Three Day Getaway: Wilmington NC

With Spring and Summer on the horizon, the Carolina Coast is calling. Tom and I have traveled to the Carolina coast many times before. From Beaufort, and Southport to Down East, and while we recently have headed out to the inner banks to discover New Bern, and often go up to the Pamlico Sound, we’d never been to Wilmington NC before. At least not for any length of time.

I’m here to tell you the Wilmington/ Wrightsville Beach area is a great place to visit with lots of ways to eat and drink locally – so you know I loved that.

There is history at every turn and two unexpected finds during our three day getaway to Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, made this vaca one to remember. When I dive into any vacation destination, I dive deep, particularly when it comes to the food. So fasten your seatbelts and get ready for the fun. Take notes and make reservations – there is lots awaiting you in Wilmington NC

Where to stay

Our home base for this three day weekend was the beautiful Verandas B&B. This historic home is nestled in Wilmington’s historic district just 2 blocks off the Cape Fear River. The inn is in easy walking distance to the riverfront, several museums, historic homes, restaurants and shopping.

If you need to office-in while you are away, use the inn’s parlor or anyone of the several porches or the back patio.

The staff, service and attention to detail is top notch. Breakfast is served daily, while coffee service and fresh baked cookies are available to guests through the day.

Eating it all Up

Once you are unpacked and settled in, get ready to eat up all the coastal city of Wilmington NC has to offer. Most recently, two top notch chefs have put the Port City on the map with 2023 James Beard nominations for Best Chef of the Year Semi Finalist honors. Chef Keith Rhodes at Catch Restaurant and Chef Dean Neff at Seabird are both well deserved of the accolades. Wishing them both the best moving forward in the competition. We enjoyed dinners at both restaurants and can’t wait to go back.

Catch Restaurant in Wilmington NC

Open since 2006, the menu at Catch is a salute to Southern cuisine with a focus on seafood. The restaurant is located just outside of all the hustle and bustle of downtown Wilmington at 6623 Market Street.

From the beginning, it has been Chef Keith’s mission is to source locally from fishermen and women along the coast. Alongside the seasonal seafood on the menu, is a host of other local produce, proteins and product. The food is not complicated, instead, flavors speak for the themselves. Rhodes has been honored with James Beard nods in the past and has been featured on Bravo TV’s Top Chef, season 9, all with good reason. Craft cocktails are shaken and stirred to order and the service couldn’t be better. You’ll feel like family and your first time won’t be your last. It’s a popular spot – call for reservations before you go. The restaurant is open for dinner Tuesday – Saturday 5:30-9pm.

Follow the social media and keep your eyes open for Catch, the Food Truck, as well.

Wilmington NC’s Seabird Restaurant

Seabird is nestled in the historic downtown district of Wilmington at 1 South Front Street.. Like at most popular dining spots in the city, reservations are a must. We loved snagging a seat at the bar, but there is also a chef’s counter in the dining room where you can enjoy watching the hustle and bustle of the kitchen while you dine.

The menu here changes with the seasons and what’s available locally. Dean Neff is also mad about sourcing local seafood and like Keith Rhodes sources much of his shellfish from area fisherwoman, Anna Shellem of Shell’em Seafood. The raw oyster service at Seabird comes with lots of accoutrements and add ons, so it’s a great way to start; but pay attention to daily specials as well.

The night we dined, this Shell’em whelk ceviche studded with wild oysters and clams, garnished with local nasturtium blossoms, served in a hand clam shell was on the menu – there are not enough superlatives. The craft cocktails are the bomb – so plan to spend the evening to slowly take it all in bite by bite, sip by sip.

Seabird also offers counter service of fresh baked pastries and coffee weekday mornings, lunch midday; and is open for brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Don’t miss it!

More ways to Eat and drink locally in Wilmington NC

Its always fun to stop in at area breweries , wineries and distilleries when you travel and for us, End of Days Distillery was one of our first stops of our trip. I told you about their canned cocktails in my most recent Eat Local/Drink Local post.

When we stopped by we enjoyed finely crafted cocktails at the bar, a distillery tour and a fun little tasting of all the spirits they produce. You’ll want to do the same. Fun Fact – the distillery’s swag and bottle shop is open on Sunday’s – check it out at

Don’t Ever Miss A Farmers Market

If you follow my social media then you already know that my Saturday mornings are spent at shopping locally at area farmers markets. I do the same when I travel, because its the very best way I think to get a taste of the all the area offers. In Wilmington there are several markets opening up in Spring and Summer, but on this trip, Tom and I skipped breakfast at the B&B and walked the Wilmington Farmers Market at the Tidal Creek Coop.

We enjoyed fabulous croissants and bagels from Wilmington Bread Company. Then, had the pleasure of talking with Chef Jessica Cabo of the Blockade Runner Beach Resort in Wrightsville Beach, at the market for a chef’s demo. Later, we enjoyed a lovely lunch at the Blockade runner as well. At the market, I loved meeting lots of growers and makers at the market including the new owners of Sea Love Sea Salt. You can read more about these locally made 100% solar evaporated sea salts here. Then be sure to order them to enjoy at home from their website here.

In Wilmington, Even the plants eat locally

Fun Fact…The Venus Flytrap only grows naturally within a 75 mile radius of Wilmington, NC. In fact, its NC official carnivorous plant – who knew? Don’t miss the chance to see hundreds – maybe more of these fascinating plants. You’ll find them at the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden, located at 2025 Independence Blvd.

Just follow the signs and walk the trail though the gardens. When we went in late February, it was still early, so you’ll need to look closely at these photos – but the little baby budding fly traps are there. The plants were just popping up out of the ground. It was fascinating. Like much we discovered in Wilmington, we can’t wait to go back.

Trails, Gardens; Boats and Beaches

There are many historical tours in Wilmington and lots of museums to take in. The weather was beautiful during our stay, so we opted to stay outdoors. We spent one afternoon enjoying Airlie Gardens. Check out the website for birding tours and speicial events, or buy a ticket and walk the gardens on your own.

Home to a 400 year old oak tree and lots of wildlife, it will prove to be a relaxing break in the day. On a pretty day expect all kinds of wading birds such as white ibises, blue herons and white egrets, turtles taking sun baths and, in season, hundreds of camellias in bloom.

Tour the USS North Carolina

If you are walking the riverwalk in downtown Wilmington, one of the most noteable sites across the Cape Fear River is the Battleship North Carolina.

In 2020, Wilmington became the nation’s first WWII Heritage City. Today visitors are reminded of the sacrifices and successes of the battles during World War II with a guided or self-guided tour of the USS North Carolina. Plan about 90 mins or so as there are 9 decks to explore. If you don’t have time to tour the battleship itself, don’t miss the experience. Instead of boarding the ship, you can walk around it instead. Drive to the park, just over the Cape Fear Memorial bridge, or in season, take a boat from the riverwalk across the river to the ship.

We enjoyed strolling the SECU Memorial Walkway that encircles the historic ship as much as we were fascinated being on board.

More of all the Good Eats Wilmington has to offer

There is so much to share – follow my social media over the next couple of weeks, for more details. In the meantime though, here is a don’t miss list of great places to eat in Wilmington, NC #TellThemHeidiSentYou

Indochine Restaurant – 7 Wayne Drive

A must stop if you love Asian Cuisine, the Thai and Vietnamese flavors here are spot on. The interiors and outdoor gardens are stunning and if you are one to take photos, there is a photo op at every turn. More at

Roberts Grocery in Wrightsville Beach, NC

Known, far and wide, for its homemade chicken salad, available on sandwiches and in to-go containers, this historic grocery store is a must stop. Also inside Roberts you can enjoy coffees, teas and smoothies at Adapt Kitchen+ Juice Bar.

manna avenue 123 – 123 Princess Street

Another not-to-be missed Chef driven dining experience, you’ll be talking about for weeks and months to come. Chef Carson Jewell and his talented team feature a locally-sourced, seasonal menu. Hand- crafted cocktails, fine wines and a superlative staff make dining at manna a must. Reservations and more info here. Also, check out their bottle shop, manna Provisions, right down the street.

Crofton’s Pretzels – 1620 Market Street

A fun and flavorful stop anywhere along the line. Plus you simply must get a couple to enjoy on the ride back home. These are fresh baked made-to-order artisan pretzels, stuffed or not as you would like. Delicious. Rumor has it the crew at Catch, loves them, too. Get all the delicious details here.

Origins Food & Drink – 102 Autumn Hall Drive

Another gorgeous chef-driven spot for lunch or dinner or perhaps cocktail and apps to kick off the evening. The restaurant is smack dab between the beaches and downtown and specializes in classic American fare. Origins is the sister restaurant to Circa 1922 in Wilmington’s downtown area. More here.

True Blue Butcher and Barrel – 110 Greenfield Street

True Blue is what happens when you cross a restaurant with a butcher shop. Delicious results.

The Butcher and Barrel concept is True Blue’s second location and also offers a focus on bourbon. Open for lunch dinner and Sunday brunch, its a stop you don’t want to miss. More info on both of the True Blue locations here.

Need more info on Wilmington?

Get more travel details from the folks who know the area best. You’ll find the Wilminington and Wrightsville Beach Tourism Bureau here. #TellThemHeidiSentYou


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