Wilmington, North Carolina is a short trip for many military families stationed in the Southeast. This quaint, historic town has much to offer those looking for ideal Southern charm, like that of Charleston, but at a more affordable cost. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway with your husband or a family trip to the coast, these local tips will be sure to make your trip to Wilmington a memorable one.
The cobblestone roads canopied by Spanish moss-draped oaks make Wilmington, North Carolina look like something out of a Nicolas Spark’s novel. This picturesque town doesn’t disappoint when it comes to restaurants and nightlife. Treat yourself to a weekend away with a few of these date night ideas:
- Tarantelli’s — Tarantelli’s pappardelle rivals pasta in Rome. The atmosphere is elegant and romantic, yet not so formal it’s stiff. If you order the pizza, they actually bring kitchen shears for you to cut it with! The food is divine, and the staff makes you feel like family. Not in the mood for pasta or pizza? Try the pistachio-crusted steak and the tiramisu…to die for.
- Tails Piano Bar — When you enter Tails, you immediately feel as though you’ve been transported to the 1920s. The art deco décor, impressive chandelier, and playful lounge seating welcome you to relax and sip on a signature cocktail in style. Tails hosts live music five nights a week and has a cozy outdoor patio to enjoy an evening under the stars.
- Little Dipper — It doesn’t get much more romantic than melty cheese, warm chocolate, and your choice of fondue. The Little Dipper is a local fondue restaurant right off Front Street and steps away from the waterfront. If you don’t want a full meal, you can dine on their patio outside and select from their limited menu of cheese and chocolate.
- Cloud 9 at Embassy Suites — Searching for a rooftop bar overlooking the Cape Fear River? Well, Wilmington has that too. The Embassy Suites opened Cloud 9 in the summer of 2018, and now locals and visitors can dine and sip while watching the sunset over the river.
Did your service member somehow forget to tell you there’s a 72 this weekend? Put off the chores for another time, and pack up the kids for a weekend away. After all, last-minute planning is pretty much a military spouse prequalification, right? These eight activities will guarantee a great time in Wilmington:
- Wrightsville Beach — With miles of coastline and plenty of public access points, Wrightsville Beach is only 20 minutes away from downtown Wilmington. Be sure to arrive early, as public parking is limited and fills up quickly in the summertime. There are plenty of local restaurants and shops to visit off Lumina Avenue if you forget to pack a cooler.
- USS North Carolina — If your kids can’t get enough of military warfare, the USS North Carolina is a must see. Permanently docked in the Cape Fear River, the WWII battleship is open daily to visitors at a modest price of $10 per person with a military ID. Kids under 5 are free! Your kids will love touring the tight corridors where sailors slept and reenacting battles with the stationary guns on deck.
- Children’s Museum of Wilmington — Educational fun? Is there such a thing? Your kids won’t even know you’ve tricked them into cognitive thinking when they explore over 15 different hands-on exhibits. Better yet, children under 12 are free, and tickets for parents are $8.75 with a military ID.
- Defy Gravity — Need something that’ll wear the kids out by dinnertime? Defy Gravity’s trampoline park is perfect for rainy days when the beach isn’t an option. They do offer military discounts, though only in person, not online.
- Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park — Have a picky crowd? Jungle Rapids has something for the whole family. This mini amusement park has a water park, mini-golf, go-karts, laser tag, an arcade, and more. It’s another great spot to venture to if the weather turns sour. Be sure to check out their website because prices vary based on activity and time.
- A Day on the Lewis Farms — If you’re visiting in May or June, you’ve hit the berry trifecta. Lewis Farms offers you-pick strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries during this time. Explore the farm with your family, then treat yourself to homemade ice cream (flavored with the berries that you picked).
- Cape Fear Riverboat Ride — After exploring historic downtown Wilmington, take an hour-long sightseeing cruise aboard Cape Fear Riverboats. They are conveniently located right off Water Street. You can purchase food and drinks at their dockside restaurant or bring your own meals on the ship.
- Wilmington Ice House — Visiting in the winter or just want to escape the heat? Wilmington has an indoor ice rink! Admission and skate rentals will cost you about $10 per person. Just be sure to check their master schedule online to ensure it’s open to public skating before heading up Market Street.
When the family starts to get hungry, Wilmington has a few quick-bite options that won’t eat up too much time or disappoint your taste buds:
Looking for more fun along the East Coast? Check out 5 Ways to Unlock an Adventurous Life in Quantico, VA!