by Diana Lambdin Meyer
This sleek, contemporary hotel, located right on the beach, has been a part of the vacation scene in Wrightsville Beach for more than 50 years. However, its modern rooms and 21st century vibe set the tone for an exciting vacation experience.
Example: Who in your family is a fan of the “Hunger Games”? Of course, the series has been shot primarily in the mountain region of North Carolina, but many of the state’s businesses have been engaged in the production, including the High Point furniture industry. The lobby of the Blockade Runner is outfitted with chairs and other furnishings identical to those you’ll see at the Capitol in the “Hunger Games.”
However, the name — Blockade Runner — is a nod to the Civil War heritage of the region, when the Union Navy formed a blockade into the port of Wilmington and small, fast Confederate ships, called blockade runners, circumvented the Navy and delivered goods to the Confederate Army.
Another highlight of the resort is the Sandcampers Childrens program, which takes care of specialized activities for the little ones in your family. For teenagers, this is the time for them to learn to surf or sail. Nothing brings a family together like time spent fishing. Either plan a family excursion with Captain Joe or bring your own poles and fish from the two piers that define the boundaries of the Blockade Runner property to the north and south.
Our Editor Loves
- Great beach location
- Adjoining rooms
- Free valet parking
- Water Parks
- Family Room 5+
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The 150 rooms of the Blockade Runner are divided between two wings; one is a seven stories, the other is four stories. All rooms have fabulous views of either the ocean or the Harborview. Both are equally impressive, but for a beautiful sunset, ask for a Harborview room.
All rooms are equipped with a mini-refrigerator, microwave and Keurig coffeemaker. Wi-Fi is free and strong throughout the property.
There is no additional charge for cribs or rollaways.
A limited number of rooms have shower/tub combinations, so if a tub is important to you, be sure to ask. Otherwise, most rooms have showers only. Adult robes are a nice amenity.
Choose from a king bed or two queens. There's plenty of room for a crib or rollaway without feeling too cramped for space. The balcony is not huge, but big enough for a lounge chair and table -- a great place for coffee in the morning. The bathrooms in the Oceanview Balcony rooms are a little larger than the Club offerings.
Choose from a king or two queens in this spacious room. It's about the same lay-out at the Oceanview Balcony, but it does not offer a full balcony, just a Juliette balcony.
Juliette balconies are the only option here, but they still provide a lovely view of the harbor. Choose from a king bed or two queens. The rooms are indeed spacious, but the bathrooms are a little cramped, especially for a family of four.
This is our first time at BR and overall we like the hotel. As other reviewers have mentioned, the grounds are very nice and well kept. We were given a complimentary upgrade to a room with a walkout balcony which was super. We have had one hiccup. Last night we tried to get the heat on in the room but all we got was cold air. I called to ask for assistance but was told that the entire building is on one system and since we had warm temperatures yesterday, they have not yet switched over to heat. We were advised to turn off the fan and open the balcony door to let some warm air in. Okay. Today's temperature was in the mid-50's, cloudy and windy. Our room is 69 which is not warm enough for us. Unfortunately we both got sick the day before our reservation, which is another reason we would like the room to be warmer. My husband has managed to get the temp up to 71 by running the hair dryer. And by the way, it is 46 outside with a windchill of 41 and low expected in the 30's tonight. This is so not okay.
Great accommodations for a large group. There was a huge new gas stove and dishwasher as well as a large supply of kitchen tools at the Cottage. Having a working fireplace (gas logs) this time of year was especially nice. The staff was helpful.
Beach and Toys
The Blockade Runner has more than 500 feet of beautiful sand beaches, perfect for all that sand beaches are made for. A Wrightsville Beach lifeguard stand is located right in front of the hotel. Surfboards, boogie boards, stand-up paddle boards and other beach toys are available on a first come, first served basis. Kite flying is great in these parts so bring one of your own or invest when you get here.
Beach chairs and umbrellas are all set and waiting for your family each morning.
The Blockade Runner is located between two massive fishing piers that provide plenty of opportunity for watching, for lessons or just dropping your own line. Bring your own rod and reel or rent one on the Johnny Mercer Pier or ask at the front desk about lessons and other fishing outings with Captain Joe.
The massive outdoor pool includes a little swim-through entrance to the fitness center to a small splash pool about four feet deep. The outdoor pool ranges from three to six feet in depth. A number of cabanas, lounge chairs and bistro tables provide a variety of options for your family gathering.
The pool is open year-round and heated when the days become a little cooler.
The spacious lawn and gardens between the hotel and the beach are often filled with people playing soccer, corn hole or bocce ball. Nearby, a net is always set for beach volleyball. Ask for the balls at the front desk.
From June 1 to the end of August, the Sand Campers children's program provides specialized entertainment for kids 4 to 12 years old. Daily themes include pirates, dolphins and more. One day a week, sea life from the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher come for a visit.
Note that this is only a mid-day program, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It includes lunch. On Friday evenings, the program is available from 6 to 9 p.m. for parents who would like some adult time and an evening out on their own.
Scenic Boat Tours
Captain Joe Abbatte and his ship, the Shamrock, drops anchor just across the street from the Blockade Runner's parking lot. He offers a number of history tours, fishing excursions and other special events via water. Reservations and other information about seasonal events are available right at the front desk of the Blockade Runner.
Wednesday Night Pool Parties
This is for the entire family with movies, games, contests and silliness around the pool until 10 p.m. or later.
Sound to Surf Academy
Take the opportunity of this vacation for your kids to learn how to surf. The water along Wrightsville Beach is ideal for those just getting started, learning to stand up on a surfboard and getting the feel of the ocean.
Surfing lessons, sailing lessons, kayaking lessons and more are available, at an extra charge, without leaving the comforts of the Blockade Runner Resort.
East Oceanfront Dining
This lovely dining area gets its name from the massive windows and east facing view toward the Atlantic Ocean. The kids will be entertained by massive fish tanks that showcase some of the more colorful underwater life of this area.
Breakfast is a comprehensive buffet of just about everything you can think of and included in your room rate.
The lunch and dinner menu changes seasonally since the chef relies heavily on local produce and fresh caught seafood. For lunch, fish tacos and falafel burgers are mainstays, along with chicken and turkey sandwiches. You'll always find a seasonal soup and salad selection.
For dinner, the menu is heavier on elegant, locally-sourced seafood dishes, Angus beef steaks and Maine lobster. Children's options include petite shrimp, pasta and burgers. Reservations are recommended on Friday and Saturday nights in the summer.
Sea Escape Pool Bar
Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, this is the place for light lunch and snacks throughout the day. Enjoy salads or slices of fresh fruit, burgers and quesadillas, among other snacks. Of course, ice cream is a must on a hot summer day.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
In-room babysitting services are available seven days a week. A 24-hour notice is required. Rates vary seasonally.
A small gift shop in the lobby is open 24 hours. In addition to a few snacks and sundries, you might pick up on a locally-made piece of jewelry or the perfect hat to protect you from the sun.
Located on the main level adjacent to the pool, the fitness center is equipped with Life Fitness cardio equipment, as well as a number of free weights and other weight machines. The facility has a small indoor splash pool with a swim-through door out to the larger pool. No one under 15 is allowed in the fitness center without an adult.
In Room Massages
In-room massages are provided by a local day spa. If you would like more spa services, the hotel shuttle provides complimentary transportation for its guests.
Oceanfront yoga is offered every Saturday and Sunday morning at 8 a.m.
The Art of Smart Timing
As you would expect, summer is the busiest time on Wrightsville Beach and that's when you really need to plan ahead to guarantee the room you like. The off-season is quite lovely in Wrightsville Beach, which is when the best rates are available. A good walk along the beach is always possible and the pool is heated all year long.
However, the East Oceanfront Dining Room does reduce its hours in the off-season, including no lunch service between Christmas and New Year's Day.
Depending on traffic, which is worse in the summer and on weekends getting to the beach, the Wilmington International Airport (ILM) is about 40 minutes away on the north side of Wilmington. After crossing the intracoastal waterway and turning right, the hotel is just about two minutes on your left. The parking entrance sneaks up on you and is tucked away behind some shrubbery, so be alert.
There's really only one road with a few side streets through Wrightsville Beach, so you can't get lost. Traffic can get a little heavy on summer holiday weekends, but is otherwise quite manageable.
The hotel provides complimentary shuttle service to anywhere in Wrightsville Beach, which is about 5 miles long. Take advantage of it when you can. But you might want your own vehicle, as well, because some great restaurants and attractions are nearby on Carolina Beach and across the Sound in Wilmington. You'll need a private vehicle to get there.
For Mom and Dad
The lawn and garden area on the oceanside of the property is just beautiful, particularly when you can find a fire pit or two cozy chairs in an intimate setting. Get a drink from the bar and watch the stars, or just walk hand in hand along the beach in the moonlight. Does it get any better than that?