Plan a quiet vacation around the beautiful port city of Wilmington, North Carolina. Expansive white sand beaches along the Atlantic Ocean provide many opportunities for water sports, including surfing, parasailing, paddleboarding, and swimming. Dry your feet and head to the historic district for shopping, eating, and entertainment, or explore one of the local state parks where you can hike, bike, or picnic. Vacation rentals in Wilmington provide all of the modern amenities you can desire on a vacation. Choose from small apartments for two or spacious oceanfront homes large enough for families. This list offers 12 Wilmington vacation rental locations that will guide you to the perfect accommodation.

1. Wrightsville Beach

Wrightsville Beach
Source: Flickr / Dan Isaacs

Escape your daily cares when you lounge the day away on the fishing pier at Wrightsville Beach. Rent a canoe or kayak and paddle along the open waters, or take a scenic harbor cruise with that special someone. Enjoy birdwatching and jogging at Ogden park, or spend some time at the Wrightsville Beach Museum to experience the history of the region.

2. Carolina Beach

Hiker on Carolina Beach State Park Swamp Trail
Source: Flickr / Miguel Vieira

If you prefer an upbeat atmosphere for your next getaway, choose a vacation rental along the Carolina Beach. The vintage seaside boardwalk and trails is the perfect place for hiking, or you can grab a slice of pizza or an ice cream cone for lunch. In evening, try your skill at a game of mini golf or rent some bikes and head to the Carolina Beach State Park. Here, you can walk along the sand trail that leads to an overlook of the Cape Fear River.

3. Kure Beach

Fishing at Kure Beach
Source: Flickr / ncrob1

The Kure Beach Fishing Pier is a popular spot for fishing at Kure Beach. Hop on a ferry for a scenic trip around the area, or head to the beach for paddleboarding and snorkeling. There’s also a large playground at the pier, so kids can enjoy the slides or a large grassy area for picnics. Explore the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher or tour the fort Fisher State Historic Site and Museum, which has a pirate playground and storytime by the sea.

4. Caswell Beach

Atlantic Ocean on Caswell Beach
Source: Flickr / Gerry Dincher

Caswell Beach is an extremely laid back town to visit. Choose a vacation rental right on the beach where you are footsteps away from the Oak Island Golf Club and Fort Caswell. Take a quiet stroll along the beach, or rent a kayak and sign up for a tour of the multiple waterways. Adults will enjoy the Silver Coast Winery Tasting Room where you can sample and purchase your favorite bottle of vino.

5. Oak Island

Oak Island Lighthouse
Source: Flickr / Allen Forrest

Oak Island is a small seaside town located along the barrier Island of Oak Island. The lighthouse is one must-see attraction. Learn about the history of the structure and climb to the top for photographs. Take a helicopter ride around the region, or spend some time exploring Fort Caswell, which is often used for retreats throughout the year.

6. Bald Head Island

Bald Head Island
Source: Flickr / Kevin Oliver

Home to North Carolina’s oldest standing lighthouse, Bald Head Island offers a variety of activities for people of all ages. Rent a boat at the marina and go skiing or spend the day on the water. Play a game of golf, or explore the 14 miles of pristine shorelines. The M. Kent Mitchell Nature Trail is the perfect spot for a hike, and you can sign up with the Bald Head Island Conservancy to walk with the sea turtles.

7. Holden Beach

Happy dog on the beach
Source: Flickr / ANDREA JANDA

Take your furry friend along with you to Holden Beach when you sign up for a vacation rental. This pet friendly stretch of white sand is the ideal place to let your pooch romp around with a Frisbee and a swim. Visit the Holden Beach Marina to rent a boat, or rent a canoe, bike, or kayak at Beach fun Rentals. If you forget your stroller, you can also rent a beach stroller to make trips to the beach more comfortable. There are several professional photographers in the area that schedule sessions on the beach, or you can schedule an island taxi and tour the area.

8. Topsail Beach

Topsail Island
Source Flickr / gardener41

Located on Topsail Island, the beach offers plenty of things to do while you are on vacation. Hike over the walkway over the marsh and see various wildlife. Visit the Missiles and More Museum to see various artifacts from test missiles and how and when they were used in the area. Go on a boat tour of the island or rent jet skis if you prefer to explore on your own. There are also several gift and specialty shops for souvenirs.

9. Surf City

Surf City, Huntington Beach
Source: Flickr / guillaumeo

Fittingly enough, one of the most popular activities in Surf City is surfing. Bring your own board or rent one at a local surf shop. Visit the Surf City Pier for fishing and crabbing, or head to the Soundside Park where there are swings and slides for the kids. Beat the heat of the day by visiting the Seacoast Art Gallery, where you can see many exhibits from local artists. There are also several bars and clubs for nighttime entertainment.

10. North Topsail Island

Topsail Island North Carolina
Source: Flickr / gardener41

The northern part of Topsail Beach is close to Camp Lejeune, the Bogue Banks, and the Outer Banks, which has a host of activities to choose from. Grab a vacation rental on the beach and enjoy an early morning walk on the sand. Rent a kayak and scull along Water’s Bay, or sign up for a Queen Jean Charter and fish away the afternoon.

11. Downtown Wilmington

Wilmington, NC
Source: Flickr / James Willamor

Often referred to as the historic district, Downtown Wilmington has a host of shops, cafes, and restaurants to explore. The Bellamy Mansion is an excellent place for pictures and special events, or you walk through the expansive Airlie Gardens to see a variety of plants and flowers of the region. The Cape Fear Museum has hands-on exhibits for the kids, or go to the North Carolina Aquarium which hosts a variety of interactive exhibits and live education programs.

12. Ocean Isle Beach

Spring Break Sand Fortress
Source: Flickr / Kevin Tostado

Calm your heart and mind at Ocean Island Beach. This small town in Brunswick County is part of the Myrtle Beach Metro area. Vacation rentals include private ocean-front homes with swimming pools and hot tubs, or opt for an affordable single bedroom across the street from the beach to save money. Planet Fun has laser tag, mini golf, and arcades for days you just want to have some fun, or head to the beach at night for a free summer concert on the sand. Enjoy paddleboarding, swimming, boating, or walk the beach and collect shells.