BREAKFAST: A downtown landmark diner since 1906, Dixie Grill features famed sweet potato pancakes, apple sage sausage and more. 9 A.M.: Located along the Cape Fear River, the popular Riverfront Farmers’ Market ( www.wilmingtondowntown.com/farmers-market) runs April-December and features specialties from local farmers, producers and artisans. 10 A.M.: Explore Wilmington’s past and present during a morning of museum-, house-, or ship-hopping, including Cape Fear Museum ( www.capefearmuseum.com), Bellamy Mansion ( www.bellamymansion.org), Latimer House ( www.latimerhouse.org), Burgwin-Wright House ( www.burgwinwrighthouse.com), Cameron Art Museum ( www.cameronartmuseum.com) or the Battleship North Carolina ( www.battleshipnc.com), just across the river from downtown Wilmington.
LUNCH: Pick from a variety of restaurants along the riverfront, including The Pilot House ( www.pilothouserest.com), Elijah’s ( www.elijahs.com) or The George www.thegeorgerestaurant.com). 2:30 P.M.: Downtown Wilmington is a food lover’s paradise and it’s easy to see why if you take the Heart of Downtown Culinary Tour ( www.lizbiro.com), hosted by Port City foodie Liz Biro.
DINNER: Catch Modern Seafood Cuisine ( www.catchwilmington.com) is just a few miles outside downtown, but worth the drive to sample Top Chef contestant and James Beard nominee Chef Keith Rhodes’s seafood creations.
BREAKFAST: Begin a beach day at Causeway Cafe ( www.causewaycafewb.com) on the way to Wrightsville Beach. Featuring 16 kinds of omelets, giant malted Belgium waffles, and serving breakfast all day, this is a locals’ favorite. 9 A.M.: Wrightsville Beach is rightfully world famous for water sports, and Wrightsville Beach Surf Camp ( www.wbsurfcamp.com) is a great place to give surfing or standup paddle boarding a try through private lessons or gear rental. 11 A.M.: Filled with throwback beach memorabilia, the Wrightsville Beach Museum ( www.wbmuseum.com) is situated in an original Wrightsville Beach home and includes a scale model showing Wrightsville Beach from around 1910.
LUNCH: Oceanic ( www.oceanicrestaurant.com) at Crystal Pier features seafood, outdoor dining, and the Atlantic Ocean. 2 P.M.: After driving down a peninsula formed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River, the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher ( www.ncaquariums.com), south of Kure Beach, takes visitors on a journey down the Cape Fear River – from freshwater streams and swamps to coastline habitats and all the way to the open ocean and an exhibit where it’s okay to touch a live shark. 4 P.M.: Heading back to Wilmington, make time to walk a nature trail at Carolina Beach State Park ( www.ncparks.gov) and see the rare Venus flytrap plant.
DINNER: Michael’s Seafood ( www.michaelscfood.com), a Carolina Beach favorite, is famous for its award-winning Captain M’s Seafood Chowder, a creamy soup with clams, crabmeat, scallops and potatoes.
WRAP UP: Located on the fifth floor of the historic Masonic Temple building back downtown, CityStage at Level 5 ( www.citystagenc.com) features a theater and rooftop bar.
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