Plan your ultimate seaside getaway to Wilmington NC Beaches with my go-to family travel guide! Check out where to eat, play, and stay with kids in tow!
My little family and I recently escaped to the Wilmington NC River District and Island Beaches to celebrate my 35th birthday. We explored the entire coast… visiting several museums, sandy shores, and even the aquarium! Follow our recommendations below to ensure your family has a blast at the beach, too!
Need help with packing? Make sure to check out my Ultimate Beach Packing List When Traveling With Kids!
WHERE TO EAT:
The coast is full of iconic restaurants. From laid-back donut shops to beach-side burgers, there’s definitely a place for everyone’s palate. Here are a few places we found with a kid-friendly atmosphere and plenty of menu options for picky eaters.
Britt’s Donut Shop: Don’t be alarmed by the line, it goes fast and the glazed donuts are worth the wait. Their operating hours are seasonal, so make sure to check their website before visiting. 11 Carolina Beach Avenue North.
Carolina Smokehouse: Our boys absolutely loved sitting on the rooftop patio. The St. Louis style ribs were delicious and they’ve got a full bar for mom and dad. 9 Pavilion Avenue South.
Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn: Great spot for a quick lunch. There’s a free salsa bar with chips (which comes complimentary with every order). 1140-A North Lake Park Blvd.
Michael’s Seafood: This establishment has a very diverse menu of ocean favorites and non-seafood specialties. Their kids menu is also fun, offering everything from fruit smoothies to cheese pizza. 1206 N. Lake Park Blvd.
The Veggie Wagon: A great place to pick up some local fruit, veggies, healthy snacks, and locally made goods. We got a variety of items to keep our hotel room stocked during our stay. 608 S Lake Park Blvd.
Beach House Burgers: A great spot to grab a quick bite before visiting the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher or Kure Beach Ocean Front Park. This is a take-out burger joint with very minimal seating. Go ahead and plan to eat across the street at the boardwalk. Your kids will love that. 118 North Fort Fisher Blvd.
WILMINGTON RIVER DISTRICT:
The Basics: Traditional southern fare made with local ingredients. They’re open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 319 N Front Street.
Kilwin’s: If you looking to treat your little ones to some ice cream, this historic downtown location has got you covered. 16 Market Street.
WHERE TO PLAY:
This area is a fantastic beach getaway to experience with your kids. In addition to the picturesque shoreline, this happening place also has a beach boardwalk that’s complete with arcades, bumper cars, and classic carnival rides! There are Wheel Fun Bike Rentals for those who want to get a little exercise while site seeing, and there’s plenty of shopping to ensure you bring home a few souvenirs. If all that isn’t enough, they even host a free firework show every Thursday evening during the summer. Make sure to check their website before visiting, as some of the attractions are seasonal. Carolina Beach Avenue, South.
With so many things to explore, your family can easily spend 3+ hours here. Our son loved all the aquatic wildlife, especially the albino alligator and massive shark tank. There’s an outdoor trail as well, where you can view animals in their natural habitat. The Lorikeet Exhibit was amazing, allowing us to feed the birds directly from our own hands! 900 Loggerhead Road.
Climb aboard a real life-size caboose, a retired boxcar, and a 100-year-old steam locomotive! With more than 20 Lionel Trains with villages and a build your own train track play area, this is definitely a place you’ll want to visit with the kiddo’s. 505 Nutt Street.
If you need to get some energy out, this 17,000 square foot adventure land has got you covered! Stimulate your child’s imagination with hands-on interactive play. Our son absolutely loved the air chair, playing in their outdoor courtyard and pretending to be a dentist! 116 Orange Street.
Stroll along the Cape Fear River’s waterfront on this one-mile wooden trail! Just a short walk from the Children’s Museum, the Riverwalk allows you to explore historic downtown and some of Wilmington’s most beloved attractions. We absolutely loved watching boats cruz along the salty river, the 30-minute narrated Horse Drawn Carriage Tour on the first block of Market Street, and ice cream treats at Kilwin’s! Downtown Wilmington.
WHERE TO STAY:
Conveniently located next to the Carolina Beach Boardwalk, this oceanfront hotel offered all the comforts of home and more! We stayed in a two room suite, which I highly recommend if you’re traveling with little ones that go to sleep early. The bedroom had two queen beds and we requested a pack-n-play crib for our 1-year-old. The main living space came equipped with a kitchenette (that had a fridge and microwave), a dining table, and a pull-out sofa in front of the flat screen TV. It really was the perfect set-up for our little family of four (and the view from our balcony was breathtaking!). 100 Charlotte Avenue.
Our vacation to Wilmington NC Beaches was sponsored by Wilmington NC River District and Island Beaches. Per the usual, all opinions in this blog are mine alone and I would never recommend a travel destination we didn’t immensely enjoy ourselves.
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