Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Wilmington, NC

  • Published 2022/10/12

The city of Wilmington is the seat of New Hanover County in North Carolina.

It’s known to be a vibrant community with a walkable district and beautiful island beaches that anyone can enjoy.

Wilmington is also a historic area that played instrumental roles in shaping American history.

So while visiting the city, you’ll be treated to a combination of picturesque views and authentic sites.

Check out the best things you can do in Wilmington, North Carolina!

Live the Sailor Life at Battleship North Carolina

View of the docked Battleship North Carolina

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If there’s one place you shouldn’t miss when visiting Wilmington, it’s definitely the Battleship North Carolina on Battleship Road.

See what it’s like to be a sailor by walking around this battleship and witness history come alive when you hear age-old stories from the crew members.

Main guns of Battleship North Carolina

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Visitors are welcome to go on a self-guided tour, but you can also opt for a guided tour if you want to get in-depth information about the Battleship North Carolina.

Engine room in Battleship North Carolina

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This floating city at sea played an instrumental role during WWII, which is all the more reason why you should swing by.

You’ll also want to spend some time hanging out by the second deck, where you’ll find the living spaces, sick bay, mess decks, ship stores, and more.

A room in Battleship North Carolina

Andrii Vodolazhskyi /

Wander around Airlie Gardens

Reflection ponds at Airlie Gardens

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There’s nothing quite like a myriad of flowers gracing your eyes, blooming and boasting wonderful colors that show how wonderful nature is.

Wilmington’s very own Airlie Gardens is one of the few places you’ll find this kind of view, and it’s definitely something you won’t find anywhere else.

Located along Airlie Road, this attraction is dedicated to preserving some of the natural wonders you’ll find across Wilmington.

Tall trees at Airlie Gardens

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Airlie Gardens encompasses more than 67 acres of blooming fields, live oaks, walking trails, and structures.

Aside from having majestic gardens, there’s also a butterfly house filled with native North Carolina butterflies and the Minnie Evans Bottle Chapel, which makes a great backdrop for your photos.

Pathway at Airlie Gardens

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Bring Your Kids to the Children’s Museum of Wilmington

Make visiting museums extra fun for your kids when you take them to the Children’s Museum of Wilmington on Orange Street.

This museum gives young kids the chance to have fun and learn through its interactive exhibits.

Have your children learn the ways of life by immersing them in various activities inside the Children’s Museum of Wilmington.

Take them to the Discovery Diner, and educate them about making healthy food choices, or let them learn self-care as early as now by going to the pediatric dental exhibit.

There’s also the Little Baker’s Lab, which gives kids a crash course on science and technology, and The Studio, where they can unleash their creativity by engaging in several art-focused activities.

Visit the Bellamy Mansion Museum

Exterior of the Bellamy Mansion Museum

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Step back in time and marvel at classic architecture when you visit the Bellamy Mansion Museum on Market Street.

The Bellamy Mansion was built between 1859 and 1861 and covers 10,000 square feet of Greek Revival, Neoclassical, and Italianate styles of architecture.

The mansion underwent a series of renovations since its inception, but today, visitors are more than welcome to explore its 22 rooms and outbuildings.

Entrance door of the Bellamy Mansion Museum

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Aside from the main house, you can also check out the slave quarters, a two-story brick building where you’ll find the sleeping chambers, laundry room, and two privies.

You can also wander around the gardens that belonged to Eliza Harris Bellamy, which boasted dozens of blooming colors until it underwent a slow decline after her death.

Signage of the Bellamy Mansion Museum

Dawn Damico /

Discover Unique Artworks at the Cameron Art Museum

Exterior of the Cameron Art Museum

Edward Orde, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Art aficionados visiting Wilmington are sure to have a great time touring the halls of the Cameron Art Museum on South 17th Street.

Get a good look at top-notch exhibitions and curated collections of unique works by regional and international artists.

The Cameron Art Museum features fine arts, crafts, and design from historical and contemporary periods.

Entrance to the Cameron Art Museum

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Most permanent collections shine a light on artists like Mary Cassatt, Saul Steinberg, Maud Gatewood, and Jugtown Pottery, among others.

This Wilmington museum also features a wide range of rotating exhibits, giving viewers something new to look at for every visit.

Spend Family Day at Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park

Make your visit to Wilmington enjoyable for everyone when you swing by Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park on Oleander Drive.

There are about 10 main attractions you can check out while in this entertainment center, catering to adults, kids, and teens.

Engage in a friendly competition of mini bowling with your friends, or dominate the jungle golf course under the clear Wilmington skies.

For a more intense activity, you can try rock climbing or enjoy racing on a go-kart.

Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park also has its own water park, which you’ll definitely enjoy when beating the summer heat.

View the Collections at Cape Fear Museum

Exterior of Cape Fear Museum

Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You’ll find many museums in Wilmington, but if you’re looking for some of the best ones, add Cape Fear Museum to your list.

Located along Market Street, Cape Fear Museum is home to over 57,000 objects that date back to the rich culture of Lower Cape Fear.

Many collections were gathered during the late 1890s, most being confederate relics from the Civil War.

Education exhibit in Cape Fear Museum

Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You’ll also find a bunch of Native American artifacts from the Archaic period up to modern items in the 20th century, such as photographs, furniture, clothes, tools, and more.

Once you step outside the museum, you’ll be directed to the park, which contains interactive artworks and gardens with native plants.

A fox displayed in Cape Fear Museum

Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tour the City with Springbrook Farms Carriage

Embark on a horse-drawn tour, and enjoy the wonderful sights of Wilmington with Springbrook Farms Carriage.

Springbrook Farms Carriage takes you through premier Wilmington destinations while riding gentle horses, giving you the feel of going around the city before cars were invented.

The horse-drawn tour gives you the entire experience with drivers dressing for the part as they take you to stately mansions and historic sites.

While on tour, make sure to bring your camera with you because you’re sure to find picturesque views around the city that make the perfect souvenir.

Booking a tour with Springbrook Farms Carriage also means supporting a cause, as the company rescues abused and unwanted Percheron draft horses.

Trace the Origin of the Railway at the Wilmington Railroad Museum

Exterior of the Wilmington Railroad Museum

Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dial it back to a couple of decades ago when trains took over the lands, and learn everything there is to know about the railways when you visit the Wilmington Railroad Museum.

The Wilmington Railroad Museum is located on Nutt Street and provides visitors with a fun and educational experience.

Learn about railroad history, including the most prominent personalities behind railway systems engineering.

Climb aboard a life-size caboose, and explore every nook and cranny of a century-old steam locomotive inside the museum.

Children are also welcome to play at the custom train tables and interactive models at the Children’s Hall.

See Unusual Displays at Museum of the Bizarre

You won’t find anything out of the ordinary when visiting museums in Wilmington, unless you step inside Museum of the Bizarre on South Water Street.

Prepare to freak out or feel the chills running down your spine when you visit this one-of-a-kind Wilmington attraction.

There’s nothing normal about the things you’ll find inside Museum of the Bizarre, which is all the more reason why you should visit.

Check out crazy displays like the Crystal Skull of Knowledge, Fort Fisher Mermaid, a Chupacabra Hand, Ghost Deer, and more.

You’ll also get to see what’s inside the cabinet of curiosities and get awesome souvenirs like a photograph inside the jaws of a shark or try an authentic Van De Graaff generator.

Step Back in Time at the Burgwin-Wright House

Exterior of the Burgwin-Wright House

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Experience what it’s like living in a Wilmington house built in the 1700s when you check out the Burgwin-Wright House on Market Street.

This classic destination is perhaps the only one of its kind, as it’s considered the only structure from the colonial era that remains open to the public.

Witness Georgian architecture at its finest, and get a good look at pre-revolutionary Wilmington when you walk around the halls of the Burgwin-Wright House.

During the tour, you’ll see most of the furniture and displays are from the 18th and 19th centuries, and a colonial-style garden with an orchard with pomegranate and fig trees.

Other structures include sub-basement jail cells and a freestanding kitchen house.

Reconnect with Nature at the New Hanover County Arboretum

An arched bridge at New Hanover County Arboretum

Coastal Girl /

Reconnect with nature and immerse yourself in the grandeur of the New Hanover County Arboretum along Oleander Drive.

This arboretum offers visitors the chance to relax and take a step back from their busy lives to appreciate Wilmington’s finest views.

When you visit the New Hanover County Arboretum, you’ll be treated to over 10 specialty gardens that highlight the beauty of native and seasonal flowers in Wilmington.

Scenic view of New Hanover County Arboretum

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Take a good look at the myriad of colors cascading down the fields in the form of hybrid teas, shrubs, floribundas, and a whole lot more.

You’ll also find a lot of native herbs and forbs, such as boneset, blue star, gayfeather, Indian pinks, goldenrods, and frog fruit, among others.

Pink hibiscus flowers at New Hanover County Arboretum

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Go Wine Tasting at Noni Bacca Winery

Wine connoisseurs visiting Wilmington will have a blast hanging out at Noni Bacca Winery along Eastwood Road.

Noni Bacca Winery offers nearly 50 different premium-quality wines, which you can taste seven days a week.

This winery is considered a favorite among visitors and locals from Wilmington and the Cape Fear region, offering True Italian-style reds, whites, thirst-quenching fruit styles, and dessert wines.

Experience the bursting flavors of your favorite wines, and hang out by the tasting room as you chat away with your friends.

Noni Bacca Winery is a great venue for hosting several events, such as holiday parties, birthdays, anniversaries, and more.

Watch the Sunset from the Wilmington Riverwalk

View of the sunset from Wilmington Riverwalk

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Nothing beats the sight of the sun going down, sinking behind the waters, and signifying that the busy day has ended.

Even when you’re on vacation in Wilmington, you’re bound to enjoy looking at the sunset from wherever you are.

But if you’re looking for a picture-perfect spot, it’s definitely at the Wilmington Riverwalk on Water Street.

Shops at Wilmington Riverwalk

William Hunton /

Located along historic downtown Wilmington, the riverwalk encompasses two miles of scenic walkways and hundreds of shops you can check out while you’re there.

Watch the crystal clear waters glisten before the sun transforms into this orange hue and sinks from the horizon to give way to the moon in a couple of minutes.

Have a Relaxing Day at Greenfield Park

The waters of Greenfield Park

Buckeye Sailboat /

There’s no better way to relax and take your mind off of work or even take a break from touring the streets of Wilmington than spending a day at the park.

Wilmington’s Greenfield Park is the perfect place to take a breather and enjoy a calming atmosphere away from the busy streets.

Covering 250 acres, Greenfield Park offers several biking and walking trails along Greenfield Lake, giving visitors a scenic view of the city.

Paved trail at Greenfield Park

Zach Rudisin, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can also explore the lake’s waterways by renting boats and kayaks or bust some movies at the skatepark.

If you’re just looking for a quiet space, you can simply lay your picnic blanket by the grass under a tree, and read your favorite book while enjoying the view.

Final Thoughts

If you’re still unsure of where to go or what to do while in the city, all you have to do is stick to this list of the best things to do in Wilmington, North Carolina, and you’ll be guaranteed to have a good time.

So, what are you waiting for?

Book your trip today!

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