Enjoy the action on Wrightsville s four-mile stretch, and in its neighboring mainland regions. Here are our top picks for whiling away the lazy days of summer.
1 Listen to some tunes in open, salty air. The Sounds of Summer Concert Series takes place at Wrightsville Beach Park every Thursday at 6:30 pm from June 19 through August 7, weather permitting.
2 Drop a line from Johnnie Mercer s Pier, the only concrete fishing pier in the state of North Carolina. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, admission is $2 and rod rental is $8. Renovations completed in 2013 also led to the reopening of Crystal Pier for recreational fishing.
3 Savor Wrightsville s culinary offerings, from fish tacos and crab cakes, to Italian ice, ice cream cookie sandwiches and frozen yogurt.
4 Search for sand dollars on the north end, where they are most likely to be found at low tide, especially after a rain storm. After dark, bring a flashlight to spot skittering ghost crabs.
5 Ramp up your workout routine with boot camp, offered every Tuesday and Thursday from 6-7 am on the basketball courts at Wrightsville Beach Park. Purchase class tokens ahead of time from the Wrightsville Beach Park Office.
6 Hang ten at one of Wrightsville s famous surf spots. Short boarders congregate in the waters near the piers and the jetty (500 feet away by law), while long boarders prefer the north end. Beginners can learn the basics with an hourly lesson from one of many local surf instructors.
7 Trek to Masonboro Island, the 8.4-mile undeveloped island that s just a 5-minute boat ride away from Wrightsville. Pitch a tent and camp out under the stars.
8 Learn to shag, an up-tempo offshoot of the jitterbug, then head to Red Dogs in Wrightsville Beach on the first and third Saturday of every month for beach music beginning at 7:30 pm.
9 Hunt for sharks teeth on the beach strand at Fort Fisher in Kure Beach, one of the best places to find them. Walk across Fort Fisher Boulevard South for Civil War artifact exhibits and the structural remains of the fort, an official North Carolina Historic Site.
10 Ride the ferry from Fort Fisher to the quaint town of Southport for an afternoon of antique shopping and dining. Explore the town where Nicholas Sparks Safe Haven was filmed.
11 Book a lesson for one of the East Coast s fastest-growing water sports, standup paddleboarding. Fees average $50, including board rental.
12 Stroll, jog, power-walk or run around the 2.45-mile John Nesbitt Loop. Walk the dog early in the morning, before temps reach 85 degrees or more. Don t forget the pet waste bag!
13 Pick a pound of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries or green bell peppers at Lewis Nursery and Farm on Gordon Road in Wilmington. Enjoy organic ice cream or a milkshake, made with fresh fruit.
14 Bike the River to Sea course from downtown Wilmington to Wrightsville Beach, a 20-mile scenic trek.
15 Visit recovering sick and injured sea turtles at the Karen Beasley Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Surf City, which is open for summer tours. Cross the bridge to Topsail Island for a dip in the ocean or a sea glass hunt on the shore.
16 Glide along the Cape Fear River boardwalk on a Segway tour. Cape Fear Segway offers one-hour tours along the downtown Wilmington waterfront and boardwalk for $40.
17 Slither into the Cape
Fear Serpentarium in downtown Wilmington for a look at some of the world s most venomous snakes, like the Gaboon viper, the Central American bushmaster, the puff adder and many others.
18 Pose beside a turret for a photo op at the USS North Carolina Battleship, one of the most highly decorated battleships to see combat during World War II, earning 15 battle stars. The ship is open every day for tours.
19 Charter a fishing expedition and hook dinner with one of Wrightsville Beach s many commercial fishing charters.
20 Shop for local goodies like fresh fruits and veggies, herbs, baked goods and handmade crafts at the Wrightsville Beach Farmers Market, every Monday at 8 am until 1 pm through Labor Day.
From building sand castles to exploring Wrightsville Beach s historic past, the island and surrounding region is brimming with summer vacation activities and attractions for kids including museums, surf camps, mini golfing, skateboarding, paddle boating, outdoor movies and more.
There are four churches located on the island of Wrightsville Beach, and many more located on the mainland in Wilmington. Worship services, Bible studies, vacation Bible school sessions and more are offered for locals and seasonal visitors.
Parking is available in a total of ten lots on the island, as well as approximately 1,500 on-street metered spaces for a fee of $2.50 per hour. Parking rates apply between 9 am and 6 pm.
Those who wish to say I do with their toes in the sand may find the perfect backdrop on the beach strand. Couples wishing to plan a beach wedding should first file for a special event permit with the Town of Wrightsville Beach Parks and Recreation department. The cost of the permit varies depending on the number of participants; rented restroom facilities are required for weddings with parties of 200 or more.
Cannonball jellyfish, bottlenose dolphins, common sea stars and many others can easily be spotted during the summer, when the ocean flourishes with critters. Animal lovers can visit the nearby butterfly house, serpentarium, sea turtle hospital and aquarium to get up close and personal with indigenous wildlife.