Successful Things to Do in Wilmington, North Carolina

Explore the Top Attractions and Places to Visit in Wilmington, NC.

Wilmington, North Carolina, is a charming coastal city in the state’s southeastern part. The city is known for its historic architecture, beautiful beaches, and rich cultural heritage. With its mild climate and abundance of outdoor activities, Wilmington is a popular tourist destination for visitors from around the country.

One of the main draws of Wilmington is its rich history. The city was founded in 1739 and served as an important port during the Civil War. Today, visitors can explore several historic sites and landmarks, including the Bellamy Mansion Museum, considered one of the finest examples of antebellum architecture in the South.

Other notable historic sites in Wilmington include the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial, the Burgwin-Wright House, and the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science.

Things to Do in Wilmington, North Carolina

Another popular attraction in Wilmington is its beautiful beaches. Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach are all located within a short drive of the city and offer miles of pristine coastline for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.

Visitors can also take a ferry to the nearby island of Bald Head Island, which is only accessible by boat and offers a more secluded beach experience.

In addition to its beaches, Wilmington is also home to many parks and nature preserves, including the Airlie Gardens and the Wilmington Riverwalk, which provide stunning views of the Cape Fear River.

Things to Do in Wilmington

Whether you’re looking for a day of relaxation or an activity to fill the entire day, there’s something for everyone in Wilmington, NC. Located along the Cape Fear River, the city is home to various outdoor and indoor attractions.

Wilmington is also a great place to experience an Old-Times Trolley ride. This popular activity takes you past museums, local shops, and historical locations. There are several different tours to choose from.

What to do in Wilmington, North Carolina
What to do in Wilmington, North Carolina

If you’re looking for something a little more unique, you can check out one of the many water tours available in the area. For example, kayak tours can take you down the Cape Fear River. You can also go on a paddle board or explore hidden sanctuaries and beaches.

Battleship North Carolina

Located across from downtown Wilmington, Battleship North Carolina is one of the more unique attractions to visit in Wilmington, NC.

This historic ship is an authentic WWII battleship that is now a museum. You can tour the ship’s nine levels, learn about its history and participate in the hands-on battle of steering the ship.

Best places to visit in Wilmington Battleship, North Carolina
Best places to visit in Wilmington Battleship, North Carolina

The “Savor Our Ship” campaign saved the historic battleship from the scrap heap. You can visit the ship’s impressive interior, including the living and storage spaces. You can also enjoy nature walks and picnics at the park surrounding the ship.

The museum also has a large free parking lot. The ship is 728 feet long and nine levels deep. In addition, there is an accessible Memorial Walkway and one of the most significant observation decks in the state.

North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

Whether you’re visiting Wilmington, NC, for vacation or a business trip, there are plenty of attractions to keep you busy.

One of the most exciting and interactive is the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. This is a fun place for kids to learn about marine life while surrounded by interesting and colorful animals.

The aquarium is open year-round. It offers daily shows, behind-the-scenes tours, and animal feeding presentations.

If you’re interested in learning about the oceans, check out the “Waters of the Cape Fear” tour. It will take you through the Cape Fear River. You’ll see divers swimming with eels, sharks, and other species.

Places to go in Wilmington North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher
Places to go in Wilmington North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

The aquarium has two-story saltwater and freshwater exhibits. These galleries showcase the diversity of local and world wildlife. You’ll also find several tropical displays.

Bellamy Mansion Museum

Located in the historic downtown district of Wilmington, North Carolina, Bellamy Mansion Museum offers a rich historical experience to visitors. In addition, it is one of the state’s best examples of antebellum architecture.

Bellamy Mansion is a former private residence that is now a fully functional museum. The museum focuses on design arts and history. It is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm and Sundays from 1 to 4 pm. Tours are available.

Things to do in Wilmington Front Exterior of the Bellamy Mansion
Things to do in Wilmington Front Exterior of the Bellamy Mansion

The Bellamy Mansion Museum also features a garden tour during the North Carolina Azalea Festival. The tour includes the original slave quarters that are still on the property. The garden also serves as a wedding venue.

During the Civil War, Union troops invaded Wilmington, and the family of Dr. John Dillard Bellamy was forced to move to another house. However, he regained his property in 1865.

It was also during this time that the enslaved workers built their homes. They were able to complete the project in only two years.

Airlie Gardens

Located near Wrightsville Beach in Wilmington, North Carolina, Airlie Gardens is a 67-acre public garden. It features a tangle of footpaths, a freshwater lake, a butterfly house, Mount Lebanon Chapel, and historic structures. The park is a haven for wildlife, colorful birds, and plants.

The property originally belonged to J. Pembroke Jones, a wealthy rice trader. In the late 1880s, the Jones family purchased a 150-acre tract.

They named the place “Airlie” in honor of their ancestral Scottish home. Sarah Green Jones later purchased an adjoining 155-acre parcel and called the area “Airlie-on-the-Sound.”

Bottle House at Airlie Gardens
Bottle House at Airlie Gardens

In 1906, Sarah Jones had the Airlie property transformed by German landscape architect Rudolf Topel. He designed the layout to resemble a natural lay of the land. The garden is also home to several varieties of local fish.

The garden is open daily from March through December. Self-guided walking tours are offered on weekends. Visitors can also enjoy guided tram tours. The park is on the North Carolina Birding Trail. A reservation is required for the tour.

Best tourist attractions in Wilmington Airlie Gardens
Best tourist attractions in Wilmington Airlie Gardens

The gardens are home to about 160 species of birds. Visitors can take a guided tram tour or take a self-guided birding walk. When flowers bloom, spring and summer are the best times to visit.

Airlie Gardens is a must-see destination for any garden enthusiast. The park offers an array of attractions, including a butterfly house, a historic mansion, a ballroom, 38 guest apartments, and 10 acres of freshwater lakes. The garden is open from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays and from 9 am to 4 pm on weekends.

Cameron Art Museum

Located on the corner of 17th Street and Independence Boulevard, the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, North Carolina, is an art gallery that offers visitors a unique cultural experience.

The museum’s permanent collection includes works of art by local, national, and international artists. It also features rotating exhibits.

Places to visit in Wilmington Cameron Art Museum
Places to visit in Wilmington Cameron Art Museum

The Cameron Art Museum is a non-profit organization serving as a community cultural center. Its mission is to enrich the lives of its visitors through dynamic public programs.

The collection is primarily focused on modern art. In addition, the museum’s collections are also used for loan exhibitions and educational purposes.

The Cameron Art Museum of Wilmington, NC, is a steward of its art collection. The collection comprises works of fine arts, crafts, and design. In addition, the collection consists of pieces of historical importance and works by contemporary and international artists. It also includes a collection of African American works.

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