21 Fun Things To Do In Wilmington (NC)

Wilmington, North Carolina, is known for its beautiful downtown and proximity to the Cape Fear River. There are also tons of fun things to do in Wilmington, NC.

Wilmington is a great place to live. It offers a lot of cultures and is in New Hanover County. There are also a lot of parks and restaurants in the area.

Several small beach communities surround this city and are known for their affordable prices and clean beaches.

This area is a perfect blend of small-town charm and big-city living. The article covers the exciting things to do in Wilmington (NC).

Where Is Wilmington, North Carolina?

Wilmington is a city and county seat in North Carolina’s New Hanover County. It is also a port city.

At the time of the 2020 US Census, the city had a population of 115,955. It is regarded as one of the most populated cities in North Carolina.

Wilmington is also the principal city of the metropolitan statistical area that includes New Hanover and neighboring Pender counties.

The city’s historic downtown area is known for its beautiful Riverwalk. In 2014, USA Today readers named it one of the best American cities for its waterfront.

It was also featured in the 2008 list of the 12 most distinctive destinations in the country.

The city’s residents live between the ocean and the river. It is also surrounded by several beach communities, such as Carolina Beach, Wrightsville Beach, Kure Beach, and Fort Fisher.

One of the area’s major universities is UNCW, known for its wide range of programs and sports events.

Things To Do In Wilmington (NC)

Although it’s not as famous as its sister cities of Savannah and Charleston, Wilmington has a historic district filled with various attractions such as fine antebellum homes, landmarks like Bellamy House, et cetera.

These are the fun things to do in Wilmington, NC;

1. New Hanover County Arboretum

Photo by Edward Orde via Wikimedia

In 1989, the city’s arboretum was established to provide visitors with various gardens containing multiple plants and grasses.

One of the most extensive water gardens in the state is also located in the facility.

The museum’s other gardens include a bog garden, an herb garden, a Japanese garden, and a children’s garden.

The gardens have over 4,000 native and naturalized plants. The facility also serves as a horticultural education center and is free.

In addition, it offers various opportunities for people of all abilities to enjoy gardening.

Address: The New Hanover County Arboretum is located at 6206 Oleander Dr, Wilmington, North Carolina, USA.

2. Bellamy Mansion Museum

Photo by Billy Hathorn via Wikimedia

One of the best things to do in Wilmington, NC, is to visit the Bellamy House Museum downtown Wilmington.

This antebellum mansion is a fantastic example of antebellum architecture.

The mansion is surrounded by a beautiful Victorian garden with winding paths and numerous trees that are 150 years old.

It’s also a museum showcasing the city’s design, arts, and history. The Bellamy House is one of the country’s last remaining urban slave quarters.

It offers daily guided tours that allow visitors to explore the city’s history.

Address: This attraction is located at 503 Market Street, Wilmington, North Carolina, USA.

3. Riverwalk

Photo by Jason W. Smith via Wikimedia

The Cape Fear River’s waterfront features Wilmington’s famous Riverwalk, which runs through the city’s historic district.

This walkway was initially designed in the 1980s to draw more people to the area.

Along the way, people are treated to panoramic city views and various attractions.

Some of these include the USS North Carolina and the Cotton Exchange. The historic Murchison Building is also a part of the area’s historic district.

Besides these buildings, the historic district features a variety of shops and restaurants. The walkway is also known for hosting the weekly Farmer’s Market.

Address: The Riverwalk is at Wilmington Downtown Riverwalk, Wilmington, NC 28401, USA.

4. Cape Fear Museum

Photo by Billy Hathorn via Wikimedia

The Cape Fear Museum was established in 1898 as the state’s oldest continuously operated history museum.

It’s dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of the Lower Cape Fear region.

Its collection includes over 50,000 artifacts that came from various areas in the city. It’s also known for hosting educational programs and exhibitions.

In addition, the museum also hosts traveling exhibitions. One is “Make it Work,” which showcases maritime work and simple machines. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday.

Address: This attraction is located at 814 Market St, Wilmington, North Carolina, USA.

5. Wilmington’s Historic District

The city’s historic district starts at Water and Market Streets and goes through various blocks.

It’s considered one of the country’s most extensive areas known for its historical attractions.

The historic district features various structures, such as churches, homes, and museums.

Some of the most popular ways to visit this area are by taking in the sights through sightseeing tours or using public transportation.

You can find over 40 local restaurants in this historic district. Some of these are located near the water’s edge and offer fresh seafood. There are also regular music performances in the area.

The area’s restaurants are known for serving up local food and providing excellent service.

Address: This attraction is located in Wilmington, NC, USA.

6. Airlie Gardens

Initially known as Airlie Gardens, this area was designed by landscape architect Rudolf Topel.

After realizing Topel’s vision, they transformed it into a public garden in 1999. Airlie Gardens is a must-visit if you’re planning to visit the area with the kids.

The gardens are known for their striking combination of formal and informal gardens. It also features an extensive collection of camellias, azaleas, and walking trails with beautiful views of Bradley Creek.

Address: The Airlie Gardens is located at 300 Airlie Rd, Wilmington, NC 28403, USA.

7. USS North Carolina Battleship

The construction of the USS North Carolina started in 1937. It was launched in 1940 and became known as the “Showboat.” The ship carried a variety of powerful guns.

During the Second World War, the vessel participated in numerous battles in the Pacific Ocean.

It also became known for its impressive battle stars. After it was decommissioned in 1947, it was brought to Wilmington in 1961.

Address: The USS North Carolina Battleship is at 1 Battleship Rd NE, Wilmington, NC 28401, USA.

8. Masonboro Island Reserve

Located Southeast of Wilmington is Masonboro Island. This area features a diverse range of habitats and estuarine systems. It’s an 8.4-mile-long barrier island.

This area is known for its diverse ecosystems and features tidal flats, rolling grasslands, ocean beaches, maritime forests, and salt marshes. This region also attracts a variety of wildlife and birds.

Address: The Masonboro Island Reserve is located at Masonboro Island State Natural Area, Wilmington, NC 28409, USA.

9. Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden

The Carnivorous Plant Garden is a public garden managed by the City of Wilmington and the Coastal Land Trust.

It’s located in the Pine Ridge Nature Preserve. The garden was named after Stanley Rehder, known for his dedication to preserving the plants native to this region.

Since these plants only grow in a specific area around Wilmington, they deserve to be protected and appreciated.

The garden is open year-round and is the best time to visit during spring. It features various walking trails and wooden observation decks.

Address: This attraction is located at 3800 Canterbury Road, Wilmington, North Carolina, USA.

10. Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens

Photo by Brian Leon via Flickr

One of the most notable examples of Georgian architecture is the Burgwin-Wright House, a museum house open to the public.

This house was constructed in 1770 and is listed on the National Register Of Historic Places.

It has several unique features, such as its rooms furnished with various antiques from the 18th to 19th centuries.

The magnificent gardens surrounding the house provide visitors with a tranquil oasis.

It features various plants, such as pomegranates and orchards, a rose garden, and a kitchen garden filled with herbs.

Visitors can also explore this garden through docent-led tours or self-guided tours.

The kitchen features a large hearth and cooking utensils, which you can use for private events.

Address: This attraction is located at 224 Market Street, Wilmington, North Carolina, USA .

11. Cameron Art Museum

Photo by Edward Orde via Wikimedia

The Cameron Art Museum was established in 1964 in downtown Wilmington.

It features a collection of art pieces that international and local artists make. It also hosts several exhibitions each year.

The museum is located on the Civil War Battle of Forks Road. It’s also surrounded by Confederate revetment sites constructed during this battle.

Address: This attraction is located at 3201 South 17th Street, Wilmington, North Carolina, USA.

12. Children’s Museum of Wilmington

The Children’s Museum of Wilmington is a fun and interactive museum located in downtown Wilmington.

It’s designed to provide children with various educational and entertaining experiences.

This facility features a variety of interactive exhibits and displays that encourage them to explore and learn more about art, science, and culture.

So if you’re looking for a great place to visit with kids, this museum is a great choice.

Address: This attraction is at 116 Orange St, Wilmington, NC, USA.

13. Poplar Grove Plantation

Photo by Corey Balazowich via Flickr

Joseph Foy built this plantation in the 1850s. It’s located in Scotts Hill and was established to preserve and protect an active community during the 19th century.

This property is also dedicated to showcasing the workings of a traditional farming family.

Since 1980, the Poplar Grove Plantation has been open to the public. It’s one of the oldest plantations in North Carolina and features a variety of exhibits and displays that provide a glimpse into the past.

Address: This attraction is at 10200 US-17, Wilmington, NC, USA.

14. Empie Park

Empie Park is a great place to enjoy various outdoor activities in Wilmington. It’s located between Park Avenue and Wrightsville Road and along Independence Boulevard.

This park features a variety of different activities and facilities. One of the most popular features of this park is the Wilmington Cross City Trail, a well-maintained paved trail that runs through the park’s perimeter.

Address: This attraction is at 3405 Park Avenue, Wilmington, North Carolina, USA.

15. Wilmington Railroad Museum

The Wilmington Railroad Museum is a great facility dedicated to preserving and presenting the history of the railroad industry in the Southeast.

It’s also located near the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. This museum provides an enjoyable and educational experience for everyone.

The museum was established in 1979 and featured various interactive exhibits encouraging kids to explore and learn more about art, science, and culture.

It also has a Thomas the Tank Train play area. This facility is designed to provide a variety of educational and entertaining experiences.

Address: This attraction is located at 505 Nutt Street, Wilmington, NC, USA.

16. Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts

One of the country’s oldest and most prominent performing arts facilities is the Thalian Hall Center.

This facility was opened in 1858 and featured multiple stages for different types of performances.

If you’re looking for a unique experience in Wilmington, check out a performance at this venue.

Visiting the Thalian Hall Center is one of the most fun things to do in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Address: This attraction is located in 310 Chestnut Street, Wilmington, NC, USA.

17. Noni Bacca Winery

Ken and Toni Incorvaia are the owners and operators of the Noni Bacca Wineries. This establishment was initially established in Buffalo, New York.

It was relocated to Wilmington in 2017 and is an award-winning business.

Address: This attraction is at 420 Eastwood Road, State 108, Wilmington, North Carolina, USA.

18. Tregembo Animal Park

The family-owned and operated Tregembo Animal Park was established in 1952. It’s located on Carolina Beach Road and features various animals.

The zoo started with just a few species and has grown to include over a hundred animals.

Address: This attraction is located at 5811 Carolina Beach Road, Wilmington, NC, USA.

19. Legion Stadium

The Legion Stadium is a 6,000-seat facility home to the Wilmington Hammerheads. They initially built this facility in 1930.

It underwent several renovations in 2011. It’s also the home of the local soccer team.

Address: This attraction is at 2149 Carolina Beach Rd, Wilmington, NC, USA.

20. Halyburton Park

Halyburton Park is a beautiful nature reserve that features various facilities. It’s also home to a 1.3-mile walking trail. This facility is one of the best things to do in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Address: This attraction is at 4099 South 17th Street, Wilmington, NC, USA.

21. Latimer House

The Historical Society of Wilmington purchased the house in 1963. It’s a museum with over 600 items related to the area’s history. Some of the rooms in the house are equipped with original fireplaces.

Visiting this museum is one of the best things to do in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Address: This attraction is located at Latimer House, 126 S 3rd St, Wilmington, NC 28401, USA.

Best Time To Visit Wilmington, North Carolina

The best time to visit Wilmington is during the spring and summer when the temperatures are lower, and the hotel rates are more affordable.

In addition, the city and its surrounding areas are usually full of tourists during the summer.

Cost Of Visiting Wilmington, North Carolina

The average cost of a vacation in Wilmington is around $163 a day. This cost is based on the expenses that other visitors have made.

Some of the most common fees that past travellers have experienced during their stay in the area include local transportation and meals.