By TMoM Team Member Katie Moosbrugger 

Wilmington is one of my very favorite places to visit, no matter the season. So when my parents moved there a few years ago, I was thrilled to have an excuse to go whenever I wanted. However, when we visit this area, we literally spend all of our time either at the beach, at my parents’ house, or hunting down new restaurants for next meal. While I don’t have a ton of touristy suggestions, I do have a lot of restaurant suggestions since I do A LOT of eating at this fun vacation spot. At the end of my blog, however, I do list a few area attractions that would make for fun vacation add-ons for the kiddos – so be sure to scroll all the way through to the end!

As always, if you have restaurant suggestions not mentioned in this blog, please leave a comment so we can add to this list!

Downtown Wilmington

With the Cape Fear river as a back drop, miles of historic houses and cute cobblestone streets, you won’t find a better location for a meal out. Of course there are MANY MORE restaurants than what I have listed below. I’m just mentioning places where I’ve dined and would recommend! Also note: Most of the restaurants below do not offer a specific kids menu but the majority are casual enough for kids of any ages to dine in.

In the City

The Fork ‘N Cork – Gourmet burgers, sandwiches and apps in a quaint bar with TVs. There is always a wait so be prepared!

Caprice Bistro – A French bistro and white-tablecloth restaurant. So delicious! Maybe leave the kids home and make this a date night restaurant for mom and dad!


Front Street Brewery – Wilmington’s original microbrewery and pub in the heart of the city. They offer gourmet burgers, sandwiches, entrees and a great kids menu too. While there, ask to do a brewery tour!

Floriana – Super cool building overlooking the river with individual balconies for couples’ dining. It also has a large dining room upstairs. It calls itself an Italian bistro, but the menu has plenty of non-Italian options. While it’s casual, it’s probably not the best place for little kids.

Marina Grille – A casual waterfront restaurant that serves everything from flatbread pizzas and sandwiches to some of the best seafood I’ve ever had! It’s on the water with great views of boats, but it’s not on the actual river walk.

Quanto Basta – For those of you who live in Winston-Salem, I’m sure you’re familiar with this local Italian favorite. The same Winston-Salem chef opened up another Quanto Basta in Wilmington as well! I have not dined at the one in Wilmington yet (it can be hard to get a reservation because it’s so popular) but it’s another good one to add to your list.

Kilwins Ice Cream – If you dine downtown, you cannot go home without a stop for old-fashioned ice cream or fudge from Kilwins!

Along the River Walk

Elijah’s – If you love seafood, you’ll love Elijah’s! Situated right on the river walk, this is a fun, casual spot with a fantastic waterfront deck. They also offer a kids’ menu! (The picture at the top of this post is a shot of Elijah’s outdoor dining deck with the green umbrellas).

Anne Bonny’s Bar and Grill – Of all the restaurants I list, this is a must-do with young kids. Anne Bonney’s is floating barge restaurant that offers casual seafood, burgers and entertainment. They also have a Little Pirates menu too! The food is not the best, but it’s worth a visit for the atmosphere. (Pictures courtesy of their Facebook page because it was raining when I tried to take my own pics!)

Michael’s on the Waterfront – A gastropub style restaurant with a limited menu but it’s fun to eat outside and do people watching. They also close early at 8 pm, so I would make this a lunch spot!

The George on the Riverwalk – This is another great restaurant right on the river walk. They call themselves upscale, but we ate out on the deck and it seemed casual to me. Another one to add to your list!

Ice Cream – Once again, you can’t pass up ice cream after your meal and there are two great spots on the river walk. One is Gelarto for authentic Italian gelato, and the other is Lazy Jack’s Ice Cream Shack!


Heading to Wrightsville

After you spend time in downtown Wilmington and are ready to hit the beach, be sure to look for these two spots on the Intercoastal Waterway as you head to the ocean.

Bluewater Waterfront Grill – The picture in this section is a view of this restaurant from the other side of the harbor. I’ve only had drinks with my husband on the deck here, but my parents have dined here and enjoyed it. Great views, and the food comes recommended. Might be considered a few steps up from casual dining.

Fish House Grill – “Locals and visitors to the area come to The Fish House Grill to watch the boat traffic, take in the beauty of the Waterway, and enjoy some fresh beach air with delicious munchies, cold beers, and great seafood” ~ as stated on their website and I thought it was a perfect description! Super casual!

Wrightsville Beach

Wrightsville Beach has a ton of dining options, and most of these restaurants are extremely beach casual (some are holes-in-the wall) but all are kid friendly. Below are a few that I would put at the top of your list.

Shark Bar & Kitchen – If you’ve been to the main public parking area near the pier, this restaurant is on that block. It’s a super casual spot to hit after the beach (fully clothed, of course!) for seafood, sandwiches and apps. Definitely suitable for kids!

Poe’s Tavern – The original Poe’s opened on Sullivan’s Island, and you can find one here in Wrightsville Beach too! Same vibes and great burgers, and a kids’ menu is available here too!

Southbeach Grill – This is another “upscale casual” spot I would recommend, especially if you are staying in Wrightsville. You’ll find lots of options for either the seafood or land lover, plus they have a kids’ menu!

The Oceanic – Fantastic seafood restaurant right on the beach. You can dine in or out on their long outdoor pier. They do not have a dedicated kids’ menu, but I did see several families with very young children dining there! This is must, especially when the weather is beautiful!


Other Attractions For Families

NC Aquarium Fort Fisher
The Children’s Museum of Wilmington
Tregembo Animal Park
Battleship North Carolina
Horse Drawn Carriage Rides
Mayfaire Town Center (Reminds me of a mix between Friendly Center in Greensboro and Phillips Place in Charlotte)
The Cotton Exchange (shopping in downtown Wilmington)

~ Don’t forget to visit our Favorite Beaches directory here for more ideas about beaches in this area!

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