We lived in Wilmington for two years. It was alright. There are a lot of people that have retired there from New York and New Jersey. It does not feel like the south compare to others place I have visited. I feel for the locals because the home prices are rising as more and more people move into the area from the Northeast.What I liked most is that they did have health food stores (Whole Foods and Trader Joes.) I liked going to Flaming Amy's, the Oceanic restaurant and the fish market. I liked Kure Beach. I also liked they have UBER service. I liked that they had their own TV station and local newspaper.What I did not like is cost to park your car to go to the beach at Wrightsville and Carolina Beach. I dislike that the only homes with natural gas are part of the city that no one would live much less walk there at night. Poor home construction and heat pumps made it difficult to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The electric bill were very high. I did not like the city water system. It did not like right at times and tasted strange.One of the worst public airports to fly in. ILM is just awful. I have had three flights canceled and rescheduling your flight is terrible. You are better off going to Raleigh. One visit downtown was enough for me. When you have seen the Battleship and Riverwalk once, you do not really have a desire to see it again. I did not find any really great restaurants and the prices were high what you get. I do not drink so the bars scene did not really interest me. Downtown is more for visitors. The summer are very hot and humid. Going to the beach is okay but the water was very warm and I worried about people fishing for sharks off the piers that may affect why there are so many shark sighting the summers I was there.Drugs are big problem like the rest of the U.S.A. It appears that the suppliers are also coming down from the northeast. I have been gone for 6 months and I really do not miss it. It was not bad but it was not really special either. I hope you have a better experience than I did.
I lived in Wilmington North Carolina for 4 years and enjoyed every moment of it. Just a short drive over Cape Fear gets you to the beach towns of Carolina and Kure Beach, so Wilmington itself is definitely a beach community. The city of Wilmington itself still has a southern hospitality type of feel and avoids feeling like a tourist town. The small town feel gives you a tight knit community with lots of parks, pools, and other recreation for the residents.
For those who are visiting, there is still plenty to do and see. Monkey Junction is where a small, charming zoo is. There is also an old USS battleship that you can board and tour. Make sure to feed the resident alligator who loves popcorn from the visitors. Ski rental, Jet skis, and bikes also allow you to have fun on the beaches. You can even boat out to the islands around the beach and enjoy a bbbq, dig for clams, and my favorite, find sand dollars.
Wilmington is more of a family beach city than a party town, so the night life is not that of a tourist beach town. Most nights people congregate at the pier or arcade, or may take a stroll on the beach. You can also find most chain restaurants there with a smattering of local mom and pop restaurants with the freshest sea food. Giving Wilmington a visit is definitely worth time for a lovely family vacation or even to carve out living space.