Wilmington, North Carolina is all about beautiful beaches, local breweries, delicious dining, and its historic architecture. Whether you and your girlfriends want to chillax at the beach, visit the local bars for a party, or a bit of each, this is one of the best spots on the East Coast to spend a weekend and reconnect with your girls.
Call your friends and pack your bags, here is the ultimate girlfriend getaway guide to Wilmington and its beaches:
Day 1: Spend the day at the beach
There is nothing more fun than spending some quality time at the beach with your girls and getting your tan on. Some of our favorite beaches are Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach and Kure Beach.
For a bit more excitement the waves at Wrightsville Beach are bigger, which makes it the perfect place to go surfing. The town of Wrightsville Beach is super beautiful and worth strolling through. It is near other main attractions including the Arboretum of New Hanover County and Airlie Gardens.
Both are beautiful green places to enjoy part of the day, especially when the sun is out. The Arboretum is free to the public with its highlights of a Japanese themed botanical garden.
On the other hand Airlie Gardens is a premier garden of the coastal south featuring 67 acres of walking paths, formal gardens, seasonal blooms, live oaks, art installations and historic structures. The entrance fee to Airlie Gardens is $9 per person.
If you are looking to get out on the water to explore, we recommend taking a paddle boarding tour or class with Cape Fear Paddleboarding. We did a private two hour SUP tour where our guide took us to the famous Palm Tree Island with a parking meter.
The coolest thing about this island is that when the tide comes in it is completely covered and you can only see the palm tree and the American Flag “floating” in the middle of the water.
A good place to stop for a meal and local beer is the Wrightsville Beach Brewery. They offer both an indoor seating area and a large self serve beer garden with a nice shade from a gigantic tree.
Kure Beach is a quieter beach as it is a little bit of a drive from Wilmington than the other two beaches. Visit the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, where you can explore the Basin Trail and see the WWII Bunker, once home to the legendary Fort Fisher Hermit.
As the day comes to a close, enjoy a relaxed sunset boat tour with Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tours. It is one of the best ways to end the first day of your girlfriend weekend getaway in NC.
Do not forget about dinner! It is time to up your experience while dining at one of the best restaurants in town, the famous Brasserie du Soleil. There are many delicious fresh seafood options, including the Tuna Tartare or a nice juicy steak paired with a red wine. The friendly service and delectable Crème Brulee put our meal over the top as we sat on patio overlooking a cute little pond.
Day 2: Explore the River District in downtown Wilmington
If you couldn’t tell from the first day of fun, there is so much to Wilmington and Beaches, no matter what you and your girlfriends are looking to do! Folks Café is a local breakfast favorite for its delicious carinated drinks and strong community feel. There’s no better way to start off your day than with some fresh Argentinian empanadas and a good strong iced coffee!
Go on a fun and informative Horse Drawn Carriage Ride
If you are looking for something a little different, learn about the history of the region with a 30-minute narrated horse drawn tour through downtown Wilmington. There are nine different routes that they take, so you can even enjoy this several times during your stay and see something new each time. We did route #1 and we loved learning about the historic homes in the city.
It is so informative and fun, and don’t forget to ask the guide to snap a photo of your group in the carriage and with the rescued horses. The tours run until 10:00 p.m. but we recommend doing it right before sunset or early in the morning, so you get to see the city at the golden hour.
Go for a stroll along the Cape Fear River
The Wilmington Riverwalk is a two miles boardwalk along the Cape Fear river and it is teaming with boutique shops, art galleries, and riverfront restaurants. On the other side of the river is the Battleship North Carolina, which is a restored WWII battleship open to the public. It takes about 90 minutes to tour the ship.
Visit some of the historic homes downtown
The are several historic homes in Wilmington that are open for tours to the public. Our favorite is the Bellamy Mansion a prime example antebellum architecture. The mansion has a carriage house, a victorian garden and the original slave quarters.
Another beautiful option is to visit the Burgwin-Wright House. It is the only structure in Wilmington from the colonial era open to the pubic, built in 1770. Operated as a museum house, it offers a unique opportunity to view a fine example of Georgian architecture and experience what life was like during pre-revolution Wilmington.
Go for a stroll down Market Street and Front Street
Market and Front Street are the main commercial streets in downtown Wilmington. Many historic buildings are filled with clothing stores, antique shops, boutique stores, cafes and bakeries. Some of our favorite shops are Edge of Urge, Cape Fear Spice Merchants, Mercantile, Unleashed, and The Black Cat Shoppe.
Have a snack at Kilwin’s Chocolates
You must try one of the many delicious handmade sweets at Kilwin’s Chocolatess! I loved the oreo covered in salt caramel and the fresh fudge. Kilwin’s is well known for its ice cream, which is good but it is up you on what your favorite sweets are, or just try them all. If you end up buying ice cream get the Superman, it looks so cool with a rainbow of colors and tastes like bubblegum to us.
Dinner at Marina Grill or Anne Bonny’s Bar & Grill
Anne Bonny’s Bar has the best spot to watch sunset over the Cape Fear River as it is actually a floating barge tied on the docks. The restaurant quickly fills up around sunset, so if you want a waterfront view make sure to arrive early, as they do not take reservations.
Another option is the Marina Grill, which is a few minutes drive north of the city center. The big modern dining space overlooks the Port City Marina with many large yachts. We loved the Blackened Tuna with sweet roasted red pepper jam.
Where to sleep in Wilmington?
Our favorite place to sleep in Wilmington 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, and a stunning courtyard with a gazebo bar.
Each room has its own style and 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 also get a fitness baskets, which includes 10-pound weights, a yoga mat, and exercise bands. ARRIVE Wilmington is pet friendly and they include parking.
The hotel built in a former dye works and convent is only two short blocks from the scenic Wilmington’s Riverwalk.