Posted on: February 28th, 2022 Posted in Around ILM

Whether you’re a first-timer or repeat visitor, Wilmington’s coastal beauty and never-ending water sports will inspire your next fun-filled vacation.

But, what about Wilmington’s underrated spots (that most tourists never hear about)?

From river to sea, stay off course to explore these hidden places that genuinely make Wilmington stand out.

Masonboro Island Reserve 

Wilmington is known for Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach, but these beaches only scratch the surface of Wilmington’s oceanside beauty. 

Take, for example, the Masonboro Island Reserve. Home to the longest, undisturbed tidal creek ecosystem in Southern North Carolina, you’ll catch a glimpse of sea turtles, birds, and fish foraging here. 

And since this reserve is only accessible by kayak, canoe, or boat, you’ll want to plan ahead. You can also hop on its daily cruise from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. that highlights the ecology and natural history of Wrightsville Beach’s waterways. 

The Mailbox at the Stairs

And while you’re at the beach, don’t forget to spark positive vibes at Wrightsville’s “Mailbox at the Stairs.” Although its former house and stairs no longer exist, you can still leave a note (and take one in return).

Sound-Side Haven

If a slower-paced day is on your mind, take a boat, kayak, or paddleboard to Sound-Side Haven, a water spot between the ocean and Intracoastal Waterway. 

This haven forms a different kind of saltwater in Wrightsville Beach’s active sound. Here, you can ease your mind and body with its soft breeze and calm waters. 

Airlie Gardens

Craving more nature? Pack a lunch and settle down in one of Wilmington’s majestic gardens. If this sounds restful to you, Wilmington has several gardens with hidden oases and structures built-in. 

Start with Airlie Gardens, home to more than 67 acres of walking trails, formal gardens, and 10 acres of lakes. This garden has a whimsical “chapel,” Buddhas, butterflies, local flora, and fauna. 

Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden 

Or, visit Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden, which features a walking trail, wooden observation decks, and a collection of native carnivorous plants such as Venus flytraps and Pitcher Plants. 

With its gardens open daily, this fully ADA-accessible passive park is protected by a conservation law appointed by the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust.

Bitty and Beau’s Coffee Shop

Stop by for a boost at Wilmington’s original Bitty and Beau’s coffee shop (with locations now across the U.S.). 

With over 80% of intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals unemployed nationwide, this coffee shop serves a noble mission—to pave a path for those with disabilities to become more included in every community.

Historical Homes

Buy a “triple ticket,” which gives you discounted admission to the Bellamy Mansion Museum, the Burgwin-Wright House, and Latimer House

The Bellamy Mansion is a restored 10,000-square-feet residence, showcasing North Carolina’s early 1800s architecture and preserved urban slave quarters in the country. 

The Burgwin-Wright House also has rooms furnished with 18th and 19th-century antiques, showcasing hundreds of rare objects! 

And the Latimer House (built in 1852) contains over 600 upper-class Victorian historical objects (including tools, jewelry, tableware, furniture), which you can see up-close during guided tours.

Wilmington, North Carolina, is calling you with so much to do and see!

If you’re ready to dive into the breezy coastal vibes Wilmington has to offer, we hope you’ll make River Bluffs your first choice for a neighborhood! Located along the Cape Fear River banks, we’re eager to welcome you! Schedule your tour with us today!