ls One of our favorite spots to get away for a weekend is Wilmington and its local beaches, so we snuck away for a coastal holiday weekend featuring all of the beautiful sights around town. We lucked up with gorgeous weather, which made it even more magical. So, keep reading to see our itinerary and make plans to attend these various events for the 2023 holiday season!
A Coastal Holiday Weekend in Wilmington, NC
A Coastal Holiday Weekend in Wilmington, NC – What to Do
Enjoy Enchanted Airlie Gardens
Since 2005, guests have visited Airlie Gardens to take in the sparkling sights and festive sounds of the holiday season. Enjoy a self-guided walk through holiday lights & music. Tickets must be purchased in advance, as dates and times will sell out. Plan on spending at least an hour exploring the grounds!
Stroll the Wilmington Riverwalk, Market and Front Streets
Start your day with a stroll along the Wilmington Riverwalk and Market and Front streets, all gussied-up for the holidays. Also, you may recognize scenes from Hallmark Christmas movies!
Visit the Wilmington Railroad Museum
If model trains are of interest, you’ll enjoy the Wilmington Railroad Museum’s model trains all decked out of the holidays. Also, the museum was a location in the Hallmark movie USS Christmas! Their one room features part of the Atlantic Coastal Line with stops in Wilson, NC and Selma, NC that have the most unique touches, including their farm baseball teams, county fairs, etc.
Shop Local at the Holiday Markets
Pop into the Hannah Block Historic USO Building / Community Arts Center where the WWII/USO museum lobby is decorated for the holidays. You will see why this was a key location in the Hallmark movie USS Christmas! Admission is free though donations welcome. Ahey will also host a Sleigh All Day Holiday Market from 10am-5pm with 20+ vendors and a complimentary gift wrapping station!
Grab brunch at True Blue Butcher & Barrel and then head over to the parking lot for Satellite Bar for a festive holiday market and pop into Satellite Bar for a selection of craft beers, cocktails and more.
Check Out Local Craft Breweries
We stopped by a couple of breweries in the Brooklyn Arts District, including Flytrap Brewing, which has an expanded beer garden and the nicest bartenders around. We also popped down the street to Edward Teach Brewery, which has ample seating and festive decorations.
We had wooden nickels from Craft on the Coast, which is designed to shed light on the growing wave of breweries, bottle shops and beer pubs invigorating the community. Through a steady flow of promotions – inside and outside of their market – this campaign serves as a guiding beacon to the Cape Fear’s treasured craft scene.
Celebrate the Season with Old Wilmington by Candlelight Tour
This rare opportunity to explore local history through touring homes, places of worship, and other architectural delights will create a magical and educational holiday experience. Also, the 2022 tour featured 5 homes, 3 places of worship, and the Hannah Block Historic USO Building. The 2022 was the 50th anniversary of this tour and it is so charming!
Explore the Cameron Art Museum Exhibits
The Cameron Art Museum (CAM) provides a cultural gathering place that enriches the lives of museum visitors and the community through high-quality exhibitions, lifelong learning in the arts, dynamic public programs, and stewardship and interpretation of the collection. Also, the CAM is celebrating 60 years in 2022! 60+ looks forward to a bold future with works featured include art by Mary Cassatt, Minnie Evans, Claude Howell and more.
Don’t Miss: CAM’s new USCT Park (opened in Nov. 2022), the only park in the nation created to honor the U.S. Colored Troops. So, in November 2021, the CAM unveiled “Boundless” a life-size bronze sculpture by North Carolina artist Stephen Hayes who fashioned sculpture from the cast features of 11 African American men connected to the site and its story – USCT descendants, re-enactors, veterans, and community leaders. The outdoor sculpture and park are connected deeply to the community’s history, its present, and its future.
A Coastal Holiday Weekend in Wilmington, NC – Where to Eat
Try the Loaded Tots and Local Seafood at Waterman’s Brewing Company
Waterman’s Brewing Company offers live music on Friday nights with delicious starter options and fresh local seafood. David and I split the loaded tots and pretzel bites, both which are served with beer cheese. For the main course, David ordered the dry rub chicken wings and I had the fried shrimp basket with their jalapeño broccoli salad. They have delicious beer and a great wine list.
Grab Breakfast at Drift Coffee
There are several locations of Drift Coffee in the area and we stopped by the new location in downtown Wilmington. I had a ginger bread latte and an açaí bowl while David had the breakfast burrito. It is definitely worth a stop in for some mid-morning fuel!
Enjoy Lunch with a View at Solstice Kitchen & Cocktails
Located in Lumina on Wrightsville Beach, Solstice Kitchen + Cocktails is the place to indulge in spectacular food and stunning views. David ordered the chicken quesadillas with sweet potato tots while I ordered the tuna appetizer with a side Caesar salad. The views are spectacular from the deck and also from the floor to ceiling windows inside if it is a chillier or windy day.
Experience Fine French Dining at Caprice Bistro
Caprice Bistro is a Wilmington staple, having been located here since 2001, and featured in in the Hallmark movie USS Christmas. So, David and I ordered a charcuterie board to start out our meal. For entrees, David ordered steak frites while I had the house speciality of the Waterzooi which is a creamier version of a Bouillabaisse.
Brunch at True Blue Butcher & Barrel
I am a big brunch fan anyway, and this brunch experience at True Blue Butcher and Barrel did not disappoint, y’all! So, True Blue Butcher and Barrel is a restaurant, whiskey bar, and butcher shop located in the South Front Street district. David ordered the popcorn chicken and sourdough waffles while I ordered the lobster roll and macaroni and cheese to share.
A Coastal Holiday Weekend in Wilmington, NC – Where to Stay
The concept behind Dreamers by DW is to provide guest with a place to stay that is clean, inspiring, and relaxing. Both minimal design and minimal paper, minimal stress and minimal plastic. Dreamers by DW offers all the amenities of a boutique hotel with all the independence and quiet of a home-rental. Moreover, all spaces have been cultivated with a focus on design. It also has green space, and custom artworks from all over the world. All dried floral arrangements and woven wall hangings have been created specifically for the inn. Plants are tucked into every corner of the house. Vintage and modern lighting is featured throughout. Custom-made essential oils and soaps are provided in every room. Dreamers by DW is a place to rejuvenate not just the body but the senses.
Dreamers is pet friendly plus offers vegan bites plus coffee and tea each morning. The coffee and tea offerings are available 24 hours a day. The rooms also include Google Home speakers. Also, essential oil diffusers, and soaking tubs for relaxing after a long day of exploring.
For other Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach travel ideas, check out this page.
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Thank you to Wilmington & Beaches CVB for partnering with I’m Fixin’ To and organizing the itinerary and experiences for this trip. As always, all opinions are my own.