Find and book unique accommodations on Airbnb
Guests agree: these stays are highly rated for location, cleanliness, and more.
Wilmington is a colonial city with a cosmopolitan heart. Officially established in 1739, the city is integrated with the Cape Fear River and has a popular 1.75-mile Riverwalk, considered one of the best in the country. But it’s Wilmington’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean that lures many visitors. Bordered by 31 miles of shoreline defining Cape Fear, the city boasts a trio of popular beaches whose recreational activities draw vacationers from all over. Downtown Wilmington’s cobblestone streets and pre-Victorian architecture are reminders of the city’s long and colorful past.
Wilmington International Airport (ILM) is located just north of the city, serving eight destinations across the Midwest and East Coast. Alternatively, you’ll find additional options via one of the other major airports in the region: Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU), which is a little over two hours northwest; or Charleston International Airport (CHS), about three hours south. Wilmington’s Wave public transportation network features 16 bus routes, shuttles, and free trolleys circling downtown. There’s also a local water taxi route, and taxis and rideshares are common. Pedestrians and cyclists take advantage of the Gary Shell Cross City Trail, which connects many of the city’s recreational and cultural points of interest. Metered parking is abundant, and parking is often free after business hours.
Given its location along the Gulf Stream, Wilmington experiences a humid subtropical climate characterized by incredibly mild winters (highs in the mid-50s Fahrenheit) and hot, sticky summers (highs in the lower 90s). It seldom snows during the cold months, and when it does, it’s generally light and melts quickly. More notable for Wilmington is its lengthy spring, beginning in late February and lasting through May, with a beautiful show of flowers. With summer comes heat and humidity, together pushing Wilmington’s heat index toward 100 degrees at its peak, driving many visitors to the beaches. The push and pull of warm Atlantic Ocean waters and the city’s geography in relation to storm system tracks puts it in prime tropical-storm territory. If you’re traveling here during hurricane season, which peaks in September, make sure you pay close attention to local weather.
Located on Wilmington’s southeastern shore, these neighboring beaches comprise an area aptly named Pleasure Island for its bounty of coastal escapades. Popular with ocean sports enthusiasts, these beaches are lined with rental shops offering kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, and surfboards; each has its own boardwalk.
Even if you’re staying on the beaches, it’s worth going out of your way to stroll downtown Wilmington’s historic district. Marking its roles in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and WWII, this living museum spans more than 230 blocks, making it one of the largest National Register Historic Places in the country. Explore on your own, or book one of the neighborhood’s many popular walking tours or horse-drawn carriages to learn as you go.
To get an authentic taste of Southern scenery, book a ticket to Airlie Gardens on the banks of Bradley Creek, tucked onto Wilmington’s northeast side. Self-guided tours and bird hikes wind through an expansive 67 acres of paths, lakes, and landscaped gardens. Immaculately maintained for year-round visits, the gardens are filled with mossy oaks, an array of flowers and plants, and charming historic structures.