Welcome to our Wilmington meeting planning guide – a Wilmington city guide for meeting planners. Southern Wilmington's old-world charms complement its successful entrepreneurial spirit to make the area one of the fastest growing and most desirable locations in the country.
Located just four miles from Wilmington International Airport (ILM), Wilmington is within easy access of all parts of the globe. The airport offers non-stop service to five cities with connecting service across the country and beyond. Approximately 750,000 passengers pass through the gates at Wilmington International each year. Once in Wilmington, visitors and residents alike can enjoy the convenience and affordability of Wave Transit, a system of buses, shuttles and trolleys reaching areas throughout Cape Fear. Visitors to the Historic District can get from one exciting attraction to the next aboard Wave Transit's convenient and free trolley system.
When it comes to meeting venues, Wilmington offers a number of facilities for hosting events of all sizes. The crown jewel of the city and the entire Southeast is the new Wilmington Convention Center. Opened in late 2010, the sprawling new 107,000-square-foot facility is located on the edge of the Historic District and is being constructed utilizing the latest state-of-the-art green technologies. The center will provide 30,000 square feet of exhibit space, 5,784 square feet of additional meeting space along with a 12,000-square-foot ballroom. In addition to its cutting-edge meeting facilities, the new convention center will also feature covered outdoor riverfront seating with breathtaking views of the Cape Fear River, along with more than 580 parking spaces. Alternatively, the Coastline Conference and Event Center offers 10,150 square feet of meeting space in a renovated railway station along with incredible river views that will dazzle attendees.
For planners looking for an alternative venue, there is no shortage of unique meeting facilities to be found in Wilmington. Host a meeting at the USS North Carolina for a unique and memorable backdrop of American history. Or, be whisked away on a riverboat to observe the natural beauty of the area while dining on a buffet of Southern flavors. Meanwhile, the North Carolina Aquarium provides a vibrant and whimsical atmosphere for events of all sizes.
The city's economy is fueled by a number of different industries, including medicine, telecommunications, technology and clothing manufacture. The city is home to the University of North Carolina Wilmington. The city is also home to the largest television and film production studio outside of California. Nicknamed "Wilmywood," Wilmington has become a hotbed for the film and television industry producing such notable series as One Tree Hill, Dawson's Creek and Matlock, as well as films such as Firestarter, Weekend at Bernie's and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.
Nestled on the banks of the Cape Fear River in the southeastern corner of North Carolina state, Wilmington, attracts visitors from across the globe with its beautiful climate, waterside locale, vibrant cultural scene and famed Historic District.
A modern city that is home to more than 100,000 residents, Wilmington dates its incorporation from 1739. Its growth was originally fueled by the area's rich soil and abundant forests; later, the area became an industrial center as manufacturers took advantage of the city's location on the Cape Fear River. Much of Wilmington's history can be found with a stroll through its popular Historic District - at over 230 city blocks, Wilmington's is one of the largest in the South. Visitors can learn all about regional history at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science, check out antique trains at the Wilmington Railroad Museum or witness the bravery and dedication of the state's residents on solemn display at the USS North Carolina (permanently moored in the Cape Fear River). For something off the beaten path, visitors to the historic district can take a horse and carriage ride, boat tour or a spine-tingling walking tour for tall tales of the bygone days.
The Historic District has attracted a strong and creative arts community. The city is home to a number of art galleries, performance arts groups and theaters. Intermingled with the galleries and theaters are a slew of quaint shops and antique dealers peddling remnants of the city's long and storied past.
For sports fans, Wilmington is home to the University of North Carolina Wilmington and the training camp site for the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats. The city is also renowned for golfing, with a long playing season and 50 championship courses like the popular Beau Rivage Golf & Resort or the scenic Inland Greens. For anglers, casting off the Cape Fear River and Atlantic Ocean are popular pastimes. Nestled between two bodies of water, the Cape Fear coastline offers plenty of seaside activities including beachcombing at nearby Carolina Beach, scuba at Kure Beach or sunbathing on the white sands of Wrightsville Beach.
Taking advantage of this port city's waterside locale, a number of restaurants in the area serve seafood creations to whet the appetites of visitors and residents alike. At the Pilot House, guests can enjoy the freshest local seafood with a Southern flair. The George on the Riverwalk serves up Southern comfort food and unique dishes only found in the region. After night falls, Wilmington keeps on going: Locals and guests enjoy the city's nightlife at clubs and bars along the Riverwalk such as Cameo 1900, where good food accompanies flavorful cocktails and a vibrant atmosphere into the wee hours.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Wilmington enjoys a subtropical climate with humid summers and mild winters. Average temperatures in summer tend to be in the high 80s with the warmest months of the year being July and August. Winter temperatures average in the mid 40s with the coolest month of the year being January. Wilmington receives an average of 57 inches of rainfall per year, primarily in the summer months.
The best time to visit Wilmington is during the spring months when the weather is mild and humidity remains relatively low. As the city is located on the Carolina coast, it is at risk for hurricanes during the summer months, however, these are rare.
Wilmington Convention Center
Spectacular views and unbeatable amenities make the new Wilmington Convention Center a premier venue for conferences, meetings and events of any type. Located on the Cape Fear River just steps from historic Wilmington, the convention center provides ambience and elegance to any gathering. The expert services and facilities are designed to impress as well as function to provide a perfect setting for any event.
Opened in late 2010, the convention center includes 107,000 total square feet of event space, divided among a number of configured areas. The 30,000-square-foot exhibit hall provides an abundance of space for conventions, trade shows or other large gatherings. The exhibit hall features 30-foot-high ceilings and full audio visual systems. The grand ballroom includes 12,000 square feet of space and can be divided into 6 separate areas. Taking full advantage of the views and spectacular climate, the Wilmington Convention Center also contains an event lawn with 12,000 square feet of space along with high speed Internet connectivity. Additional terraces and outdoor courtyards also encourage guests and event planners to take in the beauty of the natural setting. For smaller events, the convention center contains 5,784 square feet of multiple use meeting space that can be divided into eight smaller rooms. Each of these areas has full audio visual services available. Meanwhile, 15,000 square feet of pre-function space and nearly 600 parking spaces add to the convenience and flexibility of the Wilmington Convention Center.
With an eye toward design and accommodation, the Wilmington Convention Center includes a number of services and features to attract groups to the area. The facility has been constructed with sustainability in mind and features green technology to maximize energy efficiency without compromising service. The architecture at the center reflects this commitment to conservation and has been designed to compliment the unique characteristics of the neighboringHistoric District. The center provides catering services to guests. Chefs will work with planners to design menus that fit the tone of any meeting. Using fresh local food, dining at the convention center perfectly compliments the rich culinary traditions of the South.
Wilmington International Airport (ILM)
Approximate taxi fare: $60 USD
Located just minutes away from Wilmington and the Cape Fear Coast, Wilmington International Airport provides easy access to the region for residents and visitors. The airport is home to three airlines with direct service to five cities. The airport currently offers non-stop flights to Orlando, Atlanta, Charlotte, New York and Philadelphia with connecting service to locations across the globe.
Future plans for the airport include more flights to additional destinations, including international service. In preparation for this expansion, airport managers have undertaken an expansion and renovation initiative to upgrade facilities. Recent developments include completion of an international terminal and runway improvements. In the future, the airport expects to complete an expansion of the business center and improvements to other passenger services.
While in Wilmington International Airport, passengers will be treated to exceptional service. The airport features a larger restaurant as well as a smaller deli for lighter foods. Passengers in search of a memento of their trip can browse the airports gift shop, and business passengers will be happy to know that the airport provides free wireless Internet throughout the facilities. Additionally, Wilmington International provides rocking chairs for guests to relax prior to their flight.
Airline carriers serving Wilmington International Airport
Wave Transit operates in the Cape Fear area and provides transportation for visitors and residents to points across the region. A number of travel options are available depending on the destination. Wave Transit operates a free trolley that runs within Wilmington's Historic District. The trolley operates Monday through Friday between 7:30 AM and 9:30 PM, Saturday between 11 AM and 9:30 PM and Sunday between 11 AM and 6 PM. The Wave Transit buses operate throughout the Cape Fear Coast. There are 11 routes, most of which originate from the Downtown Station in the heart of Wilmington. Fares are $1.50 for adults and are collected in cash only. Hours of operation vary by route.
Larger groups can secure shuttle service from the airport to Wilmington and the surrounding areas. Providers can accommodate groups of any size and a number of different vehicle types are available. Van service seats up to 14 passengers and costs approximately $90.
Wilmington International Airport houses four rental companies for passengers wishing to secure a car during their trip. Counters for Avis, Hertz, National and Thrifty are located near the baggage claim area.
Taxis are abundant at Wilmington International Airport and travelers will find easy and convenient service to the city and coast. Fares are approximately $20 from the airport to Wilmington.
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