Known for its strong arts community, the Cape Fear Coast offers endless opportunities for arts lovers to explore music, theater, visual art and dance.
Arts Council of the Lower Cape FearFounded in 1972, this private, non-profit group offers grant support for local artists and cultural organizations, educational programs and hosts cultural events.
807 N. Fourth St., Wilmington. 910-762-4223.
Brunswick County Arts CouncilSince 1981, this group has provided assistance for local arts groups, including grants for artists and educational programs and classes.
Pender County Arts CouncilThis council supports arts in Pender County by hosting classes for children, art shows and by supporting local artists.
200 W. Freemont St., Burgaw. 910-259-4891.
Thalian HallPerhaps the essence of the arts community in Wilmington, Thalian Hall for the Performing Arts is one of the oldest theaters in the country. Opened in 1858, the theater hosts 250 performances each year in its Main Stage, Grand Ballroom and Studio Theatre. Thalian Hall also offers programs for area schoolchildren.
310 Chestnut St., Wilmington. 800-523-2820.
Louise Wells Cameron Art MuseumThis museum is dedicated primarily to exhibiting and preserving art from North Carolina. In 2002, Cameron Art Museum doubled its space to 42,000 square feet when it opened up a new facility. The museum offers a permanent collection of North Carolina and American art from the 18th century to the present.
3201 S. 17th St., Wilmington. 910-395-5999.
Wilmington Art AssociationThis organization promotes visual arts by allowing local artists the chance to exhibit their work in its gallery. The Wilmington Art Association also hosts workshops and funds scholarships for students. It is located at Chandler’s Wharf at Ann and Water Streets.
225 S. Water St., Wilmington. 910-343-4370.
Opera House Theatre CompanyIn its 21st year, the Opera House Theatre Company puts on five mainstage productions and several studio productions throughout the year. The 2006 season includes Sweet Charity, Peter Pan, 1776 and Little Shop of Horrors. The group performs at Thalian Hall.
Wilmington Symphony OrchestraLed by conductor Steven Errante, the orchestra performs in Kenan Auditorium at UNC Wilmington. In addition to its youth orchestra and educational programs at area schools, the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra provides a free family concert every year.
Kenan AuditoriumOn the campus of UNC Wilmington, Kenan Auditorium hosts the school's theater and music productions as well as the Wilmington Symphony and the North Carolina Symphony.
601 S. College Road, Wilmington. 910-962-3500.
City Stage TheatreLocated on the fifth floor of the Masonic Temple Building, this theater was created in 1914. Once owned by film star Dennis Hopper, the building was recently renovated to include a rooftop bar, and Level 5 at City Stage opened as a bar and theater in 2000.
21 N. Front St., Wilmington. 910-342-0272. Our Purpose:
CreativeWilmington.com is working for a broad public understanding of, and appreciation for, the positive impact the arts play in enriching cultural, economic, and intellectual life in our community.
Acme Art Inc.This community of artists housed in 18,000 square feet hosts guest artists, exhibits, performances, poetry readings and concerts.
711 N. Fifth St., Wilmington. 910-763-8010.
Blues Society of Lower Cape FearFormed in 1987, this blues society hosts blues concerts and events including the Cape Fear Blues Festival in July, which features regional and national acts.
Chamber Music Society of WilmingtonThis group performs traditional and contemporary masterworks in Thalian Hall. Discussions before performances add to the experience of the audience.
Cape Fear Jazz SocietyCelebrating it 26th year in 2006, the Cape Fear Jazz Society presents a variety of jazz productions including Jazz in the Park at Hugh McRae Park and the North Carolina Jazz Festival held every February.
Franklin Square GalleryDisplaying works by local and regional artists, Franklin Square Gallery also offers art classes and a pottery studio. It also houses the Associated Artists of Southport.
130 E. West St., Southport. 910-457-5450.
The Wilmington area’s enticements are many and diverse, but the greatest treasures to be found are the simplest: the beaches. In very few places along the entire East Coast will you find so many beaches (spanning three counties), all of them beautiful and clean and – relatively speaking – uncrowded. The beaches really are our main draw, which is why the state and local governments consider “beach health” a top priority.
With few exceptions, any beaches that have taken a punch during the autumn hurricanes are replenished and revitalized over the wintertime in preparation for warm spring weather and all the tourists who come to enjoy it.
From Topsail Island in Pender County through New Hanover and Brunswick counties, Wilmington’s beach communities are worlds unto themselves, forming a chain of unique islands and island towns interspersed with inlets and estuaries. The heritage of the coastal lifestyle is celebrated throughout the year with oyster, shrimp and even spot festivals.
Topsail Island is in Pender County, a 45-minute drive north of Wilmington via U.S. 17. Named for the fact that pirate ships often would exploit the island’s many hidden coves from which they could view the “top sail” of ships they might loot, this community includes the towns of North Topsail Beach, Surf City and Topsail Beach. The total year-round population is about 4,000 for the entire island and the real estate values are some of the more affordable of the beach communities, although high-end homes can be pricey.
Between Topsail Island and Wrightsville Beach is Figure Eight Island, a private, very exclusive resort community with no commercial enterprise. Covering 1,300 acres, Figure Eight includes five miles of beaches and can be accessed only by a guarded drawbridge.
Wrightsville Beach, however, is open to all and can be quite bustling during a summer season that extends to nearly nine months out of the year. This small community with a year-round population of just under 3,000 residents has worked hard to maintain its simple, unhurried atmosphere.
As the closest beach to Wilmington, lying adjacent to the city’s eastern border across the Intracoastal Waterway, Wrightsville Beach is very much a part of the greater Wilmington community. The town is a five-mile-long island that begins on the east side of a drawbridge that spans Banks Channel. It boasts one of the area’s most attractive beaches, as well as several restaurants and the Crystal, or Oceanic, pier jutting out into the Atlantic. Johnny Mercer’s Pier, near the north end, was recently rebuilt after a storm several years ago. One of the highlight attractions of the year is the Holiday Flotilla, in which nearly 200 boats of all shapes and sizes parade down the Intracoastal Waterway decked out in all their Christmas glory. Wrightsville Beach’s immense popularity in recent years as both a tourist destination and residence has led to almost a complete absence of available real estate or lots to build on. Many of the town’s homes are unheated and have stayed in the same families for generations. Any prospects for single-family homes come with a steep starting price; the few condominiums available fetch similar prices.
Just to the south of Wrightsville Beach, across the Masonboro Inlet, sits Masonboro Island. An eight-mile-long stretch of sand, marshes and tidal creeks, Masonboro is utterly deserted and void of development; in fact, it is the last wholly undeveloped barrier island along the southern coast of North Carolina.
Accessible only by boat, Masonboro offers a great way to spend a day watching birds and wandering about its untouched seascape. Bluenose dolphins are a common sight from shore. When you’re wading in the water, watch out for the skates and sand sharks that patrol the area for their daily catch.
Carolina Beach and Kure Beach share the same stretch of land that holds the Fort Fisher Civil War site at its southernmost tip. Separated from Wilmington by the Intracoastal Waterway at Snow’s Cut, Carolina Beach has undergone a major renovation in both image and atmosphere. Where its boardwalk and glitzy main street once were flush with bars and rowdy partiers, the town has aggressively sought to renew itself as a destination for families. Many of the area’s fishing charters leave from here, and its myriad restaurants feature every possible variation on the theme of fish, including Calabash style. Some of the best real estate values in greater Wilmington still lie in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, and new construction is available.
Bald Head Island, off the southern tip of Fort Fisher at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, is a private resort community that’s open to the public for day trips. Home of the oldest lighthouse in the state (“Old Baldy,” built in 1818), the island is accessible by a private ferry or your own boat and is known for its relatively untouched marshes and beaches, as well as remnants of an ancient maritime forest.
Bald Head Island sits in the mouth of the Cape Fear River, protecting the tiny mainland fishing town of Southport, in Brunswick County, from the ocean. One way to get to Southport is a beautiful half-hour ferry ride from Fort Fisher, while U.S. 421 along the west side of the river is another. Most visitors find Southport filled with unparalleled charm, as well as plenty of antique shops, restaurants and public parks. Houses here are much in demand and so are higher priced than other areas.
Just below Southport, across the mouth of the river from Bald Head Island, is Oak Island, which consists of three beach communities – Caswell Beach, Yaupon Beach and Long Beach. (Yaupon and Long merged in 1999 to form the town of Oak Island.) All these communities have resort rentals but are overwhelmingly occupied by permanent residents who enjoy a quiet lifestyle along some of the best beaches in the area.
Finally, there are the South Brunswick Islands of Holden Beach, Ocean Isle and Sunset Beach, the last of which touches the South Carolina border. Holden Beach has a year-round population of about 900, while the other two combine for a total population of about 2,500 residents. While there isn’t much room left on Holden Beach for growth, lots still can be found on Ocean Isle and Sunset Beach for reasonable prices, and condominium units are also available.
Wilmington is one of the fastest growing cities in the country; Myrtle Beach is already thought of as the Bible Belt’s Las Vegas and tour-bus heaven. Between those two thriving areas is Brunswick County – nearly 50 miles of pristine shoreline along five barrier islands. Newcomers find Brunswick County appealing because it offers a quieter lifestyle and more affordable housing than New Hanover County. Catch it while you can.
Though the area is moving into the path of the developers’ dreams, with more hotels and resorts and newer, larger bridges planned, it has yet to lose its relaxed charm. In addition to quiet beaches, newcomers will enjoy historic Southport, reminiscent of a colonial fishing and shipping village, and the excavated colonial village of Brunswick Town.
Golfers will find at least 35 champion courses within the county and hundreds more in the surrounding cities and countryside.
Yet, the area is quickly changing. Economists predict that Brunswick County will triple its population and expand its economy in double digits each year for the next 10 years, boosted by the completion of the I-140 Northern Outer Loop.
Just north of the South Carolina border is Calabash, famous for its many restaurants serving a deep-fried style of seafood that has earned it the title of “seafood capital of the world.’’ The town has about 1,350 permanent residents.
Perhaps that’s why Brunswick has grown so dramatically over the past 20 years and is expected to continue growing over the next 20. In 1980, just over 35,000 people called Brunswick County home. That jumped to more than 50,000 by the 1990 census. The census for 2000 confirms a population of more than 73,143, with the largest part of that coming from retirees, and an estimated 85,000 today – an increase of 16 percent just in the past six years.
The county government began preparing for the growth, and even encouraged it, with the construction of a water system that serves the whole county. New towns have been incorporated and other areas have been annexed in all corners of the county.
The population is not only expanding, it is also getting older, suggesting that an influx of affluent retirees is helping drive the growth. The rapid growth has created a commercial and residential construction boom.
At the southeastern tip of Brunswick County is Southport, set at the western edge of the mouth of the Cape Fear River, with a population around 2,600. Packed with antique shops and eateries, Southport is easily accessible from N.C. 87 to the north or N.C. 211 to the west, or by taking a relaxing ride on the state ferry from Fort Fisher on U.S. 421.
The town’s history goes back to confrontations between rebellious colonists and British authorities during the Revolutionary War period and includes a long and salty time as a primary N.C. seaport. The historic feel and architecture has made it a favorite spot for filmmakers, who filmed “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and “Crimes of the Heart” there, among other features. Southport is known for its huge North Carolina Fourth of July festival and fireworks (in fact, it was one of the first locations in the country to celebrate the holiday, starting in 1795). The town is also close to several historic sites including Brunswick Town, Fort Anderson and Orton Plantation.
Brunswick Town is the county’s first colony, founded in 1726 by Maurice Moore, the son of a former South Carolina governor. It became a shipping port for tar, turpentine and pitch exports. In 1776, the town was razed by British troops and abandoned. Nearly 100 years later, the site of Brunswick Town became Fort Anderson, a Confederate fort in 1861 as part of the river defense of Wilmington.
During the 1950s and ’60s, archaeologists discovered the town’s historic structures, including St. Phillip’s Anglican Church, which dates back to 1754. Visitors can see some of the homes and buildings that remain along with historic artifacts in the visitors center. Halfway between Wilmington and Southport, Orton Plantation is a rice plantation established in the early 1700s and known for its high-quality produce. Although the home remains a private residence, the grounds and gardens are open to the public. The gardens, first created in 1910, were expanded between 1935 and 1950 to its present 20 acres of rich, colorful vegetation ranging from azaleas and camellias to mixed pines and hardwood trees. A diverse array of wildlife – including alligators – also inhabits the plantation.
Right across the mouth of the river from Southport is Oak Island, which is divided north to south into the beach towns of Caswell Beach, Yaupon Beach and Long Beach.
Caswell Beach has some of the highest property values on Oak Island, perhaps because it is such a quiet and desirable place to be. The town takes its name from Fort Caswell, built in 1826, seized by Confederate forces in 1861 and held until 1865. It now houses the North Carolina Baptist Assembly, which welcomes thousands of visitors of all denominations each year.
The Oak Island Lighthouse is one of the most impressive structures in the region, standing 169 feet and beaming its light more than 19 miles – the brightest light in the United States and the second-brightest light in the world. Located at the southeastern tip of Brunswick County at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, the lighthouse was built in 1958 to replace the Cape Fear Lighthouse. In 2004, the Oak Island Lighthouse became the property of the Town of Caswell Beach. Just to the south of Caswell Beach is Yaupon Beach, which merged with its southern neighbor, Long Beach, in 1999 to form the town of Oak Island, the largest town in Brunswick County with 7,400 permanent residents. Considered a family beach, Long Beach is known for its protection of families of sea turtles, which come to the beach to lay eggs. Hundreds of volunteers watch the nests and ensure that baby turtles make their way to the ocean.
To this day, Oak Island has only a small amount of commercial development, instead devoting most of its available space to residential dwellings.
A group of three islands forms a row just to the south of Oak Island. Called the South Brunswick Islands, they include Holden Beach, Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach. Holden Beach is about eight miles long and holds about 900 permanent residents. It protects its “family beach resort’’ image through zoning rules that include a 35-foot building height limit. The island features a fishing pier, fish houses and several charter boats among its handful of businesses, while the unincorporated area leading to the beach has miniature golf courses, a mini-car track and a bumper-boat pool.
Entrance to the island is by way of a high-rise bridge that at its peak offers a great view of the island and surrounding areas. Because there is little room for development left on Holden Beach, real estate prices are relatively steep.
Ocean Isle Beach is southwest of Holden Beach, across Shallotte Inlet, and northeast of Sunset Beach, across Tubbs Inlet. It is surrounded by golf courses and features its own airport. The town has about 500 permanent residents. Ocean Isle Beach has more condominiums and high-density housing than neighboring Holden and Sunset beaches, which has prompted the board of commissioners to study reducing the number of units allowed per square acre.
Ocean Isle Beach is the home of the Museum of Coastal Carolina, a natural history museum with exhibits of live sea animals, seashells, saltwater fish, birds, marsh animals and snakes, as well as Native American artifacts and relics from the Civil War. It hosts special programs for children and adults.
Sunset Beach is a tiny three-mile-long sliver of beach that is accessible by a single-lane bridge with a population of about 2,000 people. Commercial development includes a few restaurants, a store and several golf courses. Of particular note is Bird Island, accessible from Sunset Beach only at low tide. As an uninhabited state preserve, the island is home to a variety of coastal birds and other wildlife.
The Sea Trail Golf and Conference Center at Sunset Beach is a resort that offers several residential communities including villas and single-family homes.
Part of the Museum of Coastal Carolina, Ingram Planetarium and Science Center on Sunset Beach includes programs and hands-on astronomy exhibits for visitors of all ages. The 85-seat domed theater provides an 360-degree sound and light show.
Bald Head Island, the southernmost cape island in North Carolina, is truly an escape from everyday life. Accessible only by powerboat or pedestrian ferry, the island allows no cars within its 12,000-acre enclave. It is also the home of the Bald Head Lighthouse – also known as “Old Baldy” – built in 1818. Visitors can tour the lighthouse, which features spectacular views from the top.
Calabash is on the mainland, but is of note because of its reputation for fine seafood, which comes off the shrimp boats that dock along the Calabash River. Dozens of specialty shops and art galleries in Calabash offer unique shopping opportunities.
Farther inland, Waterford of the Carolinas in Leland is a new development with creeks and streams, which wind through the community, and Osprey Lake. Almost every homesite is on the water. The neighborhood offers new brick patio homes and custom brick homes. Waterford features a community pool and clubhouse, a tennis facility and trails.
The revitalization of the Cape Fear Region’s economy that began a decade ago – which many trace to the long-awaited completion of I-40 – continues strong into the 21st century.
A diversity of industries provides the region with a foundation that ensures further growth. Between tourism, manufacturing and even the movie business, the Cape Fear Region’s economic push shows every sign of being able to sustain itself well into the future.
By sheer numbers, the continuing growth in population means good business for everyone. As people continue to relocate to the area from other states – New Hanover County’s population has increased by more than 33 percent in the last decade to 174,000 residents – the health care, service and construction industries prosper.
The film industry in southeastern North Carolina, while facing stiff competition from Canada, is still one of the liveliest in the country. To the 650-plus resident technical crewmembers and the hundreds of local support services that depend on film industry spending, movies are a major factor in the economic growth and stability of the Cape Fear area. More than 300 feature films and television series have been filmed here, including Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill and Surface.
The region’s healthy manufacturing sector continues to play a big role in the economy. The city is home to such large employers as Corning Glass Works, General Electric and Fenner Drives. Wilmington International Airport offers direct flights to Charlotte, Philadelphia, Atlanta and New York on USAirways and Delta Connection airlines. Wilmington International served 700,000 passengers in 2005, an increase of 22 percent over 2004.
The I-140 Outer Loop or U.S. 17 Wilmington Bypass, recently opened between U.S. 421 and U.S. 17. The remaining portion is under construction.
The Cape Fear Skyway – a 9.5-mile skyway linking the western terminus of the U.S. 17 Bypass to Town Creek in Brunswick County – is currently in the works.
The state port, just south of Wilmington’s historic district, is part of the N.C. State Ports Authority system. Each year the port processes more than a million tons of goods through its terminal on the Cape Fear River, 26 miles from the river’s mouth. With direct rail links to two inland facilities at Charlotte and Greensboro, the port accommodates more than 450 ships each year, facilitating the export of tobacco, textiles, wood products and vehicles and the import of chemicals, machinery and fruit from South America.
Where other businesses succeed, retail usually finds a viable market too. That’s certainly the case in Wilmington, where larger national retail chains continue to establish themselves in the many shopping centers being constructed just outside of downtown Wilmington.
While stores move into existing malls in the loop formed by Oleander Drive, College Road and Market Street, others have begun sprouting just south and east of the city in previously undeveloped sections. The population increase has guaranteed healthy sales for such do-it-yourself chains as Home Depot and Lowe’s, general department stores like Goody’s and Target, and more specialized outfits like Circuit City, Office Max and Barnes & Noble.
The large influx of retirees has spurred the area’s economy by bringing higher disposable incomes, a desire for leisure and recreational activities and a need for health-care services. In fact, the health-care industry has enjoyed unprecedented growth recently, with health-care-only business parks being constructed. Since the consolidation of New Hanover Regional Medical Center and Cape Fear Memorial Hospital in 1998, the combined entity has sought to divide medical services between the two sites, while also expanding upon the health programs that address the region’s changing demographic base.
Even with all the activity along the Cape Fear Coast, Wilmington’s historic district – once down and out – has little trouble attracting tourists to the many retail businesses and restaurants that have opened there in the last five years. Large downtown festivals – Riverfest in the fall and the Azalea Festival in the spring – add tens of thousands of visitors, benefiting the many restaurants, nightclubs and shops in the historic district.
Brunswick and Pender counties have profited from the tourism industry as well, as hotels and restaurants are bolstered by affluent beachgoers, and real estate development remains strong. As growth in the Cape Fear Region continues, the area is destined to be a major economic force in the years to come.
In the past several years, public school systems along the Cape Fear Coast have been rising to meet the changing needs of a student body that’s growing in numbers as quickly as the area is as a whole.
The systems in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties continue to build new schools and renovate older ones to provide more classroom space. At the same time, they’re emphasizing improved quality of education through innovative programs such as interdisciplinary studies, renewed emphasis on the basics and other efforts. Here’s an overview of each system:
Public School Contact InformationNew Hanover County Schools
6410 Carolina Beach Road
Wilmington, NC 28412
Brunswick County Schools
35 Referendum Drive
Bolivia, NC 28422
Pender County Schools
925 Penderlea Hwy.
Burgaw, NC 28425
Private School Contact InformationRoger Bacon Academy
3610 Thaddeus Lott Lane, Leland, NC 28451
Charter Day School
Grades K-6 (K-7 for 2005-2006 school year)
7055 Bacon’s Way, Leland
The Children’s Schoolhouse – Montessori
Age 3 - Kindergarten
612 S. College Road, Wilmington
Friends School of Wilmington
Age 18 months - Grade 8
Middle School: 350 Peiffer Ave., Wilmington
Elementary/Pre-school: 207 Pine Grove Drive, Wilmington
L&L Montessori School
4150 Vanessa Drive, Southport
Myrtle Grove Christian School
806 Piner Road, Wilmington
New Horizons Elementary School
3705 S. College Road, Wilmington
Southport Christian School
8070 River Road S.E., Southport
St. Mary Catholic School
217 S. Fourth St., Wilmington
Wilmington Christian Academy
1401 N. College Road, Wilmington
Wilmington Academy of Arts & Sciences
4126 S. College Road, Wilmington
ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTSA child entering kindergarten must be 5 years old on or before Oct. 16.
A valid birth certificate must be presented at the time of registration.
Each child entering kindergarten must have a physical examination, conducted by certified health-care professionals, including hearing and vision screening, and complete medical history.
The following immunizations are required by N.C. law before a child can enter school:
5 DPT shots (diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus). If the fourth dose is on or after the 4th birthday, the fifth dose is not required.
4 polio immunizations. If the third dose is after the 4th birthday, the fourth dose is not required.
1 measles immunization, on or after the 1st birthday.
1 rubella (German measles) immunization.
1 mumps immunization.
1 HiB immunization.
Medical exemption must state in writing a specific reason why a certain vaccine should not be given to a child.
COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIESUniversity of North Carolina at Wilmington 601 S. College Road
Wilmington, NC 28403
Cape Fear Community College 411 N. Front St.
Wilmington, NC 28401
Brunswick Community College 50 College Road
Supply, NC 28462
Miller-Motte Technical College 5000 Market St.
Wilmington, NC 28405
Shaw University - Wilmington campus 224 N. Front St.
Wilmington, NC 28401
Mount Olive College - Wilmington campus1422 Commonwealth Drive
Wilmington, NC 28403
Southeastern Community CollegeP.O. Box 151
Whiteville, NC 28472
University of North Carolina PembrokeP.O. Box 1510
Pembroke, NC 28372
All new residents who plan to drive must obtain an N.C. driver’s license within 60 days of establishing a permanent residence here. Most newcomers, unless they drive commercial vehicles, will want a Class C license, which permits operation of personal cars and small trucks. If you drive a motorcycle, you’ll also need a motorcycle endorsement. Licensed drivers who are 16 or 17 years old must present proof of completion of a state-approved driver education course in their former state; otherwise, they receive a temporary license pending completion of the course here.
North Carolina driver’s licenses are good for five years. To get a license, apply in person at a driver’s license office and take the vision, sign recognition and written tests. (It’ll help to study the “Driver’s Handbook,” available at DMV offices.) When you apply, present your current out-of-state license or two other accepted forms of ID, as well as proof of liability insurance from an insurer licensed in North Carolina.
A Class C license, the license needed by most drivers to operate personal automobiles and small trucks, costs $4 per year. In most cases, licenses are issued for five years. The DMV offices are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Check out www.ncdot.org/DMV for more details.
Driver’s License OfficesOne Station Road (U.S. 17), Wilmington
2390 B-5 Carolina Beach Road, Wilmington
910-251-5747 or 910-251-5748
5298-3 S. Main St., Shallotte
215 Atlantic Ave., Southport
805 S. Walker St., Burgaw
Motor Vehicle Registration
2390 B-6 Carolina Beach Road, Wilmington
13 S. Kerr Ave., Wilmington
102 S.E. 58th St., Long Beach
5300-A Main St., Shallotte
14689 U.S. 17, Hampstead
You must register your vehicle before the reciprocity agreement between North Carolina and your former state expires (usually 30 days). Registration is renewed annually.
To register your vehicle, apply in person at a license plate agency and present your title (unless title is held by a lien holder) and a valid registration card from your former state. If your title is held by a lien holder, you must provide the lien holder’s name and address with the valid registration card. You also must present proof of vehicle liability insurance at or above minimum standards (see driver’s license information for the list of acceptable documents). Fees due when you receive N.C. registration include title fee, $40, and registration fee, $15. You also must get a vehicle safety and emissions inspection within 10 days of receiving your N.C. license plate, which can be done at any state-authorized inspection station for $30. Inspection is required annually.
N.C. counties assess annual property taxes on motor vehicles. Your car will be registered when you receive your license plate, and you’ll receive a bill in about three months.
Rules of the Road
Speed limits range from 55 mph to 70 mph on interstates and from 55 mph to 65 mph on open highways; the limit is 35 mph inside municipal corporate limits unless otherwise posted.
Motorcyclists must wear helmets and drive with lights on at all times.
Seat belt use is mandatory for driver and front-seat passengers. Children 8 and under who weigh less than 80 pounds must be restrained in an appropriate child-safety seat at all times; they also must sit in the back seat if the vehicle has an active passenger-side air bag and a back seat that can hold the safety seat. Everyone younger than 16 must use a seat belt or child-safety seat at all times, no matter where they sit in the vehicle.
Right turn on red is permitted after a complete stop unless otherwise posted.
Drunken-driving rules are strict. A motorist is guilty of driving while impaired (DWI) if his blood alcohol level meets or exceeds 0.08 percent or if he is under the influence of or affected by alcohol and/or other drugs. Penalties can include fines, imprisonment and license revocation. The best rule: Don’t drink and drive.
To vote here, you must be at least 18 or older, a legal resident of the county where you register and a U.S. citizen. You also must register at least 30 days before an election. For more information on registering to vote, contact your county’s board of elections.
New Hanover County Board of Elections
230 Market Place Dr., Suite 180
Wilmington, NC 28401
Pender County Board of Elections
805 S. Walker St., Room 138
Burgaw, NC 28425
Brunswick County Board of Elections
10 Referendum Dr. NE
Bolivia, NC 28422
Property Tax RatesProperty tax rates are revised each year in conjunction with budget planning. For details on property taxes, contact your county’s tax office.
New Hanover County
Local GovernmentsNew Hanover County
Bald Head Island
ElectricityProgress Energy Carolinas
City of Southport
Four County Electric
Piedmont Natural Gas
CableTime Warner Cable
WILMINGTON GOLFBald Head Island Club
303 S. Bald Head Wynd, Southport
Beau Rivage Plantation
6230 Carolina Beach Road, Wilmington
Belvedere Plantation Golf & Country Club
2368 Country Club Dr., Hampstead
Cape Fear Country Club
1518 Country Club Road, Wilmington
Masonboro Country Club
535 The Cape Blvd., Wilmington
Echo Farms Golf & Country Club
4114 Echo Farms Blvd., Wilmington
Fox Squirrel Country Club
591 S. Shore Dr., Southport
Gauntlet at St. James Plantation
3021 Beaver Creek Dr., Southport
Pete Dye course
1550 Landfall Dr., Wilmington
Jack Nicklaus course
1515 E. Landfall Road
North Shore Country Club
101 N. Shore Dr., Sneads Ferry
Oak Island Golf & Country Club
928 Caswell Beach Road, Caswell Beach
Olde Point Golf & Country Club
513 Country Club Road, Hampstead
Semi-Private Pine Valley Country Club
500 Pine Valley Dr., Wilmington
Porters Neck Country Club Plantation
8403 Vintage Club Circle, Wilmington
Sea Trail Plantation & Golf Resort
211 Clubhouse Road, Sunset Beach
Topsail Greens & Country Club
19774 US Hwy 17, Hampstead
Wilmington Municipal Golf Course
311 S. Wallace Ave., Wilmington
WILMINGTON HEALTH CARE
New Hanover Regional Medical Center2131 S. 17th St.
Wilmington, NC 28401
Cape Fear Hospital5301 Wrightsville Ave.
Wilmington, NC 28403
Pender Memorial Hospital507 Fremont St.
Burgaw, NC 28425
Wilmington SurgCare1801 S. 17th St.
Wilmington, NC 28401
Dosher Memorial Hospital924 N. Howe St.
Southport, NC 28461
Brunswick Community Hospital1 Medical Center Drive
Supply, NC 28462