Skip To Content
    Updated on Feb 21, 2020. Posted on Feb 20, 2020

    16 Places That Prove Wilmington, North Carolina, Belongs On Your US Bucket List

    Where are my One Tree Hill fans at!? Just kidding — there's so much more to see.

    Ryan Pattie / BuzzFeed

    This travel series spotlights underrated towns that make for unexpectedly wonderful trips. Discover the best places to eat, see, and stay in cities you may not have realized deserve a spot on your bucket list.

    Wilmington, North Carolina, has become my "home base" after my parents moved there six years ago, so I've been luckily enough to explore all the charming city has to offer.

    Heather Braga / BuzzFeed

    From delectable eats and beaches to lush parks and the iconic bridge from One Tree Hill, there's quite a bit to see here:

    1. Airlie Gardens is a stunning park featuring 67 acres of walking paths — a must-have if you want to get some fresh air and see some gorgeous flowers.

    Heather Braga / BuzzFeed

    The garden transforms into "Enchanted Airlie" during the holiday seasons with an array of spectacular holiday lights and displays. My family and I have gone on multiple occasions (Santa is there, of course) and it has yet to disappoint! It's equally as beautiful in the hotter months when all the florals are in bloom. Airlie is also a popular Wilmington wedding spot.

    2. Edge of Urge in downtown Wilmington is a great place to shop for stuff that isn't a standard souvenir. They have lots of quirky pins, books, cards, and candles in addition to locally made jewelry and cute outfits.

    3. Bespoke Coffee will help you fuel up for your day of fun. They serve delicious Counter Culture coffee (roasted in North Carolina!) and have a chill atmosphere that'll make you feel right at home.

    Heather Braga / BuzzFeed

    I kicked off my 27th birthday with an iced coffee from Bespoke — an excellent decision. I loved the vibe (and the fact they're located on Princess Street) and how they only provided sustainable straw options.

    4. Crust Kitchen and Cocktails's Instagram account alone will leave you drooling — and just wait until you actually take a bite out of their grilled cheeses. This spot is '90s themed and you certainly won't find it *cheesy* in the slightest.

    5. Lewis Nursery and Farms will give you the chance to get ~down 'n' dirty~ (get your head out of the gutter!) while picking various berries. Take your haul home and whip up a delicious homemade pie.

    Heather Braga / BuzzFeed

    Depending on when you visit you can pick winter berries, spring strawberries, blueberries, or tunnel grown blackberries. They also sell homemade ice cream (!!!), honey, and jams.

    6. If you were a fan of One Tree Hill, Wilmington has plenty of things that'll catch your interest. There's a OTH convention that occurs yearly as a fundraiser (yes, the majority of the cast comes), the iconic bridge from the opening theme song, and other hidden gems.

    Heather Braga / BuzzFeed, The CW

    In addition to the convention, you can also track down the spot where Nathan gave Haley her iconic Cracker Jack Box bracelet (see the recreation above) and take yourself on a walking tour of memorable show locations. In The Black Cat Shoppe on Market Street you can glance at signed photos from the cast and pick up some OTH merch (though many of the surrounding stores sell shirts/hats/sweatshirts as well!).

    7. Wake N Bake donuts will win you over with a single bite. From a donut with a hot pepper-infused chocolate glaze to a "purple rain" donut with lavender sprinkles, these unique desserts (or breakfast items, you do you) are a must-try.

    8. Head to Cloud 9 Rooftop Bar for a drink and some stunning views of the historic harbor. I can't think of a better way to unwind, TBH.

    9. Or kick back at Front Street Brewery and indulge in a cold beer or whiskey (they're the largest whiskey bar in NC!) and a burger.

    10. Spend the day lounging at Wrightsville beach or simply take time to stroll during the sunset — it's so beautiful you won't want to miss it.

    11. And while you're at the beach, visit the "Mailbox at the Stairs" for some emotional reflection and inspiration. While the stairs are no longer there, visitors are encouraged to leave a note and take one in return.

    12. The original Bitty and Beau's coffee shop, which now has a few locations across the U.S., will warm your heart as their coffee actually warms you up. The shop is staffed by people with disabilities.

    13. A tour of the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial is a must for anyone who loves history or just wants to experience what it feels like to be on a ship of this caliber.

    14. Wilmington Brewing Company will please any craft beer fanatic in your travel group. You can swing by and grab a six-pack for the beach or hang out in the tap room to get the full experience.

    15. Two Sister's Bookery is a great place to peruse their shelves for your next read and appreciate their bookstore cat, Katie.

    16. And Jackson's Big Oak Barbecue, because why bother heading to North Carolina if you're not going to get down with some hushpuppies, collards, and pork?

    Also, my golden retriever lives there so that's reason enough to book a flight.

    Don't forget to check out Bring Me! for all of BuzzFeed's best travel tips and hacks, vacation inspiration, and more.

    Jay Fleckenstein / BuzzFeed