Pounding surf or placid inland waters? Wandering on miles of beach or paddling for hours on smooth, clear waters? These are the type decisions one needs to make before picking an East Coast vacation destination. Well, they used to be.
Head for Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina and if you stay at Blockade Runner, you don’t need to decide. Unique to Wrightsville Beach and just about everywhere else I can think of, this resort has both Atlantic Ocean beach frontage as well as their own inland beach and docks on the sound.
A historic past
Since 1897, vacationers have been coming to this address at the southern end of North Carolina’s coast. The Seashore Hotel was the first to be built on the site. In 1922 the Ocean Terrace Hotel was built with its dance pavilion and kept folks coming to the shore until destroyed by a monstrous hurricane in 1954. After ten years of weighing alternatives for the site, the Blockade Runner was built in 1964. Due to its popularity, 30 balconied guest rooms were added shortly thereafter along with a kitchen expansion, addition of the East Oceanfront Dining room, and meeting rooms.
The hotel derives its name from the Confederate ships that were able to sneak through the river blockades around Wilmington and Cape Fear during the Civil War. Carrying much needed supplies to replenish the troops, they would make their daring raids only in the dark of night at high tide. The hotel’s ballroom and meeting rooms are each named after one of these ships.
Year-round fun awaits
Positioned to accommodate guests year round, Blockade Runner is a popular place for meetings, weddings and corporate events. Unique among beachfront properties, the Blockade Runner has two huge lawns on the ocean side of the property that accommodate all types of outdoor events. A long, white, wooden walk bordered with plants and flowers invites guests to wander to the edge of the dunes for a great view of the expansive beach and an occasional sighting of a school of dolphins swimming by.
With access from “surf to sound,” you’ll have daily choices to make as to where you want to play. The Atlantic side offers seemingly endless beaches for walking, running or shell collecting. Want to learn to surf? There are surfing lessons available. Skim boards, Boogie boards, Wet suits? They’ve got them. Want to stay upright on your board for longer periods of time? Head over to the sound side and mount a stand-up paddleboard. You can paddle for miles if you like. Kayaks are available for rent as well.
Love the water, but want someone else to provide the propulsion? Boat rides are available from the dock on the sound side of the resort. Scenic tours, sunset cruises, pirate cruises and starting soon, bird watching expeditions are all available to guests and others.
Prefer dry land? Rent a bike and cruise up the coast or over the bridge toward the marinas, the 2.5 mile multi-purpose trail or some fabulous gardens. Whatever your preference, just ask the friendly Blockade Runner staff. They seem ready to fulfill any request.
Really athletic? Blockade Runner caters to tri-athletes and stand up paddle boarders0, sponsoring numerous events year round. North Carolina’s moderate climate lets you train all year long.
But what about the rooms?
A host of room sizes and layouts are available, with and without balconies. All are recently remodeled and offer all the amenities you’d expect at the beach. Our room featured a plush king bed with seating for four in front of a large flat screen TV. Our first impression was that we were entering a chic NY apartment, not a vacation motel room.
Another small TV was wall mounted above the giant soaking tub. Or you could opt for the rainfall shower if you didn’t have time for the full soak in the tub. Two circular lounging sofas on the balcony offered places to watch the sun come up while you enjoyed your Keurig coffee or tea. In the lower building, all rooms are ocean front.
In the taller building, you’ll have a choice of ocean or harbor views. Don’t automatically think you must have the ocean view. The harbor view is really quite scenic and offers the opportunity to watch the sun set after your day of fun.
Want to accommodate your own family reunion or wedding party? The owners also have an adjacent, two-story “Cottage” which can sleep 26 people in 13 bedrooms with 9 baths. A phenomenal living room with fireplace is a great place to hang out, relax, play board games or watch the large flat screen TV. Outdoor decks, up and down, with plentiful rocking chairs are the perfect places to watch the sun rise or set. All hotel amenities are available to cottage residents as well.
But there’s more…
All that activity is going to make you hungry. First, all guests get a complimentary breakfast buffet that’s bound to please even the pickiest of eaters. Eight large chafing dishes with eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, French toast and more are just the start. Fresh fruits and cereals, with loads of bread and other choices make it easy to feed everyone in your group.
Two different people told us that we “must” come back for dinner. Sometimes you just have to take people at their word and we sure were happy we did.
Award-winning Executive Chef Mark Lawson and his staff offer a wide variety of small plates, soups and salads for starters. Go for the lobster bisque. For your main course, pick from seafood, meat, vegan or a combination. I went for the herb-crusted flounder, sautéed shrimp, carrot thyme risotto, and asparagus that was a perfect combination for the palate. My better-half had what she described as the best filet mignon she’s ever had anywhere. It was accompanied by goat cheese bread pudding, aged balsamic demi-glace and smoked bacon-jalapeno marmalade. Save room for dessert though…if that’s possible. The handmade ice cream sandwich and the raw coconut panna cotta are guaranteed to please.
If you agree that surf, sand, and great food are God’s gifts to human-kind, check out their special packages that add champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries or wine and cheese to your weekend stay. Write us later and tell us how much you enjoyed it.
[Be sure to catch the video above.]
275 Waynick Blvd.
Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480