It’s finally here – our last day in North Carolina. Tomorrow, we’ll head south for Florida. We’ve been on the road a full week as of today, which seems so strange. It’s going by so quickly! But we’ve had an amazing time so far and today was no exception, even if we didn’t make it to the beach one last time.
The weather was overcast this morning and I had a lot of packing up to do, so we took it easy, then headed to the Children’s Museum of Wilmington after lunch. We’ve been to other children’s museums so I wasn’t sure what the girls would think of this one – safe to say, it was a huge hit. The girls played for a couple of hours and could easily have stayed longer if we hadn’t had to get to our cruise on time.
The first area of the museum that we went to, and the one they kept coming back to was a pirate-themed exhibit that also included a camping area, complete with tents, sleeping bags, camping chairs, cooking equipment, rubber fish and a fire made out of felt pieces. One thing the girls are all about is imaginative play, pretending different scenarios. Hannah and Becca played ‘camping’ for quite some time, while Abbi built shelves with a wooden set that interlocked.
We did get to see almost the entire museum, and at every exhibit there was something to interest each of the girls, from Becca at 6 years old, to Abbi at eleven. They pretended to be scientists mixing color droplets, gave a very thorough weather report, pretended to be astronauts blasting off into space, gave me several dental exams, took care of multiple teddy bears in the Teddy Bear Hospital exhibit, shot off ‘cannonballs’ from the deck of the giant pirate ship, stacked cups, and created watercolor masterpieces.
Most of the exhibits were very realistic and included dress-up clothes, which the girls loved. The museum is a mix of new and old in terms of construction and has been decorated with wall murals and bright colors to be attractive and stimulating for kids. There’s a separate area for toddlers and preschoolers – it was odd to think that none of my kids are young enough for that type of space anymore. I liked that each area was educational, and the pirate exhibit included local information about the history of pirates in North Carolina.
From the Children’s Museum, we headed down and over a few blocks to the riverside for our rescheduled Eagle Island cruise from Wilmington Water Tours. We were treated to a descriptive history of the Cape Fear River and downtown Wilmington with beautiful views and even some wildlife. No dolphins this time, unfortunately – but we did see several egrets. We also sailed by the Battleship USS North Carolina, and saw where scenes from the upcoming Ironman 3 had been filmed right on the river over the past few weeks. Wilmington is a huge location for the movie and television industries and apparently there are crew here filming both the Ironman sequel as well as the new TV series, Revolution.
The boat was very relaxing and comfortable, and offered snacks and beverages. The girls liked sitting on tall stools at the front, and shared a couple of pairs of binoculars to be able to see things up close. On this cruise it’s possible to see alligators, sea turtles or dolphins, but we didn’t see any of those today. We did learn why so many of the trees appear burned (they were, but by salt not fire), who created the man-made canals off of the river (slave labor), and that it’s the overuse of the river for shipping over the years that changed the salt level and the ecosystem in the area so much. You now have to go much further upriver before it becomes fresh water.
From downtown Wilmington, we stopped at our hotel to pick up Ron and then headed over to the Homewood Suites hotel located in the Mayfaire shopping area. The hotel has been full all summer, but had offered to give us a tour and invited us for one of their weeknight dinners. They offer a full breakfast daily, along with dinner on Monday-Thursday nights. Tonight’s menu was meatball subs and fries – it really hit the spot, along with the lemonade to drink. The hotel is a beautiful property, decorated in light, beachy colors and located only a couple of miles from Wrightsville Beach. I loved that every room is a suite, with either a king-sized bed or two queens. The suites all have high-end finishes from gleaming appliances and granite countertops in the kitchenettes (and a dishwasher!) to comfy chairs and couches in the living area.
The hotel also invited our girls to swim in their outdoor pool – and nobody had to ask them twice, lol. The pool is a nice size, with a shallow area for smaller kids located behind the steps, and a separate hot tub as well. The pool is heated – not really necessary during this time of year, but very nice for wintertime guests. The outdoor space also includes a lanai to relax in, plus a couple of grills and even a putting green – not something I’ve ever seen at a hotel before.
Right now many of the production staff and crews for the shows filming in town are staying there – otherwise it’s usually a mix of business travelers and families. With two meals provided on most days and close proximity to the beach and shopping, it’s definitely a good option for families. In fact, during tonight’s #TMOM Twitter party, several tweeters raved about Homewood Suites in general, which was good to hear.
Tomorrow will be another full day on the road – with Orlando as our next destination. We’ve had a wonderful time here in Wilmington though, and it’ll be hard to say good-bye. We’ll definitely have to come back again for a future vacation.