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Getaway Guide to Wilmington, NC

August 4, 2012 6:00 AM

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When people in North Carolina go to the beach, it is likely they are headed to the Wilmington area. Perfect as a vacation for Charlotteans, it offers relaxation, tourism and fun all rolled into one, and it is not too far away. Head out solo or take the whole family, trips to Wilmington always promise memories that’ll last a lifetime.

Getting There
Getting to Wilmington from Charlotte couldn’t be much easier. Just get on US 74 (AKA Independence Drive in the
city), and head east. The drive is almost 200 miles and should take between 3.5 and 4 hours, depending on traffic
and red lights along the way. US 74 actually goes all the way to the water’s edge at Wrightsville Beach.

 Getaway Guide to Wilmington, NC

(photo credit: wilmingtonandbeaches.com)

Wrightsville Beach
Wilmington, NC 28401
(877) 406-2356

Of course, the major attraction in going to Wilmington is going to the beach. There are three to choose from in the area: Kure, Carolina  and Wrightsville. To get to Kure or Carolina beaches, go south on Highway 421 to Pleasure Island. Kure is a quiet beach with a fishing pier, and Carolina Beach has a pier as well as an old fashioned boardwalk with plenty of small shops. Wrightsville Beach is the closest to Wilmington and the most popular. To get there, simply get on the main road — U.S. 74 — and drive east. Stop before you drive into the ocean, and you’ll be at Wrightsville Beach. This is a five-mile stretch of white sand and sparkling blue water inviting all comers for swimming, surfing, sunbathing or to the pier for fishing. Wrightsville Beach is a barrier island, and the community there also offers a city park, full-service marinas and a museum of history.

henrys Getaway Guide to Wilmington, NC

(photo credit: henrysrestaurant.com)

2508 Independence Blvd.
Wilmington, NC 28412
(919) 851-0858

Before getting to the beach, one might be hungry. Whether it is lunch or dinner time when you arrive in Downtown Wilmington, stop at local favorite, Henry’s. It will be easy to spot, as it is right on US 74 in Barclay Commons. Henry’s boasts a wide menu, offering seafood, steak, pasta and chicken, as well as a lighter lunch menu with salads, soups and sandwiches. If you are fortunate enough to go on a Friday, live music begins at 5:30 p.m.

screen shot 2012 07 06 at 4 38 50 pm Getaway Guide to Wilmington, NC

(photo credit: jerrysfoodandwine.com)

7220 Wrightsville Ave.
Wilmington, NC 28403
(910) 256-8847

For eating a little later in the evening, another local favorite is Jerry’s, which opens every evening at 6 p.m. You will find it in a strip mall on the right just before you cross the causeway to Wrightsville Beach. There is an extensive wine list, and entrees include steak, pasta, seafood, and if you like rack of lamb, you’re in for a real treat.

screen shot 2012 07 06 at 4 40 05 pm Getaway Guide to Wilmington, NC

(photo credit: verandas.com)

The Verandas
202 Nun St.
Wilmington, NC 28401
(910) 251-2212

Price: from $189

When it comes to bed and breakfasts, Wilmington has dozens. One of the nicest is The Verandas, located just four blocks from Historic Wilmington’s shopping district and two blocks from the Cape Fear waterfront. In the morning, gather for a gourmet breakfast. There are complimentary beverages and snacks in the Butler’s Pantry all day long as well. Then, starting at 5 p.m. every day, enjoy complimentary wine. Stay in one of eight large guest rooms, all are corner rooms and all have at least a queen-size bed.

Related: Fun for the Road

childrens museum Getaway Guide to Wilmington, NC

(photo image: playwilmington.org)

Children’s Museum of Wilmington
116 Orange St.
Wilmington, NC 28401
(910) 254-3534

Price: $8

If you have children, be sure not to miss the Children’s Museum. Child-centric and geared toward those younger than 10, kids may explore an art studio, a miniature grocery store, a teddy bear hospital and a science center among the exhibits. This place will stimulate their imaginations and provide plenty of experiences for fun and play. It is easy to find, right in historic downtown Wilmington.

 Getaway Guide to Wilmington, NC

(photo credit: battleshipnc.com)

Battleship North Carolina
#1 Battleship Road
Wilmington, NC 28401
(910) 251-5797

Price: $12 for those 12 and older/$6 for children ages 6 to 11/free for children younger than 6/$10 seniors and military

While you are in Wilmington, it is unlikely that you will not notice the city’s biggest attraction moored across the Cape Fear River from downtown’s Riverfront Park where it has been for 50 years. It is called the Battleship U.S.S. North Carolina. The battleship participated in every major Pacific battle during World War II, and won 15 battle stars before being decommissioned in 1947. Scheduled by the Navy to be scrapped, it was saved by a state-wide campaign which began in 1958 and in 1961 it was moved from New Jersey to its present location. A self-guided informative historical tour of the battleship takes about two hours.

 Getaway Guide to Wilmington, NC

(photo credit: wilmingtontrolley.com)

Wilmington Trolley Company
15 South Water St.
Wilmington, NC 28401
(910) 763-4483

Price: $11 adults/free children 12 and younger with a paying adult

An old-fashioned style trolley leaves every hour between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. for a 45-minute narrated tour of historic downtown Wilmington. See shipyards from the Civil War era, beautiful mansions and birthplaces of the city’s famous natives. The Wilmington Trolley also is available to charter for special occasions.

Related: Road Trip Rules

Vincent Eagan, III is a minister who has preached and taught Jesus in 30 states and Peru over the last 15 years. He currently lives in Monroe, NC, and is working on his MTh in Theology. He has been a life-long student of the Bible and other religious texts, and loves to discuss history. His work can be found at Examiner.com.

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