A Perfect Weekend In Wilmington, NC: 3-day Wilmington Itinerary

Get ready to experience the ultimate weekend getaway in the vibrant coastal city of Wilmington, NC! With its charming historic district, breathtaking beaches, and a lively arts scene, Wilmington offers an unforgettable adventure packed into three days. From savoring mouth-watering seafood to strolling along the iconic Riverwalk, this itinerary has it all. So grab your sunglasses, lace up your walking shoes, and embark on a journey to discover the perfect weekend in Wilmington, where every moment is filled with excitement, relaxation, and pure coastal charm.

Day 1

Lunch at The Fish House Grill

Start your trip off strong with a mouthwatering seafood lunch at The Fish House Grill! This local mainstay serves up an irresistible array of freshly-caught seafood, from succulent shrimp to flaky fish. Whether you’re enjoying the lively indoor seating or the breezy outdoor patio, you’ll be treated to exceptional service and a laid-back coastal vibe. The buffalo shrimp, lemon pepper fries, and shrimp po’boy were delicious. The real start of the show, though, was the softshell crab sandwich!

Take a Stroll Through Arlie Gardens

Prepare to be enchanted by the whimsical beauty of Airlie Gardens! This magical oasis is a true feast for the senses, with vibrant blooms, tranquil water features, and picturesque walking trails that transport you to a fairytale realm. As you wander through the gardens, you’ll smell the fragrance of blooming flowers and see views of towering trees. Discover hidden nooks, charming gazebos, and serene ponds that beckon you to pause and immerse yourself in nature’s embrace.

Visit the Cargo District

Just minutes from downtown, discover the Cargo District – an eco-friendly, community-centric area with tons to explore. Shipping containers have been transformed into vibrant spaces for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Sip on craft brews at the Beer Alcove, enjoy delicious cuisine, and explore eclectic shops! With live music, pop-up markets, and artist classes, this district is always buzzing with excitement.

Take a Sunset Cruise with Cape Fear Riverboats

As the day winds down, hop aboard a sunset cruise with Cape Fear Riverboats for an unforgettable experience. You’ll glide along the Cape Fear River, taking in stunning views of the city skyline and watching the sun set over the water. With live music and a fully stocked bar on board, this is the perfect way to unwind and see downtown Wilmington from a new perspective.

Dinner at PinPoint Restaurant

Head to dinner at the flavor-packed PinPoint Restaurant in the heart of downtown. The restaurant is a celebration of tradition and local foodways that will transport your taste buds on a delectable journey of the coast. With a commitment to sourcing the freshest ingredients from Wilmington’s own farmers, fishermen, oystermen, and crabbers, every bite is a tribute to the vibrant local community. Whether you’re indulging in a succulent seafood dish or savoring the rich flavors of the region, each plate is a work of art. The menu is constantly in rotation, but if you’re lucky enough to encounter the Tuna Carpaccio and Braised Pork Sugo, don’t miss them. You can truly tell from presentation to friendliness that the chef and his staff take pride in what they do.

Grab a Drink at Earnest Money & Sons

Don’t skip out on an evening drink at Earnest Money & Sons, Wilmington’s hidden gem of a speakeasy and cocktail haven! Behind its unassuming façade, this place is a treasure trove of sophistication and delightful libations. Step through the doors and be transported to a world of refined elegance. At the helm of the bar is the maestro mixologist, Luke, whose expertise in crafting custom cocktails knows no bounds. Just let him know your preferred flavor profile, and he’ll concoct a drink that delight your taste buds. The intimate setting adds to the allure, allowing you to savor every sip in an atmosphere of exclusivity and charm.

Day 2

Light Breakfast at Bespoke Coffee and Dry Goods

Awaken your senses and start your day with a cup of liquid motivation at Bespoke Coffee and Dry Goods. This hip and vibrant coffee haven is the ultimate destination for caffeine enthusiasts and lovers of all things artisanal. Once you step into the trendy spot, you’ll be greeted by the aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans, crafted by skilled baristas. The menu is has plenty of creative coffee concoctions for every taste, from velvety lattes to bold cold brew. Be sure to also enjoy their delicious pastries, from blueberry scones to strawberry muffins.

Morning Hike at Carolina Beach State Park

Start your day off on an active note with a morning hike at Carolina Beach State Park! One of the park’s most popular trails is the Flytrap Trail, a quick loop that takes you through the captivating beauty of the pocosin wetlands. As you wander along the trail, keep your eyes peeled for a truly remarkable sight. In the peak season from May to June, you’ll have the chance to spot the enchanting Venus Flytraps, showcasing their unique and fascinating carnivorous nature. Also in the park, you can find kayak rentals and boating opportunities.

Light Fare at Malama Cafe

Just a stroll away from the Carolina Beach Boardwalk, Malama Cafe is inspired by the Hawaiian concept of protecting and cherishing. This delightful café offers nourishment for the body beyond a morning caffeine fix – their menu boasts a variety refreshing smoothies and bowls, as well as healthy toasts, wraps and sandwiches.

Cruise Carolina Beach by Bike

Grab a bike from Pleasure Island Rentals and set off on a self-guided cruise of Carolina Beach! To add a touch of exploration to your bike ride, challenge yourself to spot as many Carolina Beach Murals as possible. Follow the interactive mural map and let the vibrant colors and captivating designs of the murals inspire you. Take a load off and park your bike to stroll the boardwalk, offering several restaurants, amusement park rides, and shops.

Lunch at Jack Mackerel’s Island Grill

While many of us don’t expect to have an amazing meal at a pier-adjacent grill, Jack Mackerel’s Island Grill is a strong exception. The local eatery is all about casual dining with a festive twist, and the expansive seafood-forward menu has a variety of options. The seafood dip is delicious and the burger charred to perfection. And the service is fast and friendly, ensuring that you have a memorable dining experience from start to finish.

Visit the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

Enjoy endless laughter, discovery, and underwater amazement at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher! Located along the coastline, this aquatic paradise is a haven of fun for all ages. Come face to face with incredible sea creatures from vibrant tropical fish to majestic sea turtles. Explore mesmerizing exhibits showcasing diverse marine habitats. The interactive touch tanks offer a hands-on experience, allowing you to gently touch stingrays, sea stars, and horseshoe crabs.

A Delicious Italian Dinner at Floriana

Splurge for an Italian dinner at Floriana, where the combination of delicious food, carefully crafted drinks, and the inspired setting will make you feel like you’ve teleported to Europe. This amazing upscale Italian restaurant is a true gem offering a deliciously authentic dining experience. The pasta is to die for, cooked to perfection and bursting with flavor. And let’s not forget about the expertly crafted cocktails. If you’re lucky enough to snag a seat overlooking the bustling street, you’ll experience peak romance vibes. Don’t miss out on the Spaghetti Neri al Granchio, with lump crab, squid ink pasta, heirloom tomato, lobster cream, sherry, and basil. The server said it was one of her favorites on the menu, and it was delicious!

Day 3

Unwind with Pier Yoga with BeUnlimited

Get ready to take your yoga practice to new heights on Crystal Pier with Pier Yoga by BeUnlimited! Picture yourself on a beautiful pier, surrounded by the mesmerizing sights, sounds, and smells of the ocean. It’s the perfect setting for an invigorating Vinyasa flow that will leave you feeling rejuvenated and connected. This amazing opportunity allows you to synchronize your breath with each movement, creating a seamless flow that harmonizes mind, body, and soul. Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or a beginner, this complete practice is well suited to all levels of experience. Don’t forget to bring water and a mat!

Brunch with Bluewater Waterfront Grill

Enjoy brunch with a view at Bluewater Waterfront Grill! On the patio of this local eatery, you can enjoy the sights and sounds of the marina and watch the boats go by. From mouthwatering seafood creations like lump crab Eggs Benedict to classic French toast with rum syrup, you’ll love this mid-day meal, complete with boozy brunch cocktails.

Beach Day & Explore Wrightsville Beach

Close out your trip with an adventure-filled afternoon at Wrightsville Beach! Take your time and explore the seaside shopping, where you’ll discover a treasure trove of unique finds and stylish souvenirs. From open-air, pedestrian-friendly shopping villages to local surf shops and chic beach boutiques, you’ll find something that catches your eye.

After satisfying your shopping cravings, it’s time to hit the sandy shores and embark on a leisurely stroll along the beach’s north side. Keep your eyes peeled for a special hidden gem—the Wrightsville Beach Mailbox. This magical spot allows visitors to leave heartfelt notes and messages, and immerse themselves in the expressions of fellow travelers. To find this whimsical mailbox, start at Beach Access Number 2 near Shell Island Resort on North Lumina Avenue. Walk along the beach, heading north, and look out for a solitary mailbox and a cozy bench.

From the historic charm of downtown to the breathtaking beauty of the beaches, Wilmington is a lovely destination for a memorable getaway. So pack your bags, set your sights on this charming coastal gem, and embark on your own perfect weekend. Happy traveling!


  • Marissa Strang

    Marissa Strang is a full-time lifestyle and travel blogger based out of the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area. Travel is her number one passion, and she is on a mission to empower others to make travel a reality for their own lives as well. She’s a strong believer that everyone can experience the joy of exploring the world, no matter the way they look or their socioeconomic status. Marissa creates one-of-a-kind city guides, destination inspiration, and budget-friendly travel hacks for aspiring travelers, especially young travelers and minorities. By creating travel content through her blog, The Marissa Daily, she strives to help others make lifelong memories - one destination at a time. Her journey as a blogger for the past 3 years has led her to visit amazing places and build an engaged travel community that she cares for deeply. One of the principles Marissa lives by, and encourages others to abide by, is that when you look like your passport photo, it’s time to book a trip. Let's go places.

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