cape Fear Riverwalk.
Downtown Wilmington is a gorgeous place to explore with historic buildings, shady sidewalks, and beautiful architecture like St. James Episcopal Church.
My favorite time of day to be in Wilmington is sunset. The view across the Cape Fear River is always gorgeous that time of day. And some days, a sunset like the one below develops over the iconic Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.