What do to, where to eat and where to stay for a weekend in Wilmington, North Carolina
A few weekends ago, I went to Wilmington, N.C. for a few days of solo vacation. (If you haven’t read my post why I take solo vacations once a year, read that here!) Wilmington is such a cute town, and I haven’t been back since I ran the 2017 Wrightsville Beach Marathon (here’s my race recap). I got my first Boston Qualifying time at that race and it was right after Tommy and I got engaged (here’s how he proposed!), so Wilmington and its island beaches hold a very special place in my heart!
Wilmington and its island beaches are definitely worth adding to your bucket list for a weekend getaway, whether you’re traveling solo, with girlfriends or with your main squeeze. It’s an easy drive from Winston-Salem and pretty much anywhere in North Carolina (or South Carolina!). And there is so much to do! Wilmington was hit really hard by a hurricane last year and I couldn’t believe how quickly they’ve recovered from the damage. Wilmington is definitely open for business. I was so happy to see so many people walking around downtown, supporting such a great city full of lovely people.
Below is what I did on my weekend visit – and I’m already ready for another trip to do more! And the Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau website is another great resource as you’re planning your trip. It has all the best places to stay, things to do and places to eat in one place.
Saturday – Day 1!
I headed to Wilmington on a Saturday after doing a long run and got there in time for a late lunch. When I arrived, I swung by Blue Surf Café and crushed a burger and side salad before checking into my hotel right in downtown Wilmington. I stayed at the Hotel Ballast and was walking distance to everything, but the hotel was still so quiet. Sometimes hotels that are super convenient are also a bit loud – not this one. The hotel was spotless, the bed was comfortable and the views were gorgeous. I highly recommend staying there.
Between lunch and dinner, I wandered around downtown a bit.
I popped into Edge of Urge, a seriously cute boutique. It would be the perfect spot to find a gift for anyone and also some new clothes and jewelry for yourself. I walked away with a million cards; when I find good ones, I stock up!
Best Dinner Spot
Not exaggerating, my meal at PinPoint Restaurant in downtown Wilmington goes down as one of the best of my life. I had no idea Wilmington was such a foodie city and this place alone is worth a trip. The chef was a complete gem, working around my dietary restrictions (gluten and dairy) and the service was amazing. I love traveling and dining alone and the employees made the experience even better, treating me like an old friend.
I ate at PinPoint for brunch when I was there for my marathon, but I was so ravenous I don’t even remember what I ate. This dinner was a meal I won’t forget! The oysters were the best I’ve EVER had. All of the fish was amazing. He even had vegan ice cream – coconut milk peanut butter ice cream. SERIOUSLY. I wanted to cry, everything was so delicious. I’m serious — this restaurant alone is worth making a trip to Wilmington.
The ambiance was lively but not loud. I saw couples on date night, a group of women celebrating a birthday, parties of 6+, and a few other solo diners like me. It is seriously the perfect spot for anyone to stop by, regardless of your purpose or group size.
Yoga + Post-Yoga Sunday Brunch
On Sunday morning, I hit up Axis Yoga for a heated mobility class. The studio is gorgeous, everyone was so friendly and I LOVED the mobility class. An hour of foam rolling was exactly what I needed after my long run the day before. I didn’t realize how close I was to the beach or I would have swung over there for a post-class stroll! But, I still had a pretty good post-class activity: Cast Iron Kitchen.
I sat at the bar and met some fantastic women who were also visiting for the weekend. They said they specifically came to Wilmington because they are foodies! We had a great time comparing notes of restaurants we had been to and planned to hit during our weekend. I also had a great time inhaling this breakfast hash.
Best Coffee Shop
By the time I finished brunch, it was nearly lunchtime but I was STUFFED. I headed back to the hotel to relax for a bit (those views though) and then decided to stroll around a different area of Wilmington. I headed over to the South Front District, grabbing some gluten-free banana bread and a latte from Love, Lydia. It was the coffee shop of dreams (so bright and airy!), and I knew the treats would be amazing since one of the employees at PinPoint told me that Lydia is engaged to the chef at PinPoint. It did not disappoint.
I grabbed a very late lunch at The Fork ‘N Cork. The burger was amazing but as someone who is obsessed with fries, that was the real highlight of the meal for me. I ate ALL OF THEM. The server and both parties on either side of me at the bar commented that they were shocked by my appetite. Ha! I don’t mess around with fries, especially during marathon training. 😉
I wandered around Wilmington some more, in hopes of working up an appetite before dinner, stopping at the Second Street Mural. And then I realized it was right next to manna avenue restaurant, so I knew exactly where I was headed for dinner! I debated heading out to the beach, which is about a 20-minute drive from downtown, but I opted instead to just sit along the riverfront at Board and Barrel. The patio is beautiful, right along the water.
Another favorite restaurant in downtown Wilmington: manna avenue
I was given a cozy table at manna avenue, overlooking the dining room. The ambiance was a little more formal and quieter than PinPoint and looked like a great spot for date night. I also loved taking myself on a date there.
Rainy Day plans
On my last morning, the weather was unfortunately pretty miserable! But hey, I had two gorgeous days before that so I can’t complain! I hit up the treadmill for my run since marathon training doesn’t stop for vacation and then went to Love, Lydia one more time.
Again, my plans to hit the beach were foiled since there was a parade and I couldn’t figure out how to get out there with the detours, ha! (Now as I’m writing this, I realized I should have just asked the hotel. Face palm.) But, it gave me time to pack up my things, chat with Tommy and Maizey before heading to my facial at Ki Spa and Salon.
The facial was so relaxing and the spa was beautiful. I saw Rachel (@skinsta_rk) and she was so sweet, and the facial was SO nice. Gentle but effective – perfect combo. I’d definitely ask for her when you book an appointment.
AND, total bonus is that I quickly realized Ki Spa is located right next to Epic Food. I discovered that place on my solo vacation to Carolina Beach a few years ago and STILL think about it. I got a salad with mahi mahi and a kombucha. (They’re also super accommodating to all dietary restrictions.) It was a perfect way to refuel before heading back to Winston!
You can see more from my trip in my Instagram Story highlights under Wilmington! Definitely add it to your must-visit places! It’s a perfect spot for a girls’ trip, family vacation or a getaway with your love!
Restaurants in and near Wilmington
- PinPoint Restaurant
- manna avenue Restaurant
- Epic Food
- Board and Barrel
- The Fork ‘N Cork
- Cast Iron Kitchen
- RX Restaurant & Bar
- Adapt Kitchen & Juice Bar
- Shark Bar & Kitchen
Breweries & Bars
Things to do in Wilmington, NC
- Axis Yoga
- Ki Spa and Salon
- Shop and meander! So many great spots in the heart of downtown
- Greenfield Park Lake Trail
- Cameron Art Museum
- Hit the beaches!
This post was sponsored by Wilmington and Beaches Conventions & Visitors Bureau but all opinions are honest and my own, as always! Be sure to check out the Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau website – it’s a fantastic resource to leverage for planning your own vacation, including places to stay, things to do and where to eat!