Editor’s Journal: A Beach Trip in December?

Cary, NC — Depending on where you were in Cary on Monday afternoon, if you happened to be looking out the window, you could see snow flurries. Temperatures were low, and, for just several minutes, impressive white flakes fell from the sky.

I found this hard to believe, considering the fact that I had been sitting in the sun on Wrightsville Beach just five days before.

A Beach Trip in December?

Somewhat on a whim, I took off for a two-day vacation to Wilmington, NC on the Tuesday after Christmas. Rain was in the forecast at the beach for Wednesday, but I hoped to get some time on the sand before the downpour. As a UNCW graduate, I was wary, knowing that heavy Wilmington rain can come from out of nowhere.

To my surprise, the weather cooperated perfectly.


On Tuesday afternoon, Wilmington greeted me with temperatures in the high 70’s and sunny skies. I was sitting on the beach in shorts and a t-shirt, reading a magazine on a blanket, on December 29. I even got a little hot.

After several hours on the beach, I took a swim in an outdoor heated pool – yes, an outdoor pool! – and got ready for dinner at Cape Fear Seafood Company. This restaurant is a hidden gem – the atmosphere and food are wonderful, and you’ll get fresh seafood and a fine dining experience at a great value. It’s a pleasant surprise, because the place is hidden in a little strip mall on S. College Road that isn’t particularly attractive.

The next day, I got out to the beach a little earlier. The skies looked cloudy, so I was prepared for rain to fall, but it never did. The weather was actually warmer on Wednesday than it had been on Tuesday. On the way to the beach, I stopped at my favorite Wilmington bagel shop – Beach Bagels – for breakfast and coffee. Again, with the sun on my skin, it felt like summer, and I couldn’t believe my luck. Even in North Carolina, it’s rare for it to be that warm in late December.

If you told me then that I’d see snow back home in Cary on Monday, I wouldn’t have believed you.

But, five days later, I was sitting in my car waiting for ice to melt from my windshield and, later that day, admiring two minutes of beautiful white snowflakes falling outside the window of my Cary office.

Wilmington Favorites

Weather-wise, I got lucky with my impromptu Wilmington trip. If you happen to visit Wilmington and need something to do besides visiting the beach, here are some of my must-visit restaurants, shops and attractions:


  • Cape Fear Seafood Company – a hidden gem for fresh seafood
  • Elijah’s – great seafood and views on the waterfront in downtown Wilmington
  • Front Street Brewery – try the pulled chicken nachos
  • Indochine – the best Pad Thai I’ve ever had
  • Island’s – $1 tacos every night
  • Beach Bagels – for a quick breakfast on the way to the beach

Shops & Attractions:

  • The Cotton Exchange – a maze of fun, touristy shops in a historic downtown building
  • Blue Moon Gift Shops – local art and gifts near UNCW
  • The Ivy Cottage – a fun place for consignment-lovers
  • Cape Fear Serpentarium – like an aquarium, but with huge snakes instead
  • Mayfaire Shopping Center – a one-stop location for movies, restaurants and shops

What did you do during the out-of-the-ordinary warm weather we had over Christmas? I’d love to hear about it.

Story and photos by Jessica Patrick.