Looking for Things to Do in Wrightsville Beach NC?
Nestled along the North Carolina coast, Wrightsville Beach is not just a beach town; it’s a vibrant community where the sun, sand, and sea come together to create a unique experience.
Here, the days are brightened by the golden sunshine, and the nights are lulled by the rhythmic waves. Wrightsville Beach is where you can embrace the laid-back beach lifestyle while indulging in an array of activities, from surfing on the perfect wave to exploring the serene waterways on a paddleboard.
But Wrightsville Beach is more than just its shorelines. As you wander through the town, you’ll find a lively local scene brimming with charming cafes, boutique shops, and seafood restaurants that boast the freshest catch of the day. Each street and corner tells a story of a community deeply connected to its maritime roots, inviting you to be a part of its ongoing narrative.
Whether you’ll be visiting to bask in the sun, dive into the vibrant watersports scene, or simply enjoy the coastal cuisine, Wrightsville Beach offers a slice of paradise for every visitor. It’s a place where memories are made, from the thrill of reeling in a big catch offshore to the tranquility of a sunset kayak tour.
So, pack your bags, bring your sense of wonder, and get ready to experience the vibrant heart of North Carolina’s coastline at Wrightsville Beach.
Things to Do in Wrightsville Beach NC
Let’s dive into all the fun things you can do while in Wrightsville Beach.
1. Enjoy some Beach Time
You’ll find 44 public access points to enjoy the beach; each point is associated with a number. Please note that metered parking is in effect from March 1st through October 31st.
⛱️ North End Access: Begin at Access #2 near Shell Island, featuring showers, bathrooms, and a stretch of natural sand dunes along Mason Inlet. Nearby, Access #3 and #4 provide public parking and handicap-accessible walkways. Access #8, close to Holiday Inn Resort Lumina on Wrightsville Beach, offers parking and a lifeguard stand.
⛱️ Heart of Town Access: Access #16, beside Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier, offers facilities like restrooms, showers, and beach-friendly shops. Access #26, #27, and #28, in downtown’s heart, are close to local eateries and shops, ideal for a beachside picnic.
⛱️ South End Access: At the island’s southern tip, Access #36 provides wheelchair access, public parking, and restrooms. It’s near Crystal Pier, leading to the Oceanic Restaurant. Access #43 and #44 are perfect for sunset views looking south at the Masonboro Island Reserve (the longest undisturbed barrier island ecosystem in southern North Carolina).
Public Restroom Locations:
|2698 North Lumina (Access #2)
|29 parking spaces, ADA-accessible, restrooms, and a shower. Open year-round, seven days a week. Hours: 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.
|2398 North Lumina (Access #4)
|99 parking spaces, ADA-accessible, restrooms, and shower. Open year-round, seven days a week. Hours: 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.
|25 East Salisbury Street (Access #16) Next to Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier
|Parking spaces, ADA-accessible, gazebo, restrooms. Open year-round, seven days a week. Hours: 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.
|650 South Lumina Avenue (Access #36), Near Crystal Pier
|86 parking spaces, ADA-accessible, restrooms. Open year-round, seven days a week. Hours: 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.
|92 South Lumina Avenue (near Trolley Stop)
|As of this writing, it is closed for construction
2. Wrightsville Beach Museum of History
Address: 303 W Salisbury St, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Located in the historic Myers Cottage, which was built in 1909, the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History captures the essence of early beachside life.
Here, you’ll find a scale model of Wrightsville Beach from around 1910 and many exhibits featuring the early days at the beach. The museum’s inviting front porch, equipped with rocking chairs, offers a nostalgic touch.
This property is found within the Wrightsville Beach Historic Square, where you will find a number of homes from the early 1900s that survived the Great Fire of 1934 that wiped out many of the houses and buildings on the island.
Hours of Operation:
Thursday – Saturday: 10 – 4 pm
Sunday: 1 – 4 pm
3. Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier
Address: 23 E Salisbury St, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
A renowned spot on Wrightsville Beach is celebrated for its exceptional saltwater fishing and breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. Originally built in the 1930s as a wooden structure and named Johnnie Mercer in honor of one of the original owners, he also owned the famous Grandfather Mountain in western North Carolina as well.
The pier underwent a significant transformation after being devastated by Hurricanes Bertha and Fran in 1996. Rebuilt and reopened in 2001, the new pier boasts a robust concrete construction with deep-set pilings designed to withstand severe weather conditions, including up to 200 mph winds; it’s the first concrete fishing pier in NC. Extending 1,200 feet into the ocean, the pier is a favored destination for both fishing enthusiasts and casual visitors.
Additionally, the pier house features a tackle shop, grill (open spring through late fall), and gift shop catering to the needs of visitors. Open year-round, it welcomes dedicated anglers and those looking for a leisurely stroll with a nominal entrance fee.
Walkout passes start at $2 for adults, fishing passes start at $8 per rod, and they also offer rod rentals.
4. The Jetty at the South End of Wrightsville and Beach Access
Address: 917 S Lumina Ave, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Located at the southernmost point of the island, near Access #43 and Access #44, the jetty area offers a prime spot for witnessing mesmerizing sunsets and indulging in peaceful strolls along the beach.
It also serves as a natural divider between Wrightsville Beach and Masonboro Island Reserve, North Carolina’s longest undisturbed barrier island. The jetty extends about a half-mile into the ocean.
5. Wrightsville Beach Park
Address: 321 Causeway Dr, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
This vibrant park is equipped with amenities catering to active visitors. It features a sizable playground, outdoor basketball courts, tennis and pickleball courts, and a public softball field.
The park also serves as a cultural hub, hosting an array of local concerts and performances, particularly during the summer months. The “Sounds of Summer – Concerts in the Park” series is a highlight, offering live music.
6. Harbor Way Gardens
Address: US-74, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Harbor Way Gardens, nestled on the west end of Wrightsville Beach Park, is a serene and meticulously maintained garden created in 2003. Its development began when members of the Harbor Island Garden Club proposed transforming an acre of land, previously used for dumping storm debris, into a public garden.
The garden features arbors at its four entry points and a central fountain area, redesigned to include bricks, pavers, an arctic white quartz boulder, and three stone gurgling spheres. Great area to enjoy the beauty of nature and find a place to relax.
7. The Mailbox at Wrightsville Beach
Address: 303 W Salisbury St, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
The Wrightsville Beach Mailbox, a beloved local landmark, is situated on the north end of Wrightsville Beach. This unique mailbox offers a space for both locals and visitors to anonymously share their thoughts, feelings, and cherished vacation memories through letters. These messages, although never mailed, become part of a collective tapestry of personal stories and reflections.
For over a decade, a local couple maintained this mailbox, replenishing it with paper and pens. They curated a collection of over 200 journals filled with diverse entries, ranging from love stories and prayers to confessions and secrets.
The original mailbox and its capsule have been relocated to the Wrightsville Beach History Museum, enabling visitors to delve deeper into the community’s past. Meanwhile, a new mailbox, managed by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, continues this tradition at the original site.
To visit the Wrightsville Beach Mailbox, start at the northernmost public beach access, Access #2. From there, a walk along the beach, passing the Shell Island Resort and a stretch of natural sand dunes, leads to the solitary mailbox and bench. Visitors are encouraged to leave their own letters, contribute to this collective memory, and capture the moment with a photo of this enchanting spot.
8. Crystal Pier
Address: 703 S Lumina Ave, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Crystal Pier extends 475 feet into the Atlantic and is also part of the Oceanic Restaurant, which offers dining, complete with a bar and a venue for live music. The pier itself is open to the public for both fishing enthusiasts and those looking for a leisurely stroll along its length.
To access the pier’s fishing and strolling area, you’ll find it through the stairs at its base, while the main entrance of the Oceanic Restaurant leads to the dining section.
In addition to its regular offerings, Crystal Pier can be exclusively booked through the Oceanic Restaurant for private occasions, including wedding ceremonies. Its usual operating hours are from 6 am to 9 pm, although it may be closed for special events.
9. Go Paddleboarding or Kayaking
Rental Address: Wrightsville SUP | 96 W Salisbury St, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Rental Address: Wrightsville Beach Kayak Company | 238 Greenville Ave, Wilmington, NC 28403
Rental Address: Aussie Island Surf Shop | 1 N Lumina Ave, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Rental Address: Cape Fear Paddleboarding | 222 Causeway Dr, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
One enjoyable activity to do in Wrightsville Beach is to go paddleboarding or kayaking. You can rent paddleboards or kayaks from local outfitters or bring your own if you have them. Then, head out onto the water and explore the serene Intracoastal Waterway or paddle along the coastline.
It’s a great way to get some exercise, soak in the natural beauty of the area, and maybe even spot some marine wildlife. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, it’s sure to be a memorable experience for all.
10. Pick up some Fresh Seafood at Motts Channel Seafood
Address: 120 Short St, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Your taste buds are in for a treat as you step into this coastal haven. Imagine yourself perusing the vibrant displays of the freshest seafood catches, brimming with glistening fish, succulent shrimp, and plump oysters. Whether you’re planning a beachside barbecue or a gourmet seafood feast, this local treasure trove has you covered.
Address: Shamrock Sailing Adventures | 613 Trail’s End Rd, Wilmington, NC 28409
Embark on a magical 2-hour Sunset Sail around Wrightsville Beach and Masonboro Islands. Encounter waterfowl and the occasional dolphins while basking in the golden glow of the setting sun.
They provide water and ginger ale, and you can also bring your favorite drinks and snacks. Adults 21 and over can even bring beer or wine for an extra touch of indulgence. Enjoy a memorable evening on the water as the sun paints the sky with its vibrant colors.
12. Enjoy a Bike Ride
Address: Got Shade Beach Rentals | 7230 Wrightsville Ave, Wilmington, NC 28403
Address: Wrightsville SUP | 96 W Salisbury St, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Details: Wrightsville Beach Bikes and Boards | Free Delivery & Pick Up
Address: Aussie Island Surf Shop | 1 N Lumina Ave, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Whether you bring your own bike or decide to rent one, the options are endless. Pedal along scenic paths that wind through town taking in the sights and sounds of the beach life. With bike rentals readily available, you can effortlessly hop on a two-wheeler and cruise along and enjoy the ride.
13. Locals Guide to Surfing
Explore surfing with personalized guidance. Private lessons cover beach and in-water instruction tailored to your schedule. Learn fundamentals, ride whitewater, and achieve your surfing goals. Instructors cover technique, safety, etiquette, and more. Don’t forget sunscreen, a towel, and a water bottle.
🏄♂️ Surf School:
Join surf school sessions from Monday to Friday, 8:00 AM to 10:30 AM during the summer. Choose your preferred Monday of the week you would like on the availability calendar and dive into the waves. Get expert guidance on technique, safety, etiquette, and more. Don’t forget sunscreen, a towel, and a water bottle.
Address: Salty Feet Adventures | 607 Trace Dr, Wilmington, NC 28411
Enjoy a private 2-hour tour from Wrightsville Beach. The journey will take you on an exploration of renowned landmarks spanning from Wrightsville Beach to Topsail Island. These highlights encompass Wrightsville Beach Marina, the grand waterfront residences of Landfall and Figure 8 Island, as well as the serene natural havens of Masonboro Island.
With the guidance of experienced captains, you are in for an informative and captivating experience, where you may even have the opportunity to encounter a playful pod of dolphins during your voyage.
Address: 120 Short St, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Join Captain Jennings Rose of North State Guide Service for an unforgettable fishing and water exploration adventure around Wrightsville Beach. With a commitment to delivering excellent on-water experiences, the captain offers a range of options, including fishing trips, family outings, scenic cruises, and dolphin tours.
With over a decade of professional guiding experience, Captain Jennings Rose ensures a seamless and enjoyable experience for all. Plus, all necessary equipment and comfort amenities are provided for a hassle-free and memorable outing.
16. Island Shopping
Address: Sweetwater Surf Shop | 10 N Lumina Ave, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Explore the quaint boutiques and shops, and you’ll discover an array of treasures waiting to be uncovered. From trendy beachwear and coastal-inspired home decor to one-of-a-kind souvenirs and local artisan crafts, there’s something for everyone to delight in.
Drinks and Restaurants in Wrightsville Beach NC
We cannot list them all, but here are some great places to check out.
✅ Drift Cafe Wrightsville Beach
Address: 114 Causeway Dr, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Here, you can enjoy high-quality coffee and experience premium breakfast and lunch options. The menu boasts creations such as the Sweet Stack and the tempting Nutella Stuffed French Toast, sure to satisfy any palate.
✅ Poe’s Tavern
Address: 212 Causeway Dr, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
A popular spot known for its tasty homemade burgers, fish tacos, sandwiches, and salads. Simple, delicious, and satisfying dishes for everyone to enjoy.
Address: 708 B S Lumina Ave, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
A cute cafe located on the second floor offers coffee, smoothies, shakes, beer, and wine.
✅ Flying Machine Oyster Bar
Address: 530 Causeway Dr. T-1, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Known for its coastal cuisine and a full bar with ten rotating taps of Flying Machine beer (brewed at Flying Machine Brewing in nearby Wilmington). The menu includes the best offerings from local farmers and fisheries, with options like burgers, oysters, fresh seafood, and salads. Dine inside or on the dog-friendly patios.
✅ Lighthouse Beer and Wine
Address: 220 Causeway Dr, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Lighthouse Beer and Wine is your one-stop shop for specialty wines, rare beers, and premium cigars. With a selection of 600+ wines from around the world, catering to all price ranges, and over 800+ international and craft beers, including hard-to-find gems, this is a must-visit destination on your way to Wrightsville Beach.
Address: 222 Causeway Dr, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
This local gem has been a favorite since 2012, offering a refreshing selection of superfood smoothies (including 100% vegan options), organic cold-pressed juices, and a delectable array of frozen yogurt, healthy treats, iced coffee, frappes, and tea. Plus, acai and pitaya bowls.
✅ Vito’s Pizzeria
Address: 8 N Lumina Ave, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Serving up classic New York-style thin-crust pizza pies that are available by the slice or as whole pies, alongside crisp salads for those on the go.
✅ Topsail Steamer
Address: 530 Causeway Dr, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Discover an enticing seafood haven with their signature seafood steam pots brimming with fresh, locally sourced delights. Take them home for a delightful steam-and-eat experience. They are also available to cater to parties of any size, from 2 to 200. They provide everything you need, from pots to propane, along with a dedicated crew to ensure your gathering is a seafood sensation to remember.
✅ Shark Bar and Kitchen
Address: 13 E Salisbury St, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Located next door to Johnnie Mercers Pier. They take pride in featuring locally and sustainably sourced seafood, meats, and produce, ensuring the freshest ingredients possible. With offerings that change with the seasons, their menu includes a delightful variety of oysters and the day’s fresh catch.
✅ Tower 7 Baja Mexican Grill
Address: 4 N Lumina Ave, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Immerse yourself in Baja-inspired Mexican cuisine, featuring mouthwatering fish tacos and more, complemented by flavorful margaritas. This dining experience is sure to satisfy your craving for bold flavors in a buzzing atmosphere.
Address: 703 S Lumina Ave, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
This unique restaurant offers outdoor dining right on the rebuilt historic Crystal Pier, making it the only oceanfront restaurant and pier in Wrightsville Beach.
✅ Zeke’s Beans and Bowls
Address: 534 Causeway Dr, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Here, you’ll find a delectable selection of delicious Poke and Açaí bowls, along with Pitas, Salads, and Smoothies.
✅ Wrightsville Beach Brewery
Address: 6201 Oleander Dr, Wilmington, NC 28403
Come enjoy a hip and contemporary brewpub that offers a diverse selection of craft beers. Their menu extends beyond just beverages, featuring tempting pizza and delicious Southern fare. Indulge in craft beer and exceptional cuisine, with a special focus on fresh, locally sourced seafood. Conveniently situated just off Bradley Creek Waterway near the Arboretum.
Things to Do near Wrightsville Beach NC
Here are some things nearby to enjoy as well.
✅ Airlie Gardens
Address: 300 Airlie Rd, Wilmington, NC 28403
Come enjoy the gardens that span 67 acres. Within this sprawling haven, you’ll encounter meticulously crafted formal gardens, flourishing wildlife, serene lakes spanning ten acres, a stunning array of over 75,000 azaleas, and the majestic Airlie Oak, a towering presence dating back to 1545. Don’t miss the seasonal butterfly house, an added gem in this oasis located just two miles west of Wrightsville Beach.
✅ New Hanover County Arboretum
Address: 6206 Oleander Dr, Wilmington, NC 28403
Here, you will find a 7-acre sanctuary that welcomes visitors year-round without an admission fee. Walk along well-maintained paved pathways to uncover a world of unique features.
Marvel at the water garden teeming with hundreds of vibrant Koi fish, find serenity in the Japanese garden adorned with an authentic tea house nestled among Japanese maples and let the little ones delight in the charming children’s garden, complete with a cozy cottage.
✅ Fort Fisher
Address: 1610 Fort Fisher Blvd S, Kure Beach, NC 28449
Step into history at Fort Fisher, the site of the largest Civil War amphibious battle that unfolded both on land and water. Today, you can explore the remnants of the massive Fort Fisher earthworks, complete with a restored palisade fence and an impressive seacoast gun, all located near the Visitors Center.
Inside the Visitors Center and Gift Shop, you’ll find a captivating video, informative exhibits, and intriguing artifacts recovered from sunken ships. They are opening a brand new visitors center, which is projected to open in the summer of 2024.
✅ Battleship North Carolina
Address: 1 Battleship Rd NE, Wilmington, NC 28401
As a National Historic Landmark and the proud WWII Memorial for over 11,000 North Carolinians who made the ultimate sacrifice, Battleship North Carolina stands as a testament to history. Enjoy a self-guided tour as you traverse nine levels, delving into living spaces, mess decks, gun turrets, powder storage, sick bays, and more.
Open daily between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., they only accept credit card payments. Expect the tour to last around two hours, but you are welcome to stay longer.
✅ Wilmington Railroad Museum
Address: 505 Nutt St, Wilmington, NC 28401
Step back in time at the Wilmington Railroad Museum, an engaging destination that delves into the rich history of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. Housed within an 1883 warehouse, this museum offers a fascinating journey through the past.
Climb aboard a life-size caboose, ring the bell of a 1911 Baldwin Steam Locomotive, and marvel at the captivating display of over 20 running model trains.
✅ Wilmington Riverwalk
Address: Wilmington Downtown
Stretching over two miles, this scenic walkway invites visitors to meander alongside the historic Cape Fear River, offering breathtaking views and a leisurely atmosphere. You’ll find a treasure trove of over 200 nearby shops, restaurants, and attractions, making it a hub of activity and entertainment.
Annual Events in Wrightsville Beach NC
Fun events are happening; here are some to check out.
✅ Wrightsville Beach Farmers’ Market
Join the community at the Wrightsville Beach Farmers’ Market, a vibrant gathering held every Monday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., running from May 13 to December 2, 2024. The charming market is situated on the Wrightsville Beach Municipal Grounds, right next to Town Hall.
✅ 10th Annual Carolina Pro-Am SUP Surf | April 19 – April 21, 2024
Enjoy this three-day extravaganza that blends the thrill of standup paddleboarding with the artistry of surfing. The Carolina Pro-Am SUP Surf event, now in its 10th remarkable year, beckons some of the most skilled professional standup surfers to Wrightsville Beach.
✅ WECT Sounds of Summer Concerts in the Park | Dates not announced yet for 2024
A beloved tradition that takes place every Thursday from mid-June to early August. A different band takes the stage each week, ensuring a diverse range of musical genres to enjoy. Bring your own picnic, lawn chairs, and snacks to create a cozy, laid-back atmosphere where you can savor the tunes and have a blast.
✅ Movies in the Park | Dates not announced yet for 2024
Join the Movies in the Park at Wrightsville Beach Park, where family fun, food, and entertainment come together beneath the starlit sky. Bring along your picnic baskets, cozy blankets, and comfortable lawn chairs for an evening filled with cinematic joy.
✅ IRONMAN 70.3 North Carolina | October 19, 2024
The race offers a stunning course, beginning with a 1.2-mile swim in the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, followed by a 56-mile flat bike ride and concluding with a scenic 13.1-mile run through historic downtown Wilmington.
✅ North Carolina Holiday Flotilla | Saturday, November 30, 2024
A cherished local tradition since 1983, the North Carolina Holiday Flotilla is a festive delight not to be missed. The celebration starts on Friday night with the Tree Lighting ceremony, which is open to the public and sets the holiday spirit aglow.
The fun continues on Saturday with the Festival in the Park, boasting over 100 arts and crafts vendors, an antique car show, a vibrant play area for children featuring numerous inflatables, delectable festival food, and more.
As the sun sets on Saturday, the Flotilla, a mesmerizing lighted boat parade, takes center stage at 6:00 PM, followed by a spectacular fireworks display that illuminates the night sky.
Where To Stay in Wrightsville Beach NC
📍Sandpeddler Inn & Suites | Nestled just across the street from the beach and in close proximity to the iconic Crystal Pier, Sandpeddler Inn & Suites offers spacious one-bedroom King or Queen suites. These accommodations are complete with a comfortable living area, well-equipped kitchens, and private balconies that boast captivating ocean views.
📍Blockade Runner Beach Resort | It stands as the only resort in the area that seamlessly blends surf-to-sound amenities, offering an oceanfront garden and lawn space that adds an extra layer of allure to your coastal getaway.
📍Holiday Inn Resort Lumina | Dive into relaxation with three pools and two hot tubs, and savor delicious cuisine at their two on-site restaurants and bar. Each guest room offers a picturesque ocean or harbor view, with most featuring balconies and some designed with bunk beds to cater to families seeking comfort and convenience.
Wrightsville Beach NC: FAQs
📌 Why is Wrightsville Beach so popular?
Wrightsville Beach’s popularity thrives on its pristine shores, welcoming community, water sports, vibrant culture, and easy accessibility—a coastal haven for relaxation and adventure.
📌 Can you bring alcohol on the beach?
Alcohol consumption in public and the possession of open containers of alcohol are prohibited throughout the year on the beach.
📌 Does Wrightsville Beach get crowded?
Wrightsville Beach can get crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons, which typically occur during the summer months.
📌 Is Wrightsville Beach water clear?
The water at Wrightsville Beach is often known for its clarity, particularly when compared to some other coastal areas. The clarity of the water can vary depending on weather conditions, tidal changes, and other factors, but on average, it tends to be relatively clear.
📌 Do you have to pay at Wrightsville Beach?
Access to the beach itself is free and open to the public. Visitors can enjoy the sandy shores and ocean without paying an entrance fee. Please note that metered parking is in effect from March 1st through October 31st.
📌 Does Wilmington NC have a boardwalk?
No, Wilmington, North Carolina, does not have a traditional oceanfront boardwalk like some coastal towns. However, it does have a picturesque riverfront area along the Cape Fear River known as the Wilmington Riverwalk. This scenic walkway features shops, restaurants, parks, and beautiful views of the river, making it a popular destination for both locals and visitors.
Wrightsville Beach is a coastal gem that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, vibrant culture, and endless recreational opportunities. Its pristine sandy shores, beautiful waters, and welcoming community create a haven for relaxation and adventure alike.
Whether you’re seeking water sports, local cuisine, shopping, or simply a tranquil escape, Wrightsville Beach delivers. The accessibility from major cities further enhances its allure, making it an ideal coastal destination for travelers of all backgrounds.