After traveling to Wilmington several times, I kept itching to visit again and do some of things that I had been wanting to do but hadn’t had the chance. Hurricane Dorian hit North Carolina last weekend, so I wasn’t able to travel. As I lay in bed on Monday night, I did a quick search to check the weather in Wilmington. Luckily, Tuesday was going to be warm and sunny. So, the next morning we hit the road!
We started our day at the arboretum in Wilmington. I had seen pictures of the arboretum for a while on Instagram and Facebook and had been dying to see it for myself. It’s a free attraction in the city and it kept my daughters entertained which is really the most important thing to me right now. haha.
My girls ran through the different sections of the gardens and enjoyed watching the fish in the pond. Plus, there are several water features which tend to occupy toddlers for a while. (at least for my children, haha)
This is also a great place to get photos of yourself while visiting Wilmington!
The Pilot House
After an hour in the 90 degree heat at the arboretum, we were all ready for some grub. I chose to find a place to eat along the river walk because we wanted to stroll along the river after lunch. We settled on the Pilot house.
Having not seen or heard of the Pilot House before, I didn’t know what to expect. To be honest, the first thing I noticed was the smell; it smells like an old historical building. Turns out the building was built in 1890 as a residential home, but was moved and became a restaurant in 1977. Then, in 1993 the extended deck was built making it the restaurant that it is today.
For the appetizer, I ordered the pimiento cheese dip and, for lunch, the wedge salad. No complaints from me at all. I really enjoyed everything about the food and the restaurant in general. Before your meal they bring out some sweet southern cornbread, which was more than welcome because we were starved!
The Pilot House is right on the water. You can watch the boats go by and people walking along the river walk. Other than my girls getting a little stir crazy, dropping their crayons a hundred times, and wanting to put their hands in my glass of water, we had a really great experience.
The River Walk
After lunch, we strolled along the river walk for a while. I made sure to take our double stroller because even in September it was HOT and HUMID. I knew my girls wouldn’t be able to walk the whole time and in that heat I wouldn’t have the strength to carry their 60 pounds of cuteness!
We use the Baby Joy Double Light-Weight Stroller. This is a an umbrella style stroller that I chose for how small it folds up. As a family that is always on the go, having something that fits both my daughters and doesn’t take up too much space is a must.
While we were taking in the sites, I over heard a family talking with the owner of this little shop about buying tickets for a boat tour on the Cape Fear River and stopped to ask about it. I liked the sound of it (and the price of it!) and decided to buy tickets for the last boat of the day.
Ice Cream Pit Stop
We had an hour until our boat left, so we stopped for a sweet treat at Lazy Jack’s Ice Cream Shack. The shade was much needed. …so was the cold ice cream. When we first arrived at the river walk, Lazy Jack’s was so crowded so we went right past it. We were thrilled to say it had completely cleared out after we finished walking.
After our ice cream we stopped back at the boat tour shop to use their bathroom. The girls saw bubbles and asked for them. I told them not right now. Once we got out of the bathroom one of the workers asked if she would buy them two things of bubbles. I said “of course!” She said she had never seen such young kids handle being told no handle it so well. Normally, she said, kids throw a fit when their parents tell them they aren’t buying any bubbles.
This was such a sweet gesture! The best part of it all though was that she said I must be an incredible mom who taught them well. Seriously, made me so happy. It’s always such a great feeling when you get complemented on something you have been working hard on.
We stopped to play with our new bubbles for what was really 10 minutes but in that heat it felt like forever. I did my duty and held the tubs of bubble mixture while they ran and made bubbles. That woman was so kind, the area we were sitting was empty, we had a great water view, and the girls had a blast. It’s something I won’t forget.
Wilmington Boat Tour
Before our boat tour with Wilmington Water Tours, we made a trip to the car to put up the stroller and to change my little ones diaper. We sat for about 10 minutes to cool off in the A/C then made the walk back to were the boat departs.
As we watched the boat go through their routine check before allowing people to get on, one of the crew workers how my youngest daughter and was just the sweetest. When it came time to walk down the ramp to the boat, she then held my oldest’s hand walking down to the boat. She was seriously so sweet.
We took the 50 minute eagle island cruise down the Cape Fear river, but really it was more like a private tour. My girls and I, along with one other woman who was in Wilmington on business for the day were the only people on the boat. This gave us such an enjoyable experience, because my girls were running all over the place and if the boat was full of people this would have been a nightmare.
While on board, we saw a cute little river otter floating in the river. Our captain said that you can see all kinds of wildlife while on the tour. They’ve seen alligators, otters, dolphins, sharks, sea turtles, and even manatees in the river. Since the river has brackish water you can see all of these animals in one place which was so cool to me!
Our boat had a bar on board which I really would have taken advantage of if my girls weren’t with me. We did buy a coke one our way back to the dock because the girls were getting cranky and I was hoping since they only ever drink water that it would keep them entertained. It worked for a minute, then they were back to their antics.. (queue eye roll)
The boat tour is my favorite thing that I have ever done in Wilmington!
After this trip, when someone asks what the best thing to do in Wilmington is, I will always answer Wilmington Boat Tours! Same for the Pilot House, it’s my new favorite place to eat in Wilmington. Followed by Blue Water at Wrightsville Beach.
In my opinion Wilmington is a SUPER family friendly travel destination. Plus, if you are a film fanatic, you’ll be happy to know that more than 300 shows and movies have been filmed in Wilmington: including Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill, Iron Man 3, We’re The Millers and The Conjuring. It would be a great place to spend the day, spotting all the film locations that you can find.