Day Trip: Wilmington, NC

I’ve been to this southern town many of times. It’s time to fill you in.

The Eastern coast of North Carolina has been my go-to spot ever since I was a little girl. The skies are blue, the tea is sweet, and the air carries a southern charm. Last weekend, I road-tripped down south, making sure to stop at one of my favorite cities for a day trip: Wilmington.

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This place has some of the best vibes. My past day trips here have typically been spent with local friends, who have taught me the ropes, introducing me to the best spots in town. Typically, my morning will start early with a walk along the shore of Wrightsville Beach. This trip, I started in the downtown area of Wilmington, also known as the Historic River District. I adore this little corner of town, which boasts cobblestone streets, live music, colorful buildings, and some vintage shopping that always gets my heart beating.

My first stop is Folks Café, a true local spot that serves up a mean cup of joe and a dirty chai unlike any other. The atmosphere is cool and relaxed, starting the day off on a good note. Next, I swung by Finkelsteins music shop, scoring a raspberry-colored acoustic guitar,with a perfectly ripped up vintage case.

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Popping in to Antiques of Old Wilmington is always a must. The store is a true gem of the historic district, and is always stocked with beautiful finds. I love picking through their vintage camera collection, and always seem to leave with a few old glass jars and bottles for my home.





Dessert first, always. Especially while you’re here. The smell of fresh fudge and just-baked waffle cones floats down the main street, coming from my most anticipated stop, Kilwin’s Ice Cream Shop. I got a heaping scoop of fresh, homemade Georgia peach ice cream, and experienced euphoria with each bite.

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I’m a sucker for groovy vintage clothing that takes me through the decades, so I always make my way into The Wonder Shop to check out their newest goodies. The owner/buyer for this dreamland was in while I visited, showing me some of her favorites, including floor-length floral maxis and a ’70s fringe jacket that stole my heart.




The stores in town are endless, and so are the eats. After a few more stops in some local shops, I headed over to Tidal Creek Coop, a locally grown, community owned store to load up on fresh veggies for a summer cook-out by the shore.

The days always go by quick with lots of places to see. Here’s a list of some more go-to spots in Wilmington if you ever find yourself there for a day:

Sea Level City Gourmet: A vegan/vegetarian dream. I love their Mediterranean plate!

Edge Of Urge: Lots of clothes, fun gifts, and quirky art. Also a great rack of vintage!

Gravity Records: I’m a vinyl babe, so digging through their collection was a blast.


Airlie Gardens: If you have a couple extra hours, please, please stop by. The gardens are breathtaking, and the walking trails are a blast.

Ending the day with a walk along the riverside boardwalk is the perfect way to finish off the trip. The sunset is beautiful, and sometimes you’ll even catch yourself dancing to some live tunes under the weeping willow trees as a pair of Clydesdale horses trots by.

+ Wilmington lovers, what’s your favorite stop? Let us know what you would do during your day trip!

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7 years ago

I love little places like this. Walking around a new city not knowing where i’m going is so refreshing and exciting!!x

7 years ago

I love little towns like this! It’s not only super cute but chock full of wonderful finds and restaurants. Love the pictures!
– Kaitlyn |

7 years ago

Beautiful shots! Will keep this town in mind next time I drive up to past North Carolina in route to Virginia. Thanks for sharing! xo

7 years ago

Oh seems like a such a fun place to visit!

7 years ago

I haven’t been down to the south in a while & I didn’t really get to explore. These photos make it look so fantastic can’t wait to go again. :]

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7 years ago

What a magical place!
I’ve never been to NC but I can’t wait for the opportunity to visit now :)

7 years ago

You’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head with some great spots in our little town. Next time you’re around check out Hallelu Boutique at Wrightsville Beach. Great Coffee at Folks on 4th Cafe. Also, in the Castles Street Art District where you can grab a great meal at Rx (which is farm to table and to die for), coffee at Luna Caffe , as well as a ton of antique shopping and a vintage goods store called Second Skin Vintage.

so excited to see this feature! I love where I live.
xo Meagan

7 years ago

wow! it’s nice to see all of these photos of my home town! i’m a wilmington native and have lived here all my life, (48 years) ;).
i love all of the places you mentioned, but also, hallelu boutique at wrightsville beach is one of my favorites! and fairy circle for consignment (on s. college road)…. i always find good stuff there, including free people awesomeness! catch restaurant is a must for dinner…. and tidal creek co-op on oleander is a great lunch spot…. boasting a pretty cool outside seating area, and fresh, organic salad and hot bar. if you have a chance to get a boat ride to masonbqoro island…. do it! (and the wonder shop is one of my favorites too! they always have cool finds AND the owner is pretty much a rock star when it comes to her environmentally friendliness. xx
glad you loved wilmington !
kim beller

I have never been but these photos make me want to go! So pretty!

7 years ago

At first I thought North Carolina had so little to offer–but according to this, NC looks absolutely stunning!

7 years ago

I love this article! It describes so many things that made me fall in love with this small town and the pictures are gorgeous. I miss it so much! In 2011 I got Wilmington tattooed on my thigh, I’m from Michigan but this is definitely my favorite place to vacation. Thank you for taking the time to write such an incredible article, showing others this side to this town, which is always so welcoming.

7 years ago

I love when you do posts in NC. Made my monday morning to be able to log in and see this! I’ve only lived here a few years, and although I do agree with how wonderful all of the places you mentioned were, I can not wait to try some of the new ones that I hadn’t been to before. Glad its monday, and i’m ready for a weekend in Wilmy!


7 years ago

I loooove Wilmington! This really inspires me to blog on my page about my Wilmington from this past Valentines Day weekend. Wrightsville beach is my favorite beach also. There is a place called Britt’s Donuts at Carolina Beach (not far from there) and they have the best donuts I’ve ever tried. Also, my husband and I toured the Battleship there and that way very cool. There are also some really neat places to eat down there. By the way, I loved your post!

7 years ago

My favorite place and old hometown! Miss Wilmington so much, seeing these pictures and reading this made my day!

6 years ago

Love my hometown! The older I get, the more I love all the things to do here!

6 years ago

Thanks so much for this. My husband and I are going in March for our anniversary. This blog made me even more excited!


6 years ago

Two Sisters Bookery is a must see stop!

5 years ago

Wow!! Im really excited to go on a vacation to a small town and enjoy vintage boutiques, and nature!! Lived my whole life in California !! And life is too fast to enjoy the small things in life. Hope I can find a buddy that would enjoy this trip!! Thanks for the beautiful posts, pictures
Myrna T

Meghan S
5 years ago

I highly recommend Folks Cafe for breakfast or brunch. It’s a local place run by the sweetest Spanish couple. We saw them making paper boats for the girl and boy who come there every Saturday with their dad when mom is working at the hospital. Great food, great coffee! Skip Starbucks and go to Folks Cafe.

5 years ago

We’ve just opened a new business in the area and it is so beautiful! We discovered Folks Cafe ourselves, and it has the most wonderful quiche I have ever tasted. Highly recommend it. Such a vibrant, up and coming, charming community. We’re so glad to have laid down roots here.

We’re hoping to meet others in the area, so please stop by our new shop!

5 years ago

What a great post! I love places like this, where you can get lost in new things to discover and quaint places with old things just draw me in. I just moved here and I look forward to checking this out. Thanks so much

4 years ago

Thanks for the fun post! Wilmington is a beautiful place to be, I live here and love it. I could spend all day shopping in all the quaint boutiques! I loved reading this thanks!