Wilmington is our future and we can’t wait for it to become a reality. We love this city, all the surrounding areas, and all the beaches. We love, love, love, the ocean and it’s just such a wonderful place to be! There are so many amazing restaurants, so many things to do, and it’s such a fun city.

THINGS TO DO:

1. Beaches & Piers 

There are so many beaches between Atlantic Beach, Wrightsville Beach, Topsail & Surf City – they’re all so amazing!

2. Karen Beasley Turtle Hospital

The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Surf City, NC is finally open for tours! Their spring tours are going on until May 31st from 1-4 pm on Thursdays and Saturdays. It’s 5$/person, 4$ for military + senior, and 3$ for children under 13.

I have such a huge interest in marine life and I love that this place is all volunteer and runs completely on donations! The entire tour takes about an hour and you learn all about cold-stunning, pollution, the kind of turtles they have, the anatomy of the turtles, and how they breed/lay eggs!

We walked up the ramp and got to see “sick turtle bay” which is where all the turtles go when they first arrive. From there, the volunteers determine what the issue is with the turtle and it’s taken care of as best they can, whether it’s cold-stunning, an injury, etc. They are kept in still water that is changed daily, and once they go on to “turtle bay” they are in bigger pools that are constantly being filtered. We got to walk through turtle bay and meet some of the turtles and learn about how they got there, what happened to them, how long they’ve been there, how old they are, and so on. One woman said that the 15 year old turtle would outlive everyone in the building. Crazy, right?!

 

I was so excited we took the time to do this! It’s was so informative and the volunteers are so passionate about what they do and their mission as a whole. I totally recommend stopping by to meet these guys and learn about keeping our ocean clean + our sea turtles (and other marine life) happy!


3. Airlie Gardens 

This place was gorgeous. Enough so that I was e-mailing their wedding coordinator to see what the cost would be for a wedding/reception. HAHA!

The answer is – way out of our price range, but it was a nice, short-lived dream. It’s $9.00/person to see this place; we paid $5/person with a military ID. The walk ways were paved, wheelchair/stroller friendly. There were awesome views almost everywhere you looked, and it butts right up to the water.

Benches, ducks, flowers, oh my! It was so sweet. They even had a little tram that will drive you to all the pretty spots if you aren’t able to walk the whole way around, which I thought was awesome!

March/April is like the perfect time to go too, because everything is blooming, the trees, tulips, azaleas, etc. It was gorgeous.

So many photo opportunities, and so many cool places to bring someone for a portrait session. I would love to shoot here… or just walk around it every week. I would totally recommend this to other photographers, or families with children looking for something to do during the day! There are several wide open fields of grass to lay in, run around in, or whatever else you do in a large open space.

FOOD:

1. Indochine: This Thai/Vietnamese place called Indochine, and even though I was practically sleeping (I was SO tired!) I enjoyed it so much. Our waiter was so awesome, really funny, and the decor was really unique. They served the food “family style” so they put all the bowls in the middle of the table for you to take or share with the people you came with. The portions were so huge though, you end up sharing anyway! I honestly don’t remember what I ordered – it was chicken/noodles/egg/garlic/broccoli something-or-other and it was so good. I did learn that “Thai hot” is different than “American hot” so always order mild! Unless “Thai Hot” is more your style, of course.

2. Port City Java: What I’m obsessed with: PCJ. Port City Java is the low-key better version of Starbucks with locations in NC, SC, Washington DC and some international. I had an iced Chai every morning we were here! Also a goodie on the menu: the infamous Mocha Shake – delicious, jam packed with caffeine and chocolate, and will run you just about your entire days worth of calories. I steered clear of this one, but a few sips of Kyle’s had me convinced it was a naughty-never treat for me.

Also, Bagel Bakery, serving me massive bagel breakfasts sandwiches every time we visit Hampstead, NC. This place is super yummy- I always get a bacon, egg, and cheese, on everything & toasted, duh. It’s such a substantial breakfast and runs circles around all of the fast food chain breakfast sandwiches. I would’ve had a better picture to show how seriously awesome they are, but I ate it too quickly, and 1/4 sandwich was all I could capture for you guys. It does no justice. I should’ve left it out. But I had to talk about this place, because I justlove it & the staff is always so kind.
3. Sweet & Savory: Kyle has been trying to get me to Sweet & Savory since we started visiting Wilmington together, but we keep not going. Either finding other places to go, it’s too busy, etc. Well we did finally make it! And it was so worth it. This place serves tons of amazing sandwiches, and their menu is separated by meat type (Ex: You’re a real turkey: turkey sandwiches.) And they all have neat little names. I got a buffalo chicken sandwich because they are one of my guilty pleasures that I only indulge in once in a blue moon, and the one they have here was worth the calories! (Sometimes they’re not and that’s always a disappointment) The pasta salad was ok, it wasn’t as vinegar-y as I like it, but that’s just a personal preference. Kyle got their buffalo chips – thinly sliced potatoes fried and covered in a sort of Cajun seasoning, but not spicy – SO GOOD. Soft, crunchy, wonderful. Like I stopped our waitress and asked how I can make them at home, but sadly she didn’t have an answer for me. When I figure it out though, I’ll be sure to write about it. Haha!

4. Poe’s Tavern: MY FAVORITE! Poe’s Tavern is a restaurant with, yes, an Edgar Allen Poe theme. I really liked this place because it was all wide open. Like you walk into a huge opening to get into the restaurant and the whole place is justopen. The bar has one half technically inside, and the other half going into the outdoor space. We sat outside in the lights, and it was so lovely! The vibes, the music, and the overall feel of the place were just amazing. Our waitress was really sweet and helpful with suggestions, and really on top of things, as were the bus boys and entire staff, really. It was a really awesome dining experience.

This is a burger joint but all of the sandwiches can be ordered with grilled chicken instead if that’s what you choose, and I really liked that. Menu items are named after Poe’s poems; I ordered the Rue Morgue with chicken which is a grilled chicken breast over a bed of yummy fries, with a fried egg on top, COVERED in queso. (like Mexican restaurant queso; YUM!)  It was seriously, one of most delicious and unique things. There’s another sandwich you can get with a crabcake on top – Like they are all just really neat and different and it would be so worth going to this place over and over again, to just try everything.

We wound up here because it was recommended to us by a friend we were meeting for dinner – we were not disappointed.

If you’re reading this  – solid suggestion, Jessi! THANK YOU! <3
5. Two Guys: Best buffalo chicken sandwich ever! And they give you so many friend pickles. This is one of those places I will go to over and over and over! The sweet potato fries were to die for, too!!!  

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