Published: March 29, 2017
Wilmington, oh Wilmington. How do we love thee? Let us count the ways.
Wilmington, North Carolina is a beloved neighbor of ours at Skydive Coastal Carolinas. It's an outdoor destination par excellence, full of muddy-shoed adventurers with a twinkle in their eye and a granola bar in their back pocket. Since we're in excellent company in this crowd (anybody want a granola bar?), we'd love to share our favorite local adventures with you, dear reader.
One of our favorite summer evening jaunts is a long sunset paddle out around the Cape Fear waterways. This top-shelf operator offers everything from half-day blackwater kayak adventures (to say howdy to the river otters) to overnight campouts.
If you're going to need a bigger boat, Sail Wilmington. Arguably, there's no more perfect vantage point to explore a historic port city than the prow of a sailboat. The operator even gives sailing lessons, if you're keen to learn the ropes.
Springbrook Farms' silken-maned crew of rescued Percheron draft horses will clip-clop their way straight into your heart--and they'll do it in style. The pretty ponies, encouraged by a spiffily costumed driver, pull you and your crew through the city in handsomely restored carriages.
The charming captain of an antique riverboat narrates a peppy rundown of Wilmington's past 100 years or so as you pootle through Cape Fear's most jaw-dropping scenery: wildlife, ancient trees and friendly birds abound. If you work up a growling tummy, don't worry: You'll satisfy your hunger and slake your thirst at the River Grill.
If boats leave you feeling a little alienated from the watery depths, then jump on in! The Patriot Dive Center specializes in leading local underwater excursions, so you can get face-to-face with the critters that only wink at the boats as they go by. (Our favorite offering? PDC's "Zombie Apocalypse Diver" certification.)
Wilmington's beaches don't pull any punches. They've been featured in travel magazines, books and newspapers since before anyone can rightly remember--and for good reason. There are plenty of 'em, but start with the top three: Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville.
Carolina Beach sits just 15 miles south of town, on the northern end of Pleasure Island. Food & Wine magazine calls Carolina's beachside boardwalk one of the top boardwalks in the country, and you'll see why. (Britt's Donuts, for instance, has been purveying extra calories since before World War II.) Carolina Beach is also the place for tournament-level fishing, eco-tours, and people-watching.
Kure Beach runs along Pleasure Island's southern tip. It has the historic distinction of being home to the final throes of the Confederacy, but it's now much better known for the choice fishing opportunities (and the aquarium, if you're a looker and not a biter). The beach unfolds for an unspoiled six miles, inviting hardcore hikers and romantic wanderers alike to explore the sands.
Wrightsville Beach, finally, is actually an island, but it's very accessible right from the I-40. Bop over to mooch around the quaintness of the village, poke into the history museum and dust off your binoculars to scan the waterbird sanctuary. When you're done, head back to the bridge; within a few steps, you'll discover some of the state's finest seafood restaurants.
Hey, brah, wanna catch a wave? The family-owned Indo Jax® Surf School can help with that! They safely welcome new shredders to the waves every day. These guys are the heart of the local surf community, too, and keep the love going with a significant charity outreach program.
Okay, Captain Ahab: It's your moment. Hook up with ProFishNC Charters to board the "No Bananaz" and catch the biggest, baddest fish of your life. This operation offers charters for everything from gold-medal tournament takers to grade school fishin' birthday parties, so there's no excuse not to up your omega-3 consumption.
Skydive Coastal Carolinas
We'd be remiss if we left out what is, inarguably, the very best outdoor activity in Wilmington, NC: skydiving. With us! Skydive Coastal Carolinas is the closest dropzone to Wilmington NC, and we take consummate pride in offering our jumpers the most inspiring skyward (and, then, groundward) journey on the planet. Our top-notch instructors, stunning views and impeccable safety record speak for us, but you'll just have to check it out for yourself. We're looking forward to showing you the best time you'll ever have with your "I <3 NC" shirt on!