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Susan from Manhattan Beach asked

2 Days in Wrightsville with Toddler - Where to stay and eat

I'm visiting Wrightsville Beach with my two daughters (3 years old and 3 months), and my parents (mid-60's) in late April. I know the temperature won't be "beach weather" but I'd love to see the town anyway! 

Here's what I'm looking for: 

1. Things to do with a toddler - best place on the beach? local parks? kid friendly restaurants?

2. Where to stay - We're thinking of renting a VRBO and I'd love to stay on the beach. Is there a better end of the beach? Is there a town center I should be staying near?

3. Nice restaurant - what's the best place in town to get great food, a nice glass of wine, or a great cocktail? Any place with a view?

4. Is the town walkable? or do I need a car to go everywhere? I'd love to rent a house near the restaurants and shops, and be close to the beach. 

Thanks so much in advance!!

Wrightsville Beach

1 Answer
top answer by
Renee from Charlotte

Wrightsville is a great destination. I guess you know that it is an island, just across the bridge/causeway from Wilmington. Here are some thoughts on your questions:

1) Fun for toddlers:
In Wilmington:

In Wrightsville itself:

South of Wrightsville:

  • If you go over the drawbridge out of Wrightsville and head south, you'll soon come to Carolina Beach , which has a great old-time (restored) Boardwalk with lots of fun games, rides, donuts, etc.
  • All the way down at the southern tip of Pleasure Island (which is where Carolina Beach is located) is the local branch of the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Great fun for all ages with lots of special kid areas.

Kid Friendly restaurants:

"Downtown" Wrightsville (near the junction of Lumina Ave. and Causeway Dr.) has lots of hot dog and ice cream stands that have been around forever. I'd try the The Trolly Stop  for hotdogs and the South Beach Grill for casual family meals, including vegetarian options.

There are a lot more kid friendly options included in the guidebook that I wrote for Countryman Press, which has chapters on Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, etc. (If you are interested, I recommend the Kindle version with the live links. Works on any computer with app.)

2) There are a lot of vacation cottages on Wrightsville. If you want to be close to the action, look for a cottage somewhere off Lumina Ave. between Salisbury Drive and the Causeway. You'll be close to the beach, within a couple of blocks. The island isn't very wide. 

There are 44 public beach access points, 6 with public restrooms, total along the ocean side of Wrightsville, so you are never far from one. See the list and map here. You can access the soundside beaches from the far southern tip of the island where there is public parking plus some paths down to the water.

There are also beaches on the sound side where the surf is far more gentle, better for youngsters, but most of them are private. The Blockade Runner Beach Resort  on South Lumina has one - the Sunset Beach, which is sort of semi-private. (Call about a sunset cruise.)

The Holiday Inn Resort, just north of Mercer's Pier, is directly on the ocean, and is very kid-friendly even if you aren't staying there. The hotel has several live parrots to greet guests plus a parrot mascot that leads kid's activities. The KidsClub is limited to kids 4-12, but this is a great destination for families none the less, with a big indoor pool area. You can eat on the patio with great ocean views.

An alternative might be the Carolina Temple Island Inn  which rents apartments with full kitchens and has its own private soundside beach.

3) Nice Restaurants:

The Oceanic Restaurant  is the don't-miss spot on Wrightsville. It's situated on the remains of an old pier right on the ocean. You can dine outside on the pier or inside the beach cottage-like main building. There's a public beach access next door.

Other restaurants with views can be found in the resorts - Blockade Runner Beach Resort, Holiday Inn, Shell Island Resort  - but I'd follow the locals over to the Intracoastal Waterway where you can watch boats going up and down, the drawbridge in action, etc. Great spots with outside decks are located on both the Harbor Island/Wrightsville side and the Wilmington/Lumina side. A few to try:

4) See 2) above. A beach house near the shops and restaurants is very possible. And the town is very friendly to walkers/runners. Shopping is rather limited on the island itself. For lots of options head across the bridge to the Lumina neighborhood. Lumina Station, with lots of cool shops and restaurants, is great for strolling.

Comments (1)

Renee, this is amazing!! You are a wealth of knowledge about North Carolina! Are there other areas of NC that I should see while I'm out there this April? Thanks!!!!

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