We culled the local scene to come up with our Top 25 list of things you must do when you visit Wrightsville Beach this summer. Whether you cram it all into one weekend or stretch it out the length of a leisurely stay, youll want to get your bearings if you dont already have them before setting out with our checklist that includes WB hot spots and our favorite things to do over the bridge.
First, facing east, turn right toward the South End, where youll find Masonboro Inlet and just beyond it, Masonboro Island. Turn left for the North End and Mason Inlet. About-face to find Banks Channel and all of its tributaries, Motts Channel to the South and Lees Cut to the north. Both flow into the Intracoastal Waterway beneath the Heide Trask Drawbridge you crossed to get here.
At just four miles long and less than a mile wide, its hard to believe theres so much to see and do in so little time. Enjoy!
1/ Be one with nature and stroll the North End beach strand early morning. Look for sea turtle tracks. After that, bird watch at Audubons Mason Inlet Waterbird Management Area before setting out for no mans land. Destination: everyones favorite mailbox where pen and pad await your soulful sonnets sent to your secret summer sweetheart postmarked Wrightsville Beach.
2/ Blast into the past at the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History (303 West Salisbury Street, 910-256-2569) and learn about Lumina Pavilion and the Golden Age of Wrightsville. Then tie on your dancing shoes and partake in one of Wrightsvilles oldest forms of merriment shagging to beach music at Red Dogs (5 N. Lumina Ave., 910- 256-2776).
3/ Head to the Wrightsville Beach Farmers Market on Old Causeway Drive on Mondays for the farm-raised local produce, fresh-caught seafood, tasty homemade gourmet treats and artisan-made breads, sauces and pickled peppers.
4/ Splash around. Rent a surfboard, take a private lesson or enroll in surf camp. Kayak or standup paddleboard around the Banks Channel moat and explore Kenan Creek and all of the other marsh trails. Rent a beach cruiser and see the island from a different point of view or rent some scuba gear and dive into Wrightsville like you never have before.
5/ Stroll the strand. Challenge yourself to an early morning pier-to-pier stroll from Johnnie Mercers Pier to Crystal Pier. Re-fuel above the water at the Oceanic Restaurant. On the way back, scope the sand for one of Mother Oceans treasures. Who knows, you might get lucky and find a starfish to remind you of Wrightsville Beach. 703 S. Lumina Ave., 910-256-5551\
6/ Act like a local. Walk, stroll, jog or run around the scenic 2.45-mile John Nesbitt Loop, then grab a tub of Roberts chicken salad and all the fixins (Roberts Market, 32 N. Lumina Ave., 910-256-2641) and picnic at Wynn Plaza at sundown.
7/ After a day of sun and fun, throw out a blanket, cuddle up under the stars with the family and spend a relaxing evening in Wrightsville Beach Park catching a concert. Family Movie Night begins Fridays in September.
8/ Eat your way around town. Start with a hearty breakfast at Causeway Caf (114 Causeway Drive, 910-256-3730). For lunch, tease your taste buds with a Trolly Dog at the Trolly Stop (1 S. Lumina Ave., 910-256-3421), then grab some fried pickles and crab nachos next door at South Beach Grill (910-256-4646). End the day with fish tacos at Tower 7 (4 N. Lumina Ave., 910-256-8585).
9/ Get on the water. Rent a boat and dine out dockside at one of four fabulous local restaurants on the Intracoastal Waterway, then journey to Masonboro Island, throw out the anchor and trek to the oceanside for some awesome shelling. Dont forget the bucket and shovel!
10/ Charter an inshore fishing expedition and aim to catch drum or flounder for dinner. Or buy locally caught shrimp at Motts Channel Seafood and prepare a classic Carolina Boil loaded with new potatoes, corn on the cob all dumped out on a paper-covered table with drawn butter on the side. Yum!
11/ Paddleboat on Greenfield Lake. See the cypress trees draped with Spanish moss. Keep your eyes open for turtles sunning on logs, fish, birds and if youre lucky an alligator or two. Greenfield Lake: located near South Third Street. Boat rentals: 910-762-5606
12/ Nature tour. Spend a day getting back to your roots with nature. Book passage with Captain Doug Springer aboard The Wilmington for an au natural catamaran tour of the Cape Fear and Black rivers. Wilmington Water Tours: 212 S. Water St., 910-338-3134
13/ Tour downtown. Take a ride in a carriage with Horsedrawn Tours or hop on The Wilmington Trolley Companys trolley for a narrated tour of Historic Downtown Wilmington. Then, with a Kilwins ice cream cone in hand, stroll the Cape Fear Riverwalk along Water Street.
Springbrook Farms, INC. Horsedrawn Tours begin at Market Street between Water and Front streets, 910-251-8889
The Wilmington Trolley Company, 910-763-4483
Kilwins Chocolate & Ice Cream, 16 Market St., 910-772-1298
14/ Get your hands wet in the touch tank at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, then take the Fort Fisher Ferry to Southport. Fill your belly with lunch at the Fishy, Fishy Caf or the Yacht Basin Provision Company, then take scenic River Road/Route 87 back to the beach and visit the ruins of Brunswick Town the cradle of New Hanover County history.
N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher, 900 Loggerhead Road, Kure Beach, 910-458-8257
Fort Fisher-Southport Ferry, 2242 S. Fort Fisher Blvd., 910-458-3329
Fishy, Fishy Caf, 106 Yacht Basin Drive, 910-457-1881
Yacht Basin Provision Company,130 Yacht Basin Drive, 910-457-0654
Brunswick Town, 8884 St. Philips Road, SE Winnabow, N.C., 910-371-6613
15/ Take a walk on the dark side. Some of the Cape Fear areas best-preserved history lies in its cemeteries. Oakdale is a great first choice for a final resting place tour. After that, sign up for the Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington for a tour of downtowns eeriest haunts.
Oakdale Cemetery, 520 N. 15th St., 910-762-5682
Haunted Wilmington, 910-794-1866
16/ Take your camera to visit Airlie Gardens Butterfly House. The second Wednesday of each month, bird hike on the North Carolina Birding Trail. After sunset, be wowed at the illuminated Minnie Evans Bottle Chapel. Airlie Gardens, 300 Airlie Road, 910-798-7700
17/ Golf the Muni Wilmingtons 18 holes designed by Donald Ross. Or check out the putt-putt course at Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park for the little golfers.
The Wilmington Municipal Golf Course, 311 S. Wallace Ave., 910-791-0558
Jungle Rapids, 5320 Oleander Drive, 910-791-0666
18/ Dine outdoors at Indochines Thai garden and order Bun Thit Nuong a refreshing cold noodle dish, perfect for summer nights. Indochine Restaurant,
7 Wayne Drive, 910-251-9229
19/ Catch an earful. Enjoy free music at Airlie Gardens Concert Series 2011, Mayfaires Music on the Town, UNCWs Summer Nights Under the Stars, or the Downtown Sundown concert series on the Cape Fear Riverwalk on Friday nights.
Airlie Gardens, 300 Airlie Road, 910-798-7700
Mayfaire Town Center, 6835 Conservation Way, 910-265-5131
UNCW Summer Nights Under the Stars, 601 S. College Road, Cultural Arts Building, 910-962-3195
Cape Fear Riverwalk, North Water Street between Princess and Market streets
20/ Historic Home tours. Visit the historic Latimer House, home of the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society and pick up a walking tour map of historic Wilmingtons mansion row. Dont miss the Burgwin-Wright house or the Bellamy Mansion Museum of History & Design Arts.
The Latimer House, 126 S. Third St., 910-762-0492
The Burgwin-Wright House, 224 Market St., 910-762-0570
Bellamy Mansion Museum of History & Design Arts, 503 Market St., 910-251-3700
21/ Shop til you drop. Check out the Cotton Exchange and Front Streets specialty boutiques for one-of-a-kind souvenirs, gaze at local art in any of the 20 galleries, and then hop over to Castle Street for antiquing. After a long day of shopping, grab a cup of Joe and rest your feet at Jesters Java.
The Cotton Exchange, 321 N. Front St., 910-254-9281
Jesters Java, 607 Castle St., 910-763-6555
22/ For the foodies. Sign up for Liz Biros culinary walking tour of Wilmington and sample a true taste of the city or enjoy fine dining at one of several riverfront restaurants and catch a spectacular view of the Cape Fear River at sunset. Culinary Adventures with Liz Biro, 910-545-8055
23/ Grab some peanuts and Cracker Jacks and root for the home team, the Wilmington Sharks, at Legion Stadium. Legion Stadium, 2221 Carolina Beach Road, 910-343-5621
24/ Light up the stage. Watch a top-notch performance at Thalian Hall or laugh it up with a free improv comedy show at Nutt Street Comedy Room.
Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts Inc., 310 Chestnut St., 910-632-2241
Nutt Street Bar & Comedy Room,
255 N. Front St., in the basement under The Soapbox Laundro-Lounge, 910-251-7881
25/ Tour the USS North Carolina Battleship, Wilmingtons flagship and one of World War IIs most decorated fighting ships. USS Battleship North Carolina, 1 Battleship Road, 910-251-5797