Whether you want to see art, enjoy live music, learn about history, or do something else, there are many great things to do in Wilmington, NC.
Wilmington is an amazing city to visit and what’s great is that there’s a large variety of fun things to do you can choose from. From seeing a show to learning about railroad history to going to incredible museums, there’s something for everyone’s liking in the city.
If you’re wondering what to do in Wilmington, then you’ve come to the right place! This guide covers the best activities, must-see sights, great museums, and more.
Best Things To Do in Wilmington, NC
Visit Battleship North Carolina
Battleship North Carolina, or the USS North Carolina (BB-55) is a North Carolina class fast battleship that dates back to the year 1940.
The ship took part in several military operations during World War II and the battleship earned 15 battle stars in total.
You can find the ship moored across from historic downtown Wilmington and since the year 1962, the ship functioned as a museum ship.
You can visit the ship and then explore the nine different levels of the ship by doing a self-guided tour. During this, you’ll be able to see a lot of different areas of the ship.
Also, what’s interesting is that you can find volunteers stationed throughout the ship. These volunteers can give you information about the different parts of the ship.
Address: 1 Battleship Rd, Wilmington, NC 28401
Go to the Airlie Gardens
The Airlie Gardens is a public garden that dates back to the year 1886. It was created as a private garden for the Pembroke Jones Family.
You can find many different species of flowers and trees here, including species of magnolias, palms, wisteria, and much more.
Furthermore, you can find the Airlie Oak in the gardens. This is a live oak that is about 500 years old.
Lots of events also take place in the gardens. For example, sometimes there are guided bird walks during which it is possible to learn about resident and migrating birds from an expert.
It is also sometimes possible to do a guided history tour of the gardens, there are yoga events, and there are other types of events.
Address: 300 Airlie Rd, Wilmington, NC 28403
Do a Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride
A horse-drawn carriage tour is another great thing to do in Wilmington. Horsedrawn Tours Wilmington is a company that organizes these types of tours.
During such a tour, you’ll explore historic Wilmington while a costumed driver narrates the tour and gives you a lot of interesting information.
Along the way, you’ll see grand mansions and other historic parts of the city.
Each tour takes about 30 minutes and there are daily continuous tours that depart from Market Street, between Front and Water Streets. You can do these tours every day of the week, except for Sundays.
It is also possible to book a private tour.
See a Show at Thalian Hall
Thalian Hall is a performing arts center that you can find in downtown Wilmington. This is a historic theater that dates back to the year 1858.
All kinds of different events take place at the theater. For example, it is possible to go here to attend movies. In addition to that, there are concerts, musicals, and other types of events.
What makes seeing a show here even more special is that the Thalian Hall is a beautiful building that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The architectural style of the building consists of elements from both the Late Victorian and Classical Revival architectural styles.
Besides going to Thalian Hall to attend an event, it is also possible to do a behind-the-scenes tour. During this, a volunteer docent shows you the building and gives you a lot of information about the theater’s history. Each tour takes 60 minutes in total.
Address: 310 Chestnut St, Wilmington, NC 28401
Go to the Bellamy Mansion Museum
The Bellamy Mansion is a mansion that dates back to the end of the 19th century and is a great example of antebellum architecture.
At the museum, you can learn about the social and architectural history of the building.
When you are going to the museum, it is possible to do a tour which is one of the best things to do in Wilmington. There are three types of tours that you can do.
It is possible to do a self-guided paper tour. Besides that, you can do a guided audio tour for which you’ll need a smartphone and headphones. It is also sometimes possible to do an in-person tour.
Address: 503 Market St, Wilmington, NC 28401
Visit the Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens
The Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens is a structure from the colonial era. It is the only structure from that time that is still open to the public and it was built in the year 1770.
Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens is operated as a museum house.
At the museum, it is possible for visitors to see beautiful Georgian architecture. Also, what’s interesting is that all rooms of the building have furniture from the 18th and 19th century.
By visiting the museum, people can also learn about life in the city from before the Revolutionary War.
You can do a guided house tour every day, except for Sundays. There is also an art gallery that the public can visit.
Address: 224 Market St, Wilmington, NC 28401
Attend a Concert at the Greenfield Lake Amphitheater
Greenfield Lake Amphitheater is an open-air amphitheater that is located in Greenfield Park.
The venue has a capacity of 1,200 people and lots of concerts and other events take place here.
Attending a concert at this amphitheater while being outdoors and seeing nature at the same time is one of the best activities in Wilmington.
What’s great is that concerts of a large variety of genres take place at the amphitheater. Some of the genres that you could listen to here include rock and folk.
Besides concerts, another event that takes place at the amphitheater is Shakespeare on the Green. This is a free festival during which the public can enjoy great productions of Shakespeare.
Address: 1941 Amphitheatre Dr, Wilmington, NC 28401
See Art at the Cameron Art Museum
When looking to see art in the city, the Cameron Art Museum, or CAM, is a great place to consider going to. This museum is located in downtown Wilmington on South 17th Street.
You can attend great art exhibitions at the museum that are at the museum for several months.
Besides art exhibitions, it is possible to do more at CAM. For example, you can sometimes go here for film screenings, attend a performance, or join an author talk.
In addition to that, there are classes and workshops at the museum, including classes that are great for children.
To make your visit to CAM even better, you can combine going here with going to CAM Café, which is a full-service restaurant that serves local food and that is located at the museum.
Address: 3201 S 17th St, Wilmington, NC 28412
Explore the Wilmington Riverwalk
The Wilmington Riverwalk is a two-mile walkway along the Cape Fear River in Downtown Wilmington.
The Riverwalk is a wonderful place to go for a leisurely stroll while enjoying great views of the river. From here, you’re also able to see the beautiful Cape Fear Memorial Bridge and North Carolina Battleship, another one of the best attractions in Wilmington to check out.
On the walkway, you can find many local restaurants that provide a view of the Cape Fear River.
What’s great about the riverwalk is that, because of its location, it is easy to combine going for a walk here with going to other sights in the city.
Go to a Concert at the Wilson Center at Cape Fear Community College
The Wilson Center at Cape Fear Community College is a state-of-the-art performing arts center where many different types of events take place. You can find this performing arts center at Cape Fear Community College.
You can enjoy amazing concerts at the venue by the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra.
Besides that, great Broadway musicals take place at the center.
There are also great events during the holiday season. For example, you could attend the annual production of “The Nutcracker” here during the Christmas season.
What’s great to know about the Wilson Center is that it is a place where students of the college learn. Students work on every production that takes place at the Wilson Center.
Address: 703 N 3rd St, Wilmington, NC 28401
Do a Tour of the Poplar Grove Plantation
Located a bit outside of Wilmington, you can find the Poplar Grove Plantation. The Poplar Grove Plantation used to be a sweet potato and peanut plantation.
The manor house of the museum was restored and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is a historic house that is open to the public as a museum since the year 1980.
At the museum, you can learn about the Foy family and the people that the family enslaved.
During the summer season, it is possible to go to this place and join one of the daily guided tours. In addition to that, there are other types of events that take place at the Poplar Grove Plantation, such as music events.
Address: 10200 Hwy 17, Wilmington, NC 28411
Go to DEFY Wilmington
A very fun thing to do in Wilmington is to go to DEFY Wilmington. This is also one of the best things to do with children in Wilmington, NC!
DEFY Wilmington is an indoor trampoline park where lots of trampolines can be found. In fact, there is a large open jump area with many trampolines next to each other.
In addition to that, there are several other attractions at DEFY Wilmington. For example, there is a high-end air track.
There is also a fun ninja course with all kinds of obstacles, there is a zipline, and there are aerial silks.
Address: 6431 Market St, Wilmington, NC 28405
Go to the Wilmington Railroad Museum
The Wilmington Railroad Museum is a fun museum where you can learn a lot about the railroads of Wilmington and its surroundings.
At the museum, you can see many different exhibits with objects that relate to the development of railroads in the city. Besides that, the exhibits allow you to learn about the people that made the railroad possible.
The museum has interesting memorabilia related to Wilmington’s railroads. Besides that, there are many large objects related to the railroads. For example, there is a 100-year-old steam locomotive.
In addition to that, there are fun events that take place at the museum.
Address: 505 Nutt St, Wilmington, NC 28401
Attend a Show at the Live Oak Bank Pavilion
The Live Oak Bank Pavilion is a lovely outdoor amphitheater. You can find this amphitheater in historic downtown Wilmington next to the Cape Fear River on Harnett Street.
This is a much larger venue compared to the Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, which is another outdoor venue in the city, as it has a capacity of 7,200 people.
Lots of concerts take place at the venue throughout the year, including great rock and country concerts.
Address: 10 Cowan St, Wilmington, NC 28401
See the Latimer House
Latimer House is a building that dates back to the year 1852. It is now a museum where you can learn about the life of an upper-class family that lived in the Cape Fear region during the 19th century. You can learn about three generations of the Latimer Family when you go here.
The building has 14 rooms in total and you can explore the many areas of the house through daily guided tours.
The rooms contain more than 600 historical objects, half of which were originally in the home. Moreover, you can see historical furniture inside the home.
Besides going here and doing a tour, you can also go to the Latimer House and Gardens for special seasonal events, such as art exhibitions.
Address: 126 S 3rd St, Wilmington, NC 28401
Play Golf at the Wilmington Municipal Golf Course
If you enjoy playing golf, the city of Wilmington has plenty of great golf courses to choose from. A great activity in Wilmington is to go to the Wilmington Municipal Golf Course.
This is a golf course that dates back to the year 1926 when it was designed by Donald Ross.
The golf course is an 18-hole championship golf course that is great for all skill levels.
The golf is open to the public and local residents get a discount.
Address: 311 Donald Ross Dr, Wilmington, NC 28409
Visit the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science
Another must-visit in the city is the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science. This is a museum, located in downtown Wilmington, that was founded in the year 1898.
At the museum, you can learn about the history, science, and cultures of the Lower Cape Fear.
A wide variety of exhibits can be seen at the museum and the museum’s collection consists of more than 50,000 objects. These objects can be seen through various exhibitions that often change.
For example, there is an exhibition related to space. There is also an exhibition that focuses on Michael Jordan.
Some of the past exhibitions include exhibitions about water, the solar system, and dinosaurs.
Address: 814 Market St, Wilmington, NC 28401
Check Out the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History
The Wrightsville Beach Museum of History is an interesting local history museum that you can find near Wilmington.
At the museum, you can learn about Wrightsville Beach. You can learn about its story through the years.
You can find various exhibits at the museum through which you can learn about various groups of people who played a role in Wrightsville Beach’s history.
There are also interesting annual events at the museum. For example, you can attend the annual art days at the museum.
Address: 303 W Salisbury St, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Shop at the Old Wilmington City Market
The Old Wilmington City Market is a historic building that is a great place for shopping that was established in 1880. It started out as a farmer’s market. After that, the building served other purposes.
Nowadays, you can find a variety of specialty shops and great local art galleries at the Old Wilmington City Market.
For example, you can find an artisan coffee shop in the building called Cheeky Monkey Coffee. There is also a shop where you can buy North Carolina-made products.
Besides being great for its offering of specialty shops and art galleries, Old Wilmington City Market is also great for the design of the building itself.
Address: 119 S Water St, Wilmington, NC 28401
Check Out the Museum of the Bizarre
The Museum of the Bizarre is an interesting museum to visit in Wilmington, NC. This is a curiosities museum where you can see all kinds of strange and unique things.
The exhibits that you can see at the museum are very diverse. Examples of exhibits that you can find at the museum are “Shrunken Heads” and “Unicorn Horn”.
You can also find the “Laser Vault” exhibit here. This is a room with green lasers pointing from wall to wall. You need to navigate through the room without touching any of the lasers.
Furthermore, there is a mirror maze at the museum that can be fun.
Address: 201 S Water St, Wilmington, NC 28401
See Animals at the Tregembo Animal Park
If you’re wondering what to do in Wilmington and you like seeing animals, then, you can go to the Tregembo Animal Park.
This is the oldest zoo in Eastern Orth Carolina and it is operated by the Tregembo family. The zoo was established in 1952 and has grown a lot since its beginnings.
At the zoo, you can find more than 100 different species and all kinds of reptiles, birds, amphibians, mammals, and insects. Some of the animals that you can find at the zoo include lion, zebra, bear, and giraffe.
These animals are very interesting to see and besides that, there are special events that often take place at the zoo.
Address: 5811 Carolina Beach Rd, Wilmington, NC 28412
Go to Jungle Rapids
Jungle Rapids is a fun water park that is located in Wilmington, NC. It is possible to go here and enjoy the waterpark during the summer season.
The waterpark has fun water slides and pools.
Besides that, there’s much more that you can do at Jungle Rapids.
For example, there is a large arcade at Jungle Rapids with many fun games to play.
Besides that, it is possible to go here for laser tag, mini bowling, miniature golf, go-karts, and much more.
There are also special seasonal events that take place at Jungle Rapids. For example, during Halloween, there are special events.
Address: 5320 Oleander Dr, Wilmington, NC 28403
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What To Do in Wilmington Tips
When you are considering doing a trip to Wilmington, NC, I recommend staying in historic downtown Wilmington.
This is the area in the city where you can find most of the Wilmington things to do on this list, making it easy to go everywhere. Also, you can find many restaurants and stores near you when you stay in this area.
Wilmington Things To Do Map
I hope I helped you decide what to do in the city. Thanks for reading my guide to the best things to do in Wilmington, NC!