Top 37 Things to Do in Wilmington, North Carolina

Nestled on the Cape Fear coast, Wilmington, North Carolina, presents a treasure trove of activities guaranteed to excite visitors and locals alike. Whether you’re a history buff, beachgoer, nightlife lover, or just in need of some good ol’ Southern hospitality, this city won’t disappoint. Let’s dive into the best 37 things to do in Wilmington, North Carolina, and find out why this coastal destination should skyrocket to the top of your must-visit list!

1. Stroll through the historic downtown

Begin your Wilmington adventure amid the beautiful, historic downtown. Lined with red brick streets and enveloped by an eclectic array of shops and restaurants, this area is perfect for leisurely exploration.

2. Visit the Battleship North Carolina

Step aboard the USS North Carolina, a World War II battleship that’s now an awe-inspiring museum known as Battleship North Carolina.

A path leads to a garden full of colorful tulips.
Photo courtesy of Airlie Gardens.
3. Explore Airlie Gardens

The stunning Airlie Gardens feature 67 acres of walking paths, formal gardens, and historic structures. Talk about a photographer’s paradise!

4. Listen to live music

Wilmington boasts a vibrant music scene, with venues hosting local and touring bands alike.

5. Unwind at Wrightsville Beach

Just a short drive from downtown, Wrightsville Beach promises sun, surf, and relaxation. It’s one of the prime things to do in Wilmington, North Carolina!

6. Enjoy the ocean air at Kure Beach

Discover the intimate charm of this small-town beach, perfect for a peaceful day by the sea.

A group of women dancing in a room.
Photo courtesy of DivaDance Company.
7. Experience the energy of a DivaDance class

Get your groove on at DivaDance in Port City, Wilmington, North Carolina. This high-energy adult dance class is a fun way to let loose, meet new people, and get your sweat on while you slay. DivaDance’s experienced instructors are on hand to lead dancers of all skill levels through a fun choreographed routine, complete with warm-up and cool-down. DivaDance offers drop-in classes, membership options, and private parties for birthdays, bachelorettes, team-building, and more.

Top 37 Things to Do in Wilmington, North Carolina 1

8. Indulge in fresh seafood

Wilmington’s seafood is as fresh as it comes! Savor the catch of the day at one of the many local eateries.

9. Learn some history at the Cape Fear Museum

Delve into the area’s history, science, and culture at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science.

10. Paddle the Cape Fear River

Kayak or paddleboard down the river for a unique perspective of Wilmington’s natural beauty.

11. Shop at The Cotton Exchange

Eight restored buildings house a collection of boutique shops, making The Cotton Exchange in historic downtown Wilmington a shopper’s delight.

12. Sip local at a brewery

The craft beer scene in Wilmington is alive and well. Take a tour and taste the local brews.

A white house with columns and a porch.
Photo courtesy of the Bellamy Mansion.
13. Discover the Bellamy Mansion

Looking for more unique things to do in Wilmington, North Carolina? You’re in luck! Tour the antebellum masterpiece known as the Bellamy Mansion and get a glimpse into the pre-Civil War South.

14. Hit the links

Golf enthusiasts will rejoice at the numerous golf courses offering a round (or several) in picturesque North Carolina settings.

15. Experience a ghost tour

Wilmington’s storied past comes alive on a ghost tour through some of its most haunted locales.

16. Enjoy the Wilmington Art Loop

Art lovers gather! Wilmington’s Art Loop is a monthly self-guided tour through the city’s art galleries and studios.

17. Visit Fort Fisher

Historic Fort Fisher, a Confederate fort during the Civil War, now stands as a monument and museum.

The beach is crowded with people and umbrellas.
Photo courtesy of Carolina Beach.
18. Relax at Carolina Beach

Embrace the laid-back vibe of Carolina Beach, perfect for family fun or catching some waves.

19. Take a horse-drawn carriage tour

Experience the charm of Wilmington with a nostalgic ride through its historic streets.

20. Experience the North Carolina Aquarium

A short drive to nearby Kure Beach brings you to the North Carolina Aquarium, an underwater world teeming with sea life.

21. Explore the Cargo Distrcit

The Cargo District is home to a wide variety of unique businesses including restaurants, coffee roasteries, and cool shops filled with carefully curated goods.

22. Swing by the Children’s Museum of Wilmington

Interactive exhibits make the Children’s Museum of Wilmington an enjoyable stop for the younger crowd.

A wooden pier leading to a restaurant and bar.
Photo courtesy of Wilmington, NC.
23. Take a Riverwalk

The Wilmington Riverwalk, fringed by the Cape Fear River, offers mesmerizing views and a peek into the city’s maritime soul.

24. Take a cinema tour

Wilmington’s reputation as “Hollywood East” means there are many film and TV show locations to visit.

25. Go birding at Masonboro Island

Accessible only by boat, Masonboro Island Reserve is a sanctuary for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts.

26. Explore Greenfield Lake and Gardens

We weren’t kidding when we said there are so many things to do in Wilmington, North Carolina! Another option is to paddle around Greenfield Lake or stroll through the fragrant gardens.

27. Get cultural at the Lumina Festival of the Arts

Celebrate the arts with theater, music, and visual art events during the Lumina Festival of the Arts, held every summer.

28. Catch a film at the Cucalorus Film Festival

The annual Cucalorus Film Festival showcases indie films from around the world.

Two people standing on a path near a body of water.
Photo courtesy of Wilmington & Beaches.
29. Take a hike at Carolina Beach State Park

Traverse distinct habitats and potentially spot the rare Venus flytrap at Carolina Beach State Park.

30. Peruse the Riverfront Farmers Market

Local produce, crafts, and goodies await at the weekly Riverfront Farmers Market.

31. Admire the Wilmington Railroad Museum

Train enthusiasts of all ages will marvel at the model setups and historical exhibits at the Wilmington Railroad Museum.

32. Catch a wave with surf lessons

Wilmington’s beaches offer ideal conditions for seasoned surfers or those looking to get started.

33. Volunteer at a community garden

Engage with locals and lend a hand at one of area’s many community gardens.

A large auditorium with red seats.
Photo courtesy of Wilmington & Beaches.
34. Catch a show at Thalian Hall

The historic Thalian Hall is one of the oldest theaters in the United States and is the perfect spot to enjoy a play, musical, or concert.

35. Partake in the NC Jazz Festival

Jazz aficionados gather each year for the NC Jazz Festival, a lively musical celebration.

36. Go antique shopping

Find treasures from the past in Wilmington’s myriad antique shops.

37. End the day at a rooftop bar

Cap off your adventure with a cocktail and breathtaking views of the city skyline.

This city captivates with its rich history, picturesque landscapes, and vibrant culture. With so many diverse things to do in Wilmington, North Carolina, it’s no wonder why visitors leave with lasting memories. Whether you’re dancing the night away at a DivaDance class or basking in the coastal sun, your time here will be an experience to cherish!

What are some of your favorite things to do in Wilmington, North Carolina?

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