Coastal destinations in the Carolinas offer relaxing and productive meeting sites. Spend time on the Carolina coast, visit the many historic districts, and sample delicious fresh seafood. You might even run into a celebrity in this “Hollywood East” filming locale.
Wilmington, North Carolina
If you’re looking for variety in a coastal destination, you’ll find it at Wilmington with its historic downtown and three island beaches: Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach.
“We like to say we’re one destination with four unique settings,” said Connie Nelson, communications and public relations director of Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Each beach has its own personality and vibe.”
Primary meeting facilities include the Wilmington Convention Center, which has a 30,000-square-foot exhibit hall, 5,784 additional square feet of meeting space, a ballroom and outdoor space. The Holiday Inn Resort Wrightsville Beach has over 8,400 square feet of meeting space and Courtyard by Marriott Carolina Beach has over 3,200 square feet of meeting space.
There are 26 additional meeting venues in town, such as the River Room, the Bellamy Mansion and the Latimer House. Other off-site meeting spaces include the art loft Crescent Moon, 9 Bakery and Lounge, the Brooklyn Arts Center, Airlie Gardens and the USS North Carolina Battleship.
There are more than 200 shops in the historic river town, as well as restaurants, tours and other entertainment. The area is often known as Hollywood East because of the vast number of films that have been shot there.
Meeting planners can take advantage of the area’s wealth of restaurants for catering, private events or dine-around evenings that highlight a diversity of cuisines.
“There are over 100 restaurants and pubs in the city center,” said Ed Wolverton, president and chief executive officer of Downtown Wilmington Incorporated.
Caprice Bistro and Manna Avenue offer upscale dining, and the Copper Penny and the Dixie Grill have more relaxed atmospheres. Fresh seafood can be found at many venues.
Don’t forget to soak up some sun on the beaches and visit one of the many festivals, museums and theaters in town.
Beaufort, South Carolina
Named Coastal Living Magazine’s Happiest Seaside Town in 2013, Beaufort is full of historic charm and is ideal for small group meetings.
The cultural and artistic setting and the vistas and views are what Robb Wells, tourism division executive of Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce, said make the town attractive to visitors.
“Beaufort has all of this authentic Low Country South Carolina charm,” Wells said. “It’s the cultural setting for us that brings out a sense of relaxation.”
Primary meeting facilities include the University of South Carolina Beaufort campus, which has breakout and gallery space and can accommodate more than 400 people in a presentation-style setting.
The Holiday Inn has over 4,000 square feet of meeting space, and the Hilton Garden Inn has 1,450 square feet of meeting space. Wells said a new meeting facility, Tabby Hall, will be located in the heart of downtown Beaufort and will have 5,000 square feet of meeting space.
“You don’t have to have a large group to meet here,” Wells said. “There are a plethora of activities to do. This is where meetings and events come to life.”
Because of its numerous art galleries and art walks, Beaufort has consistently been ranked as a top arts destination in various magazines. The town is also bursting with history, and several walking, riding and movie tours are offered.
Whether a meeting location is in the heart of downtown or outside the area, most hotels have catering options, or visitors can sample the local culinary scene. Everything from barbecue to Mediterranean food can be found in Beaufort, and the local seafood is sea-to-table, fresh and straight from the water.
Wells recommends Plums Restaurant, the Saltus River Grill and Emily’s Restaurant and Tapas Bar, all within walking distance of the downtown area.
“Dining in Beaufort is a great way to get the local vibe and culture, to take in the scene,” Wells said. “For a town of 15,000, the restaurant scene is really on par.”
River tours, dolphin watching, historic landmarks and a wealth of other activities are available. Above all, the residents of Beaufort are proud of their heritage, and that, Wells said, is what makes the town special.