Hey there-hope y’all have had a good week. Mine has been a bit crazy, but I feel like a huge weight is off my shoulders ever since I made the decision to scale back to two blog posts a week (read more here). Today I’m finally sharing my Wrightsville Beach Travel Guide. Wrightsville Beach is the North Carolina beach I’ve spent most time at other than Emerald Isle. I most recently visited about a month ago, but have been about six times over the past seven years. In this travel guide, I’m going to share some basic info about Wrightsville Beach, general tips, and my favorite places to eat.
(Bathing suit details here)
Wrightsville Beach: General Info
Wrightsville Beach is a charming little beach town situated along the southern portion of the North Carolina coast. It’s about 30 minutes from downtown Wilmington, the largest and most popular city on the NC coast. Although Wrightsville Beach is on the smaller side, it is bustling with activity. Due to its proximity to Wilmington and easy access via I-40, it’s a very popular beach with people who are doing a day trip. As a result, parking is at a premium on the weekends. If you’re coming for the day, my best piece of advice is to arrive early, otherwise you won’t be able to find a parking spot. Also, be sure to either pack plenty of food to eat during the day, or go somewhere within walking distance for lunch. Because if you leave your parking spot in the middle of the day, it WILL be gone when you return!
Where to Stay in Wrightsville Beach
I honestly don’t have any experience with booking accommodations in Wrightsville Beach, because every time I’ve been I’ve stayed at a place that my friend’s family either owned or knew the owner extremely well. However, due to the parking situation at Wrightsville Beach, I recommend staying somewhere on the island with private parking. The house my friend’s family used to own was street parking only. Even though we had a parking pass and didn’t have to pay the parking meter, we weren’t guaranteed a spot. Thus, we couldn’t drive anywhere during the day because there wouldn’t be any parking near the house when we got back! The condo my friend and I stayed at last month had a parking lot for condo guests only, so we didn’t have to worry about losing a parking place if we wanted to drive somewhere during the day.
Your best bet for Wrightsville Beach accommodations is to find a house or condo within walking distance to the beach area via Airbnb, VRBO, or a local rental realty. There’s also a Holiday Inn Resort not far from the condo we stayed at that looked nice. Ps. Did anyone else start mentally playing the early 2000’s Chingy song “Holidae In” right now? I sure did, haha!
What to Do at Wrightsville Beach
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but my favorite activity to do at the beach is honestly to spend hours at a time lounging on the beach reading a good book. (Check out my beach day essentials here). However, there are still quite a few things outside of the actual beach that I enjoy doing at Wrightsville Beach. My bestie and I like to start our day at Wrightsville Beach off with a walk to Cafe Del Mar to get either a smoothie or a latte.
Also, there’s a walking path called The Loop that is really nice to walk around if you’re staying close to the main section of Wrightsville Beach.
Speaking of the main section of Wrightsville Beach-although there’s quite a few restaurants and even some bars that get lively at night on the main drag of Wrightsville Beach, definitely don’t go in expecting Myrtle Beach. My friend and I were walking back from dinner one night several years ago, and these guys stopped and asked us where “The Strip” was. We were like “um, this is it.”
If you’re looking to do some shopping, head to Mayfair Town Center. It’s is a nice large shopping center on the mainland that’s not too far over the bridge. There’s a lot of major chain stores, as well as some smaller boutiques. Lumina Station is another shopping center that’s literally right over the Wrightsville Beach bridge. It’s much smaller than Mayfair, but they have a Monkee’s and a J.McLaughlin. Hitting up these shopping centers is great for a rainy day, or if you want a break from the beach. Some of the shops are open in the evening as well.
Wrightsville Beach Dining
Dining is my favorite non-beach activity at Wrightsville Beach, and I look forward to heading out to one of my favorite local places after a day on the beach. Here are the “Big Three” that I prioritize eating at during a Wrightsville Beach vacation:
K Bueno and Tower 7
Tower 7 and K Bueno are technically two different restaurants, but they are owned by the same people, and food and drinks essentially taste the same. Tower 7 is right in the middle of everything at Wrightsville Beach. It’s literally on the corner of the main intersection right after you cross over the bridge on the island. K Bueno is a short drive away in a shopping center on the mainland. Both restaurants have delicious Mexican food, including the most amazing chips & salsa! There’s an extensive margarita menu as well, but I honestly love a classic frozen margarita the best. For my meal, I usually alternate between a taco and taco salad.
Tower 7 has the appeal of being on the island and a quintessential Wrightsville Beach establishment. However, it can get very crowded with long wait times, especially on weekend nights. Also, parking can be tricky if you aren’t staying in walking distance of Tower 7. K Bueno might not be right on the beach, but it’s basically the same food, and you can get a table more quickly. My friend said there are some slight differences in the menu offerings between Tower 7 and K Bueno, but they aren’t significant. On my most recent trip, my bestie and I opted for K Bueno. We walked right in on a Saturday night. Granted, it was almost 9:00 so we beat the main dinner rush. But we still probably would have had to wait if we had tried Tower 7 that same night.
The original Poe’s Tavern is on Sullivan’s Island, SC, near Charleston. A Wrightsville Beach Poe’s Tavern location opened up a few years ago, and it’s one of my favorites! I’ve actually never been to the original location. As you would expect, some of the menu items have names that reference Edgar Allen Poe’s literary works. I get the grilled chicken salad, which includes avocado, bleu cheese, and the most delicious pimiento cheese toast. My bestie really likes the black bean burger.
In addition, I like to get the Poe’s Punch cocktail, which includes rum and multiple fruit juices. It has the prettiest fruit garnish too.
PT’s Grille boasts the title of “Wilmington’s Best Burger,” and they have a location just over the Wrightsville Beach bridge. It’s a great place to grab a quick and delicious bite. I don’t eat a ton of red meat, unless I’m at a cookout. So I usually get either a grilled chicken sandwich or the black bean burger. They have a veggie burger too, but I can’t remember if I’ve had it before. You order at the counter, and they bring your food to you when it’s ready. All meals include fries and a fountain drink.
Although these aren’t local places, I have to mention that there is a Dairy Queen (note that it’s walk-up only) and a Coldstone Creamery a short drive from Wrightsville Beach. My bestie doesn’t recommend the ice cream stand that’s on the island, despite the fact that there’s always a line there in the evenings. So we make the drive to one of the frozen treat chains if we want ice cream. Usually Dairy Queen is our pick. There’s just something about going out for ice cream at night on a beach vacation!
I hope that y’all liked reading my Wrightsville Beach travel guide and found it helpful. Have you ever been to Wrightsville Beach? If so, what are some of your favorite local places?
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