Brunner: What are some Wrightsville gems that people may not know?
Nelson: Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tours offers a variety of narrated scenic cruises and guided nature tours. Capt. Joe Abbatte is a naturalist and shares his knowledge of coastal wildlife and habitats. Cruises to Masonboro Island, an estuarine research reserve that is accessible only by boat, provide a rare treat to explore an uninhabited barrier island. Surf and SUP instruction is offered by several surf camps and SUP schools, in addition to Blockade Runner Beach Resort’s adventure program with additional kayak, sailing, fishing and yoga options. Experienced paddlers can rent from local outfitters all the paddle gear they need to explore area waterways.
Wrightsville Beach Museum of History is a can’t-miss, along with the adjacent coastal education center. And don’t let the exterior of Redix Department Store, a nondescript warehouse, fool you. Inside is everything from bait and tackle, beach gear, and souvenirs to designer resort clothing, footwear, and a large selection of bathing suits. Airlie Gardens, just across the waterway, is a botanical gem that is well worth the short 7-minute drive over the bridge. A garden of the coastal south it features 67 acres of walking paths, formal gardens, seasonal blooms, ancient live oaks, and contemporary sculpture. Airlie Gardens is also a popular film location and a member of the North Carolina Birding Trail.