15 Best Things to Do With Kids in Wilmington, NC

Things to Do in Wilmington, NC with Kids
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Create unforgettable memories with your family by traveling to Wilmington, the county seat of New Hanover County on the southern coast of North Carolina.

Wilmington is situated near Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Wrightsville Beach, making it a famous spot for various water sports and activities.

Exciting and fun-filled activities await kids and adults in the city, which boasts several historical and recreational destinations.

Your trip to Wilmington will include a tour of a heroic ship, several action-packed games, exploring different museums, and soaking in its charming gardens and parks.

Read more about the best things to do in Wilmington, North Carolina with kids for your next family adventure.

Take a History Trip Aboard Battleship North Carolina

View of the docked Battleship North Carolina
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Begin your adventure with the kids with a tour of Battleship North Carolina, a restored World War II ship along Battleship Road.

Opened in October 1961, Battleship North Carolina serves as a memorial honoring the 11,000 North Carolinians who fought and sacrificed their lives during the war.

The deck and guns of Battleship North Carolina
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Navigate through the nine levels of the battleship and explore the living spaces, mess decks, engine room, and more.

Visitors can observe the guns, take a break in the mess decks, or catch a sight of the ship’s resident alligator named Charlie from the bow.

Engine room in Battleship North Carolina
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There are arrows to guide you through and several climbing ladders to check out in the battleship.

Since Battleship North Carolina is not air-conditioned, visitors can briefly experience what it’s like being part of the crew or what the sailors must have felt aboard the vessel.

Captain's bridge in Battleship North Carolina
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Splash around at Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park

Beat the heat of a Carolina summer by trying various thrilling activities at Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park along Oleander Drive.

Stay cool at Jungle Rapids’ Waterpark and have a fantastic time with its water slides, wave pool, kiddie splash area, and many other features.

Quench your thirst at Snack Shack and grab a bite at Big Splash Cafe.

Family fun does not end in Waterpark—Jungle Rapids has dry park features also where you can enjoy various games.

Get your game face on in Jungle Rapids’ laser tag arena, huge arcade, and go-karts.

Play a relaxing game of miniature jungle golf, and spend time with the kids in the jungle playground with slides and ball pits.

Jungle Rapids also has an indoor climbing wall with different difficulty levels to test your strength and endurance.

Bounce and Play at Flip N Fly

Another indoor attraction you can visit is Flip N Fly along Inspiration Drive.

Flip N Fly is the city’s largest trampoline park spanning 28,000 square feet and boasting state-of-the-art equipment to make it family-friendly.

Over 10 attractions in the park will keep you entertained and excited, from Olympic trampolines to aerial obstacles.

There is also a play court dedicated to kids and a professional ninja course to show off some skills.

If you want to take a break, you can play classic games at the arcade and recharge at the cafe.

Learn about Trains at the Wilmington Railroad Museum

Exterior of the Wilmington Railroad Museum
Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Train lovers and enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the Wilmington Railroad Museum on Nutt Street.

Founded in 1979, the museum aims to feature the rich history of railroading and its significance in the southeastern United States.

Visitors of all ages will be interested in its broad collection of displays and activities.

Hop on a life-size caboose, explore a century-old steam locomotive, and be informed of the prominent figures and important events in railroad history.

Marvel at the Wilmington Railroad Museum’s custom train tables and interactive models.

Kids will also find Thomas the Tank Engine in the Children’s Area, among other lively action accessories.

Ignite Your Creativity at the Children’s Museum of Wilmington

Take the kids on a trip to the Children’s Museum of Wilmington on Orange Street for a fun, creative learning experience.

Open to the public since 1997, the museum is situated in three historic buildings of the former St. John’s Museum of Art, including St. John’s Masonic Lodge, Greek Orthodox Church, and The Cowan House.

The Children’s Museum of Wilmington has four levels of interactive exhibits and learning programs to spark children’s creativity, imagination, and curiosity.

Its activities cater to various interests of kids of different ages, and its exhibits cover topics on arts, culture, and science.

Kids can sign up too for different programs, where they can enjoy story time, take art classes, or learn more about the world.

Go Back in Time at Cape Fear Museum

Exterior of Cape Fear Museum
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Have a tour of the past at Cape Fear Museum, North Carolina’s first history museum founded in 1898.

Since its establishment, the museum has moved around the city until it settled at its current site on Market Street in 1970.

Discover Cape Fear Museum’s vast collection of over 57,000 objects related to history, science, and culture.

Education exhibit in Cape Fear Museum
Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spend time at the Michael Jordan Discovery Gallery to better understand the environment and the region’s ecosystems.

More hands-on exhibits and activities await you at New Hanover County Cape Fear Museum Park, where you can also catch sight of various native and adaptive plants.

Have Fun with Trampolines at DEFY Wilmington

A short drive from Cape Fear Museum, relieve stress with trampolines at DEFY Wilmington, a part sports and part entertainment venue on Market Street.

This sports park features different attractions where you can push your limits and bring yourself to greater heights, as its name suggests.

Harness your competitive spirit and prepare to play basketball and dodgeball while on a trampoline.

You can practice your aerial stunts and parkour skills at DEFY Wilmington, too.

As for the kids, they can zip through the air, have fun in a bed of foam, or be a ninja for a day in various play areas.

Immerse in Nature at Airlie Gardens

Reflection pond of Airlie Gardens
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Reconnect with nature by touring the astounding grounds of Airlie Gardens nestled along Airlie Road.

Pembroke and Sarah Jones acquired Airlie’s historic property in 1884 and transformed it into a magnificent garden.

New Hanover County eventually took over and restored the gardens with grant funding.

Airlie Gardens spans over 67 acres featuring several gardens, such as the Pergola Garden, Minnie Evans Bottle Chapel, and the seasonal Tranquility Gardens & Butterfly House.

The grounds of Airlie Gardens
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Spend the day with the kids in the presence of blooming flowers, lush plants, and mighty live oaks, or follow the walking trails and check out dozens of art pieces installed throughout the area.

Airlie Gardens is a great spot for young animal lovers to observe various species of birds.

To learn more about the gardens, join its special events, tours, and interactive activities hosted on-site.

Pathway at Airlie Gardens
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Head to Crossfire Paintball for a Thrilling Game

For thrill-seekers, plan a visit to Crossfire Paintball, which touts itself as North Carolina’s only indoor paintball and nerf park.

This recreation center spans over 15,000 square feet on Castle Hayne Road, providing low-impact paintballs to be enjoyed by kids and adults.

Crossfire Paintball is also a popular site for hosting different events like birthday parties and team-building activities.

Aside from a game of paintball, young kids can engage in a fun, competitive Nerf Wars with the family.

You can enjoy an hour of axe throwing or play with easy-to-use blasters that shoot soft gel balls.

Enjoy a Quiet Stroll at the New Hanover County Arboretum

A small bridge at New Hanover County Arboretum
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Find more vibrant gardens at the New Hanover County Arboretum along Oleander Drive.

Open since 1989, various groups support the operation of the arboretum that functions as a “horticultural laboratory.”

Wander through its seven acres of seasonal gardens, including the Japanese Garden with a tea house and flowing stream, and the Rose Garden providing colorful sights and wonderful scents to delight the senses.

Plants at New Hanover County Arboretum
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Take a breather with the young ones at the miniature cottage in the Children’s Garden.

There’s also the Contemplation Garden, a serene area dedicated to Bronze Star Army veteran and past County Extension Agent Durwood Baggett.

The New Hanover County Arboretum hosts special events year-round, and guided tours may also be requested.

Hibiscus flowers at New Hanover County Arboretum
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Have a Heart-Racing Fun at Battle House Laser Combat

Battle House Laser Combat is another amusement site along Hall Drive that will definitely get your heart pumping.

It aims to provide a memorable gaming experience to everyone by offering an exciting form of laser tag, which is tactical in nature and uses high-technology equipment.

An action-packed game awaits you and your family in its massive indoor arena, spanning 10,000 square feet, built to look like an urban tactical combat environment.

Multiple two-story buildings, passageways, and other props comprise the arena for your 90 minutes of heart-racing fun.

At Battle House Laser Combat’s armory, you will find a variety of realistic tactical laser tag guns to suit every player and game style.

Once exhaustion hits, unwind at the parent hang-out area that serves various beer and non-alcoholic beverage options.

Go Birdwatching at Greenfield Park

A little heron at Greenfield Park

One of the city’s largest public recreation areas, families can do several outdoor activities at Greenfield Park on Burnett Boulevard.

The 250-acre park is adjacent to Greenfield Lake, with two unlit tennis courts, the Greenfield Grind Skate Park, and an outdoor amphitheater.

Explore miles of biking and walking trails through seasonal gardens, or rent a boat to enjoy the natural vistas on the nearby lake.

A duck at Greenfield Park
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Greenfield Park is a great spot to observe dozens of bird species gathering in the tranquil, green area.

Other park facilities include playgrounds, water fountains, public restrooms, and more.

The lake of Greenfield Park
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Check Out Long Leaf Park’s Ninja Course

Long Leaf Park is another public park along Pine Grove Drive, where you can take a break from the urban jungle.

A quick drive from downtown, it has several facilities for athletic activities, including basketball courts, baseball fields, and tennis courts.

Long Leaf Park has a garden area with a pond and gazebo that may be reserved for weddings.

To keep young park-goers entertained, the park has an inclusive playground for children of all abilities, a seasonal splash pad, and a ninja fitness obstacle course for visitors aged 13 and up.

Its walking trail spans 1.55 miles, and there are numerous picnic shelters where families can spend quality time and celebrate events.

Experience Horse-Drawn Tours of Wilmington

Aside from visiting museums and historic sites, there is another way for families with kids to learn stories of the city’s past and prominent figures.

Saving horses since 1987, Springbrook Farms offers educational tours drawn by their rescued, magnificent horses, which start on Market Street in historic downtown.

You can book private tours with a carriage, trolley, or evening coach.

There’s also the option to book a group tour aboard a trolley.

Springbrook Farms has already saved 18 Percheron draft horses and stays committed to providing the best care possible for their rescued horses.

Catch Magnificent Scenic Views along the Wilmington Riverwalk

Sunset scene at Wilmington Riverwalk
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Complete your vacation in Wilmington by walking down the path along Cape Fear River and taking in the scenic views of the historic downtown.

The Wilmington Riverwalk stretches nearly two miles from Nun Street to the Isabella Holmes Bridge.

Families can check out landmarks and establishments along the way, such as markets, boutiques, and galleries.

Aerial view of Wilmington Riverwalk
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There are also cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating along the Wilmington Riverwalk, so you can admire the magnificent vistas while taking a break.

Another famous spot to catch great river views is Conlon Pier, located behind Coastline Inn, where fishing is allowed.

Signposts of Wilmington Riverwalk
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Final Thoughts

In Wilmington, you will never run out of activities that can be enjoyed by both adults and kids.

While it is mostly recognized as a tourist destination overflowing with water activities, Wilmington is also full of interactive museums, amusement parks, and natural attractions worth visiting.

Within the city, you can take your children on a history adventure, fuel their creativity and imagination, or keep them moving and engaged through various family-friendly indoor activities.

You also have the opportunity to bring them closer to nature by visiting the city’s public parks and beautiful gardens, which promote awareness of the environment and wildlife.

The next time you hit the road, remember the best things to do in Wilmington, North Carolina with kids to create a memorable bonding experience for the whole family.

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