Downtown ILM

Eat. Stay. Play. Shop


Things might look different this year, but it’s still summer vacation time. Whether you’re looking for staycation ideas, or you’re here to visit, check out these sample exploration plans. Downtown Wilmington’s mix of historical spaces and trendy upstarts makes it an easy place to start – or to escape to when you need a beach break. While some attractions are closed or on limited schedules, a stroll through downtown’s cobblestone streets still takes you past unique stores, outdoor dining, and a sweeping view of the Cape Fear River.

Threve Mercantile

Lisa Hauenstein (below) opened the home décor store Threve Mercantile in 2017. Like most stores, the shop at 108 Market Street, had to close in the early shutdown stage because of the virus but is now open Wednesdays-Sundays. From furniture to accessories to art, the curated mix reflects Hauenstein’s eye for clean lines, natural materials, and global inspiration. There are also personal care items such as lavender-infused bath soaks, which seem oh-so-relaxing in these times.

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Dreamers Welcome

A small boutique inn on South Fourth Street combines artistic elements, minimalist design, lush landscaping, and detailed amenities – all within a renovated Victorian house. Vegan/vegetarian breakfast – or even options for a happy hour with hors d’oeuvres or gourmet four-course meal – from a private chef are available. Yoga on the front porch can be arranged, as well. Owners are taking precautions from extra cleaning of high-touch areas and one-day delays between bookings.

Photos c/o Dreamers Welcome

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Rumcow is one of the many locally owned restaurants in downtown where the menu is as unique as the atmosphere. This one brings a global twist to Southern dishes such as the shrimp and grits tacos that add chimichurri to the classic dish. Similarly, the cocktails bring uniqueness and personality. Abigail Sena (below) and her husband, Joe, opened the restaurant at 121 Grace Street in 2018.

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The 1.75 miles of downtown’s Riverwalk stretches from Nun Street to the Isabel Holmes Bridge. If the virus scuttled your summer trip to Italy, grab gelato at GelaRto in the J.W. Brooks Building, 18 South Water Street, and still have your la passeggiata evening stroll down the wooden boardwalk.





Eat. Play. Stay. Shop

To view more of photographer Terah Wilson’s work, go to

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Categories: Features