A Dog-Friendly Getaway to Wilmington, NC

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Curated By

Jenna Picton

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  • Wilmington

  • Active Travel

  • Beaches

  • Family Travel

  • Pet-Friendly Travel

  • Entertainment

  • Coastal

  • Pet-friendly

A dog sitting in front of a board saying "I believe in Wilmington".
Curator’s statement

Sun & sand, an evolving food scene, plentiful watering holes, super dog friendly AND forever growing! There's no wonder why so many shows and movies were, and continue to be, filmed here! This city/coastal beach town duo has everything needed to keep you and your pup busy (or relaxed - after all, you are at the beach)!

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Insider knowledge

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Where to stay in Wilmington, NC

Aloft Wilmington at Coastline Center

A modern and vibrant hub in Wilmington, where contemporary design and waterfront convenience meet for a lively stay.

The Hive

Your trendy and vibrant haven in Wilmington, where modern style and social energy combine for a buzzing city stay.

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Things to do in Wilmington, NC

Dog posing in front of wall paint saying greetings from BOOMBALATTIS.

Go to the Beach:

This is easier in the off-season but if you’re willing to drive a bit, you do have year-round options.
Wrightsville Beach – dogs are allowed on the beach LEASHED from Oct 31-March 31
Carolina Beach – Apr 1-Sep 30 dogs are allowed on the beach LEASHED before 9am and after 5pm. Oct 1-Mar 31 dogs are allowed at any time as long as they are LEASHED.
Freeman Park Beach – leash free October 31-March 31 and LEASHED Apr 1-Sep 30

Drink & Play at Ruff Draft:

An off-leash dog park & hooman bar (link to reel). Dogs must have proof of vaccinations to enter. You can sign up ahead of time and submit documentation via the website. A huge fenced grassy area with picnic tables, a dog-wash, and indoor space for the pups to play while the hoomans have adult beverages!

Visit a dog park:

If the dog bar is not your scene, Long Leaf Dog Park is another option for your pup to run off-leash. It is sandy with pine needles so doesn’t tend to get muddy. There are separate areas for big dogs and small dogs! Greenfield Lake Park requires your dog to be leashed but is still worth a visit!

Walk the Loop:

The Loop is a ~2.5 mile sidewalk fitness trail that takes you over the intracoastal and through the heart of Wrightsville Beach. This is one of my all-time favorite things to do when I’m in town as it offers salty air and gorgeous views while getting in my exercise!

Check out the Wrightsville Beach Farmer’s Market:

Mondays 8am-1pm from May 15-December 4 at the Wrightsville Beach Municipal Grounds. Over 40 vendors and lots of fresh local produce, seafood and more!

Go Boating with Nauti Boat Rentals:

This has been on our to-do list for so long and we were finally able to make it happen! We had a 5 hour afternoon rental and it was SO much fun. The pups had a blast exploring Masonboro Island, Mason’s Inlet, and just cruising with the wind in their fur.

Go Paddleboarding with SUP:

If you and your dog are brave enough to share a paddleboard, I highly recommend SUP. We have paddleboarded many times with them (sans Maisel) but they are dog friendly if you’re up for the challenge.

Explore the Riverwalk:

A fantastic way to see downtown Wilmington, as well as a beautiful sunset if you’re walking it in the evening. The Riverwalk is just shy of 2 miles and runs along the Cape Fear River. It even won a top-10 readers’ choice award for the best riverwalk in the US! While downtown pop into Unleashed on Front St to pick up some treatos for the pup!

Day Trips

Fort Fisher ~45 minute drive but the most picturesque place to explore ESPECIALLY at sunset (ideal for family or engagement photos) - dogs must be leashed!

Places to eat & drink in Wilmington, NC

Five flavors of ice-cream.

Coffee/Smoothies: The Workshop, Sundays, Adapt


Drift (the breakfast burrito is my FAVE), Zeke’s (if you prefer smoothie or grain bowls), Beach Bagels (the ultimate breakfast sandwich)


True Blue Butcher & Table.com/ (highly recommend the chicken & waffles and you can buy your dog a bone from the butcher shop), The Second Glass (get the mimosa flight)


Poe’s (get the ahi tuna tacos), Dockside (the Painkiller is a must), Ceviche’s (the ceviche sampler is a can't miss), Smoke on the Water (the BEST sunsets), three10 (a historical house turned restaurant with the most classic front porch), True Blue Butcher & Barrel (highly recommend the lobster roll)


Boombalatti's (ice cream pies are out of this world)

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Lauren McClemens’s guide, Waterfalls, Mountains and Small Towns: A Guide through North Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Travel advisor posing at a vineyard

Travel Advisor

Jenna Picton

Get in touch with Jenna

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to North Carolina.