On the Cape Fear River in Wilmington, NC

One thing I can say about Wilmington is that I would love to go on their spring historic home tour. With 875 contributing buildings, the Historic District is 230 blocks on the National Register of Historic Places and features beautifully restored and maintained landmark homes from majestic mansions to quaint cottages. As you wander through the many brick-paved streets you can easily spot the historic black plaques, indicating the home is 100-150 years old and gold plaques designating an age of more than 150 years.

Lots of work is being done along the riverfront.
On the far left notice the venus fly-trap sculpture; a tribute to the iconic local insect-eating plant.

As for the rest of Wilmington, I was less impressed. We were there during the week and many restaurants along the riverfront were closed. Finding one open with seats along the river one evening had possibilities, until the mosquitos attacked . . . And the walk back to our riverfront hotel was very sketchy and not enjoyable.

They are working to improve the riverfront area, so there are construction fences and barriers along the way. When it is complete, hopefully, things will improve. While in town we had a couple of mediocre meals but did enjoy an upstairs balcony seat for dinner one evening, giving us a perfect view of the vibrant sunset over the Cape Fear River.

Weather during this mid-September visit was hot and humid, limiting our stamina to some degree. We did a horse-drawn trolley tour and walked around downtown, activities that required an ice cream break. It was nice to support the trolley tour since they used rescued pack horses. We had Mike (1800 lbs) and Jeff (2,000 lbs) on duty for this week. The stock comes from Amish communities who replace the horses at age three and sell them to processors in Mexico and Canada. I don’t think I need to tell you what horrors horse-processors are responsible for.  The organization has 18 horses they have saved. Rotating them to pull the trolley is actually light work for these large animals, and gives them the exercise they need to keep fit. Tours last about 30 minutes and are cash only, $14 per adult.

Wilmington has a rich history going back to the 18th century, and there are numerous walking tours of various types as well as self-guided tours. I used the free app Wilmington History for some self-guided info and tips for places to see.

Although we could have driven over to the USS North Carolina Battleship across the river, it was more relaxing (although not cost-effective at $12pp) to take the water taxi over. The 45,000-ton battleship was interesting to see, and I have a greatly enhanced respect for those dedicated sailors who worked in the Pacific Theater during World War II. The ship was the most recognized American battleship of WWII, earning 15 battle stars. As we climbed down steep ladders into the bowels of the ship, the temperature went up even more, making it a bit claustrophobic. They say the engine room was usually about 130 degrees. Today, there are a few fans and cooling vents placed throughout the ship, so at least visitors like me can take a break standing under one for a minute or two.

It was nice to see Wilmington again after so many years, but I think I’ll stick to the beach areas, although I sure would love to see much more of the historic residential area and inside some of those gorgeous homes.

10 Comments on “On the Cape Fear River in Wilmington, NC

  1. We hope to do more exploring in Wilmington when we’re in Kure Beach – I did attend the performance of Funny Girl in the historic Thalian Hall last week – what a gorgeous historic building – you would enjoy it, Karen.

    • A lot was happening on this portion of the east coast in the 1700s & 1800s. From New Bern, NC which was the colonial capitol of North Carolina to Savanah it’s a historian’s heaven.

  2. I wish that you had done some of the historic home tours! I love seeing how people lived and furnished their homes in the past. Maybe we will see a blog about historical homes spring tour sometime next year!

    • House tours are one of my favorite things. So many in the South are held during the spring . . . field trip possibilities!

  3. Love the colorful historic homes. The yellow one reminds me of my grandma and grandpa’s house when they lived in Kansas City. It had a wrap around porch and the Juliette balcony. Interesting post as always. Lots of history in Wilmington…if it wasn’t so darn hot and humid☺️

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