At the end of April, my family went to Wilmington, North Carolina for my cousin Caroline’s wedding — and we had the best time. I’ve been to Wilmington twice now, both for weddings, and I would love to visit again when I have more time to explore. It is such a beautiful port city, with lots of great restaurants, beautiful architecture, rich history, and plenty of waterfront views.
To get ahead of the terrible traffic on I-95, my sisters and I drove to the Richmond area on a Thursday night after work and stayed at a hotel right off the highway. On Friday morning, we got up, grabbed Chick Fil A, and hit the road to arrive to the Wilmington area by lunch. Because we didn’t have any plans until Friday evening, we decided to head straight to Wrightsville Beach to spend the afternoon — and I am so glad we did as we had the best time.
You know those days or moments or experiences where you go in with absolutely no expectations, and walk away with a new favorite memory? That’s exactly how this afternoon in Wrightsville Beach was because, other than knowing we wanted to have lunch by the water, we went in with no plan. We hadn’t looked up the restaurant menu, we hadn’t extensively Googled the destination – we just wanted to enjoy a few hours of time at the beach before checking into our hotel and figured we would just see where the day would take us.
Given we had such a great afternoon, I wanted to quickly share the two spots we went to in Wrightsville Beach (and loved!) in case you find yourself headed there — Oceanic and Dockside. More on both below!
Following the recommendation of my cousin, we decided to head to Oceanic for lunch and it turned out to be a great decision. Though it rained most of our drive to Wrightsville Beach, by the time we arrived, there was nothing but sunny skies on the horizon. We were able to get a table on Oceanic’s back patio, that was built out onto a pier right over the ocean. The views and breeze could not have been better!
We also really enjoyed the food at Oceanic. Because we were on vacation, we started with a round of drinks and loved the complimentary hush puppies every table got as an complimentary appetizer. For my main, I did one of their salads with fried chicken on top and it was heavenly. A nice cold glass of wine, a delicious salad, and an ocean view? Sign me up any day of the week.
After we dined, we spent some time out on the public section of the pier, enjoying the beautiful blue water and watching the many surfers that were out catching a wave on a Friday afternoon. We weren’t quite ready to head over to downtown Wilmington for check-in though, so we decided to keep the party going.
So, we headed over to Dockside! Located right on the Intracoastal Waterway, we loved this bar! It was a very chill spot, with a huge deck patio right on the water and plenty of tropical cocktails on the menu. We posted up for about an hour or so with frozen margaritas and enjoyed watching all the boats go by. We arrived around 2:30pm or so, and by the time we left at 4pm, it had really started to fill up for happy hour — and everyone, us included, was in such a good mood!
I loved Dockside — their tagline is that it’s “the place to be” and I couldn’t agree more.
I can’t wait to get back to Wrightsville Beach — my sisters and I are already talking about making a long weekend out of a trip down next year!
One thing to note is that Wrightsville Beach is very popular and can be extremely crowded during the summer season — my aunt goes regularly and says it is nuts. We went in late April, and it was easy to move about the island without traffic, enjoy restaurants without waits, and the beach wasn’t too crowded. Just something to consider if you’re planning your own trip!