Historic Wilmington is one of the oldest towns on the American eastern seaboard, and is heaven for lovers of great beaches, fine seafood and fishing.
One of the great attractions of the city is its easily walkable historic district. Visit sites like Bellamy Mansion - once a slave-holder's home - or the 18th century architecture of Burgwin-Wright House. Stroll around Cape Fear Museum or head out to more rural attractions like the beautiful Polar Grove Plantation.
Families are well catered for with attractions like the serpentarium, which contains exotic snakes from all corners of the globe, as well as the Screen Gems Studio, where the TV show Dawson's Creek was filmed. There is also a fabulous aquarium at Fort Fisher (which also features an albino alligator) and there are plenty of art galleries showing works by local talents as well.
Outdoors, Wilmington really delivers. Visit Wrightsville Beach to relax or surf, while Carolina Beach also offers family-oriented attractions such as a pier and arcade machines. Wander around the gorgeous surroundings of Airlie Gardens or head out kayaking around the coast.
Wilmington is also a great destination for golfing travellers with a range of courses with varying difficulties. Fishing charters can be easily arranged from the seafront and aquatic "safaris" can also be booked which allow divers to explore the wrecks around Wrightsville Beach.
Cape Fear is a superb place to hike or mountain bike, and visitors can also enjoy horse-drawn tours around the city centre, while at Fort Fisher, they can learn all about the American Civil War in a site that was besieged during the conflict.
Staying in Wilmington also provides access to other cities such as Charlotte or Fayetteville - both historic towns with a relaxed atmosphere and plenty to offer day trippers.
When to fly to Wilmington
Most people will want to visit during the summer months to take advantage of the long, sandy beaches and outdoor activities. If this is your kind of holiday, then visiting between June and August will be ideal. However, Wilmington can be quite humid and energy sapping in the summer. A visit in March or April would allow you to witness the gorgeous flowers of a North Carolina spring, and may find cheap accommodation available.
Getting around Wilmington
Renting a car is highly recommended, as getting to many of the beaches and plantations won't be possible without it. Taxis are available, but expensive. However, to reach Cape Fear, cycling is perfectly feasible and Wrightsville Beach is just 10 miles (16 km) away - a manageable bike ride for many people.