Searching for a fall escape tailored to your specific interests? Look no further than our generational guide to Wrightsville Beach to discover activities for road trippers of all ages. From water activities and eco-adventures to alfresco dining and drinks with a view, you’re sure to fall in love with this autumn getaway.
Read on for our generational guide to Wrightsville Beach to discover activities for road trippers of all ages:
Begin your stay by enjoying top-notch comforts and beautiful oceanfront views at one of Wrightsville Beach’s full-service hotels or resorts like the Blockade Runner Beach Resort, the only resort offering surf-to-sound activities from sailing and cruises to lush gardens, sea- and farm-to-table EAST Oceanfront Dining and more. Relax at Shell Island Resort, where you’ll find an indoor and outdoor pool, alongside bike rentals and an on-site restaurant offering sweeping oceanfront views.
Wrightsville Beach is home to a variety of locally owned and upscale shops that make for the perfect daytime excursion, where you can spend your time window-shopping and taking in local island styles. Discover hand-crafted accessories at Holly Aiken, a North Carolina-based shop featuring simple, bright and durable handbags, totes, wallets and more. For a charming collection of local boutiques, restaurants and cafes, head just over the drawbridge to nearby Lumina Station, a shopping village by the beach filled with beautiful landscaping, whimsical sculptures and storybook bridges.
For equally spectacular ocean views inside or from the on-pier dining, visit the Oceanic, Wrightsville Beach’s only standalone restaurant located on the beach. For quicker seating, insiders will tell you to arrive before 6 p.m. to experience coastal-inspired cuisine and specialty cocktails. Enjoy fresh-caught seafood at South Beach Grill, featuring a menu of Southern-inspired and locally sourced specials. An island staple since 1997, guests can dine on the dog-friendly patio overlooking the scenic Banks Channel anchorage.
Wind down as you take in beautiful views of the beach during a Sunset Harbor Cruise on the Carolina Runner with Soundside Adventures. Drift along the harbor and look for passing dolphins, turtles, seabirds and other marine life.
Enjoy the island life at Wrightsville Beach with a variety of accommodation options perfect for the whole family or couples looking for a romantic retreat. Opt for one of our various vacation rentals for ultimate privacy, the conveniences of home and the ability to live like a local. Choose one of our hotels or motels for gorgeous views, amenities and locations right in the heart of the action. Rise and shine at Summer Sands Suites, featuring cozy suites equipped with kitchenettes for dining in comfort. Located in the middle of the island, it’s just a short walk away from the harbor and beach.
The Lumina on Wrightsville Beach, a Holiday Inn Resort promises fun for the whole family, including outdoor and indoor pools, a large playground and fitness center. You’ll have everything you need for your ultimate island retreat.
Lumina on Wrightsville Beach, a Holiday Inn Resort
Revamp your wardrobe at REDIX, a Wrightsville Beach staple since 1969 offering everything you need from top designer clothing brands to souvenirs, beach gear and more. For truly unique finds, visit Hallelu Boutique where something from their selection of clothing, accessories and gifts will be sure to catch your eye.
Find a variety of parks, attractions and nature adventures to explore. “Seas” the day by touring the island’s beauty with one of Epic Excursions’ private experiences like boat charters, dolphin boat tours, stand-up paddleboarding and more. Head out with Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tours to Masonboro Island Reserve, only accessible by boat, kayak or canoe, to explore the longest undisturbed barrier island ecosystem in southern North Carolina and discover rare wildlife that call the area home. Or, kick back and cast a line from Johnnie Mercers Pier, the first concrete fishing pier in the state of North Carolina. For the perfect romantic evening, book a sunset cruise with La Dee Dah Sunset Cruises and experience a beautiful evening on the water.
After a day of exploring, enjoy a bite at Dockside Restaurant, a Carolina tradition for more than 30 years. Perched on the edge of the Intracoastal Waterway, you can enjoy casual, local dishes while taking in stunning soundside views. Relax with a meal at Bluewater Waterfront Grill, where you’ll enjoy casual favorites like baby back ribs and blackened mahi tacos. Dine on the waterfront patio to watch boats cruise by and take in panoramic views of the Intracoastal Waterway. End your perfect evening with a sweet treat from Kohl’s Frozen Custard, where you can sample gourmet frozen custard, banana splits, milkshakes, sundaes and more!
Millennials and Younger
Wrightsville Beach has a variety of accommodation options to fit any preference and budget, whether it be a full-service hotel with amenities or one of our comfortable inns. The Silver Gull Motel is open year-round, located within easy walking distance of shopping and dining and offering direct beachfront rooms with kitchenettes. Or, choose a newly renovated oceanfront suite at The Surf Suites to enjoy mild fall temperatures at an oceanfront pool and sundeck. The Sandpeddler Inn & Suites offers the hospitality of a bed and breakfast, and it’s located across the street from a beach access that’s popular among surfers!
Start your morning off right by finding your Zen with yoga under the shade trees at Harbor Way Gardens or on the beach to catch some morning rays. Afterward, visit Adapt Kitchen and Juice Bar for a fresh organic juice, wellness shot or superfood smoothie. Or, enjoy healthy snack or bite from Surfberry, where you’ll find smoothies, organic cold-pressed juices, fair trade coffees and more, along with vegan options. You can also visit the shop for a probiotic-rich frozen yogurt for an evening treat!
Wrightsville Beach is one of the best places in North Carolina to discover sunken shipwrecks, stunning reefs and ledges, and to explore unique underwater habitats. Head out on an excursion on the Ledge Tender with the expert instructors at WB Diving to find the best sites in the area, witness distinct aquatic life and even search for the coveted Megalodon teeth that are often found in the surrounding waters.
Rent gear from Cape Fear Paddleboarding or Wrightsville SUP to spend the day stand-up paddleboarding (or SUP, for those in the know) on Wrightsville Beach’s crystal blue waters. One of the best “SUP hubs” in the United States, according to Outside magazine, Wrightsville Beach is the perfect place to try out this fun way to explore the water and get your workout in at the same time. Enjoy the island’s warm waters well into fall with a private surf lesson from Crystal South Surf Camp, Sean’s Private Surf Instruction or WB Surf Camp. You’ll be riding a wave in no time!
Wrightsville Beach is the perfect place to get outside and get active while taking in gorgeous views and coastal scenery. Luckily, there are plenty of unique ways to keep up with your fitness routine around the island. Start by renting bikes from Aussie Island Surf Shop to cycle the River to Sea Bikeway, an on-and-off street bikeway winding all the way from Johnnie Mercers Pier to Historic Downtown Wilmington. Or, get your fitness on with a jog along the local favorite Wrightsville Beach Loop fitness trail.
Taste your way across Wrightsville Beach with a variety of local spots. Enjoy a coastal casual meal at Shark Bar & Kitchen noshing on specials highlighting locally and sustainably sourced seafood, meats and produce. End the day with a trip to Wrightsville Beach Brewery, where you can sip on 11 different craft brews like the Airlie Amber Ale or Oysterman Stout while also helping give back to the community: the brewery features a rotating “Beer of the Month,” and all proceeds from the selection are donated to a different local nonprofit each month. Complement your cold beverage with signature bites like Kimchi and Fried Oyster Bites or the Shrimp-and-Grits Pizza. Or cheers your day with a brew (21 and up, of course!) from Poe’s Tavern complemented with a menu full of burger options with unique add-ons like shrimp and guacamole. Dine outside on the dog-friendly covered patio in a fun and friendly atmosphere.
Located just steps from the beach, Tower 7 Baja Mexican Grill is a local favorite boasting southwestern flavors inspired by the spirit of adventure, and it has been dubbed a “favorite place in North Carolina” by “One Tree Hill” star Sophia Bush! Then, put the cherry on top of a perfect day in Wrightsville Beach with a scoop of your favorite flavor at the Original Ice Cream Stand.
If you're looking for more inspiration to take a trip this autumn, see our roundup of fall things to do in Wrightsville Beach.