31 Romantic Things to Do in Wilmington NC: Date Ideas, Restaurants, & Hotels for Special Occasions

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If you’re looking for romantic things to do in Wilmington, we’ve got you covered!

This coastal North Carolina city oozes historic charm and natural beauty, with a healthy dose of microbreweries and delicious dining mixed in as well.

Whether you’re looking for interactive first date ideas in Wilmington or you’re making a grand romantic gesture for a special occasion, our guide offers tons of inspiration so you know all the options.

You might also like our guide to romantic hotels in Wilmington.

Wilmington Date Ideas for Fun & Romance

Our guide to the best things for couples to do in Wilmington starts in the heart of town at the lovely Riverwalk, and then we work our way out from there.

There are also separate sections at the end of this guide for romantic restaurants and even romantic Wilmington getaway options if you’re coming for a weekend or a special occasion.

You might also like our guide to the best things to do at night in Wilmington for more suggestions.

Stroll the Wilmington Riverwalk

Stroll down the 1.75-mile Wilmington Riverwalk (301 N. Water St) to witness an alluring sunrise and grab a good homestyle southern breakfast at The Basics or just a coffee at 24 South Coffeehouse.

Not early birds?

Take a stroll at dusk instead and enjoy a beautiful sunset dinner at The George on the Riverwalk.

Whichever you choose, enjoy a romantic outing in one of the best date spots in Wilmington.

Wilmington Riverwalk at twilight

Reenact a Hallmark Movie on the Battleship North Carolina

The Battleship North Carolina (1 Battleship Rd. NE) was the highest decorated battleship of World War II and is a great place to visit for any history-loving couple.

The ship sits on a small inlet right off the Cape Fear River with a spectacular view of downtown Wilmington across the river.

This location is excellent for watching the sunrise or sunset while you have a picnic.

The ship has also been used in more than 15 movies, including a Hallmark movie called USS Christmas (along with various places in downtown Wilmington).

Every hopeless romantic loves a Hallmark movie!

Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington

Cruise on The Henrietta III

Jump on the Henrietta III for a romantic lunch or dinner cruise or a one-of-a-kind romantic moonlight trip.

Operated by Cape Fear Riverboats, this classic steamboat style offers a lovely setting to enjoy the views from the water.

Take a Sunset Sailing Charter

For a romantic date idea in Wilmington, you can’t beat a private sunset sail along the Cape Fear River.

Book this private sailing charter to enjoy a special experience on the water, with just your sweetheart and a skipper to take you on a tranquil journey to enjoy the sights.

Wilmington, North Carolina with the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge

Indulge in a Wine and History Tour

This wine and history tour is a perfect date night in Wilmington!

Stroll the iconic streets of Downtown Wilmington while stopping at various wine bars en route, learning about the local area as you go.

Ideal for a first date, you can chat and venture to new places together in a small group setting, just in case there’s a lull in the conversation.

Wander the Historic District

It is extremely romantic to traverse historic areas that past couples have also enjoyed. 

The same can be said for exploring the Historic District (310 Chestnut St.) of Wilmington.

The Historic District comprises 1,070 acres of buildings and sites dating back to 1737 when Wilmington was starting development. 

Structures in the historic district are examples of Bungalow/American Craftsman style as well as Queen Anne Architecture.

Each building — from City Hall to the Bellamy Mansion (more on this site below) and the St. Thomas Roman Catholic Church, to name a few — are a wonderous sight!

To learn more about the history of these beautiful buildings, book this walking tour with a local on Viator or GetYourGuide.

Beautiful fountain and historic Bellamy Mansion on sunny day in Wilmington NC

Attend an Event at the Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts

When Thalian Hall (310 Chestnut St.) was built between 1855 and 1858, Wilmington was the largest city in North Carolina. 

Upon its erection, Thalian Hall housed the library, the town’s government, and an opera house.

Through the years, Thalian Hall has always been an epicenter for entertainment and shows, whether they be roadshows or major productions.

Today, the venue is an unforgettable site to visit, and is just one of the highlights for anyone’s trip to Wilmington with 422 annual events!

Choose an event your sweetheart will enjoy and make it a special evening together.

This is one of our favorite indoor things to do in Wilmington, in case you need more suggestions to avoid bad weather!

Learn at the Bellamy Mansion Museum

Completed in 1861, the Bellamy Mansion (503 Market Street) is one of North Carolina’s most beautiful examples of the architecture of the time. 

When you step into the Museum, you truly step back in time and relive the feel of old Wilmington.

As with all Antebellum mansions, it is important to dig below the pretty surface and learn the layers of history beneath.

The Bellamy Mansion Museum includes Slave Quarters, where you can learn more about the enslaved people who lived and worked at the mansion.

Note that the Bellamy family also owned other properties where they enslaved many more people to work in various capacities.

Get Drinks at Cloud 9 Rooftop Bar

Once you’re done walking around all of the amazing historical sites and museums, try a drink at sunset at the Cloud 9 Rooftop Bar (9 Estell Lee Pl).

The bar is located right by Wilmington’s Waterfront Park district and will give you a bird’s eye view experience of the sunset and river.

Of course, it is extremely romantic to experience!

Cuddle Close on a Haunted History Tour

There’s nothing like a little spooky story to make you hold onto each other a little closer!

Take this walking haunted history tour to stroll the streets with a guide sharing stories from beyond the grave.

Or check out this haunted e-bike and breweries tour to cover more miles around the city while sampling local craft beers and stopping at some formerly haunted places.

Drink Beers at Edward Teach Brewing

Everything is an adventure in Wilmington — even our Breweries — and Edward Teach Brewery (604 N. 4th St.) is no different.

Located in a 111-year-old historic firehouse in downtown Wilmington, the brewery is named after the infamous pirate Blackbeard.

Bring your loved one and enjoy live performances, local brews, and a great atmosphere!

Take a Beer and History Tour

Prefer a little more learning with your hops?

Take this beer and history tour, starting right at Edward Teach Brewing, and get behind-the-scenes insights into the local craft beer scene in Wilmington.

Close-up of four small beers as a sampler

Sample Wines at Noni Bacca Winery

Visit Noni Bacca Winery (420 Eastwood Rd #108) for a wine-tasting experience without even having to leave the city.

With an incredible variety of wines to sample, you’ll both surely find something to sip and savor for a fun cultural experience together.

Visit Airlie Gardens

While there are plenty of romantic places in Wilmington, Airlie Gardens (300 Airlie Rd) might be at the top of that list.

Radiating romance across 67 acres of gardens and historic sculptures, this garden is a premier wedding venue in the area.

It’s also home to the Airlie Oak, a live oak tree dating back to the 1500s!

If you’re able, you should visit Enchanted Airlie; this holiday event after dark involves the whole park being illuminated by beautiful Christmas lights.

Let the jingle of holiday music warm your heart and your love for each other. 

Beautiful fountain and trellis on the lake in Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, North Carolina

Get a Couples Massage at Coastal Massage & Spa

Enjoying a spa day together is definitely one of the most romantic things to do in Wilmington for couples.

Head to Coastal Massage & Spa (7205 Wrightsville Ave #108) and choose from a variety of couples’ massages, facials, and treatments so you can spend time together in luxurious relaxation.

See our guide on things to do in Wilmington for even more ideas.

Have Fun at Wrightsville Beach

If you and your loved one love sun and fun, a popular and romantic spot is Wrightsville Beach (315 W. Salisbury St).

Start at the north end of the beach and find the Wrightsville Beach Mailbox.

For 20 years, the mailbox has been filled with love stories, stories of proposals, and weddings. 

Leave a bit of your love story, and it might find its way to the Wrightsville Beach Museum for all our area to be inspired by. 

After you visit the mailbox, head down to the pier for a romantic walk, to the beach, or to the south end for SUP board, kayak, or surfboard rentals.

Anything you choose in Wrightsville Beach will absolutely be worth your time and will be great to share with your loved one.

For an awesome day date, take this e-bike tour from Wilmington to Wrightsville Beach for a more enjoyable experience from start to finish!

Aerial view of Johnnie Mercers fishing pier and beachfront houses on Wrightsville Beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina

Splash Around at Jungle Rapids

Want some water fun without the sand or a great place to go putt, go-karts, or other fun activities?

Just slide over to Jungle Rapids (5320 Oleander Dr)!

Jungle Rapids is the best water park in eastern North Carolina and the only water park in Wilmington!

Play Games at The Sideboard

The Sideboard (4107 Oleander Dr) is a great place if you have a significant other who enjoys board games or just competition in general. 

Grab some lunch or dinner, and enjoy over 400 different board games of your choosing.

Check for special events and tournaments as the location hosts different things like a Pokemon trivia night, The Chameleon, Battleship Bingo, or a Kings Domino Game Tournament.

Try a new game, find an old favorite, and enjoy your time together!

The Sideboard is one of our favorite first date ideas in Wilmington for an interactive way to get to know each other — and to see just how competitive your date might be!

Peruse the Cameron Art Museum

Relationships and love are all about enrichment and growth; the same can be said for the Cameron Art Museum (3201 South 17th Street).

Explore the many exhibitions within the museum and outside of it with your loved one. 

Discuss the pieces, what you like and don’t like, and make a connection.  

Paddle Around with Mahanaim Adventures

For a different way to explore the area, go to Mahanaim Adventures (335 Brighton Rd).

Here, you can explore the area by kayaking through Town Creek and Rice Creek, which empty into the Cape Fear River, just a bit downstream from Wilmington, NC.

Head to Carolina Beach

Whether it’s the beach, shopping, state parks, music, or the views, Carolina Beach (Carolina Beach Ave), located right outside of Wilmington, is one of the best places for any active couple.

Walk down the Carolina Beach boardwalk, enjoy the beach, and take a stop at one of the area’s most popular places, Britts Donuts, for some of the softest, most airy donuts you have ever had!

You might also like our guide to the best NC State Parks if you love the outdoors.

Colorful beachfront rental homes on Carolina Beach near Wilmington North Carolina

Stop by Fort Fisher

Fort Fisher (1000 Loggerhead Rd) is an area of history, mystery, and fun. 

Enjoy fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing, and swimming while exploring 6 miles of preserved historic shoreline and beaches at Fort Fisher.

Learn about the history and battles of the Confederate fort, learn the legend of the Fort Fisher Hermit, walk down the spectacular beachlines, and watch an astounding sunrise or sunset. 

The amount of peace and overall feeling of the area is extremely relaxing.

It is also a beautiful site for weddings!

Explore Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson

One of the most beautiful and breathtaking historic sites in the area is Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson (8884 St. Phillips Rd).

Founded as a colony of England in the 1700s, Brunswick Town was the first successful settlement by the British in the area. 

The town lasted for 50 years and was home to St. Phillips Church.

St. Phillips Church took 14 years to construct but was destroyed in one day when the British Army burned the town.

Today, the walls of the church still stand and it is a popular wedding venue.

An aerial view of the downtown Wilmington, North Carolina, USA

Romantic Restaurants in Wilmington

There are plenty of excellent choices for date night restaurants in Wilmington, but these are for special occasion experiences when you really want to impress your significant other.

Elijah’s

For waterfront dining, you can’t skip a date night at Elijah’s (2 Ann St) with its expansive outdoor seating area and covered patio area with views over the Cape Fear River.

Elijah’s has been a mainstay in Wilmington for decades, so go for a toast to celebrate your own relationship longevity in this iconic spot.

manna

For a romantic dinner in Wilmington, manna (123 Princess St) should be your go-to spot.

Beautiful interiors and elegant cocktails set the scene for a special night out together.

Go for the tasting menu if you’re really looking to impress your partner.

Circa 1922

For a classic Wilmington date night, head to Circa 1922 (8 N Front St) where steak and seafood are the stars of the show, with a delightful cocktail list as well.

Take your date there on a Saturday evening for live piano music to set the mood.

Mama Lucia’s

Get a taste of Italy in one of the most romantic restaurants in Wilmington by going to Mama Lucia’s (431 Eastwood Rd). 

When you walk inside, the restaurant gives off a dark yet warm ambiance with Italian decor and amazing authentic Italian food. 

The food is always served hot, there are several choices of wonderful wines both red and white as well as soda options if wine is not your thing. 

This place is a perfect, intimate, romantic, authentic Italian restaurant that you must try!

Wilmington, North Carolina, USA downtown city skyline on the Cape Fear River at night

Romantic Hotels in Wilmington

Romantic getaways in Wilmington are always a good idea!

Take a few days to enjoy simply being in each other’s company, learning something new and exploring a different place together.

These are the best places to stay for a romantic escape.

ARRIVE Wilmington

Right in the heart of Wilmington, with excellent access to all the restaurants, bars, and activities you might want to do together, ARRIVE (101 S 2nd St) is a unique boutique hotel that was recently renovated.

Individually decorated rooms and retro items make the space interesting and worthy of conversation.

The on-site outdoor Gazebo Bar is perfect for evening drinks and a chat together.

Check rates and availability on Expedia, Hotels, or Booking.

The Hive

A special getaway deserves a special stay, and that’s what you’ll find at The Hive (505 N 2nd St).

This unique space includes eclectic vibes and amenities you don’t often find in hotels — like a reverse osmosis water filtration system.

Enjoy the location at the edge of Downtown where foot traffic starts to quiet down, but you’ll still have easy access to all the places you want to go.

Compare rates and availability on Hotels, Expedia, and Booking.

Verandas

The Verdanas (202 Nun St.) mansion was originally built in 1853; it was immensely damaged by fire and water in 1992 but it was brought back to life in the late 1990s under new ownership just as Wilmington started to boom as a tourist destination. 

Today, the Bed and Breakfast is a quaint yet homely bed and breakfast that spans 8,500 square feet with 8 breathtaking rooms that all embody a feeling of warmth, familiarity, and southern hospitality.

Note that the original home was built for Benjamin Beery, who was a shipbuilder and plantation owner.

Check rates and availability on Expedia or Hotels.

Graystone Inn

Romantic trips are not complete without a romantic place to stay.

Graystone Inn (100 South Street), previously known as “The Bridgers Mansion,”  is a beautiful bed and breakfast in downtown Wilmington.

Built between 1905 and 1906, the location has a rich history with updated rooms and plenty of common rooms — including a beautiful library — for you to explore.

After a stunning renovation acknowledged with a nomination for the Historic Preservation Awards in 2023, unfortunately, there was a fire at Graystone that caused them to have to close down for further renovations.

You can still plan ahead for a future romantic getaway in Wilmington with your honey!

Check it out on Booking, Hotels, or Expedia.

Four poster bed and lamp in a room at the The Verandas Bed and Breakfast Bedroom Wilmington North Carolina

Final Words

Are you ready to impress your sweetheart with all these fabulous romantic things to do in Wilmington? We hope so!

Share your favorite date ideas in the comments below.

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