Eco-Adventures, Parks & Gardens
Wrightsville Beach is an Outdoor Lovers Paradise
With an abundance of year-round outdoor activities, Wrightsville Beach is known for its stunning views and as the best beach in North Carolina to feel and stay healthy while traveling. Find scenic beauty and things to do along every waterway. From perusing island parks and gardens to birding adventures and taking a jog around the island’s scenic Loop, there are so many ways to get outdoors here.
Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tours and Soundside Adventures offer a wide variety of tours and excursions for visitors and year-round residents alike to discover the beach’s surrounding treasures. Families can partake in an educational environmental tour, a history harbor tour, a pirate cruise or shuttle service to Masonboro Island Reserve. From an all-day birding trip on a pristine barrier island to a shell-finding or dolphin-spotting adventure, to a quiet morning of yoga and self-exploration, there is a water tour or cruise perfectly suited to a variety of interests.
Bird and nature lovers should trek to the south end of Wrightsville Beach to discover the protected North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve. This far-south end of the beach is a favorite among many beach-nesting birds. Each summer, nesting shorebirds arrive to raise the next generation of chicks safely in a roped-off habitat that protects the area from human interference. This area of the beach is also home to the jetty at Masonboro Inlet. Lounge on the beach as you watch sailboats, yachts and fishing vessels coast in and out of the Intracoastal Waterway and Banks Channel. Gaze across the inlet to see the uninhabited Masonboro Island Reserve, which can be only be accessed and explored via kayak or on a boat tour. The unique positioning on the south end of the island makes it the perfect spot to take in both sunrise and sunset views, which are equally spectacular. Or, join Soundside Adventures each Tuesday for a free and guided eco-tour on the Carolina Runner to discover local nesting birds of the area.
Take a break from the beach and head to the park. Wrightsville Beach Park is home to a large playground with plenty of space for children to climb, swing, spin and slide. The playground is equipped with a wheelchair swing and a variety of inclusive playground equipment, ensuring everyone is able to enjoy him or herself. The park comes to life in the summer months with weekly free concerts, a farmers' market, and family-friendly activities such as the annual Bark in the Park event. Visitors will also find fitness equipment, basketball courts, tennis courts, pickleball courts, picnic shelters and sports fields.
Situated on the west end of Wrightsville Beach Park is Harbor Way Gardens. This one-acre garden allows visitors to rest in the shade on benches set among paved paths, surrounded by large trees and seasonal flowers in bloom. Children can cool off and play in the Children's Fountain.
Visit the ADA-accessible oceanfront gazebo at East Salisbury Park. Located at Access #16 at Johnnie Mercers Pier, the small public space features restrooms, beach showers and parking.
Nearby Airlie Gardens is home to more than 67 acres of formal gardens and walking trails, 10 acres of lakes, the majestic nearly 500-year-old Airlie Oak and hundreds of species of local flora and fauna. Open year-round, Airlie Gardens hosts a number of special and seasonal events, including monthly bird hikes, summer concert series and winter’s “Enchanted Airlie” featuring over a million holiday lights.
The island’s 2.5-mile Loop offers a walking or jogging experience you won't find anywhere else. Test your running skills or just stroll along the Intracoastal Waterway, Banks Channel and beautiful salt marshes as you make your way around this scenic path. You can start your loop at various locations along the path, including Wrightsville Beach Park. Not a jogger? Visitors can also bike the scenic route on the road that runs alongside The Loop. View a map of The Loop here.