If you know the Chapmans, I could end this post here and you’d know our family trip to Wilmington a few weeks ago was a blast. Lots of laughter…like ridiculous amounts of laughter. Usually directed at one person (love you mom).
Since we stayed at their house, and since they spoil us rotten, this isn’t going to be the greatest “on a budget” post, but Wilmington is one of those places that you could just grab a seat on a downtown bench, look around, and be satisfied. The small-town feel, with the beach and river just minutes away, is glorious. My sister has been saying for the past few years that it’s the greatest town on planet earth, and, while I still would choose my mountains, I have to agree that Wilmington is up there on the list :).
No blog post is fun without a funny Morgan story. He woke up around 5 a.m. on Friday morning to head out of town for a work event. We left Radford for Wilmington around 5 p.m., and he’d already driven about 6 hours that day. Understandably, he asked me to take over driving around 8, with about 2.5 hours left. If you’ve ever driven to Wilmington, that final stretch of 40 is rough. Especially at night. No one was around, it’s flat and boring, and I was losing steam quick. Not to mention my precious, hard-working husband was essentially snoring in the passenger seat. Blaring the Avetts wasn’t working, so I shoved him to keep me awake (#love). Morgan’s version of keeping his sleepy wife awake at the wheel? “What’s your favorite number?” “What’s your favorite letter?” “Who was your favorite president?” Bless his heart. I asked him to please return to sleep.
Despite the rain, we spent the first part of our first day there driving around town to see all the favorite spots. There was a surf competition in Wrightsville Beach, so we pretended to be gnarly beach bums for about 17 seconds and then wimped out because it was too cold. Since Morgan and I are diehard One Tree Hill fans (he’s going to kill me for making that public), walking down the riverfront was like a glimpse into Nathan, Haley, Brooke, Lucas, and Peyton. We’d point out benches and scream, “I bet they sat there,” much to the joy of our family. It was a pretty dreary day, but we made the most of it!
The Old Wilmington City Market, an adorable peach-painted, brick building on Water Street, was my favorite stop on Saturday. It reminded me of a much smaller, more manageable version of the Charleston City Market in South Carolina. All five of the others found benches to sit on, but I took off exploring. Just look at this shop!!
At around 3, the clouds parted, and the sun came out full blast. We rushed back to the house, put on our bathing suits, grabbed some books and towels, and headed back over the bridge to Wrightsville. Craig and Morgan braved the water temperatures and swam for a few minutes, and Taylor and I got to share some solid “sissypoo” time (The phrase has been passed down between sisters for generations. We can’t escape it. And we really don’t try.).
I’m kind of a beach snob–we vacationed to the Outer Banks my entire childhood, so I usually will opt for that. But Wrightsville is pretty amazing. Wide beaches with level sand made for great walks, and we got to watch lots of surfers out and about. I, of course, barely even got my feet wet because that water is meant for penguins in April. But Morg and Craig said it was great 🙂
After leaving the beach, we grabbed burgers at the grocery store, grilled out on the back deck, and sat around the table for hours, talking and eating one of my favorite desserts. My favorite part of family time is simply being with each other, and this weekend didn’t disappoint.
Sunday started with church (which is probably a post for another day, but I was overcome with the goodness of God that morning–all my favorite people, praising our Savior together for the first time in probably 10 years. So good. Getting all emo typing this so I’m going to stop.) and a trip to Dockside, a restaurant overlooking the water. Best part of this restaurant was that they gave you a free basket of hush puppies. Golden.
Mom, Dad, Morgan, and I spent the afternoon exploring Airlie Gardens. My mom spends time volunteering there when she’s in Wilmington, and we fell in love with it. (Well…I fell in love with it. I think the boys were just trying to appease us.) We came a few weeks after North Carolina’s annual Azalea Festival, so we got to see bright bursts of pink every now and then. Side note: when we were growing up, we never got season passes to amusement parks. Nope–we got season passes to Colonial Williamsburg. Not much has changed, because the whole Chapman family now has a membership to this garden. Thanks Mom.
(This tree just screams the South.)
The winner of the best food of the weekend award goes to K38 Baja Grill. Oh my goodness. I didn’t take a picture of my massive “Vegeta-Bowl” because I inhaled it immediately. Trust me. This is a must-try.
Before we left on Monday morning, we went on a family run at “The Loop.” No Chapman family vacation is complete without a group exercise…though Morgan asked us to drop him off at the beach before the run. Mom took the dog, but Dad, Taylor, and I looked like three little ducks in a row as we ran (read: slowly jogged) The Loop. It goes from the mainland, over a bridge, down a beach road, and back over another bridge. The first half was fun, and then I almost cried because this mountain girl is not used to that beach humidity yet. Which is no excuse because my dad, who literally lives on top of a mountain, was channeling his inner motivational speaker as he backpedaled to encourage Taylor and I. Over it. I sort of survived, and I got a new t-shirt out of it.
We went to Wilmington anticipating time spent with the greatest family in the whole world. We got that and a new found love for Wilmington, which has all the charm of a small town and all the calm of a beach town.
Have you visited Wilmington? Tell me your favorite spots–we’re heading back down there in a few months!