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Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

The Banks ~ Best beach of the Carolina's

A beach vacation might conjure tropical white sand, tiki huts and days that stretch into each other. But if you've ever visited North Carolina, you know that Wrightsville Beach is a sweet stretch of sand and surf in a corner of the US that embodies a charming beach vibe.

Wrightsville BeachLess than a ½ hour drive from historic Wilmington and Cape Fear Coast, Wrightsville Beach (once known simply as "The Banks") is separated from the mainland by a small drawbridge. Flanked by historic homes that have been in the same families for generations, this community is serious about keeping its coastline clean. The beach authority is vigilant about restricting bonfires, ATV's, glass containers, alcohol and pets.

Where Is It?Wrightsville is a haven for serious sunners, surfers and surf fishers throughout the whole year. We don't recommend the south end for swimming - instead, stake our piece of the beach between the rebuilt Johnnie Mercer Pier and Crystal Pier (lifeguard patrolled in the summer months).

Wrightsville Beach is a state favorite (locals prefer it over Myrtle Beach), so if you visit during the summer months arrive early in the day. Traffic congests quickly, parking is scarce and towing is strictly enforced.

If you're considering a visit to Wrightsville Beach, prepare to be welcomed with a healthy choice of stay, play and dining options.

Where to stay

Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort

Go for the spectacular ocean views, supervised activities for the kids and live music on the weekends during the summer. Skip the restaurant (there are better choices in Wrightsville and Wilmington).

If you go, visit Sunspree Resort online or see what other travelers have to say on TripAdvisor. Reservations and information: 1-877-330-5050

Blockade Runner Beach Resort

The Blockade RunnerNewly refurbished with ocean-view rooms that offer private patios, the Blockade is airy and modern. The Seascape bar offers a beachfront patio and poolside service. In-room massages are available as is an indoor exercise room. Expect great service, beautiful views and sparsely furnished rooms - simple, clean and uncluttered.

If you go, visit Blockade-Runner online or see what other travelers have to say on TripAdvisor. Reservations and information: 1-800-541-1161

Where to play

Visiting the North Carolina Coastline is a little like stepping back in time. Beaufort, 2 hours north of Wrightsville Beach, predates the civil war and homes on the narrow streets date back to 1713. If you're a civil war buff, historic home addict or just love the charming hospitality of the south, North Carolina is your destination.

Surfing Wrightsville BeachIf biking, surfing or adventure tops your vacation must-haves, get packing. North Carolina is made for cyclists - the flat terrain makes it easy to traverse between beaches. For scenic bike-friendly routes, visit North Carolina Department of Transportation and for luxury bike vacation packages, VBT is your go-to site.

If shopping tops your list, you'll enjoy the eclectic, boutique shops of Wilmington. Spend an afternoon strolling through century-old buildings filled with unique finds and happy shopkeepers. Pop into Mixta, a Mexican restaurant on Front St, for a $2 corona and a spicy taco salad.

For more information on whether North Carolina excels at your favorite vacation activities, visit the Official Travel & Tourism Site for North Carolina or call them directly for a brochure: 1-800-847-4862

Where to dine

Circa 1922

Circa 1922In historic Wilmington, a short walk from the Cotton Exchange, Circa 1922 is an elegant addition to a day of strolling and shopping. We recommend the tapas menu, served in small portions and meant for "immediate gratification."

If you go, visit Circa 1922 online or see what restaurant reviewers have to say on TripAdvisor. Reservations and information: 1-910-762-1922.

The Oceanic

The OceanicIn January 2011, The Oceanic is closing for 4 months for a much-needed facelift. But that doesn't mean you should stay away. The pier offers a stunning backdrop for a romantic dinner (it's a favorite for weddings) on the ocean and the fresh crab is unmatched. Service is excellent and the manager circulates throughout the restaurant to chat and ask for suggestions.  

If you go, visit The Oceanic online or see what restaurant reviewers have to say on TripAdvisor. Reservations and information: 1-910-256-5551.

Considering North Carolina for your next beach vacation? Share your questions and comments here or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

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We always park ourselves @ Mallard Street - Four years running. Waves and sand are great ! Circa 1922 is the best !!! 1/2 priced tapas 4-7 !!!

The tapas at Circa 1922 are amazing! Half price makes them even better :-)

Hate that I missed seeing you while I was there too, Lisa. But I'm hopeful I'll swing by there again soon and then watch out - the two of us will take Wrightsville Beach for the ride of it's life!

Also during the college school year... Get there early because those students take over fast! Hate I missed you when you were here.

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