Wilmington North Carolina is a major seaport located in the southeastern part of the state about midway along the beautiful beaches of the Cape Fear coast. It takes about two-and-a-half hours to drive here from Raleigh, which is located about in the center of the state to the northwest.
Wilmington was originally settled along the Cape Fear River and has since spread to encompass the Atlantic coastline. The beaches comprise the major attractions of the area, with four-mile-long Wrightsville Beach only a twenty-minute drive from the downtown area. Here you will find Airlie Gardens, 67 acres of lovely gardens created in the early 1900s. Featured are azaleas, camellias, magnolias, and wisteria, which are all celebrated in the city's annual Azalea Festival held in April. This is one of the most important events in the state.
Wilmington NC is one of only nine cities designated a United States Coast Guard City because of its close relationship with and support of that branch of the military. The sea plays many roles in Wilmington. Deep sea fishing is very popular here, and you will find numerous operators running charters both from town and from Wrightsville Beach. You can do your own crabbing on the beaches, and cook them yourself if you've taken advantage of vacation rentals. You can explore more about the sea and the military on the World War II battleship USS North Carolina that is docked just across from the downtown port area and is open for tours.
More maritime history is on display in the Wilmington North Carolina Cape Fear Museum, the oldest history museum in the state. It is located on Market Street in the historic downtown area only a few blocks from the mile-long Riverwalk. The Riverwalk is a scenic way to enjoy an afternoon, and you will find a number of shopping and dining opportunities here. It may come as a surprise to discover that Wilmington NC is the home of the largest film studio outside of California, the EUE Screen Gems Studio. Hundreds of films and television programs have been produced here, and the largest special effects water tank in North America is found here. The studios are open for public tours on Saturdays and Sundays from May to September and on Saturdays during the rest of the year.
Wilmington NC boasts a very large historic downtown of nearly 300 blocks. Included in this area is the beautiful Bellamy Mansion, built between 1858 and 1861. It is in the style of Greek Revival and Italianate architecture and is one of the city's more fascinating museums. You can get your shopping handled in the Cotton Exchange, a group of eight historic building that now house a shopping arcade. There are several historic churches as well as the oldest synagogue in the state.
Driving to Wilmington North Carolina can be done on the major Route 40 that leads to Raleigh. If you're coming from the north or south along the coast, use Highway 17. While the airport is technically an international facility, flights from other countries are only accepted in the case of being unable to land elsewhere. However, there are many flights from cities around the United States, including Orlando, Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Charlotte.
Image: NC Div. of Tourism, Film & Sports Development