Best Places to Live

Wilmington, NC

Population: 123,110
LIV
SCORE
652
iStock Photo/traveler1116

Situated along the southeastern coast of North Carolina, with the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway to the east and the Cape Fear River to the west, Wilmington is a dreamy seaside town teeming with charm. Referred to as the ‘Hollywood of the East,’ Wilmington has served as the backdrop for several beloved movies and TV shows, including “Dawson’s Creek” and “One Tree Hill.” The city also boasts a huge historic district, mile-long riverwalk and plentiful opportunities to get outside, like the area’s more than 50 golf courses and nearby beaches. Wilmington is home to the University of North Carolina - Wilmington and has seen a recent influx of startups, making it the perfect place to launch or grow a career.

Top Industries and Employers: Healthcare, telecommunications and education shape Wilmington’s economy. 

Best Coffee Shop: Drift Coffee & Kitchen

Best Local Beer/Brewery: Located inside of a firehouse that is more than a century old, Edward Teach Brewery features a two-story ship-shaped bar and a variety of beers on tap, including their signature Scallywag Session IPA.  

Must-Have Meal: Seafood doesn’t get more fresh than at Cape Fear Seafood Company. You can’t leave without trying their award-winning shrimp and grits, a low-country favorite. 

Best Co-Working Space: If you’re looking for a totally unique, totally cool co-working space, look no further than Coworx. Located in the Cargo District, Wilmington’s first shipping container community, the space offers a variety of spaces for different needs.  

Best Meetup Spot (When Meeting Up Is a Thing Again): Art meets alcohol at Bottega Art + Wine, an unassuming wine bar that doubles as an art mecca offering up unique jewelry and art finds as well as live music.

Creative Hub: The Museum School at Cameron Art Museum offers ongoing education to visitors of all ages and skill levels and celebrates over 50 years of art education through exhibits and community programs. 

Favorite Weekend Activity: Take a stroll through the city’s historic River District, which is home to two miles of scenic walkways, breathtaking views of the Cape Fear River from the Riverwalk and a variety of local restaurants, stores and attractions, including the USS North Carolina Battleship

Free Way to Have Fun: Pack a lunch and a towel and head to one of the area’s beaches. Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville beaches are all within a 15-mile radius. 

Local Dream Job: Port City Brew Bus tour guide. Wilmington is home to more than 15 breweries and this traveling tour makes several stops along the Wilmington Ale Trail. Need we say more?

Read More: 
5 Awesome North Carolina Beer Cities (That Aren’t Asheville)
Wilmington is a Dreamy Beach Town for Entrepreneurs
The 5 Most Affordable Cities in North Carolina

- Cara Sanders

"Wilmington has a mild and sunny climate, beautiful beaches, and legendary Southern hospitality. We have a historic downtown which also embraces redevelopment in an exciting “old meets new” dynamic. Wilmingtonians work hard during the week and take full advantage of a laid-back setting with phenomenal natural resources on nights and weekends. We have an entrepreneurial spirit that encourages the creation of businesses and the innovation to grow businesses."

Natalie English
President and CEO, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce

Wilmington, NC Ranking Data

Civic
55
Demographics
48
Economy
53
Education
65
Health
51
Housing
54
Infrastructure
60