With idyllic fall temps and gorgeous water views, this cool little beach burg is calling to us.


You have to love a place with a body of water called Big Lollipop Bay. Just 20 minutes or so from Wilmington, NC, Wrightsville Beach is also roughly midway between New York and Florida—so convenient to lots of travelers.

You'll drive over a drawbridge from mainland North Carolina into the town of Wrightsville Beach, incorporated in 1899, and cross more water still—Banks Channel—to reach its sandy Atlantic beaches. With a population of just over 2,500, this waterfront town is low on crowds, high on relaxation.

Bike-friendly streets, big surf, good food, and a laid-back attitude make Wrightsville Beach a true beach lover's getaway. People don't come here for the club scene. They come here for the sun scene—more specifically, the sunrises and sunsets that bookend warm days spent swimming, surfing, paddling, and sailing, jogging or strolling "The Loop" fitness trail, or dipping a line at landmark Johnny Mercer Pier.

Or you could just nap in your beach chair for a while and then hang out at Poe's Tavern or Banks Channel Pub & Grille. You'll have no trouble dining with a view at places like Bluewater Waterfront Grill and Ocean. Locals swear by Trolley Stop hotdogs as part of your beach experience.

When the shopping bug bites, browse Redix, "Southern lifestyle outfitters since 1969," for everything from Yeti coolers and Eno hammocks to fashion-forward men's and women's apparel.

Hitch a ride with Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tours to explore Masonboro Island Reserve, an 8.4-mile undisturbed barrier island accessible only by boat. Among the habitats you'll see there—some home to loggerhead and green sea turtles—are ocean beach, tidal flats, salt marshes, maritime forest, grasslands, and more.

Whether you're looking for Wrightsville Beach resorts or vacation rentals, you'll find something to suit your family. Some Wrightsville Beach hotels are more old-school, but that can be fun, too.

For a full-service resort with views of both the Atlantic and Banks Channel, check out the Blockade Runner Beach Resort & Cottage. (FYI, The Cottage has 13 bedrooms, 9 baths, and can sleep up to 26 people.) Blockade Runner also offers sailing adventures with individualized instruction.

Other resort-style lodging on the beach includes Shell Island Resort, an all-suite, oceanfront property where each unit is individually owned/decorated and sleeps 4-6, and the Holiday Inn Resort. To explore Wrightsville Beach condos and other rentals, visit Intracoastal Rentals.

Plan Your Trip: Visit Wrightsville Beach

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It could be worse. We could've thrown in the Tchoutacabouffa River. Please tell us you haven't been roaming around Disney World telling everyone what a great deal you got on that hotel in KISS-uh-me, bless your heart.