The Best Places to Beach/Eat/Drink in Wilmington, NC

Wellll I planned on recapping our December Asheville trip for this Travel Tuesday, but with all the moving, I am not even close to going through all of the pictures on my camera. So that will have to wait for another day.  Try to contain yourselves.

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If you missed it, we are in the process of moving from Wilmington to Greenville, so I thought it might be a good time to list some of our favorite Wilmington spots before they are all a beloved distant memory and I have no recollection of the beautiful beach dream that I’ve been living (not dramatic at all).  This past weekend was likely my last weekend in Wilmington for the forseeable future, so we spent some time hitting up my favorite spots.

Beaches:

Aka, the best part of the area.  There are three main beaches in the Wilmington area, and even more if you look across the river in Brunswick County or north at Topsail.  For the sake of this post, I’ll focus on the three around Wilmington.

Wrightsville Beach is probably the most popular beach near Wilmington.  It’s easily accessible from downtown (a straight shot on 74), has a ton of restaurants, is home to “The Loop” (a popular running route), has more beach houses than hotels (which helps keep the beach less crowded), and is generally a “nicer” beach.  You will also see more boats and activities like kayaking and stand up paddleboarding, thanks to the lovely Intracoastal Waterway.  If you are looking to really explore Wilmington and/or are an active vacationer, Wrightsville is your jam.

Look at all that empty sand space

 

The Intracoastal.  via

Carolina Beach is a little further away from Wilmington proper and is more….touristy?  than Wrightsville.  There are more souvenir shops, kitschy beach themed restaurants/buffets and bars, more high rise hotels, etc etc.  This reminds me of the beaches that I would vacation at as a kid.  There is a boardwalk with an arcade and a small amusement park.  Definitely a family vacation vibe.  If you have kiddos on board, Carolina is a winner.

My hot dogs hanging out at Carolina Beach

Kure Beach is just past Carolina Beach and is the quietest of all three.  It has less restaurants (but still enough to get you by) and shops than either Wrightsville or Carolina.  There is also free parking so Nick and I hit this beach a lot (is there any harder pill to swallow than having to pay for parking at the beach where you live?  In Virginia Beach there are some lots where you can park for free as a resident, get with it Wrightsville.).  If you plan to be a total beach bum and want quiet and serenity, Kure is the beach for you.

Eats:

Oh, the food.  The glorious, glorious food.

This is definitely one of the things I will miss MOST about Wilmington.  For the first six months we lived here, we talked nonstop about how much we loved the weather and the food.  We couldn’t shut up about it.  We annoyed and alienated all of our friends.  But it’s ok, because we filled that void with MORE FOOD.

Fish Bites – This isn’t a surprise to anyone that knows us.  This is stop 1 on our Wilmington tour when people visit us.  Fish Bites is very unassuming, it’s in a shopping center in the middle of Wilmington, far from downtown or any of the beaches.  But it’s our number 1 recommendation if you are looking for simple seafood.  We had family members want to go here 3 times in one long weekend visit, it’s that good.  Their fresh catch is my default choice, and I highly recommend the coconut sauce with that (unless it’s tuna).  They also serve raw oysters during oyster season that are delicious if that’s yo thing.  The mussels appetizer, the crab dip, the zucchini fries, all amazing.  I could go on and on about this place, but I’ll spare you.  Just be sure to go.  We tell everyone we know about it and have never gotten anything less than glowing reviews in return.

 

Delicious, free corn muffins
Salmon and zucchini fries for me, Scallops and mixed vegetables for Nick

Catch – Catch is located on Market St., also in a shopping center and not near downtown or the beaches (I guess I have a type?).  The chef was featured on Top Chef Texas and is a bit of a local celebrity.  It’s a bit more expensive than Fish Bites (~$30 per entree) but the food is a little more high end/modern/creative as well.  Their menu changes frequently, so my recommendations are probably useless, but their asian-ish entrees are always amazing.

Las Olas – Mexican food is my favorite food.  Period, the end.  And for me, Mexican food really comes down to the salsa, and the salsa here is FANTASTIC.  It’s super fresh and super cilantro-y.  Their seafood tacos are amazing, and you have to get the Street Corn as a side.  Nick and I used to live across the street from this place when we first moved to Wilmington, and I could have eaten here weekly.  Or daily.  The owners of this restaurant own a couple other in the area, I’ve tried k38, but not Tower (which is located in Wrightsville), and it was just as good.

Britt’s Donuts – I will preface this recommendation by saying I don’t even like donuts.  Whaaat?  I know.  But here I am, recommending a donut joint.  We heard about Britt’s from our apartment maintenance manager when we first moved here, and after the conversation I promptly forgot all about it, because I am anti-donut.  We were checking out Carolina Beach a week or so later and walked right by it and I was all “oh yeah, that’s that donut place that guy was telling us about.”  We were between meals and decided just to have one each to see what the BFD was.  OMG IT WAS HEAVEN.  These are the lightest, sweetest, fluffiest donuts you will ever have in your entire life.  They only make one kind, but it’s the only kind you will ever need.  They created the absolute perfect donut and it would be an insult to you to serve you anything else.  There is usually a line all down the boardwalk during the summer, but it’s worth it.  I recommend getting at least half a dozen per person.  My brother-in-law holds the current record of eating an ENTIRE dozen in one day.

Nick and I got a half dozen for a between meals snack
Oh baby
Looookk at it

 

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This is what the line looks like at 2 pm

Mott’s Seafood Channel – I know, this isn’t even a restaurant, but it is hands down the best fish market in Wilmington.  If you are visiting and have access to a kitchen, do yourself the kindest favor you possibly can and make dinner in one night.  And buy that dinner at Mott’s Seafood.  It’s located near Wrightsville Beach, and after trying a ton of different fish markets in the area, it’s the only one we go to now.  Their seafood is always SO fresh, and we have fun trying all kind of different things according to what’s in season.  The employees are especially helpful and we always ask what is the freshest/what looks good.  If you happen to be visiting between October and May GET THE STUMP OYSTERS if they have them.

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Look at the color on the tuna (far right)
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We went with Wahoo and Tuna and both were amazing

SO, those are my “must-do” places in the Wilmington area, and now I’ve successfully bummed myself out about not being able to visit them again.

I’m going to go be sad about not living at the beach anymore, K bye.

 

This post is part of the Travel Tuesday linkup!

Random Friday #16

WELL I am back in Wilmington for the weekend and just completed my last drive this way (from Greenville) for the forseeable future.  We had a whirlwind of a week and visited some new home sites, signed an apartment lease, picked up the keys, bought a new mattress, etc.  I think we did something every night this week, which is my least favorite kind of week.

But I’m doing ok, lest you think I’m perishing under the pressure of an easy routine move where a lot of things are taken care of for us, because starting on Sunday we will be in a new permanent(ish) apartment and my time in hotels is coming to a sweet end.  I will have an actual kitchen and my own bed and I won’t have to eat breakfast with a room of strangers.  Life is good.

On a sad note, it’s my last weekend in Wilmington for a while.  I’m planning on hitting the beach and saying a long goodbye and having an epic Wilmington food fest.

Reading:  Hahaha, nah, nothing to see here.  I’m hoping I’ll be able to read more starting next week when my life will be stable.  I don’t even have any interesting articles to share.  The only thing my brain was able to handle this week was scrolling through Instagram and looking at pretty pictures.

On that note, my new favorite instagram follow is Ina Garten.  I feel like she likes to get down (at least for a rich white woman who lives in the Hamptons).

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If I know Jeffrey, he is EXCITED.

 

Watching: GAME OF THRONES.  Warning, spoilers ahead.  

OMG Why is Jon Snow still dead.  Nick and I totally thought the last scene of the episode would be him coming back to life.  Ghost’s wailing really bummed me out.  And thank fuck something halfway decent actually happened to Sansa.  I love Brienne.  And I have such mixed feelings about halfway liking Theon/Reek in this episode.  It’s such a different experience to watch the show without having any sort of a clue about what’s coming.  I kind of hate it but it’s kind of exhilarating.

Listening: I’m really giving away exactly how lame I am with this admission, but I’ve been in an late 80’s/early 90’s country kind of mood.  I downloaded a few Randy Travis and Travis Tritt songs.  My fav being “I’m gonna be somebody”.

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This mullet has NOTHING on my 8 yr old mullet.

Eating: Well it was more hotel food this week.  I intended to do a WIAW this week to show all of my hotel meals, but I got as far as taking a pic of my breakfast and promptly forgot to take a pic of lunch.  Sorry, though you probably dodged a bullet there.  Anyway, here is my crappy breakfast.

Greek yogurt, tomato slices and a piece of toast with cheese and a (probably fake) egg patty on top.

Traveling:  I started my list of things to do.  I got like two items on the list for our first location, but considering all of the other shit we did this week, I think I totally deserve a pat on the back.

Or a five, whatever.


Workouts:  I worked out once this week.  ONCE.  And that is all I have to say about that.  I’m so looking forward to being in a more stable routine next week.

 

What is your favorite item at a typical hotel breakfast buffet?  What key things do I need to remember to bring at our new apartment?  Will you help me pack?

 

 

Random Friday #15

Friday Friday Friday! If you happened to miss these random thoughts you are in for a TREAT today!

FIRST AND FOREMOST IT’S GAME OF THRONES WEEKEND.

Can’t wait.  This is the best time of year.

 

We are headed to Charlotte this weekend to celebrate our niece’s baptism. Against their better judgement and common sense, Lillian’s rents chose me and Nick to be her godparents so we are excited. Poor Lillian.

Today is also Nick and my’s 10 year dating anniversary. I thought about writing a mushy paragraph here about how much I like that guy, but I’m not big on the feelings and he doesn’t read the blog anyway. BUT here is a throwback picture from the night we drunkenly decided we were officially an item.

Reading:  Umm not much happening here. The only books I’ve read in the past 6 weeks are the lightest, trashiest books you can imagine and I’m too embarrassed to claim them here.  But I have read a couple good articles lately:

Game of Thrones Cocktails – I want the Stark martini, though I haven’t allowed myself to have gin since 2008.

Why It’s Totally Normal to Feel Like You’re Friends With TV Characters – I feel very validated by this.

Watching:  A lot has been happening here. I’ve been watching a lot of TV, also of the light variety. At the height of our stress and flux, when I didn’t have much extra brain power to do anything, I got hooked on this ABC family show called “Baby Daddy”.  It’s total brain candy (except apparently for some emotional new mom I know that cried during the first episode…side eye).

 

I also started rewatching Gilmore Girls because it’s been a long time, and I want it to be fresh when the new eps come out.  It’s reminding me how much I asbolutely LOATHE that sad-sack Dean.  He is the whiniest whiner who ever whined.  No wonder Rory wanted space from him.  I cackle with glee every time Rory lies to him or blows him off.

Listening: I downloaded Sturgill Simpson’s countryish remake of Nirvana’s “In Bloom” this morning after seeing it on Running off the Reese’s and have listened to it approximately 37 times.  I’m betting I hit 100 before the end of the day.

Eating:  Eats have been pretty boring lately.  I’m trying to stay healthy with all the traveling, so I attempted to pack my own lunches this week. Of course it had to be something simple that I could make in my hotel room. I picked up a rotisserie chicken and a large bag salad kit from Costco. $10 and it feeds me for a whole week 👍🏻👍🏻

The hotel I’m staying at actually serves free dinner (weird, right?  I didn’t know that was a thing but I know of at least two in the area that do it). So dinners have been salad and a baked potato with some more of my rotisserie chicken added on.  SO EXCITING.

Travel:  Oh yeah, I should probably start figuring out what we are going to do next month on our trip.

Workouts:  I worked out more than once this week!

 

Still not my ideal balance of strength and cardio, and more “rest days” than preferred, but I did better than last week 🙂

Monday: I did strength workout A from Strong Curves

Tuesday: Intervals on the treadmill.  I warmed up for 10 mins @ 5.7mph, did 8 rounds of 1 min @ 7.1mph, 1 min @ 5.7mph, then cooled down for 10 mins @ 5.7mph.

Wednesday: Worked late and totally used that as an excuse to do NOTHING.

Thursday: Had a happy hour event, but kept the drinking to a minimum and did some elliptical when I got back.  Totally counting that as a win.

Friday: Ehhh driving to Charlotte after work so, probably nothing.

 

What are your weekend plans?  What is a show that you are obsessed with, but embarrassed to admit?