If you are looking for a beautiful southern city retreat a short distance from the beach, look no further than Wilmington! Steeped in history, the city was first settled by Europeans in the early 1700’s along the banks of the Cape Fear River. The name Wilmington was chosen in honor of Spencer Compton, Earl of Wilmington. Settlers came from many places: other colonies, other regions of North Carolina, the West Indies, and the British Isles.
North Carolina’s economy was fueled by Naval stores and lumber and ship related trades. The longleaf pine ecosystem supplied the pine sap used for the resin-based products used in the ship industry. Turpentine, pitch, and tar are just some of the products obtained from these longleaf pine forests and the evidence of naval stores can be seen today in places like Weymouth Woods. Trees bare the scars of the cat whiskers, the slashes made in the bark to collect resin in boxes at the base of the tree. This industry is why North Carolina is known as the Tar Heel State. The Naval stores obtained in other parts of the state were important to the shipping industry and economy in Wilmington. Numerous ship skeletons dot the shore along the river.
As it was hundreds of years ago, Wilmington is a bustling port city even today. Tugboats are docked near the bridge that crosses the Cape Fear, ready to assist a ship at a moments notice. The riverfront is home to a boat ramp where individuals can put their boat in the river, shops and restaurants, and a mile-long Riverwalk in the historic area. Across from the Riverwalk is the Battleship North Carolina, the most decorated ship from World War II. The streets just a block or two from the river is where you’ll find numerous old houses, such as the Bellamy Mansion. The Oakdale Cemetery dates back to the mid-19th century and is a beautiful place to see some of the city history through the residents buried there. When you visit Wilmington you must go to Airlie Gardens, one of the most beautiful gardens I’ve ever seen!
Feeling more beachy? Then take a quick ride to one of the beaches nearby! My fav is Wrightsville Beach, followed by Fort Fisher, which is also home to the Fort Fisher Aquarium. No matter what you are looking for, chances are Wilmington is your destination! I promise you that visiting here will give you a sample of history, gastronomic delights, art, architecture, gardens and more, plus all the southern charm you can imagine and it will be love at first sight! What are you waiting for?!?