Wilmington, NC Travel Diary, Part One

Wilmington, NC Travel Diary, Part One

Wilmington NC


I’ve visited other cities in the Carolinas but always overlooked Wilmington, N.C. However, over Labor Day weekend, Mark and I were invited to explore this super beautiful and charming city, and boy were we in for a wonderful surprise. Beauty aside, the main thing that really stuck out with us is how friendly everyone was! I mean every single person we encountered was cheery and upbeat.

As I’ve just mentioned, we were here over the Labor Day holiday weekend… the unofficial last days of summer and the ‘last chance’ to pack in the summer fun! We enjoyed our time in this quaint city of understated elegance.

Side Note: Something I’ve never really thought about is fall travel. I’ve heard for many years that traveling in autumn (esp on the east coast) is the most beautiful time to travel. If you really think about it, it makes sense.

Benefits of Fall Vacationing

  1. Travel and hotel prices are less expensive now than summer and holidays
  2. Milder weather remains for several weeks beyond summer
  3. Popular destinations are less crowded (You can get into high-demand places that are usually impossible to book)
  4. The fall trees are absolutely stunning (Think beautiful evergreens like pine and cypress)
  5. Dazzling ocean sunrises and dramatic river sunsets are year-round
  6. Lots of festivals take place
  7. Seasonal food is AMAZING (Think locally caught seafood and oyster season, in addition to pumpkin and sweet potato)
  8. You will get a more authentic experience
  9. It will refresh you before the chaos of the holidays begin

In part one (below), I’m breaking down where we stayed, where we ate and some of our favorite meals, and sites we saw. Tomorrow will be more of a photo diary of us around the city.

Let’s begin shall we…


We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Wilmington Mayfaire Town Center. Three things I really loved about this location: 1. It is located within a mixed-use development (shopping and eating), 2. It is an easy drive to historic downtown, and 3. It’s only two miles to beautiful Wrightsville Beach, N.C.

To see more about this trip, make sure you visit my InstaStories here and click on Wilmington 2019Wilmington NC Hotel


Smoke on the Water | This was probably my favorite dining experience in Wilmington. We started with the Fried Pearl Oysters and the amazing Blackened Shrimp & Avocado Nachos. When I tell you these nachos were everything, trust me…they WERE EVERYTHING!!!!!! There were about eight pieces per serving. Although I ate only three of them (only because Mark was devouring them faster than me), I could have eaten three orders and nothing else. I’ve added this to my ‘Recipes to Try’ list. AH-MAZING!!! I also had a pretty amazing drink called Hawaiian Mule. Yes, I plan on trying to recreate this as well.

Cloud 9 Rooftop Bar/Steam Restaurant | We actually came here twice… once for after-dinner drinks and again for lunch. Both Cloud 9 and Steam are located in the same hotel. Anytime I can eat and drink on the rooftop or look out onto the water, I’m happy. Therefore both Cloud 9 and Steam had me in my happy place!

Fork – N – Cork | For brunch, Mark ordered the biscuit and gravy while I opted for the gravlax…which is actually a Lox. The portions were HUGEEEE and my meal was (again) amazing!!! I don’t normally eat all my food, but I ate EVERY. SINGLE. BITE.

The Catch | The outside of this restaurant is very deceiving. It looks like an updated hole-in-the-wall restaurant in a little strip. But once you enter, it’s pretty upscale. Our waiter catered to us like none other. Even though we’d planned on having dinner here, we only ordered appetizers because we’d eaten a couple of hours before and were still really stuffed. But we definitely enjoyed this hidden gem!

To see more about this trip, make sure you visit my InstaStories here and click on Wilmington 2019Shrimp Avocado Nachos Where to Eat in Wilmington Fork & Cork Wilmington NC Cloud 9 Wilmington NCTo see more about this trip, make sure you visit my InstaStories here and click on Wilmington 2019 Basics Wilmington NC What to Eat in Wilmington NC Smoke on the Water NCTo see more about this trip, make sure you visit my InstaStories here and click on Wilmington 2019


Wilmington Railroad Museum | On our walk to Steam, we came across the railroad museum. Although it wasn’t on our ‘To-Do’ list, we thought it would be fun to see what it was all about. I pretended I was a kid again and made my own little model track. It took me back to when I used to play with my brother’s track, knowing he didn’t want me to and I knew it would upset him!

Wrightsville Beach | This was actually not that far from our hotel. We came at a really great time: the temps were perfect and there weren’t any crowds.

Bellamy Mansion | We tried to take the tour on our first day here, but we arrived much too late to do so. All we could do was stare in awe of the grandeur of this antebellum mansion…which is actually my favorite period of style home. The site is comprised of the mansion, carriage house, and original slave quarters. When I make a return visit to Wilmington, I definitely plan on taking this tour. I’ve always loved visiting historic homes and hearing the history of the home and its occupants.

Airlie Gardens | We didn’t have a lot of time to explore the entire garden, but what we were able to see was beautiful. The two beauties that stood out for me were 1. The Pineapple Lily – The Tennessee Lily is actually my favorite flower. Now I’m reconsidering!!! 2. The Airlie Oak Tree – Yep, you guessed it… the oak tree is my favorite type tree, with the Magnolia coming a close second.

Mayfaire Town Center | Shopping and eating!!!! Need I say more?!?

Brooklyn Arts District | We hired an Uber driver for the weekend, and she was absolutely amazing. We gave her my itinerary on the first day and she was on-time for every single ride. Although this was on my itinerary, I’d totally forgotten about it. Before heading to dinner downtown, she wanted to drive us to check out this district. This area is up and coming but we loved it! It’s a trendy, arts-focused neighborhood undergoing revitalization! 

To see more about this trip, make sure you visit my InstaStories here and click on Wilmington 2019

Historic Downtown Wilmington Bellamy House What to Do in Wilmington NCTo see more about this trip, make sure you visit my InstaStories here and click on Wilmington 2019 First Baptist Church Wilmington NC First Baptist Church Wilmington NC Church Door Wilmington NCTo Do in Wilmington NC Wilmington Railroad Museum

U. S. Coast Guard Wilmington NCTo see more about this trip, make sure you visit my InstaStories here and click on Wilmington 2019

Downtown Wilmington NC Wilmington NC Waterway Wrightsville BeachTo see more about this trip, make sure you visit my InstaStories here and click on Wilmington 2019

I hope Part One gives a little insight into our Labor Day holiday weekend to any of you who are planning a fall vacation/trip to Wilmington, NC anytime soon. Make sure you check out Part Two of my Wilmington post on Friday.

If you have any favorite Wilmington spots in town, I would love to hear in the comments so we can all enjoy them and save them for future reference.

Thank you so much for reading. And as always, have a beautiful day. XOXO, Candy

This post is in partnership with Wilmington and Beaches CVB.


  1. September 9, 2019 / 1:21 pm

    Looks like so much fun!

    • Katheryn Newkirk
      November 2, 2019 / 8:54 am

      You would love The River Walk in the evening. There is The Cotton Exchange and many other stores, boutique’s and restaurants down there too. It’s down close to train depot.

  2. September 9, 2019 / 3:11 pm

    Wilmington looks like an amazing city. I’d love to take the family there. Seeing the ship would be amazing.

    • Candy
      September 11, 2019 / 10:26 am

      It’s such a family-friendly city…especially with the beaches!!!

  3. Wendy
    September 9, 2019 / 7:45 pm

    Glad you enjoyed Wilmington. The next time you come down, you’ll have to visit the WWII Battleship, Greenfield Lake with the paddle boats, Carolina Beach, Chandler’s Warf, Cotten Exchange, The Arboretum, The Burgwin Wright House (the family founded Wrightsville Beach and there is furniture that George Washington once sat on).

    • Candy
      September 11, 2019 / 10:26 am

      Oh My Goodness!!!!!! Thank you so much for these suggestions! I seriously cannot wait til my next visit to the city.

  4. September 10, 2019 / 1:24 am

    You look like you had a fun day out! You have a pretty travel style too. Good food and a walk along the beach are enough for me to enjoy any vacation. Thanks for the ideas!

  5. September 10, 2019 / 6:12 am

    Everything seems so perfect there, the food, the weather, the beach and the cruise ride. This will be in my bucket list.

  6. September 10, 2019 / 10:33 am

    What a fun trip! And that food that you had looked absolutely amazing!!!

  7. September 11, 2019 / 12:00 am

    This looks like it was an awesome trip! I’ve never been to Wilmington before.

    September 11, 2019 / 10:26 am

    Wonderful..Glad you shared this amazing list. I am a travel bug and looking forward to experiencing Wilmington later this year this list will help me out.

  9. September 11, 2019 / 10:35 am

    I love these kind of surprises! The food looks amazing and your style is gorgeous, girl!

    • Candy
      September 11, 2019 / 12:19 pm

      Why thank you very much!!! Much love….

  10. September 11, 2019 / 12:37 pm

    What a great drip! NC is such a beautiful place to visit. I would love to travel there one day…looks like you had a great time!

  11. September 11, 2019 / 5:28 pm

    What a fantastic way to spend Labour Holiday! I love how you have shared your discovery abotu Wilmington and the food looks simply delicious

  12. Michelle J Cantu
    September 20, 2019 / 3:36 pm

    The weather, the food, Wilmington is speaking to me. I agree with fall travel, it is the best.

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