We thought we’d done every “trail” imaginable, from wine trails to art trails to birding trails. But...a Venus flytrap trail? Sure enough, Wilmington has 12 sites devoted to this carnivorous plant, since this city is the only place in the world, they say, where you can see the Venus flytrap in its native (boggy) environment. That attraction alone was enough to draw us to Wilmington, a city that’s never been on the top of our “must-see before you die” list.
Our young traveling companions were skeptical. “Plants?” Raevin, 7, asked. “Seriously? We’re going to look at a bunch of plants?” She gave us a look that said “Totally lame!” We promised her we’d make a trip to the beach after we visited the flytrap trail at Carolina Beach State Park.
Once Raevin saw the bug-eating plants, with their teeth-y leaves, she was captivated, busily snapping photos. When we decided to check out some other walking trails at the park, there were no complaints from Miss Raevin.
It turns out that Wilmington had other surprises. Far from a snooze, we found Wilmington to be wildly kid-friendly.
Among the highlights were, naturally, the beaches.
The Cape Fear Coast has 31 miles of beach, and they’re a big draw. Everyone raves about Wrightsville Beach, but we found it full of co-eds in teensy bikinis. (What Mom needs that? We were here to have fun, not to feel self-conscious about the muffin-tops sprouting under our tankinis!) So we spent most of our beach-time at Carolina and Kure beaches — especially the fishing pier at Kure Beach, one of the oldest on the East Coast. We didn’t fish ourselves, but it was fun to see what other fisher-folk were pulling out of the water. Carolina Beach has a retro-looking boardwalk (circa 1896) with carnival rides (in season), Trolley Stop Hot Dogs, a local landmark, and Britt’s, one of the top donut shops in the U.S. What’s not to like?