24 Hours In Coastal Wilmington, North Carolina

By Leah Freeman-Haskin


Wilmington is a coastal destination in North Carolina that offers history and adventure from the Cape Fear River to the scenic beaches along the Atlantic. If you happen to find yourself with 24 hours to spend in this fascinating city, here are a few spots you must visit. 



The heart of Wilmington is located in its downtown river district.  You will find ARRIVE Hotel in this historic center that is bustling with new shops and eateries. This brand new “neighborhood hotel” is just two blocks from the river and walking distance to everything that downtown has to offer. You won’t find all of the frills that come with larger hotels, but the experience is in the details of the stunning design, immaculate garden spaces, and friendly staff. 

RELATED: How To Spend A Day In Black-Owned Charleston, South Carolina


Jester’s Café is a boutique bistro in the heart of the Castle Street Arts and Antiques District serving homemade contemporary Southern fare with a French flair. A restaurant nestled inside a historic cottage home, this cafe offers everything from their famous homemade quiches to french toast casserole. 

Photo via jesterscafe.com


You can spend the entire morning walking through the historic downtown area, visiting local galleries, shops, and specialty stores. The locals will gladly stop and chat with you about their love for their city and how things have changed in the last decade. If you get tired from walking, you can enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride or a guided cruise down the Cape Fear River.



If you are traveling with kids, Carolina Beach may be the best option. With a lively boardwalk that offers live music, pizza, donut, and ice cream stands as well as an arcade, the kids will have plenty to do. Just 30 minutes up the coast, Wrightsville Beach is known for its crystal blue waters and spacious beach offering plenty of water sports and outdoor healthy and wellness activities. 

Photo via wilmingtonandbeaches.com


South Beach Grill overlooks the scenic harbor on Banks Channel, located on Wrightsville Beach. With Southern-inspired and locally sourced cuisine, you can enjoy a delicious lunch here with views of the ocean.


Airlie Gardens is home to 67 acres of walking paths, formal gardens, seasonal blooms, mighty live oaks, historic structures, and contemporary sculpture that provides the perfect backdrop for a post-lunch stroll.

RELATED: How To Spend 24-Hours In Panama City, Panama



After an afternoon at the beach, you can head back downtown to Copper Penny for dinner and drinks. As featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, this lively, neighborhood saloon offers a large menu and signature drinks but is best known for their Hot Roast Pork Sandwich, the 109 Chestnut Chicken, and Homemade Beer-Battered Onion Rings.

Photo via copperpennync.com


You can hear live music thumping from the doorsteps of just about every bar along the Cape Fear River.  From the Ibiza Nightclub housing a rotation of DJ’s and drag queen shows to microbreweries like Front Street Brewery, this quaint college town comes to life at night.

Travel Noire

Leah Freeman-Haskin

Want more?

Get exclusive, unpublished tips from Travel Noire's CEO to help you get off the beaten path, into the hearts of locals and onto a better, more cultured life.

Mother Names Her Daughter “Sky” After Giving Birth On American Airlines Jetway

Mother Names Her Daughter “Sky” After Giving Birth On American Airlines Jetway

A mother on an American Airlines flight landed with an unexpectant carry-on.  The day before Thanksgiving, on one of the busiest travel days of the year,  Nereida Araujo gave birth to a healthy baby girl after Flight 868 landed in Charlotte, North Carolina from Tampa, Florida. Her unexpected arrival is what inspired the newborn’s name:  […]

Parker Diakite

Visit 4 Wineries For Under $50 With This North Carolina Wine Shuttle

Visit 4 Wineries For Under $50 With This North Carolina Wine Shuttle

Whether you’re looking to get in some cute photos or simply spend a day turning up with your crew, heading to a winery is definitely the move. To make your experience stress-free, the Yadkin Wine Shuttle is available to drive you around all day. Based in the Yadkin Valley area of North Carolina, the region […]

DeAnna Taylor

Pray For Bahamas: Residents Share Videos Of Hurricane Dorian’s Destruction

Pray For Bahamas: Residents Share Videos Of Hurricane Dorian’s Destruction

With torrential rains and wind gusts reportedly over 200 mph on Sunday, Hurricane Dorian has become the strongest hurricane to strike the Bahamas in modern records, according to the National Hurricane Center. As the storm strengthened to a Category 5 on Sunday, forecasters warned residents that the storm could be catastrophic and the flooding as […]

Parker Diakite