Nestled into a scenic southeastern corner of North Carolina, historic Wilmington is home to about 100,000 people. Despite this relatively modest population, the city is booming as a site of film and television production, ranking as high as third in the entire United States for activity behind Los Angeles and New York.
Most visitors to Wilmington aren't there to catch a glimpse of their favorite movie stars, though; they've come for the city's world-famous seafood, spectacular beaches and tours of its celebrated plantations.
The Wilmington area is home to some of the North Carolina coast's most popular beaches, including Wrightsville Beach and Kure Beach.
Some other stops to consider for your itinerary include:
- USS North Carolina battleship memorial: Visitors can tour the deck of this storied battleship, which saw active duty in the Pacific during World War II.
- Cape Fear Museum: The museum's collection offers an interesting look into the rich natural and cultural history of the region.
- Cape Fear Serpentarium: If you're looking for a unique way to spend the day, the city's serpentarium offers an eye-opening look at over 80 different snake species.
- Bellamy Mansion: One of the area's most popular draws for those interested in the region's architectural history, Bellamy Mansion is comprised of a stately Southern manor, carriage house and slave quarters spread across beautifully landscaped gardens.
- Jungle Rapids: This combination leisure ground and water park is open throughout the year, though access to the water park varies seasonally.
Wilmington's proximity to the North Carolina coast also makes it an excellent place to base a visit to the many plantations, colonial towns, boardwalks and beaches in the area. If you want to stay near the beach, you'll find that the Wilmington area's many condo-style vacation rentals make an appealing and comfortable alternative to staying in a crowded hotel. You'll enjoy more privacy and have all the comforts of home while taking in the unique experience of Southern life firsthand. If you're staying in the city rather than on the coast, an apartment rental provides a cozy and personalized alternative to a generic chain hotel.
Wilmington has a temperate subtropical climate and thus remains relatively comfortable throughout the year. If you're visiting for the beaches, though, summer is far and away the best time of year to come.
To take advantage of the rich variation of the area's attractions, you'll probably want to rent a car to get around. However, if you are up for a bike ride, the North Carolina Department of Transportation's Cape Fear Run Bicycling Highway also runs through the Wilmington area, and offers a one-of-a-kind way to experience the region's breathtaking scenery and beautiful weather.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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