36 Hours in Wilmington, N.C.

Wilmington, North Carolina is famous for several reasons. It is the site of many movies, and of the cheesy teen T.V. shows Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill. It is, together with Asheville and the research triangle, one of the more progressive places in my lately less-than-progressive home state of North Carolina. And finally, Wilmington is a great little beach town. I like it for all of these reasons, but mostly, I like that it’s home to our friends Mark and Michelle.

We had a whirlwind trip to visit them last weekend, and it was a blast. With no further ado, here’s how to have an absolutely fabulous 36 hours in Wilmington:

  • Go to the beach! While Wrightsville is closer (and also lovely)….the beach at Fort Fisher is a state park, and is beautiful. The drive takes you past Kure Beach, which is the prettiest and most colorful beach town I’ve ever been through (all of the houses are painted in these bright, happy, acid-candy-colors).
  • Explore the fort a bit while you’re there! It’s got history and natural beauty, all at once. Check out the nifty trees.
  • If you have time (we didn’t this trip, but we’ve been before) definitely check out the aquarium! Among other attractions, it has an albino alligator, neat coral tanks, and a particularly nifty marsh tank. It also has a nature trail outside, which we had fun exploring last year:
  • Explore the boardwalk at Carolina Beach (fair rides, amusements, good food) and above all, go to Britt’s Donuts! Rated the second best locally owned donut shop in America (although I’d give it first place) Britt’s is a treasure, a part of the history of the area, and above all, sells only one kind of donut, hot and melt-in-your-mouth, life changingly good. I dare you to stop at one:
  • Get some local food to grill at Carolina Farmin‘, and have a cookout.
  • Check out the bar scene. Barbary Coast is Wilmington’s oldest, and therefore an institution. Lula’s has foosball, although we didn’t play.
  • In the morning, get some breakfast at the entirely affordable, blue-collar-feeling, tasty White Front Breakfast House on Market Street. Don’t miss the biscuits.
  • Go to the Cape Fear Museum! Right now they’ve got a Games and Toys exhibit that will entertain you for hours (skip the “Shopping in Wilmington” exhibit, but do check out the giant ground sloth)!
  • Giant ground sloth

    J explores the games and toys exhibit

  • Fun with shadow puppets

    Making silhouettes in the games & toys exhibit

    • get some ice cream at Velvet Freeze. It’s amazing – but bring cash ($4 per person, plus tip, should do ya!). Try all of their fruit flavored ice creams (really, I don’t think you can go wrong with anything they make). I loved the ginger peach!

    Those are my recommendations (and was, for the most part, our weekend). Our favorite part was getting to see Mark and Michelle, but we also very much enjoyed the town (and the food) – so for those of you able to make the trip, go spend 36 hours or so in Wilmington!

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