There were a lot of options for things to see here in Wilmington – several of which my kids had no interest in whatsoever, like the Battleship USS North Carolina or the Serpentarium. I don’t know if it’s because they’re girls, or what. But what they did get all excited about seeing today was the first of several aquariums on our itinerary – and it’ll be hard to beat this one.
The NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher is not the largest aquarium I’ve ever seen, but it was very unique in several ways. Not only were there the requisite large tanks of fish from different areas of the world – but there were also several habitat type of exhibits where you could see right into the water from above, or see box turtles or quail right by your feet. And there were a couple of different areas where you could reach right into the water to touch horseshoe crabs or starfish or other sea creatures.
The girls were excited to see a stingray, hammerhead shark, assorted jellyfish, all kinds of fish that I can’t name offhand, and various other sea creatures that I can’t name either, lol. The tanks that got them the most excited though? The jellies and then the the clownfish and ‘Dory’ type of fish. They kept calling out lines from Finding Nemo.
Another thing I liked about this aquarium is that it’s got an outdoor section, on a short boardwalk as you exit the building. Plus there’s an outdoor play area for kids that’s unlike any other I’ve seen. Not even the hot temperatures could keep Becca and Abbi from playing, although Hannah refused, citing the heat. Spoilsport…
Right near the aquarium is one of the loveliest beaches we’ve yet seen – the girls are asking to go back to that one tomorrow when we hit the beach for our final time in NC. It’s a bit far from our hotel and we have a full agenda for the day so we probably won’t, but we’ll definitely have to come back this way someday and stay closer to the beach next time.
After the aquarium, we stopped in at Michael’s Seafood Restaurant in Carolina Beach for a late lunch. The girls had been leery because of the name and the fact that the word ‘seafood’ has them freaking out, but this was the most kid-friendly place we’ve eaten so far, with the biggest variety on the kids menu, of both seafood and ‘regular’ food. Hannah was even able to get her favorite dish – penne noodles with spaghetti sauce. Abbi had a flatbread pizza and Becca got a hot dog. I was thrilled to yet again get a fresh catch – this time salmon on a bun. And it was absolutely wonderful.
The food was great, the service was top-notch and I loved the straw tiki hut type of décor with some beautiful murals on the walls. There’s an option to eat outside (that I didn’t notice until we left) but we sat at a high table and watched Olympics coverage. Who knew the girls would get so into water polo? Even the dessert had a special touch – ice cream sandwiches on plates with drizzled chocolate, whipped cream and a cherry. Yum!
We drove through a storm on the way back to the hotel and that proved to be the theme of the evening as storms ended up canceling our scheduled cruise as well. We’re rescheduled to go out tomorrow afternoon instead, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed for good weather for our last day in town. The weather also kept us from our last planned activity of the day – a ghost walk through historic downtown Wilmington, so we’ll have to see if we can squeeze that in tomorrow too.
Today was also the first time that we drove through the third beach community in the Wilmington area – Kure Beach. And it was one of my favorite things to see – the main road is lined with houses that just scream ‘beach’ at you – in such cool colors like lavender, peach, teal, yellow… It looks like such a fun place to hang out and chill on the beach. It’s a lot more low-key looking than Carolina Beach – I’m so amazed at how different each of the beach communities are, but each of them has so much to offer that I’m so glad we’ve gotten a chance to really get out and explore the area some.
With our plans upended, we did a quick trip to Waffle House for dinner at the girls’ request, then came back to the hotel room(s) for some rest, housekeeping and starting to organize our stuff to depart early on Tuesday morning. And the girls made a friend – a girl only a couple of weeks older than Hannah, whose family is staying here while they search for rental housing in the area. She was thrilled to finally find other kids, and my kids were equally as thrilled to have someone new to play with. Hopefully they’ll get a bit of a chance to play with her again tomorrow too, but we’ll see.
So tomorrow’s agenda is filling up – we’re planning on the beach for a couple of hours in the morning, going to the Wilmington Children’s Museum in the afternoon, the rescheduled cruise and possibly the ghost walk in the late afternoon and evening. And packing everything back up to load the van up bright and early on Tuesday. We’ll see how well everything fits now that we have all of Ron’s luggage as well, but I’m confident we’ll be fine – this rental van is nothing if not spacious. Did I mention that I’m going to hate to give it up at the end of this trip?