Wilmington, North Carolina is a port city on the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean and one of the most exciting cities in the south.
With pristine sights and thrilling attractions, Wilmington deserves to be given more attention.
After reading these 28 fun things to check out in Wilmington, you’ll hopefully consider it for your next vacation destination.
Things To Do In Wilmington, NC
1. Cameron Art Museum
The Cameron Art Museum is one of the most impressive Wilmington attractions.
For more than 50 years, this has been one of downtown Wilmington’s great attractions.
Artists from Wilmington and other continents have great works displayed here.
Come here for a very fun and enriching time.
The Cameron Art Museum’s curation easily makes it one of the best things to do in Wilmington.
Not only do they have amazing art, but they also have things for history buffs.
The Battle of Forks Road took place on the same land as the museum.
They hold an annual re-enactment of this decisive battle.
If you’re looking for things to do downtown, come to the Cameron Art Museum.
It’s one of the most rewarding places to go in the city.
Operating hours are on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and from Fridays to Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, students, and active military members, and free for visitors 19 and younger.
Address: 3201 S 17th St, Wilmington, NC 28412, United States
2. Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts
You’ll quickly learn that Wilmington, North Carolina has a very strong arts scene.
One of the top things to do in Wilmington is to see a performance at the Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts.
This has been an incredible institution since it first opened in 1858.
Some of the biggest creative minds ever known have played here.
In years past, legends like John Philip Sousa performed here.
Today, you can see incredible artists like Ani DiFranco.
There are also dance performances, comedians, film screenings, and theatrical productions.
If you’re looking for excellent live entertainment in Wilmington, come to Thalian Hall.
Thalian Hall is one of the biggest Wilmington attractions, cementing the city as a true cultural hotspot.
If you’re looking for entertainment at night, this is where to be.
You’re sure to be enthralled when you’re at Thalian Hall.
Address: 310 Chestnut St, Wilmington, NC 28401, United States
3. Masonboro Island Reserve
One of the most fun things to do in Wilmington is to visit Masonboro Island Reserve.
This is a beautifully preserved island where wildlife can flourish and visitors can have an amazing time.
Take a boat over to Masonboro Island and see multiple great examples of biodiversity.
It’s one of the best places to visit for nature lovers in North Carolina.
A trip to Masonboro Island can be both fun and informative.
It’s near Wilmington, as it’s only five miles away.
This barrier island is cover in marshland and a variety of habitats.
You can see many turtles roaming the land.
You just need to make sure you’re doing anything to disturb them.
Remember, you’re a guest on their island.
Masonboro Island is one of the biggest points of interest near Wilmington.
You’ll need to commission a boat to reach it.
Once you’re there, you can let go of yourself at this natural island wonder.
Address: 5600 Marvin K Moss Ln, Wilmington, NC 28409, United States
4. Zeke’s Island Kayaking
Another great island near Wilmington is Zeke’s Island.
This beautiful island is a habitat for an astonishing number of seabirds.
In addition to checking out beautiful birds like great blue herons and black-bellied plovers, you can also take out a kayak.
Paddling around this island is one of the best activities you can experience in North Carolina.
Being on the water is a lot of fun.
As long as you’re confident in your kayaking skills and general water safety, you can have an awesome time.
Be sure you’re aware of weather conditions and that you’re not kayaking at night.
You can also have a lot of fun just hanging out on the shore at Zeke’s Island.
Consider making a full day trip to the island, where you spend daylight hours out on a kayak or in a canoe.
Then, you can watch the sunset from a beach chair with your family.
It’s definitely one of the most beautiful places to go in the US.
5. Wilmington Railroad Museum
America’s growth rate would be greatly comprised without the railroad system.
One of the most cool things to do in Wilmington is to visit the Wilmington Railroad Museum.
Here, you can learn about railroading the region, especially the importance of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.
Anyone can have fun at the Wilmington Railroad Museum.
It provides detailed information about the railroad and full-size depictions of different trains and parts of trains.
They also have special occasions that are great for families.
The Wilmington Railroad Museum is one of the best places to see if you’re interested in trains or at least want to learn more about them.
This museum is open from Mondays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission is $9.50 for adults, $8.50 for seniors and military members, and $5.50 for children, ages two to 12.
Address: 505 Nutt St, Wilmington, NC 28401, United States
Going on a road trip around North Carolina? Be sure to check out our lists of fun things to do in Asheville, NC & things to do in Charlotte, NC.
6. Cape Fear Museum of History and Science
There’s nothing to fear at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science, one of the top 10 museums in North Carolina.
With tens of thousands of pieces from different disciplines, this museum brings scientific and historical concepts to life.
Come here if you’re looking for educational places to visit while in Wilmington.
The Cape Fear Museum of History and Science is particularly great if you want to find out more about Wilmington and North Carolina.
The museum really covers a lot of ground and helps you appreciate the region’s history and development.
Science lovers will adore areas like its dinosaur exhibit, and families with young children can have a great time in the play area.
The Cape Fear Museum of Science and History is one of the best experiences you can have in Wilmington.
It’s open from Tuesdays to Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, college students, and military members, and $5 for youths, ages six to 17.
Address: 814 Market St, Wilmington, NC 28401, United States
7. Port City Chop House
One of the best steakhouses in North Carolina is Wilmington’s Port City Chop House.
Visitors adore this restaurant, both for its ambiance and its fantastic food.
While steak is definitely a highlight here, Port City Chop House’s menu goes further than just cuts of beef.
You can start your meal with a light appetizer, such as sashimi tuna or a Caesar salad.
For entrees, you can choose amongst their stunning steaks, including filet mignon and New York strip., which can be enhanced through additions like being served au Poivre and with Béarnaise sauce.
Not in a steak mood?
Try other options like their roasted lobster tail or their chicken marsala.
Save room for dessert as well, with delicious options like Key lime pie and chocolate mousse torte.
Port City Chop House is also open for lunch, in case you want to eat earlier in the day.
This is one of the top places to get a meal in Wilmington.
It’s open from Mondays to Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Address: 1981 Eastwood Rd, Wilmington, NC 28403, United States
8. The Cotton Exchange
One of the best things to do in downtown Wilmington is to visit the Cotton Exchange.
If you love shopping, this can feel like paradise.
The Cotton Exchange is a great collection of boutique shops, each with its own sort of southern charm.
Much better than visiting a shopping mall full of chain retailers, the Cotton Exchange has shops that are full of charm.
You can find wonderful antiques and crafts here.
If you get hungry, they have lots of excellent restaurants, such as Paddy’s Hollow Restaurant & Pub.
There are plenty of great things to see at the Cotton Exchange.
It might be worth it to make multiple visits.
Cool places like the Cotton Exchange make Wilmington, North Carolina so good to visit.
It combines the fun of shopping with the satisfaction of learning more about a city.
The Cotton Exchange is open from Mondays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Sundays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Address: 321 N Front St, Wilmington, NC 28401, United States
9. Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens
The sole colonial structure in Wilmington, North Carolina available for public viewing, the Burgwin-Wright House is a sight to behold.
The inside and outside of this property are both exquisite.
Come here for a tour or a special event, and get a glimpse of what life was like in Wilmington centuries ago.
On a nice summer day, there’s no better place to be than here.
Its gardens include flowers, fruits, and even herbs.
On the inside, you can see its rooms and bevy of irreplaceable items.
The Georgian build of the home turned what was once a city jail into something spectacular.
Your tour guides will also serve as excellent educators, with period-appropriate costuming that helps you feel like you’ve gone back in time.
Whether you’re coming for a special event or just want to take a tour, the Burgwin-Wright House is one of the biggest points of interest in Wilmington.
It’s open from Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission for tours is $12 for adults, $10 for military members and college students, and $6 for youths, ages six to 18.
Address: 224 Market St, Wilmington, NC 28401, United States
10. The Riverwalk
One of the greatest points of interest in Wilmington is the Riverwalk.
This is a place that’s full of attractions but which is an attraction itself.
Come here early in the day, and you’ll be bowled over by all of the great activities and unique things to do.
There are lots of great free things to do on the Riverwalk.
Strolling up and down and watching the boats go by provides ample satisfaction.
Plus, yearly events like Riverfront bring out the community and plenty of others.
You don’t need to have any particular agenda in mind when you go to the Riverfront.
It’s got so many awesome places to visit and fun stuff to do.
The only thing you need to come prepared with is a positive attitude and willingness to try new things.
If you’re coming to Wilmington this weekend, you’ll have to see the Riverwalk.
Address: Wilmington Downtown Riverwalk, Wilmington, NC 28401, United States
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11. Gone Coastal Charters
With so much water around Wilmington, the fishing opportunities are ample.
One of the top experiences is a charter tour with Gone Coastal Charters.
Hosted by the personable and experienced Captain James Gavin, this is a great way to take your fishing to the next level.
Be prepared to catch something bigger than you’ve ever hooked.
Experienced fishers know that patience is key, as you’re constantly reeling things in on some trips and getting nary a nibble on others.
Captain Jim nonetheless does what he can to set you up for success.
Even if you don’t catch anything, you can still have a good time, enjoying his company and the camaraderie of your fellow tourmates.
Hopefully, you’ll bring in a massive fish that makes you the envy of your friends back home when they see it on Facebook.
Gone Coastal Charters really makes that an honest possibility.
It’s open every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Prices are determined based on the length of your trip.
12. Carolina Beach State Park
One of the best things to do near Wilmington is to visit Carolina Beach State Park.
Whether you’re going for a hike, a swim, camping, or just visiting for the day, you can have a lovely time here.
It’s one of the top parks in all of North Carolina, and it only gets more beautiful the more time you spend here.
Carolina Beach State Park covers a great deal of Pleasure Island, and it’s a true pleasure to explore this beautiful terrain.
One of the biggest draws is a chance to see a Venus Fly Trap in the wild.
Natural sightseeing is plentiful at Carolina Beach State Park.
You can have some of the finest times in North Carolina at Carolina Beach State Park.
It’s lots of fun and incredibly beautiful.
Carolina Beach State Park is open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Address: 1010 State Park Rd, Carolina Beach, NC 28428, United States
13. Historic District
Wilmington is simply one of the best places to visit if you want to see a historic city.
Numerous attractions and activities affirm this southern city’s historic roots.
The coolest way to experience this is by visiting the Historic District.
You can see vintage homes and churches in this Historic District.
These are kept in remarkable shape that honors their legacy without changing what made them special in the first place.
You can also get around in retro style, with options like trolleys and carriages.
Wilmington’s Historic District is what to see when you want to get a greater sense of America’s past.
There are also excellent restaurants to eat at.
Come to the Historic District for a great taste of Wilmington history.
Address: Wilmington, NC 28412, United States
14. Airlie Gardens
Surround yourself in a blanket of tranquility and flora when you visit Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, North Carolina.
This is one of the most blissful tourist attractions, featuring plants like you’ve never seen before.
Airlie Gardens is among the greatest places to visit in Wilmington, a constant reminder of how much beauty can come with a little help from sunlight and water.
Not only are the plants teeming with life, particularly the centuries-old Airlie Oak, but there’s also knockout buildings, spellbinding lakes, and plenty of animals.
For seven months per year, there’s a butterfly exhibit that lets you see these colorful insects flutter all around you.
This is one of the best things to do in Wilmington.
Visiting Airlie Gardens is what to do in Wilmington if you really want to enjoy nature.
It’s open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
General admission is $9, with military members getting in for $5 and children getting in for $3.
Address: 300 Airlie Rd, Wilmington, NC 28403, United States
15. Boathouse Restaurant
Eating seafood in a waterfront city like Wilmington might permanently spoil you.
The quality is just so much better when you taste how much more fresh everything is.
One of the best dining activities here is going to the Boathouse Restaurant.
So many classic seafood dishes are made just the way you’d want them here.
This is a no-fuss seafood restaurant that knows how to provide simple pleasures done right.
You can enjoy great items like their New England clam chowder and their crab cake sandwiches with total satisfaction.
Not in the mood for seafood?
Check out things like their Reubens, cheeseburgers, pasta, or even their veggie burger.
It’s a place that can satisfy just about everyone with an appetite.
Eat seafood is one of the most fun things to do in Wilmington, North Carolina, and the Boathouse Restaurant is one of the best places for it.
When you’re enjoying your meal, take the time to really notice the nuances in flavor.
The Boathouse Restaurant is open every day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Address: 6328 Oleander Dr, Wilmington, NC 28403, United States
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16. Mayfaire Town Center
Another great place for Wilmington shopping is Mayfaire Town Center.
This is a fun mall with many quality shops and places for entertainment.
Visiting here is what to do if you want a shopping trip that’s a cut above your usual experience.
Among the many high-end stores at Mayfaire Town Center are Pottery Barn, Style Me Boutique, and Lane Bryant.
It’s also got a great movie theater and wonderful places to eat.
This is one of the top places to spend a night out in Wilmington.
Mayfaire Town Center helps to make Wilmington a fun and bustling city.
There are lots of things to do, and you can come home with something great.
It’s open from Mondays to Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sundays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Address: 6835 Conservation Way, Wilmington, NC 28405, United States
17. USS North Carolina Battleship
One of the most phenomenal vessels ever used by the American military is the USS North Carolina Battleship.
This behemoth was used countless times during World War II and was a key component of the Allies victory.
While it’s decommissioned and docked in Wilmington, it’s still one of the best things to see, especially if you’re into military history.
There’s no better way to understand what it was like to be on a vessel like this.
The Battleship North Carolina is truly gorgeous.
When you’re here, think of all the brave men who risked their lives for the protection of others, around the world.
If you’re going to be in Wilmington, North Carolina this weekend, make sure you check out the USS North Carolina Battleship.
It’s powerful both in size and impact.
The USS North Carolina Battleship is open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission is $14 for adults.
Address: 1 Battleship Rd NE, Wilmington, NC 28401, United States
18. North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher
Another great attraction near Wilmington is the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.
This is one of the best activities to enjoy with your family.
You can see plenty of lovely fish and learn all about their lives and behaviors.
This is one of the top aquariums in the country thanks to its marvelous exhibits.
Not only are there great sea creatures here, such as eels and sharks, but there’s even a bald eagle.
Your kids can have a great time here, especially enjoying the thrills of Adventure Reef.
The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is one of the best animal habitats today.
It’s open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission is $12.95 for adults, ages 13 to 61, $11.95 for seniors, and $10.95 for children, ages three to 12.
Address: 900 Loggerhead Rd, Kure Beach, NC 28449, United States
19. Fort Fisher Ferry
Take advantage of any chance you have to get out on the water in Wilmington.
One of the best experiences is a ride on the Fort Fisher Ferry.
You can ride this alliterative vessel to Southport for another great glimpse of North Carolina.
Address: 1301 Ferry Rd SE, Southport, NC 28461, United States
20. Bitty & Beau’s Coffee
Bitty and Beau’s Coffee has locations in other cities, but its flagship store is in Wilmington.
This is a coffee shop with a wonderful story behind it.
When you come here, you can be treated to both a great cup of coffee and newfound faith in humanity.
Bitty & Beau’s is named after the two youngest children of its husband and wife founders.
They are strong advocates for people with disabilities.
Their coffee has been a great show of compassion towards the disabled community.
You might just come to Bitty & Beau’s for a little caffeine boost, but you’d be doing more than you realize.
It’s one of the most cherished new Wilmington attractions, helping grant a voice to those who’ve often struggled to have one.
It’s open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Address: 4949 New Centre Dr, Wilmington, NC 28403, United States
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21. New Hanover County Arboretum
The New Hanover County Arboretum is one of the most amazing tourist attractions in Wilmington.
It’s a haven for plants and the people who love them.
For a contemplative sightseeing experience, be sure to come to this great site.
The different gardens at the New Hanover Country Arboretum show what a marvelous climate Wilmington has.
These each have their own atmosphere and charm.
An excellent place to clear your mind is the Japanese Garden, where you can spend time watching the koi swim and enjoy the solitude of the tea house.
Going to the New Hanover County Arboretum is what to do if you want to have fun seeing all kinds of plants.
It’s open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission is free for all guests.
Address: 6206 Oleander Dr, Wilmington, NC 28403, United States
22. Trolley Tour
Although trolleys aren’t as ubiquitous as they once were, they’re still used for transportation and tours.
One of the most fun things to do in Wilmington is to take a ride with the Cape Fear Trolley Company.
This is what to do if you want to see Wilmington and its many tourist attractions on a unique vessel.
These trolleys aren’t on a track, but they still summon the feel of an old-school trolley.
You can also have lots of fun hearing about the different sites from your tour guide.
They might even point out some of the places movies and TV shows were filmed in the area.
The Wilmington of today owes its existence to the one of yesterday.
A trolley tour should be on your agenda if you’re visiting this weekend.
Tours are offered every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Address: 2 S Water St, Wilmington, NC 28401, United States
23. Latimer House
Designing and building a home is challenging enough as it is.
Creating one like the Latimer House in Wilmington is an entirely different feat.
This Italianate house, built in the mid-19th century is architectural ambition at its finest.
Now a museum, the Latimer House is an essential part of Wilmington’s legacy.
Built with total symmetry, the Latimer House sparkles with discipline and dignity.
It’s now the headquarters of the Lower Cape HIstorical Society.
They’ve done a great job of making this an institution, with hundreds of invaluable items and glorious gardens.
The Latimer is one of the most important sites in downtown Wilmington, with a rich history and excellent preservation.
It’s open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for military members and college students, and $6 for students ages six to 18.
Address: Latimer House, 126 S 3rd St, Wilmington, NC 28401, United States
24. Children’s Museum of Wilmington
There are lots of great Wilmington attractions for youngsters, such as the Children’s Museum of Wilmington.
This is an excellent environment for your children to nurture their curiosity.
It provides them with plenty of fun and helps them make the most of their minds.
Lots of activities are at this museum.
Your kids can create different sorts of artworks, pretend they’re shopping at the grocery store, and go aboard a pirate ship.
It’s a great experience for everyone in the family.
The fun is constant at the Children’s Museum of Wilmington.
It’s open from Mondays to Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 p.m to 4:30 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission is $9.75 for adult and children, $8.75 for military members and seniors, and free for children younger than one.
Address: 116 Orange St, Wilmington, NC 28401, United States
25. Downtown Sundown Concerts
Any time of year is a good time to come to Wilmington.
However, there are plenty of good reasons to come during the summer.
One of the biggest is the Downtown Sundown Concerts.
These are live music experiences that can enhance your appreciation of both music and the outdoors.
These concerts take place on Fridays and feature bands playing familiar favorites at sunset.
As you vibe to the melodies and harmonies and gaze at the sky and its many colors, you can feel utterly entranced.
It’s also an excellent place to enjoy the local community, mingling with others as you enjoy a beer.
Attending one of these concerts is one of the nicest ways to spend an evening in downtown Wilmington.
They’re completely free experiences, which feels like a steal considering the entertainment and beauty you get to experience.
If you’re closing out a week in Wilmington, this is a great way to do so.
26. Legion Stadium
If you want to see a great soccer team in action, head down to Legion Stadium, where the Wilmington Hammerheads play their home games.
Even if you’re not a big soccer fan, you can definitely get caught up in the fanfare of watching this team play.
It’s also easy to admire the quality of this stadium, which is nearly a century old.
6,000 spectators can fit in the stands at Legion Stadium.
This is part of the Legion Complex, which also has a baseball field, four tennis courts, and a pool.
This really shows how much athletics mean to Wilmington.
Check out Legion Stadium for a great experience in Wilmington.
It’s been kept in terrific shape and continues to attract visitors.
The excitement is always palpable when you’re at Legion Stadium.
Address: 2149 Carolina Beach Rd, Wilmington, NC 28412, United States
27. Little Dipper Fondue
Do you love fondue?
We’ll spare you some cheesy puns and just tell you to come to Little Dipper Fondue in Wilmington.
This is a great place to enjoy a gooey delight in ways you might’ve never anticipated.
Little Dipper Fondue’s menu is a wonderful tour through fondue and other items.
It’s cheese fondues include Pepper Jack, Baja Cheddar, and Cheddar Ale.
Your multi-course experience also includes soup or salad and items like ravioli, tofu, and scallops.
Who knew fondue could set the tone for a meal so well?
When it comes to dining in Wilmington, Little Dipper Fondue is a big deal.
Its flavors are explosive and the experience is just a lot of fun.
It’s open from Tuesdays to Thursdays and Sundays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Address: 138 S Front St, Wilmington, NC 28401, United States
28. The Loop
Wrightsville Beach is a great Wilmington attraction, even if you’re not spending time on the water.
Among the biggest draws is the John Nesbitt Loop, more commonly known as “The Loop.”
This encircles the beach and is great for running.
Enjoy the gorgeous environment and you get your blood pumping.
At 2.5 miles, The Loop serves as a good challenge for anyone trying to improve their running stamina.
You can enjoy it without running, however.
Going for a walk around The Loop is also very enjoyable.
You might walk early in the morning or closer to sunset.
It’s an amazing experience whenever you come.
Start Planning Your Trip To Wilmington, NC
Wilmington, North Carolina deserves plenty of plaudits.
Between its ample history, great food, and beautiful surroundings, this is a stunning city.
Make plans to visit Wilmington as soon as you can.