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Top Things To Do In Wilmington

Wilmington is vibrant coastal city with close proximity to the beach and the Cape Fear River. Travellers of all ages can explore the riverwalk in view of the famous military ship, the USS North Carolina. History buffs will love Wilmington for its historic plantations and World War II attractions. Those looking for modern entertainment will appreciate the revitalized shopping district’s fine dining and unique entertainment options. Keep reading to learn how to make the most of your trip to this North Carolina gem.

Take a stroll along the Riverwalk. This mile-long wooden boardwalk follows the Cape Fear River and leads to the Cotton Exchange shopping district. Visitors will delight at its many attractions, which include a weekly farmers market and a number of annual festivals.

The best activities to do near Wilmington include:

  • Touring the historic district in downtown Wilmington
  • Visiting the Battleship North Carolina
  • Walking through the Pre-Civil War Bellamy Mansion
  • Smelling the flowers at Airlie Gardens
  • Dining at Dockside Restaurant & Marina

There are many affordable activities in Wilmington. Walk through the city’s Historic District, which showcases dozens of 19th and 20th century buildings. Grab a delectable treat at Wake N Bake Donuts, which is also conveniently located in the Historic District.

Here are some cheap attractions near Wilmington:

  • Tour the University of North Carolina-Wilmington campus
  • Walk the grounds of the Poplar Grove Plantation
  • Rent a kayak at Greenfield Lake
  • Sip a beer at Yosake Sushi Lounge during Happy Hour
  • Visit the New County Harbor Arboretum

The Battleship North Carolina is one of the best things to do for tourists in the city. This massive, WWII-era warship carried 2,195 enlisted men and now, their stories are incorporated throughout the exhibits. The Bellamy Mansion is another popular place to visit. This antebellum home details the stories of the slaves who resided there and the former owners of the home, John Bellamy and his family.

There are some popular attractions near Wilmington:

  • Explore Fort Fischer and its surrounding beaches
  • Dine and shop at the Riverwalk
  • Explore exhibits inside The Cameron Art Museum
  • Swim and surf at Carolina Beach
  • Tour the historic Poplar Grove Plantation

Visitors will find many fun things to do during the day in Wilmington. Start the day with a tour of Airlie Gardens, which sprawls over 60-acres of freshwater lakes. On your visit, find the 500-year-old Airlie Oak tree and the butterfly house. Then, enjoy a classic burger at The Fork ‘N’ Cork before checking out the Wilmington Hammerheads soccer team play a game at Legion Stadium.

Exciting activities happening near Wilmington today include:

  • Exploring the pier at Wrightsville Beach
  • Shopping for trinkets at Mayfaire mall
  • Dining at Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn
  • Visiting the Wilmington Railroad Museum
  • Touring the Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens

Just because the sun is setting doesn’t mean the fun is ending. Wilmington has plenty of fun things to do at night. Jump to the rhythm at a Bourgie Nights concert. Then, go to The Dead Crow Comedy Room for a laugh, especially on open mic nights.

Nighttime activities near Wilmington include:

  • Going to an outdoor show at the Hugh Morgan Amphitheater at Greenfield Lake Park
  • Watching a theater performance at the Cape Fear Playhouse
  • Dancing the night away at Pravda dance club
  • Dining on authentic Thai and Vietnamese cuisine at Indochine Restaurant

Friday is here, and that means people are on the prowl for weekend adventure. Get in touch with the other side of Wilmington on a thrilling Ghost Walk: a choose your own adventure with three different options. For daytime thrill, attend the massive July arts festival in Wilmington, which features opera, theater, dance and more over a two-week period.

Try these weekend activities near Wilmington:

  • Camp near the sand at Carolina Beach
  • Ride horse drawn carriage tour of historic Wilmington
  • Eat your way through a tasting tour of the city
  • Brunch on pancakes and mimosas at the George on the Riverwalk

Family entertainment options are unstoppable in Wilmington. For fun in the sun, head to Jungle Rapids. Or, try The Children’s Museum, which is great for young ones. Kids that don’t mind creepy-crawlies will have a blast at the Cape Fear Serpentarium, which houses more than 80 exotic snakes.

Family-Friendly things to do near Wilmington include:

  • Touring the Fort Fisher Aquarium
  • Visiting the Wilmington Railroad Museum
  • Letting kids run through the playgrounds at Halyburton Park
  • Jumping on the trampolines at Defy Gravity
  • Playing mad-scientist at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science

Stately antebellum architecture, brick-lined streets, and moss-covered oaks in Wilmington make wonderful backdrops for romance. Steal glances on a sunset cruise on the Cape Fear River, stroll hand-in-hand along the Riverwalk, or cuddle on a horse-drawn carriage ride.

Date night ideas near Wilmington include:

  • Drinking wine while viewing the artwork at Bottega
  • Trying a couple’s massage at Relax Massage Therapy & Skin Care
  • Catching a movie at Lumina Theater on UNC-Wilmington campus
  • Touring the tasting room at Bombers Beverage Co.
  • Eating an authentic French meal at Le Catalan

There are plenty of group-friendly attractions in Wilmington. Sports fans should grab tickets to a Wilmington Sharks baseball game or a UNC Wilmington Seahawks basketball game. Or, break free from Exit Game, the escape room where you can pull of a casino heist or capture the Zodiac Killer.

Here are the best things to do with friends near Wilmington:

  • Try your hand at Trivia on the Hell’s Kitchen trivia night
  • Search for landmarks and learn local history on a scavenger hunt downtown
  • Drink bottomless mimosas while brunching at the District Kitchen
  • Toast to friendship at Noni Bacca Winery

Wilmington offers many indoor activities for visitors. Start your day a hot yoga class at The Yoga Center before heading to The Cameron Art Museum, which is home to six rotating exhibits and ceramic art classes. Then, venture to Burchetta Glass Blowing Studio for a daily demonstration.

Things to do indoors near Wilmington include:

  • Bowling at Cardinal Lanes Shipyard
  • Shopping for apparel at Independence Mall
  • Learning about movie magic at EUE Screen Gems Studio
  • Watching a star show at the Ingram Planetarium
  • Sipping hot tea at Luna Caffe

There are many outdoor attractions in Wilmington. People who want to learn more about the history of the city should go on a water tour or a free trolley ride. Hugh McRae Park is a great stop on the way to Wrightsville Beach. Water enthusiasts should try kayaking down the Cape Fear River or paddle boarding at Wrightsville Beach.

Outdoor activities in Wilmington include:

  • Going on a Segway tour in the city
  • Touring breweries on the Port City Brew bus
  • Biking through Halyburton Park
  • Shopping around the Cotton Exchange
  • Walking along the pier at Carolina Beach

Hidden gems are plentiful in Wilmington. Find the little alleyway that leads to a 1920’s-era speakeasy lounge, The Blind Elephant. Or, try The Barbary Coast, a quirky dive bar that has more than 100 flavors of beer and a rear patio overlooking the Cape Fear River.

Try these must-see places near Wilmington:

  • Play old-school video games at Blue Post Billiards
  • Order classic comfort foods at Winnie’s Tavern
  • Sift through the strange and uncommon at The Museum of the Bizarre
  • Watch plants fight for their food at The Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden
  • Get to know the reptiles at the Cape Fear Serpentarium

Top Attractions

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Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden General Daytime (9 a.m.-5 p.m.) Admission Pass
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Winston-Salem Historical Ghost Tour
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