Wilmington, N.C., is about a six-hour drive from Washington, most of it on Interstate 95 south and I-40 east. Connecting flights from Washington airports to Wilmington are about $300 but can often be found for about $200.
Where to Stay
Old Wilmington is dotted with charming B&Bs. At the luxurious end is the Italianate mansion The Verandas (202 Nun St., 910-251-2212, http://www.verandas.com); $169-$269 per night. Around the corner, the more modest but still historic Rosehill Inn Bed & Breakfast (114 S. Third St., 800-815-0250, http://www.rosehill.com) offers rooms from $139 to $199. Chain hotels can be found in and near downtown, cheaper family-run motels along the beach.
Where to Eat
Students from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington pack the tables at the Front Street Brewery (9 N. Front St., 910-251-1935, http://frontstreetbrewery.com) for fried green tomatoes and other affordable Southern dishes. For oysters and other fruits of the sea, locals recommend Elijah's (2 Ann St., 910-343-1448, http://www.elijahs.com) and its river view.
What to Do
The North Carolina Azalea Festival runs through Sunday (see http://www.ncazaleafestival.org). The annual Azalea Garden Tour is Friday through Sunday, though the blooms last longer. $20; visit http://www.azaleagardentour.org. The Historic Wilmington Foundation Home Tour is Saturday and Sunday. $25; visit http://www.historicwilmington.org. Check out http://www.ncazaleafestival.org for information on free events including a parade, street fair and shag (dance) contest. Airlie Gardens (300 Airlie Rd., 910-798-7700, http://www.airliegardens.org; $5) is open year-round, as is Orton Plantation Gardens (9149 Orton Rd. SE, Winnabow, 910-371-6851, http://www.ortongardens.com; $9). Greenfield Lake (for boathouse, park in the 300 block of Park Street, http://www.cfrw.us/greenfieldlake.html) is free and open during daylight hours.
For More Information
Go to the Wilmington area visitors bureau Web site, http://www.cape-fear.nc.us.