Concerts at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater
Greenfield Lake Amphitheater is an intimate concert venue located next to picturesque Greenfield Lake in Wilmington. Surrounded by lush gardens, mature trees and wildlife, this is a unique and beautiful spot to catch a gig. Ticket prices are typically reasonable as are drinks and snacks from the concession. Greenfield Lake Amphitheater is family friendly and most concerts are free for children under 5. Notable past acts include Willie Nelson, Gary Clark Jr, Lyle Lovett, Common and Tedeschi Trucks Band.
Local tip: Many people choose to take a blanket and enjoy the music from the lawns outside the venue. For free.
Masonboro Island or “Mase” is an uninhabited barrier island beyond the south end of Wrightsville Beach, separated by Masonboro Inlet. This unspoiled island, only accessible by boat, is a rich habitat for wildlife including loggerhead turtles, green sea turtles and brown pelicans. There was even a recent manatee sighting here. Masonboro is popular with boaters, surfers, nature lovers and campers.
Satellite Bar is close to Greenfield Lake Amphitheater in a newly revitalized part of town. Where abandoned housing projects and unloved buildings once stood we now have gourmet restaurants (Second Glass, Benny's Big Time Pizzeria), trendy container housing, and one of the best bars in Wilmington. Satellite is a funky bar with rustic decor, craft beers and a ton of charm. Locals are super friendly and you can catch live music or an outdoor movie here on weekends. Local tip: Block Taco is literally a hole in the wall adjacent to Satellite. That said, they bang out some of the tastiest tacos in town and even feature an unusual yet delightful brussel sprout option.
Seahawks Basketball at UNCW
A UNCW Seahawks basketball game at Trask Coliseum is one of the best live sporting events in Wilmington. The UNCW football program is always undefeated but it's fair to say that the local sports spotlight is more commonly on the Seahawks basketball team. Although the team isn’t exactly overachieving of late, they have made the NCAA tournament 6 times, most recently in 2017 where they lost a closer game than expected to Duke. Earlier this season they hosted the UNC basketball team in a much anticipated game. It’s not everyday that we see the Tar Heels in action at UNCW and the much hyped game was predictably sold out. From November - February the Seahawks play approximately 16 home games so there’s plenty of opportunity for a fun night at Trask Coliseum.
Wilmington Yoga Center
The Wilmington Yoga Center is one of the most respected and nicest places to practice. Being an active beach town yoga is a popular (pick your poison) activity, way of life, sport, religion. The staff and instructors are genuine, knowledgeable and helpful. Practitioners are kind natured, inclusive and supportive. WYC is a wonderful place to make new connections and deepen your practice. In the Spring beach yoga at Crystal Pier is offered.
Local tip: Stand up paddle board yoga (SUPY) is a thing now and these guys offer this incredible experience during warmer months.
Photo Courtesy of Wilmington Yoga Center's Facebook Page.
Wilmingtonians have an affinity for drinking and their pets. Small wonder that drinking with your dog at the bar has become a favored pastime. Some of the best dive bars are downtown. The Duck and Dive on Dock Street is a delightfully dingy bar with a laid back clientele and some of the best bartenders in town. They have live music nightly and there’s always an abundance of drink specials. The oldest bar in Wilmington, the storied Barbary Coast is just around the corner on Front Street. Grateful Dead and pirate decor, ice cold cheap PBR, shuffleboard and interesting locals are the order of the day at this authentic dive bar. Other downtown notables include Lula’s A Pub (tucked away under the Little Dipper) and Blue Post, a pool hall dive bar with plenty of games and atmosphere.
Local tip: Make sure you have ID if you’re heading to Blue Post. They are ruthlessly strict on the door here. Even if you are in your 70’s and accompanied by both parents they will still want to see your ID.
WalkerWorld Organic Artist Retreat
Organic gardens, a homemade 80’ pontoon boat (with onboard piano), a main house constructed of primarily reclaimed materials, and a rope swing the water are just some of the delights that await at WalkerWorld. The brainchild of local artist Allen Walker, WalkerWorld is an unassuming yet magical 10 acre property on the Cape Fear River. WalkerWorld hosts many parties including Sunday boat excursions down the Cape Fear River. Walkerworld is available through Airbnb from $600 a night (sleeps 15) and has become a popular destination with wedding parties and for those looking to unplug for the weekend and be closer to nature. Their tagline sums the experience up perfectly “ we are not polished, but we are charming and inviting of the possibilities in life”.
As the saying goes “the best boat is a friend’s boat” but if you don’t have any friends you’d better make some quickly or you are going to be missing out. Wilmingtonians love boating and spend an inordinate amount of time on the water, avoiding work as much as possible. Even though nice boats are undeniably cool no one here really cares about the price of your vessel. It’s just fun to be outside, on the water on an adventure. For every moored, million dollar yacht at Wrightsville Beach there are 50 jon boats out fishing and exploring the nooks and crannies of our waterways, channels and marshlands. Boating doesn’t have to be an absurdly expensive pastime in Wilmington. There are public ramps located at Wrightsville Beach and 5 others throughout New Hanover County including Carolina Beach, Castle Hayne and downtown. During summer months just know you’re going to have to arrive very early to beat the crowds.
NC Holiday Flotilla
There are few more pleasant places to spend Thanksgiving than Wrightsville Beach. Mild temperatures, affordable prices for accommodations and a chance to catch the NC Holiday Flotilla. The Flotilla is essentially a lighted boat parade and 2020 will be the 38th year of the Flotilla. This event kicks off the holiday season in Wilmington usually around Thanksgiving. The Flotilla weekend commences with a Tree Lighting ceremony on Friday night. Saturday is the main event beginning with the Festival in the Park featuring local arts and crafts vendors, festival food and a play area for the kids. The illuminated boat parade usually starts at 6 pm and is truly an impressive sight. The amount of work and creativity that goes into decorating these boats is remarkable. From parking fees to real estate taxes, the town of Wrightsville Beach seems to have no shortage of money. Nothing exemplifies this more than their Flotilla firework display. I have no idea how much they spend on fireworks but needless to say the show is excessive, spectacular and stunningly beautiful especially given the watery backdrop.
Local tip: See “Boating” above as it’s a handy night to have boat access. Failing that, take an Uber to watch the festivities from the bridge so you don’t have to worry about parking.
Wilmington Municipal Golf Course
The Wilmington Municipal Golf Course is one of two courses managed by the City of Wilmington Parks & Rec. Recently restored to the original original Donald Ross design, the “Muni” is the most played course in Wilmington. This 1926 gem is open and generous off the tee but elevated, firm and undulating greens place a premium on a good short game. The third hole is a long dogleg par 4 and one of the more challenging holes you will find anywhere. Green fees are absurdly low as are prices for beers and snacks at the clubhouse. Local tip: This course gets extremely busy. It’s always better to book a tee time than to just show up. Check out the merchandise in the clubhouse. They often have incredible deals on shoes and clubs.