After an incredible day in Charlotte, we drove 200 miles east to the port city of Wilmington, located on the Cape Fear River is Coastal North Carolina.
I’m so lucky that my amazing friend Samantha happens to live in Wilmington and she graciously volunteered to be my tour guide. Wilmington – sometimes referred to as “Hollywood East” is also home to many network TV shows including some of my favourites as I was growing up.
I wish I’d had more time to explore, but here are a few highlights I recommend if you are short on time
Explore the Wilmington Riverwalk
The Historic Riverwalk was definitely one of my favourite parts of the city. At just under 2 miles long (1.75 miles to be exact), it stretches along the bank of the Cape Fear River in historic downtown Wilmington, from the foot of Nun Street on the South to the Isabel Holmes bridge on the North and is a great vantage point to check out the gorgeous Carolinan sunsets and battleship NC.
The entire historic downtown is extremely compact and walkable – but be sure to wear some comfy shoes.
Fun fact: The Riverwalk is also Wilmington’s 1 Tourist attraction.
Go for Retail Therapy on Front St and Historic Downtown
Shopping in Wilmington’s River District is an adventure all in itself. You will discover new treasures in old buildings, including the 19th-century Cotton Exchange’s eight restored buildings that now house over 30shops and restaurants that are connected by open-air courtyards. The century-old Chandler’s Wharf building is home to several unique boutiques. Walk along Market and Front Streets for an eclectic mix of locally owned shops offering everything from one-of-a-kind gifts and vintage or designer clothing to TV show memorabilia, art and antiques.
A few of my favourites included:
- The Cotton Exchange
- The Old Wilmington Candle Company
- The Black Cat Shoppe (seen in One Tree Hill & Dawson’s Creek)
- Bespoke Coffee & Dry Good Company
- Bottega Art & Wine
- Krazy Mike’z (great for show memorabilia)
- Down Island Traders
Be sure to grab a cup of coffee at Port City Java (not pictured) to help you fuel up for your day
Coastal Fare with Southern Flair
Wilmington boasts over 40 locally owned restaurants, bars and cafe’s to help you refuel after a long day shopping or touring the city serving a variety of coastal fare with a southern flair with an abundance of seafood and farm to table ingredients.
Fun fact: Follow the Wilmington “Ale Trail” to discover pubs, craft breweries and bottle shops guaranteed to quench any thirst.
A few miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city, you can find 3 gorgeous beaches (Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville beach) that will round out your vacation, offer exquisite views and allow you time for some much needed rest and relaxation.
Sam and I decided to take the short drive to Wrightsville Beach to take a walk in the ocean.
Tour the OTH Locations
No visit to Wilmington would be complete without a tour of some of the filming locations for one of my favourite shows ever…One Tree Hill. Although many of the locations are private homes or have now transformed into different businesses it definitely an experience walking around the city and seeing it through a different lens.
I only had a couple of days, but it’s amazing how quickly I felt at home here. I really loved Wilmington and will definitely be spending more time here.
Update September 2018: Sadly Wilmington was badly hit by Hurricane Florence and the community needs help to re-build. Every little bit helps.
You can find out options to donate here.