Wilmington, North Carolina is home to a variety of great restaurants serving culinary creations featuring fresh seafood, Southern soul food, Thai, Indian, Japanese, French and other flavors. Have a casual romantic lunch at a local café or brewery, or celebrate a special occasion at one of the elegant restaurants downtown. Here are the best restaurants in Wilmington. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1. Cape Fear Seafood Company
3. Casey's Buffet & Barbecue
4. Roko Italian Cuisine
5. Restaurants in Wilmington, NC: Catch
6. Dock Street Oyster Bar
7.Front Street Brewery
8. Restaurants in Wilmington, NC: Gen Ki Sushi
9.Fish Bites Seafood
13.Rx Restaurant and Bar
14 Must-Try Restaurants in Wilmington, North Carolina
- Cape Fear Seafood Company, Photo: Cape Fear Seafood Company
- Indochine, Photo: Indochine
- Casey's Buffet & Barbecue, Photo: Casey's Buffet & Barbecue
- Roko Italian Cuisine, Photo: Roko Italian Cuisine
- Restaurants in Wilmington, NC: Catch, Photo: Catch
- Dock Street Oyster Bar, Photo: Courtesy of Chee-Onn Leong - Fotolia.com
- Front Street Brewery, Photo: Front Street Brewery
- Restaurants in Wilmington, NC: Gen Ki Sushi, Photo: Courtesy of diecidodici - Fotolia.com
- Fish Bites Seafood, Photo: Fish Bites Seafood
- Caprice Bistro, Photo: Courtesy of Lilyana Vynogradova - Fotolia.com
- Charlie Graingers, Photo: Charlie Graingers
- Copper Penny, Photo: Copper Penny
- Rx Restaurant and Bar, Photo: Rx Restaurant and Bar
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of TK Edens - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight: Battleship North Carolina Memorial
Permanently moored as a historic site and memorial on the Cape Fear River in downtown Wilmington, the U.S.S. North Carolina is a decommissioned World War II battleship and popular tourist attraction. Weighing in at 36,000 tons and extending 728 feet in length, the retired battleship serves as a memorial of the heroism of the U.S. sailors and soldiers in World War II that hailed from North Carolina. Today, the majestic ship beckons visitors to walk her decks and take a journey back in time to envision life on deck during the Second World War and the fierce combat her crew faced in the Pacific Theatre.
The U.S.S. North Carolina was commissioned and built in 1937 and was the first American battleship to be constructed in two decades. The vessel was fitted out with the latest in shipbuilding technology and carried a main battery of nine 16 in (410 mm)/45 caliber Mark 6 guns. She was so impressive during her sea trials; she earned the lasting nickname of ‘Showboat.’ Vast and graceful with a streamlined structure and a long sweeping flush deck, the U.S.S. North Carolina took part in every major naval offensive in the Pacific Theater during the Second World War, earning no less than 15 battle stars and making her the most decorated American battleship in the war. The U.S.S. North Carolina was decommissioned in 1947 and today is elegantly moored on the Cape Fear River in Wilmington as a ship museum and memorial for those who fought in the war.
After being taken off the Naval Vessel Register in 1960, the U.S.S. North Carolina was transferred to the state of North Carolina in 1961. The ship was moved up the Cape Fear River by a fleet of tugboats, during which time it struck the floating restaurant the ‘Fergus' Ark,’ severely damaging it and putting the restaurant out of business. On 29 April 1962, the U.S.S. North Carolina was dedicated as a memorial to all the North Carolinians who served and were killed in World War II. The battleship was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
Moored at near downtown Wilmington on the Cape Fear River, the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial is now a museum that can be visited and explored by the public on self-guided tours. Tours of the ship are available and explore the ship's main deck, interior compartments, and two of her three 16" gun turrets. Visitors can also enjoy an in-depth look at an OS2U Kingfisher aircraft, one of nine which survived that were salvaged from a mountainside in British Columbia in 1964 and restored and now rest near the stern of the ship. Various events are held at the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial throughout the year, including the annual July 4th Battleship Blast Fireworks show held in the adjacent battleship park, Batty Battleship's Halloween Bash, Memorial Day Observance, and Ghost Ship.
Located opposite Wilmington's historic waterfront on the Cape Fear River, the U.S.S. North Carolina is open to visitors daily from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm in the summer and 8:00 am to 5:00 pm in the winter. Visitors can explore the ship on a well-marked self-guided tour, beginning with a movie in the auditorium, followed by a stroll through the exhibit hall to look at memorabilia, photographs, and oral histories and venturing around the remaining nine levels of the ship. Visitors can explore the pilot house, gun decks, crew’s quarters, sick bay, galley, engine room, Kingfisher float plan, and more.
Eagles Island, Wilmington, N.C. 28402-0480, Phone: 910-251-5797
Attraction Spotlight: Cape Fear Museum of History and Science
The Cape Fear Museum of History and Science is a museum situated in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina. In 1898 a local Southern female hereditary society named the United Daughters of the Confederacy created the museum to conserve artifacts of significant historic value from the Civil War. Now, the museum is run and owned by New Hanover County. Cape Fear museum is regarded as the eldest of the history museums in North Carolina and contains over fifty two thousand artifacts. The artifacts display the cultures, history and science of Lower Cape Fear over the decades. It has been in its current location since 1970 and has seen several improvements and expansions since then. The museum is comprised of an expansion built in the 1990s and the main 1930’s historic building.
The two story museum has traveling and temporary exhibitions which vary throughout the year, an interactive park and outdoor sculptures, permanent exhibits inside and classroom. The museum is a not for profit organisation run by a large network of volunteers relying on donations and money raised through the membership scheme. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday. There are two free to pay parking lots for visitors situated behind the Museum.
Within the museum, interpretive displays and permanent exhibits trace the timeline of prehistoric 17th century Lower Cape Fear and the surrounding areas right through from the Civil War to modern day times in the 21st century. The first floor reveals a cast of the skeleton of a Giant Ground Sloth which was discovered in 1991 near Randall Parkway. Nearby, visitors can see the Cape Fear Stories exhibit which presents a historic timeline from the time of Native Americans to modern day. Other exhibits on this floor are the natural history exhibitions which involve a display of wildlife and plants native to the area such as foxes, woodpeckers and beavers as well as information about the weather. The Michael Jordan Discover Gallery is also located on the first floor and includes in depth information about the ecosystem of the local area. Visitors can also browse the small exhibit in honor of Michael Jordan, a Wilmington native. The main exhibit named Cape Fear Stories also begins on the first story. Cape Fear Stories begins with Land of the Longleaf Pine a section where the ancient history of the area is detailed. With everything from prehistoric facts, photographs, American Civil War memorabilia and artifacts and information plaques, this exhibit explains in detail why this Southeastern part of Northern Carolina has become a hub of culture and commerce.
The lobby presents a locally renowned wooden boat named a Simmons Sea-skiff boat well as the Arrivals exhibit on the first floor. The title Arrivals refers to those who have set foot in Lower Cape Fear over the decades, how they made it their homes and their methods living there.
The second floor takes visitors on a visual journey filled with written information, photographs and artifacts detailing the segregation and racial violence that consumed the city in 1898. The exhibit also displays more modern 20th century stories relating to this topic aswell.
The park located next to the museum has been designed to be an interactive experience with exhibits based on the local community. A sculpture called Traces has been inspired by local materials and objects and can be found in the park, created by the artist Joey Manson. Other exhibits outside are the child operated digger, the weather station, the ghost forest photograph collection, the outdoor classroom and the many information boards which teach children about native plants and wildlife.
Ongoing programs and education
The museum provides Summer Camps for children to have educationally led adventures in the museum and park as well as adapting it to an outreach program. For Kindergarten up to Grade 7 there are age group appropriate Field Trips which children can attend. Each Field Trip is presented by an educator on a specific topic and the students get to get involved with hands on activities.
For adults, the museum has an Insider's Tour with a Cape Fear Museum tour guide, talks from qualified professionals and academics, practical workshops and a CuraTOURial tour which involves an in depth tour of the museum and artifacts with a curated member of the museums staff. All of the adult programs require pre booking and have an admission fee unless a member of the museum.
Back to: Wilmington, North Carolina
814 I St, Wilmington, NC 28491, Phone: 910-798-4370
Attraction Spotlight: Lower Cape Fear Historical Society
Lower Cape Fear Historical Society is a not for profit, non political corporation which is dedicated to the study and preservation of history in the Lower Cape Fear Area, North Carolina. LCFHS is based in Wilmington, North Carolina and has existed since 1956. Not long after the founding of the society, they decided to create an emblem which that of an old DRAM Tree but it has since been adapted to that of a the seals of North Carolina and the city of Wilmington as well as a cartouche. LCFHS has many roles to play in its mission. It tends to and organises the large amount of age old artifacts, documents and publications in its collection, maintains and restores Latimer House in historic Wilmington and arranges and runs a multitude of events, exhibits, programs and lectures. LCFHS relies on donations, membership schemes, volunteers in the community and its board members to achieve these goals.
The LCFHS has permanent exhibits which members of the public can visit for an admission fee. These include Latimer house and gardens, and The Archives and Research Library which requires a small extra reading fee.
The main attraction run by the LCFHS is Latimer House situated at the corner of Third and Orange Streets in the downtown area of Wilmington. The house is designed in a Victorian Italianate style and is the face of upper class Wilmington life during the Victorian era. Built in 1852 and under the LCFHS’s ownership since 1962 the house boasts 14 large rooms and more than 600 objects of historical significance. Inside, visitors can browse intricate jewelry, tools and extravagant and lavish furniture. As visitors step through the sun porch, past the Corinthian columns at the front of the house they can see that the home was designed to be symmetrical with matching room layouts on either side divided by a hallway. On the first floor the house reveals the south sides less grand and formal sitting rooms and the north side’s plush and very formal dining and sitting areas. A notable room which is popular to visit is the southeast parlor with its marble fireplace, glistening chandelier and floor to ceiling windows. The second floor reveals grand chambers and bathrooms with ornate drapes and further personal possessions laid out as if in use. The house can be rented out for private functions such as a photography session, wedding or meeting.
The Society Archives located in Latimer House has hundreds of cubic feet of material archives including over two thousand photographs, 3,000 volumes of information and space to search and read findings. There is a huge collection of genealogy files kept in a vertical file of 8 file drawers containing the information on over 1,000 of local families. Additionally, visitors can see more genealogical notes in the form of 36 boxes detailing many decades of local families histories. Statistics and files filled with census records, tax records, and cemetery records are also stored within the archives and come from the Old New Hanover Genealogical Society.
The gardens are another part of the grounds which have been renovated and maintained by the LCFHS and opened to the public. Plantlife and flowers which are authentic to the era fill the garden and the original lace and stucco brick wall contains the garden around the edge. Swirled white metal benches allow for visitors to sit and admire the view whist era appropriate stone sculptures set the tone. The freshly cut lawn and all of the garden's upkeep is maintained by volunteer gardeners. The garden has been restored to how it may have looked when Mrs Latimer oversaw its upkeep but is not an exact replica due to many plants dying off and overgrown weeds and grass camouflaging its previous appearance.
Tours are available of the property accompanied by a trained docent. Tours last 1 ½ hours and are available Monday to Saturday in both morning and afternoon slots. The tours are interactive and free roaming without ropes to prevent visitors from exploring. Tours are also available of Historic Wilmington.
LCFHS has a popular membership scheme which suits a range of budgets. Members can choose between the lowest membership of student to individual, family, contributing, sustaining, friend and the highest member title of benefactor. Events hosted at Latimer house are held throughout the year with past events of artists walking tours, Civil War weekend meets and book talks with lunch in the Tea Room being well attended and received by participants.
Back to: Wilmington, NC
126 I St, Wilmington, NC 28401, Phone: 910-762-0492