I’ve been asked to write about great walking spots in Wilmington, and in our community there are so many places that I could honestly add a new place every day. So, in true writing form, I’m feeling like that is how this will be written, with each walk receiving the details and attention required. With the long term goal being to visit each place, provide details, and give a brief description of my walking experience, we could be in for a very wordy blog!
Today I spent my afternoon at Carolina Beach. I’ve walked from the boardwalk area all the way down to the pier, close to the Kure end of the beach. I’ve walked the boardwalk both ways as well as walking in the sand along the water’s edge. What I find without a doubt is that near the water is my favorite place to walk. Granted, as of late the beaches are empty and it’s like having the beach to myself along with a few dedicated local walkers, and of course, runners/joggers and people walking their dog. It’s a very friendly place and absolutely beautiful. There is parking all along Carolina Beach Blvd. as well as paid parking, and no doubt there will be paid parking lots.
My theory is that since my kids rarely go to the beach with me, I can park just about anywhere and enjoy my time strolling leisurely. The breeze provides waves in the sky for the birds to coast upon, the sand is soft and getting warmer every day, the water chases the edge of the sand depositing pretty shells and stones, and the atmosphere is perfect regardless of who you are. Perfection…sand, surf, sun and sky! However, if you are traveling with children or just like the traditional boardwalk, that is where I would park the car. There are shops and restaurants and mini golf as well as pizza and ice cream. Conveniently located just before entering part of that beach is a shower, so if you get messy from the ice cream, you can rinse off prior to heading into the sand.
For folks who love walking the beach and have four wheel drive, Freeman park is a great spot to consider walking. Drop the vehicle into four wheel drive, head out onto the sand, find a spot and take a stroll. From what I understand, the fishing out that way is fantastic as well. So ladies, hand your man and/or boys the poll then grab your chair and book, take a stroll, and enjoy a cool drink while the fellas fish for a bit!
For the avid walker, Wilmington has many locations which can be utilized to keep up the daily regimen. Whether you walk for an amount of time, or run/walk a certain distance every day, there are several options to choose from. The great thing about walking or running, you can do this anywhere and blaze your own path! From the local beaches to downtown and historic district to Airlie Gardens, there is a place for everyone to get their walk on. Other options include walking over the bridges, over the hills, but all the while enjoying beautiful views of the Cape Fear River. Check out some of the following locations or be creative and create then post your own routes!
Greenfield Park, US Hwy 421 S, Wilmington NC 910.762.5606
This 5 mile loop around Greenfield Lake, just south of the downtown area, is among the most beautiful places in Wilmington to jog or walk. The paved path is scenic, has mile markets, and follows the lake shore as well as crossing two wooden foot bridges. This is a peaceful, green, and lakeside stroll that should not be missed.
Halyburton Park, 4099 S. 17th Street, Wilmington, NC
58 Acre Halyburton Park is located in the southwest side of Wilmington, near Independence Blvd. This park is handicapped-accessible, a 1.3-mile walking/bike trail covering some beautiful natural areas, and a great path for those who aren’t up to multiple mile walks. However, for those into multiple miles for walking and jogging, a few trips around the path will easily add up to fit into the regimen.
Empie Park, 3405 Park Ave. at Independence Blvd., Wilmington, NC 910.341.7852
Thirty-three acre Empie Park has athletic fields, picnic shelters, a playground, tennis courts, basketball courts, restrooms, open space and a senior activity area. This is a large facility with many walking areas, for people and also your four footed friends. This is a fairly popular area, so expect a beautiful walk in the company of many. Once around the loop or multiple times around, again your walk will be just what you need to get up and moving.
Hugh McRae Park, Intersection of S College Rd & Oleander Dr, Wilmington NC
Hugh McRae Park is one of the oldest and best known area parks, locally and in the county. Overall, the park is 98-acres. There is a walking path traversing the park, along the pond and around the park. Its a nice little escape from the hustle and bustle in the city.
The Riverwalk, Water St., Wilmington, NC
Wilmington’s Riverwalk fronts many business dotting in downtown, along the Cape Fear River. Riverwalk’s wide boardwalk begins at Nun Street in Chandler’s Wharf and runs to the convention center. More than a mile of walking, a safely lighted path. The Riverwalk , built over several years, is a Wilmington shining must see stop. Along the Riverwalk at the foot of Market Street, you’ll find a visitor’s information center and berthing for the Heniretta III. While touring the walk, also take in the farmer’s market Saturday mornings, historic and local sailing ships visiting the local docks, and often times festivals and shows happening in front of the government center. Not only is the walk beautiful but also houses local, cultural and historic happenings. Its a wonderful way and place to get a taste of downtown Wilmington at its best!
Airlie Gardens, 300 Airlie Road, Wilmington, NC 910.798.7700
Airlie Gardens is absolutely stunning, a staggering 67 acres of flowers and fauna. It has a rich deep history here in Wilmington and well worth a visit. The winding paths through various gardens, each with its own story, provides an excellent though somewhat casual walk…not to mention a great picture taking opportunity. You are able to set your own pace in the self guided walking tour provided on the pamphlet map. There is nothing healthier than tiptoe-ing through the tulips and gardens, being out among nature, taking memorable photos, and at the same time doing a healthy walk.
Of course, if you’re an off the beaten path kind of person…explore some of the school fields with their beautiful concrete walking paths; visit a random neighborhood where you are staying and take in the beautiful magnolias and camellias; walk around the shops near where you are staying; brave the mall, its no small feat walking the perimeter inside and/or outside. For anyone, there is the right location…some are traditional and already blazed and for others, its a freshly cut path. Either way, the avid walker visiting Wilmington will not be disappointed.