My family spends quite a bit of time in the Wrightsville Beach/Wilmington, NC area as it is only a two hour drive for us. We actually used to live there pre-children, so my husband and I are very fond of the area. The beaches there are beautiful, lots of white sand. The area has grown a lot (don't know if thats a plus or a minus, depends on your prespective). There is A LOT to do there. YOu have the beach scene with Wrightsville Beach and neighboring Carolina and Kure Beaches...lots of restaurants and bars, whatever you fancy as well as the Aquarium at Fort Fisher (redone a few years back and very nice). Also, boating is great there if you have a boat...you can find yourself your own private island to find shells and sunbathe. If you don't have a boat, you can go to the North end of Carolina Beach and drive a 4X4 on the sand and party with the beach crowd...people camp out all weekend having a great time. It's a huge party. There are also charters you can take to catch very nice fish such as mahi mahi, king mackeral and sea bass to name a few. And, if none of that is for you there is a boardwalk at Carolina Beach (though it's very old and somewhat run down, still worth a visit to go to the homemade donut shop...Britt's Donuts).
In Wilmington, you'll find every major chain restaurant and lots of nice shopping. Due to an influx of retirees and the budding film industry, Wilmington now has LOTS of upscale boutiques and shops...and prices to fit them. There is also lots of shopping downtown on the historic riverfront with lots of unique stores and restaurants...don't pass up the Cotton Exchange.
I hope this review has enticed you to look into visiting the Wilmington area, it sure has made me want to go:)