One of our favorite spots to get away in North Carolina is Wilmington, especially in the fall. Just because summer ends, doesn’t mean that the beach season is over. We went the last weekend in October and we had a beautiful 80 degree weekend while there. It was the perfect weekend away and we got to experience the amazing arts scene that Wilmington has to offer! There is so much to do in the area, and I highly recommend visiting on a weekend when they are having the art walk. Check out the best things to do in Wilmington in the fall below!
The Best Things to Do in Wilmington NC in the Fall
Wilmington NC in the Fall: Where to Stay
We got into Wilmington early Friday evening and checked into Front Street Inn to start off our weekend. I love a good historic inn and Front Street is full of charm. Its high ceilings, porches, and welcoming atmosphere made us feel right at home. We didn’t have a dinner reservation, but were planning on joining in on the art walk that evening. Since we both worked and left straight for Wilmington, we took a bit of time to unwind on one of the porches for happy hour with beverages and snacks from Front Street Inn.
After unwinding a bit at the inn, we walked down Front Street to pop into some of the art galleries for the Fourth Friday Gallery Walk. It’s a lovely (and free!) way to experience local art and culture at your own pace. There are maps available at participating locations or you can find one online here.
The gallery walk ends at 9:00PM, so we took our time before heading to dinner at Dram + Morsel. Honestly, it was one of our favorite meals together to date. It’s on the third floor with a really interesting staircase and has an eclectic menu fusing a variety of types of food together with witty names for the menu items. Additionally, their cocktail menu is extensive and one of their points of notoriety. David and I shared a few small plates, including the pork belly bao, the bacon cheese fries, and warm pretzel bites. David ordered the brisket sliders for his entree and I had the Ike & Tuna Turner sushi roll. We loved this place and will definitely be back.
The next morning, we woke up and went downstairs to have breakfast and to enjoy a slow morning in the courtyard at the Front Street Inn. There is always a warm breakfast dish, fresh fruits, boiled eggs, and pastry items, plus coffee and a great selection of hot teas.
After breakfast, we walked down the street to check out the Riverfront Farmer’s Market. There is only weekend left in this season’s farmer’s market. It will start back up in March of 2020 and is a great way to shop local. We walked back to Front Street Inn to drive over to Mayfaire Town Center.
We stopped at Waypointe Market in Lumina Station on our way over to Wrightsville Beach. There are so many local and regional artisans with great gift ideas for the upcoming holiday season! It was a beautiful morning, so we enjoyed walking around and adding more places to our Wilmington list for our next visit.
We drove over to Wrightsville Beach and walked around downtown and spent some time out on the beach. We walked into Jazzy Boy Art, which is saving the planet one painting at a time by using recycled items to created unique 3D nautical inspired art before heading out onto the beach for about an hour. We couldn’t get over how warm and nice the weather was and wished we had picked a bit more of a variety of clothes because it was definitely a good beach day.
We were really excited to take the Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tour so we could cruise around Masonboro and see some of the local birds and experience Wrightsville from the water. Our guide was incredibly knowledgable and shared so much information on tide patterns, the history of Wrightsville and Masonboro, and we connected over our love of down east in NC. It’s a great tour and we really lucked out because it was just David and me, so we got to take a smaller boat and hear a lot more information. P.S. The dock is right across the street from the Blockade Runner, so it’s a great spot to park and grab a cocktail before or after your cruise.
After our cruise, we had a quick lunch at The Workshop, a new concept that integrates passions of local SCUBA divers and coffee lovers. The Workshop has shark tooth jewelry, Megaladon teeth, and coffee, plus sandwiches and other snacks. We both got chicken, bacon, ranch sandwiches and it was such a good lunch in a laid back restaurant. It’d be great to pick up lunch and take it over to the beach for a picnic, too.
We went back over the bridge to the hotel and walked back down Front Street to check out some of the galleries we didn’t get to experience on Friday night. We really liked the Art in Bloom Gallery and Bryand Gallery. We also did some window shopping at The Cotton Exchange before we went to our DIY Blown Glass Ornament Class with Rachel. This class is located in The Christmas Shoppe and was a quick but fun class where we got to learn a new craft. I won’t lie, I was a bit nervous about it, but Rachel was so helpful and it was so easy to make a beautiful ornament.
We walked back to the hotel to freshen up before dinner. I was really hooked on The Whisper Man, so I took a little time to continue reading from our porch. We put our name on the list at Tarantelli’s and then we walked across the street to have a cocktail at Dram Yard while waiting for our table. It’s such a cool spot and David and I really liked the fire pits all around the courtyard.
When our table was ready, we walked across the street to Tarantelli’s and enjoyed sitting on their patio. Their food was delicious and we had such a wonderful dining experience. David ordered a Pasta e Fagioli and I had wedge salad and then we shared white pizza.
On Sunday morning, we woke up and had another lovely breakfast at Front Street Inn. I love that they have a quiche every morning for their guests. After checking out of our suite, we headed over to Cameron Art Museum for a self-guided tour through the exhibits. We both loved the “Structured in Space” exhibit featuring the photography by Phil Freelon, a champion of diversity and inclusion. He was a professor at NCSU and also helped design the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Another outstanding exhibit was the Modernist prints from Louis Belden, who left his collection to the Cameron Art Museum. His collection is stunning and includes a Picasso. The permanent exhibit and the Recuérdame exhibit are amazing as well!
After touring the exhibits, we had brunch at Cam Café where we split a brunch burger before heading back to Raleigh.
If you’re heading down to Wilmington, there are so many activities to enjoy. While we were in town, there were live music options, a national ballet troupe, a sketch comedy act, and an off-Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof. Learn more about Wilmington’s live music scene here.
Here is Our Itinerary from Our Fall Trip to Wilmington
8:30AM – Breakfast at Front Street Inn
9:30AM – Stroll the Riverfront Farmers Market
10:00AM – Browse Waypointe Market at Lumina Station
11:00AM – Explore Wrightsville Beach
12:30PM – Cruise around with Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tour
2:00PM – Lunch at The Workshop
3:00PM – Peruse Front Street Galleries and Shops
4:00PM – DIY Blown Glass Ornament Class
7:00PM – Drinks at Dram Yard
8:00PM – Supper at Tarantelli’s
Shop My Suitcase for Our Weekend in Wilmington
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.