With plenty of sand, sun and fun Wilmington, NC is the perfect dog friendly destination year round. Our dogs love to travel and would never miss the opportunity to sniff their way through a new destination.
Wilmington has over a hundred dog friendly restaurants, countless dog parks, and two year round dog friendly beaches for your pooch to enjoy the sand in their paws.
Read on for the ultimate pet friendly itinerary to Wilmington. Our chocolate lab, Gordo, has arthritis and hip dysplasia and loved every moment of our visit.
Day 1: Spend the day at the River District
Arrive early in the morning to Downtown Wilmington and make a quick stop for breakfast at the Java Dog Coffee House. We recommend walking around the small historic downtown and visit many of the shops on Market St and Front St. Do not miss Unleashed, the Dog & Cat Store, to get a new toy for your furry friend.
One of the best things to do in in Wilmington is to walk along the river all the way from the Wilmington Visitors Center down to Nun St for great for views of the Cape Fear River and the battleship USS North Carolina. Dogs must be on leash along the Riverwalk.
Drink a beer at a local pet friendly brewery
Downtown Wilmington has many pet friendly restaurants and breweries. Some of our favorite ones are Edward Teach Brewery, Palate Bottle Shop and Reserve, and Flytrap Brewing. Make sure to bring along a treat for your dog to enjoy as well.
Arboretum of New Hanover County
The Arboretum of New Hanover County a small botanical garden where dogs are allowed. It is a nice relaxing stop where you can take endless photos of your doggie at the Japanese themed garden.
Go for a stroll at the park
Wilmington has many dog parks where you can go play with your dog and let them run about with some new dog friends. The best dog parks in Wilmington are: Greenfield Lake Park, Empie Dog Park, Ogden Park, Hugh MacRae Park.
Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington
Finish your day taking a ghost tour walking tour through the haunted alleys of old Wilmington. Well behaved dogs are welcome on the tour, just remember it will be with a group if your dog will not enjoy that. Honestly by then end of the day our dog was ready to head back to the hotel to nap before dinner.
Dinner at Anne Bonny’s Bar and Grill
Not only their food is delicious but it is also the best place to watch sunset. It is a floating barge with a great view of Cape Fear River. While Anne Bonny’s is pet-friendly the space does get busy around sunset which can get overwhelming for a pet.
Day 2: Spend the day at the beach
Cape Fear Paddleboarding
If you like water sports and your dog is well behaved on the water start off your day paddle boarding tour with Cape Fear Paddleboarding. Once you are done drive 10 more minutes to Wrightsville Beach. Keep in mind that dogs are only allowed on leash at Wrightsville Beach from Oct 1st through March 31st. You are of course required to clean up after your pet, have the means to do so at all times, and dispose of pet waste properly.
Carolina Beach State Park
Carolina Beach State Park has miles of hiking trails through several distinct habitats from forest to wetlands and water views of the Cape Fear River. It is most famous for being home to the carnivorous Venus fly trap!
Our favorite spot is at the end of the Park near the Marina.
Freeman Park is the perfect place for your dog to spend the day on the beach near Wilmington during Summer. Here you can drive right onto the beach, but need 4-wheel drive. If your car is not equipped, do not worry as you can park your car outside and just walk with your doggo. Dogs needs to be on a leash between April 1st to September 30th, the rest of the year he can be off-leash!
Another option to bring your dog for a jog along Carolina Beach. If you visit in the summer dogs are only allowed on the beach before 8AM and after 5PM from April 1st to September 30th.
Have lunch at Stoked Restaurant
Stoked Restaurant provides a beautiful view of Carolina Beach Marina and it is pet friendly if you sit on the deck. You have to walk your dog to the deck in the back around the side of the building, so have a member of your party go to the host stand as you wait outside.
The fresh seafood on the menu is also delicious. If your dog is lucky a member of the staff might stop by with a special treat, like a sweet potato fry!
Go for a stroll at the park Mike Chappell Park
Mike Chappell Park in a nice local park, with a playground, skate park and most importantly a dog park! It provides a good opportunity to let your dog off leash and burn off some energy without have to get super sandy at a dog friendly beach.
Fort Fisher State Recreation Area
Fort Fisher State Recreation Area is a 4 mile dog friendly North Carolina state park located on the ocean. It has a great beach, where your dog can play in the water while on a leash. If you want to take your dog off leash then you can take your dogs to the Gurney Hood Barking Lot (Dog Park) and let them loose.
Dinner at Marina Grill
Marina Grill is located along northern riverfront with sunset view of Port City Marina and the Cape Fear River. The outside seating area is dog friendly and overlooks the marina with an abundance of beautiful yachts.
More Dog Friendly Breweries:
In case you in visiting more dog friendly breweries there are plenty of options between downtown Wilmington and the beach. Our favorite breweries are: Wilmington Brewing Company, Flying Machine Brewing Company, Wilmington Brewing Company, The Brewer’s Kettle, and Mad Mole Brewing.
Where to stay in Wilmington – A dog friendly accommodation?
A great option to stay in Wilmington and to be honest our favorite is, the brand new hotel called ARRIVE Wilmington. This wonderful boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Wilmington has 48 guest rooms, a delicious restaurant, an stunning courtyard with a gazebo bar.
Each room has its own style and they are very cozy. The rooms include linen robes, Red Flower bath products that smell delicious, Apple TVs and DirecTV. Depending on the type of room, you will also get a fitness baskets, which include 10-pound weights, a yoga mat, and exercise bands. ARRIVE Wilmington is pet friendly and they include parking.
The Beacon House Inn City Flat or Beach Cabin:
The Beacon House Inn City Flat is an independently owned accommodation just steps away from the heart of downtown Wilmington. The owners understand that dogs are part of the family and go above and beyond with the dog friendly accommodations. Having two bedrooms, the flat provides ample space for a dog if you want to visit a not dog friendly attraction.
Not only is there a dog bowl to use for food and water, but there are plenty of treats and doggy bags to use throughout your stay. They even provide an additional towel and special blankets so a dog can relax on the furniture and sleep in the beds as well.
The only thing to note is that the Beacon House Inn City Flat is on the second floor of a historic building, with steeper than normal steps, which is especially important to note if you have an older dog. Gordo has arthritis and was able to make it up the steps with a bit of a push and some encouragement.