North Carolina Travel

Exploring Wilmington, NC – family travel guide

“I don’t want to wait for our lives to be over,
I want to know right now what will it be.
I don’t want to wait for our lives to be over,
Will it be yes or will it be sorry?” – Paula Cole

Was that a throwback enough for you? If you grew up watching Dawson’s Creek, then this one will get you excited! Wilmington, NC is the backdrop and filming location for the show, amongst a whole bunch of other ones. It’s known as Hollywood East. Who knew?!?!?! I sure didn’t, but I’m sure you did, you smart cookies! Click here for a list of the other movies and tv shows that were filmed here and their locations.Family Travel Guide: Wilmington, NC - River Walk - www.spousesproutsme.comSo this post is going to round out the Family Travel Guide Series to North Carolina. You can click on the following links to read up on the guides to Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh. For this trip, I’d like to give a huge THANK YOU to the Wilmington Visitor’s Bureau for their generosity and hospitality! They really helped make this Travel Guide possible.

Where We Stayed / How We Got Around

Embassy Suites

Embassy Suites is our go-to for family hotel stay. We even got married at one! It has all the amenities that you need, and turns out to be pretty affordable when you come to think of it. There’s free breakfast, a complimentary happy hour, and all the rooms have a living room and bedroom that house plenty of people. This one was awesome because it was right on the river.

Budget Rent a Car

Renting a car through Costco Travel has been our go-to for pretty much all of our trips. I can always find a great deal even when it’s last minute. Although we’re a family of four, I always like to rent a SUV so that we know we’ll have plenty of space… especially with all the luggage we have to tote around.

Public Transportation

Family Travel Guide: Wilmington, NC - Public Transportation - www.spousesproutsme.comIf you’re planning on staying in the downtown area, there’s a free Trolley Bus that you can hop on and off of. It comes around to the marked areas every 15-20 minutes. Our driver was nice enough to drop us off right at our hotel. 

What We Did

North Carolina is super family friendly! As I mentioned in the previous posts, a lot of the attractions are FREE or low cost. To make the most of our trip, we checked in with the visitor’s bureau first, to make sure we were making the most of our time.

River Walk

This is free unless you decide to shop or eat at a restaurant. It’s a great place to take in some sights and pictures. There’s a War Memorial, lots of restaurants and shops, and the Battleship is across the river.

Carolina Beach Boardwalk

These pictures are my absolute favorite from our trip. I think we were just all in our element at the beach, and Carter was not having his usually “I’m bored” attitude. I loved how colorful this place was. All the storefronts were an Instagrammer’s Paradise. The sand was very fine, so it was comfortable to walk on and play in. We mostly hung out on the beach, and then stopped at the ice cream shop. 

Railroad Museum

This museum was just steps away from our hotel and the Visitor’s Center. The model railroads were interactive and really neat to see. My kids loved pressing all the buttons to see what the trains would do or say. There was a little dress-up and play area, and real life trains you could take a peek in and ring the bell.

Wilmington Water Tours

Anytime we travel, we like to do some type of water tour. It’s a great way to see the sights from a different vantage point. This tour took us along the river walk, pass the bridge, and back. We learned some pretty cool facts, like – there’s more pigs than people in North Carolina! If you do go on this tour, don’t forget your jackets.

Horsedrawn Tours Wilmington

This tour was a little different than the other carriage tours we’ve been on. It was a trolley pulled by the horses, instead of an actual carriage. It was raining that day so it was nice to be able to have the sides roll down. We also learned some really cool facts, like – all the streets used to be brick. All the original brick still lies under the current streets, and the city is currently working ripping that out and restoring it to the original brick underneath.

What Else To Do

The Children’s Museum of Wilmington

Cape Fear Museum

Battleship North Carolina

Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park

Where We Ate

There were a lot of great options to choose from but I’ll just post about the ones we thought we went to that are worth mentioning.

The Basics

This was a cute restaurant with an upstairs, separate bar area, and a cute outdoor patio. The food was really good too! Tyler had the “The Bird” which is a smoked chicken rubbed in some really good seasonings. I had the “Oyster Po Boy,” which was really surprising because I get Shrimp and Grits everywhere! I’d definitely recommend this restaurant.


This one was really convenient because the restaurant is located inside the Embassy Suites. The hostess was amazing and entertained Kelsey during the happy hour. Our waiter was really nice too! I’m all about the service. I had the “Pork Belly Sammy” and Tyler had the special, which was some type of shrimp pasta. The kids even ate up all their food! It was really good and I’d definitely go back.

Wake N Bake Donuts

I of course had to go check this place out because they’re the winners of the Cooking Channel’s show “Donut Showdown.” There was a neat variety of fun donuts, so of course we had to try one. I think Carter got some kind of Butter Pecan donut, which is a total shocker!

Restaurants on our List

This was the last leg of our trip and I don’t think I’ve ever been so full in my life and not even have to eat anything! Here are some restaurants that we had on our list but had to pass up.

Salt Works

Dock Street Oyster Bar

The Little Dipper

Flaming Amy’s

And there you have it. I hope you enjoyed going back down memory lane and experiencing this trip with us. If you do go or have ever been to Wilmington, let me know what you plan to do or did do.

Family Travel Guide: Wilmington, NC -

Although this was in collaboration with the Wilmington Visitor’s Bureau, all thoughts and opinions are my own.


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