Our History Here: Wrightsville Beach

By Judy Royal

Soon after crossing the drawbridge from the mainland, you’ll reach a fork in the road and face your first decision at Wrightsville Beach. Bearing left will take you to the famous Johnnie Mercer’s Fishing Pier and near the site where a giant sperm whale named Trouble once washed ashore and refused to leave. Bearing right will take you to the classic downtown and points south, including the Coast Guard station and the site of the late, great Lumina Pavilion. 

Either way, you can’t go wrong. 

Either way, you’ll find a vibrant mixture of old and new.

Either way, amid landscape-altering attacks by both nature and developers, you’ll find the constancy of waves against sand.

So begins the synopsis of Wrightsville Beach: The Luminous Island by Ray McAllister, a 2007 book that explores the history and heart of this wildly popular vacation destination near Wilmington. With a year-round population of 2,604 that expands to 45,000-50,000 in the summer months, people have been flocking to Wrightsville Beach for fun in the sun for years through various periods of development.

The seaside town occupies one of the numerous barrier islands along North Carolina’s coast, which is 1,000-5,000 feet in width and stretches almost 4 miles from Masonboro Inlet to the south to Mason’s Inlet to the north (it lies between Figure Eight Island and Masonboro Island). This island containing Wrightsville Beach was once owned by the State of North Carolina and known as New Hanover Banks. It was transferred into private hands in three separate grants between 1791 and 1881. Development would have to wait, however, because distance and lack of transportation other than boats impeded accessibility. From the late 1700s until near the end of the 1800s, there were no residents and very few visitors except for some fishermen and hunters. Sailing soon became popular, and frequent races led to the founding of the Carolina Yacht Club in April 1853. Its members built a clubhouse, the first structure on what was now being called Wrightsville Beach after the Wright family who owned land on the nearby mainland. The Carolina Yacht Club held dozens of races every year and is now recognized as the third oldest yacht club in the country.

More development followed: another yacht club, two hotels, and several beach cottages. Wrightsville Beach was incorporated on March 6, 1899, with about 40-50 mostly seasonal residents. Just prior to that, accessibility to the beach began to improve when Shell Road, a passage for horse-drawn carts topped by oyster shells and following the route of current Wrightsville Avenue, was completed. Just a few months later, Wilmington Seacoast Railroad Co. built rail transportation, known as the open-air Beach Car, from downtown Wilmington to the Hammocks (present-day Harbor Island, a sizeable land mass formed as a result of dredging spoils from the Intracoastal Waterway in the early 20th century) with a footbridge to the beach. During the same year as incorporation, the rail line was extended across the Hammocks and onto the barrier island and then southward along what is now South Lumina Avenue. The Beach Car served as the lifeline to Wrightsville Beach, transporting thousands of visitors every summer until the trolley era began to give way to the automobile in 1935, when a two-lane bridge was built across the Intracoastal Waterway to Harbor Island and then over Banks Channel to the beach.

At the end of the Beach Car line was the sprawling and magnificent Lumina Pavilion, built in 1905 and offering 12,500 square foot of games and activities – including a dance hall, bowling alley, snack shop, shooting gallery, and movie screen in the surf – on three levels. Virtually every Big Band era band played there until the last, Vaughn Monroe, took the stage in early 1952. By then, times were changing and the Lumina’s popularity was waning. Crowds diminished as the trolley line came to an end in 1940, and the building deteriorated to the point of being condemned in 1972. It was demolished in 1973.

While the Lumina is no longer physically present, those who yearn for a simpler time when Big Bands played and people danced the night away can relive that era during Lumina Daze. The 21st annual event, chock full of nostalgia and reminiscing, will be 5-9 p.m. Aug. 27 at Blockade Runner Beach Resort, 275 Waynick Blvd. in Wrightsville Beach. Lumina Daze features live music, dancing, an inflatable movie screen showing a film on the lawn, a cash bar, food, a silent auction, and history displays. Tickets are $20 in advance at the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, 303 W. Salisbury St. in Wrightsville Beach, or Blockade Runner, and they will also be available at the door. For more information, visit http://www.wbmuseumofhistory.com/events/lumina-daze, email wbmuseum@bizec.rr.com, or call 910-256- 2569.

Over the years, Wrightsville Beach’s year-round population grew as the area weathered and survived hurricanes, including Category 4 Hazel in October 1954, and a 1934 fire that destroyed hundreds of buildings on the north end of the island. Although the Beach Cars and Big Bands are gone, visitors still jam the streets as they make their way to the salt and sand at one of the nation’s most popular beaches.

For more about Wrightsville Beach’s history, including a timeline of events, visit the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History website or, better yet, make plans to stop by to browse the exhibits, discover how life was lived in a typical summer cottage, and check out the museum’s centerpiece, a 12-foot model of Wrightsville Beach as it looked circa 1910.

Now that you know Wrightsville Beach’s past, let Intracoastal Realty help you make the storied area part of your future. We are a full-service real estate brokerage operating since 1976, and we currently have 13 offices with over 400 agents and staff to serve Southeastern North Carolina, including the areas of Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Southport, Oak Island, Ocean Isle Beach, Leland, Hampstead, and Topsail Island.

Enjoy Southeastern North Carolina’s Nature at No Charge

By Judy Royal

Anyone sitting on the sand at any of our beach strands would likely agree that many of the best things in life are free. But other than the sea, what can you enjoy without a fee? Plenty! If you’re looking for a way to commune with nature without breaking the bank, you’re definitely in luck in this region.

John Nesbitt Loop

Hours: Always open
Contact: Causeway Drive, North Lumina Avenue and Salisbury Street, Wrightsville Beach, (910) 256-7925, www.towb.org

Why do you always see so many people out exercising in Wrightsville Beach? They’re taking advantage of the John Nesbitt Loop, known to locals simply as “The Loop,” a popular 2.45-mile stretch of sidewalk that circles the town’s heart. The route offers coastal views, scenic parks and gardens, water fountains, and pit stops for thirsty dogs. When the weather is nice, you’ll see plenty of locals and visitors – along with their four-legged friends – walking, biking, jogging, and skating.

Carolina Beach State Park

Hours: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. daily
Contact: 1010 State Park Road, Carolina Beach, (910) 458-8206, www.ncparks.gov/carolina-beach-state-park

You’ll find a marina, secluded camping area, cabins, visitors center, and walking trails that traverse various habitats at Carolina Beach State Park, home to the Venus’ flytrap, one of the world’s most carnivorous plants and a native of Southeastern North Carolina. Have fun and learn at the same time, as rangers hold regularly scheduled educational and interpretive programs about the park. It’s also a great place for a picnic along the bank of Snow’s Cut, with tables, grills, and plenty of shade from large oak trees.

Summer Rest Trail

Hours: 8 a.m.-sunset daily
Contact: 1981 Eastwood Road, Wilmington, and 423 Summer Rest Road, Wilmington, (910) 798-7629, www.parks.nhcgov.com

Explore one of the area’s hidden gems by taking a stroll or bike ride along Summer Rest Trail, a 0.7-mile asphalt path that begins at Port City Chop House on Eastwood Road and winds through a wooded route to Summer Rest Road, which overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway near Wrightsville Beach. It’s the perfect place for a short run, quiet walk, or scenic getaway from your regular surroundings.

Oakdale Cemetery

Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
Contact: 520 N. 15th St., Wilmington, (910) 762-5682, www.oakdalecemetery.org

Part outdoor museum and part arboretum, Oakdale Cemetery boasts 100 acres and is North Carolina’s oldest rural cemetery. Its native vegetation is punctuated with blooming plants all year long but especially so in the spring, so it’s a great spot for a self-guided tour to stroll through the beauty and history.

Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

Hours: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily; the pedestrian beach is always open
Contact: 1000 Loggerhead Road, Kure Beach, (910) 458-5798, www.ncparks.gov/fort-fisher-state-recreation-area

Enjoy 6 miles of unspoiled beaches and trails at the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, located at the southernmost part of Pleasure Island. Explore the salt marsh and its wildlife, including loggerhead sea turtles, piping plovers, and other rare species. Enjoy surf fishing as well as a boat ramp and padding launch.

New Hanover County Arboretum

Hours: Open daily during daylight hours
Contact: 6206 Oleander Drive, Wilmington, (910) 798-7660, www.arboretum.nhcgov.com

Explore 7 acres of plants that grow in the coastal area as well as emerging trends in plant material, proper horticultural techniques, aesthetic design, environmental stewardship, and research at the New Hanover County Arboretum, which bills itself as “where nature and knowledge grow.” During your visit, enjoy numerous gardens, a plant clinic, a picnic area, a gift shop, a children’s area, and an interactive chalk wall.

Brunswick Nature Park

Hours: 8 a.m.-dusk daily
Contact: 2601 River Road (N.C. Highway 133), Winnabow, (910) 253-2670, bcparks.recdesk.com

Brunswick Nature Park offers 911 acres of undeveloped wilderness featuring a dynamic mix of vegetation, wildlife, ecosystems, vistas, wetlands, and waterways for exploration. Enjoy a kayak/canoe launch site and a large picnic pavilion as well as walking, biking, and horse trails. Take a ride out to the country to please your senses with the primitive and unspoiled views and serene atmosphere.

Airlie Gardens

Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
Contact: 300 Airlie Road, Wilmington, (910) 798-7700, www.airliegardens.org
*Admission charge typically applies, with exceptions noted below.

*If you live in New Hanover County and have a valid ID to prove it, you get in free on the first Sunday of each month. Experience 67 acres of formal gardens, wildlife, historic structures, walking trails, sculptures, views of Bradley Creek, 10 acres of freshwater lakes, more than 100,000 azaleas, and the grandeur of the 472-year-old Airlie Oak at Airlie Gardens. While you’re there, meet Reilly, a rescued border collie that was “hired” to help manage Canada geese on the property, or explore the 2,700-square-foot butterfly house, which is home to 11 native species of butterflies and open May 15-October 15.

Cape Fear Museum

Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday
Contact: 814 Market St., Wilmington, (910) 798-4370, www.capefearmuseum.com
*Admission charge typically applies, with exceptions noted below.

*If you live in New Hanover County and have a valid ID to prove it, you get in free on the first Sunday of each month. Cape Fear Museum, the oldest history museum in North Carolina, offers various exhibits and programs focusing on the area’s history and science. It draws on a collection of more than 52,000 items to help visitors explore a wide range of topics related to the Lower Cape Fear region.

N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher

Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
Contact: 900 Loggerhead Road, Kure Beach, (910) 772-0500, www.ncaquariums.com/fort-fisher
*Admission charge typically applies, with exceptions noted below.

*Admission is free on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January and Veterans Day in November. The N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher offers a variety of exhibits for all ages that have everything from an albino alligator and a rescued bald eagle to sharks and loggerhead turtles as well as an interactive touch tank. Visitors journey down the Cape Fear River – from freshwater streams and swamps to coastline habitats, reefs, and the open ocean – discovering unique habitats and wildlife.


Are you ready to take advantage of all Southeastern North Carolina has to offer? Intracoastal Realty is here to meet your Wilmington NC real estate needs, whether you want to stay for a weekend or a lifetime. We are a full-service real estate brokerage operating since 1976, and we currently have 12 offices with over 400 agents and staff to serve Southeastern North Carolina, including the areas of Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Southport, Oak Island, Ocean Isle Beach, Leland, Hampstead, and Topsail Island.

Wilmington Facts from the Historian Bob Jenkins

The Gift of HistoryWalking tour - 1

On January 19th, area historian and Downtown Wilmington tour guide, Bob Jenkins shared with Intracoastal agents many interesting facts from Wilmington’s History.  From the early beginnings through current day, Bob delivered his key storytelling notes with humor and incredible detail. We tried to capture the essence in the highlights below. Pick out just a few to have on hand – you’ll be glad you did.

  • There are 320 miles of coastline in North Carolina – and the only main river feeding from the north of the state to the ocean is the Cape Fear River. The river is over 200 miles long!
  • The first 170 miles drop in elevation by 160 feet – delivering huge amounts of water down to where it meets the last thirty miles of water heading to the ocean – this last thirty-mile leg is tidal water.
  • While many river settlements along the east coast developed in the late 1600’s, the settlement of Wilmington was a late-developer. Even with all the great resources to be had (rice and timber), there was something to “fear” about the Wilmington location.
  • The term “Cape Fear” evolved due to the continual shifting of sands and navigable bottom changes presented by “Frying Pan Shoals” at the base of the river’s delta.
  • Only when the British desired another deep-water port along the coast between the Chesapeake Bay Settlement, and the Charleston, South Carolina, settlement (both were founded in the late 1600’s) was it worth the risk of the shoals to establish Wilmington.
  • The area around the river was ripe with opportunity for two key agricultural offerings – RICE and TIMBER.
  • The settlement of Brunswick Town was the first in our area to founded in 1726. British landowners originally from South Carolina, Maurice, and Roger Moore, established the first rice plantation. ORTON Plantation. The manor house was constructed in 1735.
  • There were approximately 120 RICE plantations along the river – not cotton as some would expect.
  • “Cape Fear Pines” were an available and grand crop for harvesting and for the production of turpentine and pine tar. Both became a huge resource as export items to the British in England. The pine trees were “boxed” to capture the natural pine-oil from them. Similar to capturing sap from maple trees in New England to make syrup.
  • Heart-Pine was treasured as the hardest wood for the keels of British ships, and Pine Tar kept the ships afloat – thanks to coating the bottoms of ships. Pine tar was plentiful and gooey; hence, the TARHEEL moniker given to North Carolinians, by locals and British Colonists.
  • In colonial times sixty-percent of all naval stores in England came from the Cape Fear region. Rice production was huge! One acre of ground could supply 75 bushels or rice, annually: hence, the term Carolina Gold.
  • The Port of Wilmington was developed by a Scot – John Martin – as he was given a land grant to focus on the development of a major seaport vs. agriculture.
  • The choice of the name “Wilmington” was bestowed on the town in honor of the Earl of Wilmington, Spencer Compton, a patron of the then current governor of North Carolina, Gabriel Johnston – and chartered in 1740.
  • The Cotton Exchange became the largest exchange in the World. In the 1870’s. It grew from agents of the company traveling to cotton farms in the area – and providing incentives for the southern farmers to work in partnership. The business included some fifty European agencies.
  • Over time – Wilmington became a major shipbuilding port and produced 243 “Liberty Ships” during World War II. There were five major railroads coming into and out of Wilmington due to the industry and the war economy. They started leaving in 1950.
  • Side Note – Masonboro Sound got its name from the Grand Masons (Masonic Lodge of the era).


Bob Jenkins Reference Resources:

Cape Fear & Frying Pan Shoals
Cape Hatteras and Outer Banks

Harpers Weekly 1876 – turpentine production graphic and more!

Top 6 Reasons to Buy a Home in Southport NC

People have been flocking to Southport NC for the ultimate Southern, slow-pace, easy-living, vacation for years. And, while Southport is a wonderful vacation destination for beachgoers, it’s an even better place to live!

1. Oh, That Southern Charm!

Southport has done an excellent job of preserving the charming qualities that first defined the town. A stroll by the shore reveals houses that have stood there since the founding of Southport, in the 1700s. There’s an unmistakable feeling of whimsy here. Swinging porches dot the grassy patches cultivated right next to the sandy shores. And southern food is at its best (seafood included, of course), along with homemade ice cream parlors, one-of-a-kind antique and speciality shops, art galleries, and a downtown that truly exemplifies the meaning of “charming.” Even a brief visit will make you feel transported back in time. Not surprisingly, Southport’s picturesque setting can be seen in several major motion pictures and shows, such as Safe House, Nights in Rodanthe, Dawson’s Creek and more.

2. A Seaside Paradise

The Intracoastal Waterway and Cape Fear River intersect off the coast of Southport, making an ideal location for residents to launch their boats practically from their backyard. For those craving sandy beaches, Southport is located nearby to not one, but six different beaches of the Brunswick Islands. Bald Head Island, Holden Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Sunset Beach, Oak Island and Caswell Beach can all be found within a 20-minute to an hour’s drive.

3. Roots in History

The history of Southport extends back as early as Spanish explorations in the 1500s. Originally dubbed Smithville, the town was formed in honor of Colonel Benjamin Smith of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and, later, governor of North Carolina. Created in 1792, Smithville was created adjacent to the historical Fort Johnston, constructed in 1748 to protect the Cape Fear River region. Steeped in history and Americana, Southport is punctuated with historical markers and museums commemorating important moments from throughout America’s history, such as various Civil War Sites, the North Carolina Maritime Museum of Southport and more.

4. Things To Do in Southport NC

Small towns sometimes get a bad rap when it comes to finding things to do — but that’s certainly not the case with Southport! The city is flush with parks, walking trails, camping sites, watersports, championship golf courses and resorts, and fishing piers and charters. Kayak, bike, boat and equipment rentals are easily available as well. And, of course, there are plenty of sandy shores to dig toes into for those who don’t feel like doing much at all.

Southport is also home to a beautiful community center ensconced among gorgeous oak trees and designed to be perfectly in-sync with Southport architecture. In addition to offering various activities for the community, it is also a commonly chosen venue for weddings, reunions and more. Parades, live concerts, fishing tournaments, historic home tours and outdoor festivals, such as the 200-year-old Fourth of July Festival or the Christmas by the Sea Festival are a year-round occurrence.

5. Schools in Southport NC

Residents with children in grades K-12 will be in the Brunswick County District, and will most likely attend Southport Elementary, South Brunswick Middle, and South Brunswick High. The area also enjoys several, local institutions for higher education. Brunswick Community College (BCC) is located only 30 minutes away, but also offers a Southport Center that provides studio-based courses, workshops and craft programs — such as printmaking, photography, silversmithing, and much more. The BCC’s Southport location also houses a community garden. Also in nearby Wilmington is Cape Fear Community College, Miller-Motte College and UNC-W.

6. Homes for Sale in Southport NC

Homes in Southport range from quaint, seaside cottages to sprawling multi-family homes imbued in history, to homes built anew in quiet, residential developments. The area is highly desirable for those seeking a home to retire in, vacation in or live in year-round. Intracoastal Realty has a wide range of real estate listings for Southport NC, so, if this coastal gem sounds like your dream destination, contact us today by calling (800) 533-1840 or emailing us at info@intracoastalrealty.com.

The Latimer House of Wilmington, NC Seeking Latimer House Docents

Latimer House Wilmington, NC

The Latimer House, built in 1852 by Zebulon Latimer, has housed the Historical Society since 1963 and is open to the public as an historic house exemplary of upper-class life in Wilmington during the Victorian period. With 14 rooms containing over 600 historic objects (including furniture, jewelry, ephemera, tableware, tools, and more,) the Latimer House evokes memories of a highly elegant era.

The house, built in the popular Italianate style, was designed to be symmetrical with a central hallway on each floor opening onto identical layouts to either side. On the first floor, the hallway divides the formal sitting and dining areas on the north side — used for entertaining and special occasions — from the less formal sitting rooms to the south.

Shown here is the south front sitting room overlooking Third Street. The coal-burning fireplace, like all the fireplaces on the first floor, is solid marble. The chandelier, original to the house, initially was a gasolier operated by coal gas. The house was later converted to electricity by William Latimer, Zebulon’s son. The window, which reaches all the way to the floor, can double as a doorway out onto the side porch.

If you are looking for a charming and unique place for your meeting, luncheon, or party, then search no further than the Latimer House! Our Victorian inspired garden is the perfect place for your special photography session or to hone your artistic talents. The tearoom can accommodate your guests in a historic atmosphere. These spots are available seven days a week but reservations are required. Certain restrictions and fees apply. All funds go to support the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit. Call 910-762-0492 for more information or e-mail us at lcfhs@latimerhouse.org.

The Latimer House gardens, enclosed in original stucco and lace-brick walls, overlook historic downtown Wilmington, and have been planted largely with flora authentic to the period.

The Latimer House, a 501c(3) non-profitorganization, is seeking adult volunteers interested in becoming “Latimer House Docents.”

Please join us for a wine and cheese reception on Sunday, November 1 from 3 to 5 pm.

Tour the house and learn about becoming a Latimer House Docent.

126 South Third Street, Wilmington, NC 28401

(Unlimited parking on South Third Street)

Questions?  Call Martie Rice, Volunteer Coordinator  – 910-599-4078

2015 Back Door Kitchen Tour

The Residents of Old Wilmington invite all to the 2015 Back Door Kitchen Tour to be held on Saturday, October 10 from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.  rain or shine.  Tour-goers will visit nineof historic downtown Wilmington’s homes each featuring a unique kitchen.  This year’s tour includes a Fifth Avenue mansion, a remodeled 1898 bungalow and a Front Street home previously occupied by President Woodrow Wilson.  Ticket prices are $25 for adults and $15 for children and are available at all area Harris Teeter stores, Finkelsteins in downtown Wilmington, Michael Moore’s Antiques on Castle Street, the Ivy Cottage on Market Street and Taste the Olive in Mayfaire.  All proceeds from this event are used to fund projects designed to promote historic preservation and support downtown agencies that serve our citizens.

2015 Back Door Kitchen Tour is Saturday, October 10, 2015
If your purchased tickets online, bring your Paypal receipt to any one of the nine tour homes or the Bellamy Mansion to pick up your tickets.
Mark your calendar and tell your friends.  This is the 10th anniversary of ROW’s very successful and much loved annual kitchen tour, and a very special Tour is planned. Please join us.
Tour-goers will visit nine historic downtown Wilmington homes (listed below). The 2015 Tour includes:  a  Front Street home previously occupied by President Woodrow Wilson; a Fifth Avenue mansion; and a remodeled 1898 bungalow.  Each of the nine tour homes has a unique history and a special kitchen designed for that home.  The houses will be open for touring by ticket holders on October 10 from 11 A.M. to 5 P.M., rain or shine.
ROW will welcome ticket holders “through the back door,” with true southern hospitality.  We invite you as our guests to enjoy the nine Tour homes, as well the beautiful Historic Districts that ROW calls home. The Tour  easily walkable, within a 10 block radius.

The Back Door Kitchen Tour is the only fundraiser for Residents of Old Wilmington (ROW), a nonprofit, all volunteer, neighborhood association. Proceeds go to back into our community for beautification, preservation, restoration, and other improvements, through ROW projects and grants. We hope you will join us for what is sure to be a memorable day. If you have questions, please contact us at bdkt@rowilmington.org.

2015 Tour Tickets:
Back Door Kitchen Tour tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for children under 12. Advance ticket sales begin September 1 at select area retail outlets (listed below) and online. Tickets may also be purchased on the day of the Tour at any of the nine Tour homes and the Bellamy Mansion (located at the corner of 5th and Market Streets).
Individual tickets may be purchased in advance at these local retailers:
  • Harris Teeter Stores in the Greater Wilmington, NC area
  • Finkelstein’s, Historic Downtown Wilmington, NC
  • Michael Moore’s Antiques, Historic Castle Street Antique and Arts District, Wilmington, NC
  • Ivy Cottage, Wilmington, NC
  • Taste the Olive, Wilmington, NC

Credit card purchases on the day of the Tour may be made at Finkelstein’s (at the corner of Market and Front Streets, Historic Downtown Wilmington) or at participating Harris Teeter store. Credit card purchases cannot be processed at the Tour homes.

The 2015 Tour Homes
Here are the nine beautiful and very special homes on the 2015 Tour:
  • 312 North 5th Ave.
  • 20 South 5th Ave.
  • 614 Dock St.
  • 520 Orange St.
  • 509 South 4th St.
  • 208 Castle St.
  • 411 South 2nd St.
  • 207 Nun St.
  • 401 South Front St.

Information provided by Residents of Old Wilmington.

Spanish Galleon Replica El Galeon Visits Downtown Wilmington

El-Galeon-Spanish-Galleon-Replica-Ship-Wilmington-NCA 20-person crew sailed the 170-foot-long, 495-ton ship north to Wilmington, North Carolina, passing by Southport last Friday afternoon, August 14, 2015 as onlookers stopped to watch the Spanish replica pass by for the last leg of it’s journey to the Port City.

The term Galleon translates easily as “large ship” and has been used across many cultures including French, Spanish “Galeón” meaning armed merchant ship, Portugese Galeão or “war ship”, from Byzantine Greek Galea “galley.” The large ship currently visiting Wilmington is of the Spanish variety, and was designed in the 1550s to defend trade routes of Asian goods from Acapulco to Veracruz to the Carribean and on to Spain. The new design allowed for greater cargo capacity and more defensive capabilities as well as more maneuverability.

El Galeon was constructed by the Nao Victoria Foundation in 2006, when the foundation undertook the special project to reconstruct the ship to scale. Once completed, El Galeon has sailed the world and is based in the United States in Saint Augustine Florida. The crew lives aboard the ship 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and provides daily tours. The tours aim to tell the 500 year old story of events that have occurred since Ponce de Leon’s arrival in modern day Florida. The ship has many modern day conveniences for its full time crew including showers and bathrooms.

There are a few other modern additions including lighter weight anchors, diesel engines, hydraulic steering, and air conditioning that is used when in port during the evenings. The ship’s crew sails as often as possible to save fuel costs, and for the recreation factor, though the crew members are equipped with safety harnesses to climb up to release the sails.  The ship is also stocked with a treasure chest filled with fishing gear and allows fishing during excursions between ports. En route to Wilmington the crew was able to catch some tuna.

Wilmington visitors have been taking their turns touring the majestic 170-feet long ship that was completed in 2010 and enjoying the many details and history El Galeon has brought to the Port City. If you’d like to tour the ship prior to its departure, it will be in port in Wilmington through the weekend and the tours are running daily through Sunday, August 23 prior to taking off towards its next stop in Charleston, SC.

View the El Galeon Facebook page for updates and more information as well as photos of places that it has visited.

Take a look at Instagram user photos. Here are a couple of our favorites from Instagram user @GabiWooten.



View a video of El Galeon:

Historic Downtown Wilmington Riverfront In The Running To Be Named One of USA Today’s 20 Best Al Fresco Dining Neighborhoods

After receiving the award for the best riverfront in the United States, the historic downtown Wilmington riverfront is leading the pack for USA Today’s 10Best’s title of Best Al Fresco Dining Neighborhood. A panel of traveling foodies have teamed up with USA Today’s 10Best to nominate 20 streets and neighborhoods and readers can cast their vote through Monday, August 17 on the 10Best website. To view the current leaderboard, where Wilmington is sitting in first place, click here.

Historic Downtown Wilmington NC is winning the vote with it’s prime location along the Cape Fear River, rich history of nearly 300 years, and the mile-long Riverwalk, which was named the Best American Riverfront by USA Today’s 10Best in 2014. The foodies and 10Best highly recommend the historic district which is filled with great al fresco venues. Many downtown venues offer al fresco dining along the sidewalk on Front Street as well as on patios with views overlooking the Cape Fear River. The Reel Cafe was of particular interest with an option for Rooftop Dining as well. Our beach town weather is also an attraction and provides options for outdoor dining throughout most of the year. The 200+ restaurants and shops within walking distance of the Riverwalk provide limitless options. Where are your favorite places to eat downtown in Wilmington?

A quick survey around our office created this list of recommendations:

  • Circa 1922
  • The Copper Penny
  • Dock Street Oyster Bar
  • Fork N Cork
  • The Basics Gourmet Soul
  • Chops Deli

Which of the following are your favorites?

A Slice Of Life Pizzeria & Pub Kabob and Grill
125 Market St 5 Water Street
Aubriana’s Kat 5 Kava
115 S Front St 123 Grace St
Barge Snack Bar Kilwin’s Ice Cream
108 S. Water Street 16 Market St
The Basics Gourmet Soul Le Catalan French Cafe Wine Bar
319 N Front St 224 S. Water Street
Beer Barrio The Little Dipper
34 N Front Street 138 S Front St
Bella’s Bar Local Louie’s Hot Dogs
19 Market St 204 1/2 Princess St
Betsy’s Crepes Luna Caffe
127 N. Front Street 604 Castle St.
Black Sea Grill manna
118 S Front St 123 Princess Street
Bourbon St. Restaurant NeMa Lounge and Eatery
35 N Front St 225 S. Water Street
Buzz Roost Nikki’s Sushi Bar
15 S. Front Street 16 S Front St
Caprice Bistro On A Roll
10 Market St 125 Grace St
Chops Deli Paddy’s Hollow
130 North Front Street 325 N Front St
Circa 1922 Peking Gourmet
8 N Front St 120 S Front St
Coastal Cupcakes Pender’s Cafe
129 Princess St 205 N Front St
The Copper Penny The Peppered Cup Cake
109 Chestnut St 105 S S. Front Street
Cousins Italian Deli Pilot House Restaurant
7 N 3rd St 2 Ann St
Detour Deli and Cafe PinPoint Restaurant
510 1/2 Redcross Street 114 Market Street
Dixie Grill Port City Cheesesteak
116 Market St 204 Princess St
Dock Street Oyster Bar Port City Java
12 Dock St 502 N. Front street
Elijah’s Port City Java
2 Ann St 300 N Front St
Fat Tony’s Italian Pub Port City Java
131 N Front St 21 N. Front St.
Flying Pi Kitchen The Reel Cafe
402 Chestnut St 100 S Front St
Folk’s Cafe Reggae Hut
706 N. 4th street 121 Grace St
Folks Cafe Rx Restaurant and Bar
1201 Princess Street 421 Castle St
Fork N Cork Saigon Bistro
122 Market 21 N. Front Street
The Fortunate Glass The Scoop Ice Cream & Sandwich Shop
29 S Front St 365 N Front St
Front Street Brewery Shuckin’ Shack
9 N Front St 109 Market St
The George On The Riverwalk South ‘n France
128 S Water St 822 Orange St
The German Cafe Stuffedwich NC
316 Nutt St 11 Market St.
The Greeks Mediterranean Deli & Market Sunny’s Sushi & Lounge
124 Princess St 141 N Front St
Hell’s Kitchen Tar Heel Creamery
118 Princess St 15 S. Water Street
Hot Pink Cake Stand Ted’s Fun on the River
114 N Front St 2 Castle St
The Husk The Trolley Stop
33 S Front St 121 N. Front Street
I Love NY Pizza Riverboat Landing
28 N Front St 2 Market St
Innovations Wayfarer Deli & Bistro
301 N Water St 110 S Front St
Island Fresh Mex Grill Yosake Downtown Sushi Lounge
310 N. Front Street 33 S Front St
Java Dog Coffee House Yummi Banh Mi
307 N Front St 21 N. Front Street
Jester’s Cafe
607 Castle St  

Historic Downtown Wilmington, NC is in good company with these other locations around the United States:

  1. Historic Downtown – Wilmington, N.C.
  2. 5th Avenue South – Naples, Fla.
  3. Main Street – Greenville, S.C.
  4. Vail Village – Vail, Colo.
  5. Larimer Square – Denver
  6. State Street – Santa Barbara, Calif.
  7. River Walk – San Antonio
  8. Wicker Park – Chicago
  9. Peachtree Road – Atlanta
  10. Adams Morgan – Washington
  11. Rittenhouse Square – Philadelphia
  12. French Quarter – New Orleans
  13. Meatpacking District – New York
  14. Back Bay – Boston
  15. Garden District – New Orleans
  16. Georgetown – Washington
  17. Riverwalk – Chicago
  18. Dupont Circle – Washington
  19. Lake Travis & Lake Austin – Austin
  20. Montana Avenue – Santa Monica, Calif.

Voting ends at 11:59 am EDT on Monday, August 17th, and you can cast your vote every day, so be sure to vote for our great city!

Wilmington continues to prove itself as a great place to live, work and play and provides many of the conveniences of the larger cities that make the list with a number of other great features including golfing, boating, equestrian and those looking to find all that the Carolina coast has to offer in many of our waterfront and island communities. The historic charm of Wilmington has captured many visitors, vacationers, and college students and turned them into lifelong residents.

Baby Boomer Bungalows!

Intracoastal Agent Connie Parker on Baby Boomer Bungalows…

I am proud to be a member of the BABY BOOMER generation! We grew up in a time when the new industrialized world was at the end of a world war with all it’s heartaches and difficulties. Our parents were ready to start their families and begin their new lives in a country full of hope and vitality. Some of my favorite memories, when I was little, was going to Myrtle Beach, SC to “ROSS HAVEN”, our favorite family gathering vacation house. It wasn’t ours, we just divided up the cost between grandparents, cousins, aunts & uncles, it was a wonderful mass of “kin”. The one story cottage was right on ocean front with wood plank siding. Inside the walls didn’t go all the way to the ceiling and of course there was no insulation back then. There were about 6 tiny bedrooms with (as I remember) one bathroom! The windows and doors would stay open all the time with screens and screened doors to keep the pesky “varmets” out. There were oscillating plug-in fans for cooling on humid days. The ocean side had a double-wide porch with a big swing that most of the kids could get in all at one time to entertain themselves for a few minutes at a time, as well as lots of rocking chairs. These are sweet memories of a special place to me that is no longer there.

I think it is because of these special times in a special place, that the continued love affair with the charming bungalows and quaint cottages have a hold on my heart strings. As our generation is now retiring or having more time to enjoy a get-away, there are many of us that are looking for smaller simpler places to enjoy time, family & community entertainment. Many of these smaller homes are located in our beautiful historic district which is at the Cape Fear Riverfront and shopping district, with loads of specialty restaurants shops, bistros and grills. The aromas, sights and sounds of old Wilmington, NC will charm the socks right off of you! The downtown district also offers amazing quality theatre at the civil war era THALIAN HALL and many other venues for the cultural and performing arts where there is something going on all the time.

Today’s Bungalow and small cottages vary as much as the old and new Wilmington. There are still many early 1900 era homes that are available for the “ go-getters”, to the ones available that have been retro-fitted with state of the art kitchens, baths, re-wired/plumbed and insulated for energy saving efficiency. There are wonderful older communities where homes are being purchased by investors, where specialized craftsmen and decorators repair and restore these homes for the turn-key buyer. The prices also range as wildly as the ages. You may prefer the seclusion of a gated (or not) community with their own golf courses with lots of amenities, or the water or beach front hideaway to escape to permanently or every chance you get!

2011-5-Parker, Connie Connie Parker


Valentine’s Events In and Around Town


Do you need some ideas for Cupid’s Big day? Planning ahead can go a long way, especially since there are so many activities going on this weekend around the Port City. From river cruises and aquarium dinners to wine tastings and music you are sure to find a plan.  This is a great time to show your support of area businesses hosting these events. Check out your area’s Valentine’s Events here:

Romantic Valentine Carriage Ride  February 11-14
Treat your sweetheart to a moonlight carriage ride for two. Surprise him or her with a red rose, a box of chocolates, and your private French evening coach. By private reservation only. Call Springbrook Farms for pricing at 910-251-8889 or email.
Location: Downtown Wilmington

Hold Your Honey Tight Fright Night Massacre Tour  February  10- 14 The tours will include all the misguided and tragic love stories. Ghost Walk will be Feb 10 through Feb 12 and the Pub Crawl Feb 12 & Feb 14. The first 30 guests each night receive a special treat. Call 910-794-1866 for reservations.
Location: Downtown Wilmington

Valentine’s Day Cruises  February 11-14 The Love Boat will soon be taking another tour in Wrightsville Beach! Come relax and enjoy the sights of Wrightsville Beach from the water, aboard the M/V Shamrock. Make this Valentine’s Day memorable as you explore the scenery of Masonboro Island and the Wrightsville Beach Harbor. The Valentine’s Day cruises are $25 per person and include select beverages. In addition to the Feb 14th cruises, the Shamrock will be availbale for reservation from Feb 11-14 from 11am to 4pm.
SPECIAL DEAL!!! The first 10 couples (married 45 years or more) can cruise for free on the 12pm Valentine’s Day cruise. The catch, these couples will be asked for marriage advice in return for their free ticket! Call Capt Joe Abbate at 910-200-4002.
Location: Wrightsville Beach, Scenic Tours @ Banks Channel across from Blockade Runner Resort

Cupid Palooza – A Family Valentine Social February 11 Food. Dancing. Crafts. Fun for ages 2-12 and their parents. Pre-registration recommended. This event recieved support from the NC Arts Council, an agency funded byt the State of NC and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more info contact Oak Island Parks & Recreation Department, 910-278-5518.
Location: Oak Island Parks & Recreation Department 3003 E. Oak Island Drive, Oak Island

Valentine’s in the Long Leaf February 12  2:30p to 4:00p at Halyburton Park, Wilmington, NC.Celebrate this holiday by taking a hike in the woods to discover the many antics animals use to find a valentine, 2:30-4 p.m. Feb. 12. Ages 6 and up. Free.
Location: Halyburton Park

Valentine Cruise aboard Wilmington Fast Cat February 12-13 Chocolate, champagne, and a cruise of the Cape Fear River aboard the first and finest state-of-the-art catamaran to serve Wilmington. Join us Saturday 4pm-6pm or Sunday 2pm-4pm. Departs at 212 S. Water St (between Ann & Orange Sts.) 910-338-3134
Location: Downtown Wilmington Riverwalk

Sweetheart Saturday Dinner Cruise  February 12  Invite your special someone to a three hour Dinner Dance cruise on the scenic Cape Fear River. Enjoy an appetizing buffet aboard NC’s largest Riverboat. $49 per person available by advance sale. Call 910.343.1611 or 800.676.0162 for reservations.
Location: Henrietta III Riverboat, Downtown Wilmington

Wine & Chocolate Pairing  February 12-13 Celebrate Valentine’s Day with award winning wines from Silver Coast Winery & handmade, gourmet truffles by Lake Champlain Chocolates, Burlington, VT. Lake Champlain chocolates produce all-natural, preservative-free chocolates, and supports overall human health and wellness. Five seatings throughout each day beginning at noon with the last seating at 4pm. Pre-paid reservations required, 910-287-2800.  Admission/Fees: $15 per person.
Location: Silver Coast Winery 6680 Barbeque Road Ocean Isle Beach

That’s A Moray! Valentine’s Day Event  February 14 Celebrate each other this Valentine’s Day at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. “That’s A Moray!” is an exclusive evening with limited seating, featuring a candlelit dinner, a souvenir photo and dancing while surrounded by the magic of the ocean. Call 910.458.8257 for more information or reservations.
Location: NC Aquarium @ Fort Fisher

Do Something Different This Valentine’s Day!  February 14  Book a photography session with Picture It Photography Studio. We have hundreds of Valentine’s Day props and locations. All session fees and sheets up to 16×20 are 2 for 1. Call to set up an appointment, (910-762-2616)
Location: Downtown Wilmington

Trivial Pursuit Valentine’s Day Tournament February 14 Test your knowledge with Trivia! Gather your team of friends, neighbors, and family to join the fun at the Senior Resource Center. Door Prize, Giveaways and Prizes for 1st and 2nd place teams. 10:30am to 12:00pm. Special Guest MC, Bill Parilla Of The Use-to-Be’s! Registration Required: Gayle Ginsberg at 798-6402
LOCATION: Senior Resource Center

Passion and Fire  February 18 Tchaikovsky’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Fantasy-Overture, Haydn’s ‘La Passione’ and Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird’ Suite. Not to mention Bonnie Thron’s virtuoso performance of Tchaikovsy’s Rococo Vartiations. No shortage of fireworks here! 910-962-3500
Location: UNCW Kenan Auditorium