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Apr 19, 2023

Day Trips from Wilmington: Heading North

Sponsored Content provided by Michela Hochschild - Director of Marketing, Riverlights Living

Last month, I shared my favorite day trip destinations heading south -- Southport, Bald Head Island, North Myrtle Beach, and Brookgreen Gardens, among them.


This month, I’m heading north with destinations that are just a short drive away to others that require a longer trek, but are still do-able in a day. 


Just a short drive up Hwy 421, and you can dive into our region’s early history at Moores Creek National Battlefield, the site of an early and decisive Revolutionary War battle. North Carolina was a deeply divided colony prior to the American Revolution, so it was a prime target for a British invasion.  


Moores Creek National Battlefield is a part of the National Parks system.  Located in Currie, which is about a 30-minute drive from Wilmington, the park is open daily and offers well-tended trails, earthworks, and historic markers. Occasionally, the park hosts stirring battle reenactments, offering a fascinating and interactive peek into our nation’s formative history. 


Head from there to Burgaw, a slower-moving, quiet and small town (they like it that way, thank you!) where local eateries and antique stores invite an afternoon stroll. In June, Burgaw hosts the NC Blueberry Festival and welcomes some 40,000 visitors.  In May, local growers open their fields so you can pick your own. 


Another destination for early history is New Bern, home of Tryon Palace the first permanent capital of the North Carolina Colony and home for the Royal Governor William Tryon. 


In April of 1791, the second year of his presidency, George Washington attended a ball in the palace and he remarked it was “… a good brick building but now hastening to ruins.” Indeed, the original structure was diminishing in stature; the capitol of North Carolina was moved to Raleigh in 1794, and in 1798, a devastating fire left little of the original structure.  It wasn’t until 1945, that the state legislature created the Tryon Palace Commission charging it with the reconstruction of the original Palace from its original plans on its original foundation. 


The current palace is surrounded by 22 acres of gardens that are open for a tour with day passes but check before you go. 


New Bern is a delightful destination.  Located at the confluence of the Trent and Neuse rivers this small historic town features a beautiful waterfront and pedestrian-friendly downtown.  Lots of eateries and shops to enjoy, as well as historic homes and churches. New Bern is a two-hour drive from Wilmington, along Hwy 17 which takes you through a number of small towns and is far more enjoyable than I-40.


Closer to town is the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Surf City. Founded in the mid 1990s to preserve and protect all species of marine turtles, both in the water and on the beach, the Karen Beasley Center rescues, rehabilitates, and releases sick and injured sea turtles.  While serving as a study site for students of biology, wildlife conservation, and/or veterinary medicine, the Center is also a favorite visitor attraction.


Given that this is an active sea turtle hospital, sometimes there are many turtle patients, and sometimes only a few.  But that is a good thing!  And, regardless, there is plenty to inspire insofar as learning more about this center and its dedicated group of people committed to this important and ancient species. 


All great destinations, indeed.  And, so is Wilmington!  Good thing too, so that even after a short getaway, one can look forward to coming home again. 

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