Which Beach To Visit During Your Stay in Wilmington, NC

While you’re enjoying your stay at Wilmington Vacation Homes, there’s a good chance that you’re bound for a beach visit. The two closest options are Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach. Which one do you choose?

Wrightsville Beach

Johnny Mercer’s Pier in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

Wrightsville Beach is approximately a 15-minute drive from Downtown. Locals feel like this beach is the more cosmopolitan option. Here, the water is more clear and blue since it is located further north of the Mouth of the Cape Fear River. The waves are better for surfing, bodyboarding, and other surf sports. The restaurants and bars are upscale, and the surrounding neighborhoods are wealthier, with fewer beach rentals. Parking on Wrightsville Beach can be difficult and expensive; there are fewer public parking spaces and all are metered throughout spring, summer, and fall. Parking tickets are also pricey. The overall vibe is that it is a nicer, fancier beach, but tends to be crowded during good weather.

Carolina Beach

Carolina Beach, North Carolina
Carolina Beach, North Carolina

Carolina Beach is approximately a 25-minute drive from Downtown. We consider it to be the local’s beach. Carolina Beach offers many opportunities for adventure including driving your 4×4 vehicle directly onto the beach at Freeman Park, visiting the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, fishing at Fort Fisher, cruising along the cool boardwalk before stopping for casual dining and drinking, eating at Britt’s Donuts during the warm season, and biking down trails that lead to the beach. The brown water is a result of the Cape Fear River depositing sediment into the ocean. Parking is typically plentiful and inexpensive with moderate parking tickets. The overall vibe at Carolina Beach is laid back, inviting, spacious, and quiet. Waves are a little smaller here and overall, there are fewer amenities.

So, which beach do you choose?

The upscale but harder-to-access beach or the beach with a down-home feel and fewer amenities and hassles? The answer is found within what you want to get from your beach experience.

If we have family or friends who are visiting, we’ll take them to Johnny Mercer’s Pier at Wrightsville Beach, drop them off, and try to figure out parking. When we want to run to the beach on a Saturday morning with zero frustration, we jump in our jeep, head to Freeman Park at Carolina Beach, drive directly onto the north end of the beach, and start relaxing.

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