Beach Weekend

I love the beach. And while I certainly wouldn’t mind being closer, I appreciate that Wrightsville Beach is only two hours away down a wide open highway. That short distance makes Wrightsville a de facto destination for me and my wife when we need a short getaway or a long weekend at the beach. Naturally, we’ve picked up a few favorite spots over the years. After visiting a few weeks ago and then again last weekend, I decided it was time to document the tried and true routine that serves as the backdrop of almost every trip.

We usually make it into town around lunch time or a little after, and the first day we like to stop by South Beach Grill for lunch on our way to the beach. Overall I’d say the food is pretty decent – definitely unique and more than you’d expect from what you see on the outside. We love sitting out on the covered patio. The view of the adjacent thoroughfare isn’t ideal, but the road noise as terrible as you’d think and there’s a decent view of the sound and marshes that really shines if you happen to be dining during sundown.

The next stop for us is usually the beach. Wrightsville Beach has a pretty expansive beachfront – plenty of room even on busy days when limited parking helps control the crowd more than anything else. And the water speaks for itself. Last weekend, I was neck deep in the water and I could still see my feet.

After a couple of hours on the beach, we’re ready to check-in to our hotel, shower, then head out for dinner, leading us to perhaps the most polarizing recommendation: Oceanic. Oceanic is your typical popular destination restaurant; you know the type of place where if you told a local you were going there they would condescendingly roll their eyes or patronizingly tell you, “oh yeah it’s … good”. Here’s the thing – Oceanic, much like the name implies, has a monopoly on the best ocean view or pier dining experience in Wrightsville Beach. Even if you have to settle for a window seat inside, the view is fantastic and is worth whatever opinion you have of the food. Much like South Beach Grill, the food is decent. I won’t promise you the meal of your life, but if you like eating on a pier or outside in general, the outdoor seating at Oceanic is worth waiting for.

I’ve never been a nightlife guy, though occasionally, my wife and I will venture out to a cocktail bar for drinks. On one of our trips last year, we spent an evening in nearby downtown Wilmington and had some drinks at Manna Ave. Like anyone else these days, I’m into bourbon and I enjoyed the bourbon cocktails on the menu. Manna Ave also happens to be the bar that introduced me to my everyday bourbon, Eagle Rare.

With most of our trips ending late Sunday morning, our stop on the way out of town is Sweet & Savory. A friend of mine who grew up in Wilmington mentioned it to me a few years ago and it’s been a staple of our weekend getaways ever since. I love the omelettes, usually something southwest or veggie in nature. One time they had a special southwest themed omelette featuring black beans that changed the way I look at breakfast menus and black beans. Timing is everything, as there’s typically a wait, but I don’t think we’ve waited much longer than 20 minutes during the last couple of visits.

That’s a weekend trip to Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach for us in a nutshell. I’m terrible about falling into a routine and hitting up the same spots – especially when it’s a place I only visit a few times a year – so I’m sure there are ton of classic gems I’m overlooking. Not only that, the area is growing like crazy and probably spawning new and interesting spots to check out.

A New Place to Weekend

Slingshot Coffee Company, the Raleigh-based makers of fine cold brew coffee and tea, setting the table for the opening of their new weekend gathering space:

All of our seating will be outside, where you’ll be among the trees and alongside the creek. On occasion, rain might dampen things, but we’ll still be open for you to pop in and snag a beverage to go. WEEKEND is walkable and bike-able from tons of spots in and around the city, and we also have ample parking for those who visit us from farther away.

They’re working with a lot of great local vendors to make what sounds like a nice atmosphere to pop in and buy local.