Things to do in Wilmington North Carolina
First time visitors and new residents in North Carolina coastal cities may be surprised to find that there are so many fun and interesting things to do in Wilmington NC. We’ve put together a list of historic educational sites and Wilmington NC entertainment venues to help you enjoy your stay.
AIRLIE GARDENS - 300 Airlie Road, Wilmington, NC 28403 Phone: 910-798-7700
Take a walk through the 67 acres of century-old Airlie Gardens, where you'll find manicured formal gardens, including the well-tended 467-year-old Airlie Oak and over 100,000 azaleas. Other man-made items of interest here include several historic structures and sculptures. The walking trails take you past 10 acres of freshwater lakes and views of Bradley Creek where the sights, smells, and sounds of abundant wildlife permeate the atmosphere. Numerous events, from a concert series to a holiday light show affectionately named "Enchanted Airlie" make Airlie Gardens the sort of place that you and your family can enjoy visiting on a regular basis.
Hours of Operation: Tuesday-Sunday from January 1 until March 15, then 7 days a week the rest of the year always 9:00 a.m. -5:00 p.m.
BATTLESHIP NORTH CAROLINA - #1 Battleship Road, Wilmington, NC 28402 Phone: 910-251-5797
The most decorated US battleship of World War II, Battleship North Carolina is open to the public for tours through its nine decks including crew's quarters, gun turrets, galley and more. There is a small museum here for you to visit as well as a short video to watch prior to boarding, both of which offer additional background on the ship and its role in World War II.
Hours of Operation: Open 365 days a year, including all holidays, as She serves as a memorial. Summer Hours: Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day: 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., EXCEPT Independence Day (4th of July) when the ship closes at 5:00 p.m. for enforcement of firework safety zone. Winter Hours: Tuesday following Labor Day through Thursday before Memorial Day: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., EXCEPT Christmas Day when the Ship opens at noon.
BELLAMY MANSION - 503 Market Street, Wilmington, NC 28401 Phone: 910-251-3700
Step into history at the 10,000-square-foot Bellamy Mansion Museum, one of the finest surviving examples of antebellum architecture, originally built for physician and planter John Dillard Bellamy and his family just before the Civil War. Here you can also see fully-restored slave quarters, one of the only existing examples of its kind. Within these walls you will learn about the Bellamy family, the free and enslaved black artisans who built this home, and the intricate details crafted by the artisans’ skilled hands throughout the house. Outside you can stroll down the oyster-shell paths of a re-created Victorian garden with 150-year-old magnolia trees.
Hours of Operation: Monday closed, Tuesday-Saturday 10:00 a.m.– 5:00 p.m., Sunday 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.,
CAMERON ART MUSEUM - 3201 South 17th St., Wilmington, NC 28412 Phone: 910-395-5999
The Cameron Art Museum's 42,000 square foot facility houses a permanent collection of fine arts, crafts and design which showcases work by artists of both national and international significance, including North Carolina artists. Conveniently located between the downtown and beach communities and situated on 9.3-acre Pyramid Park, this is a cultural gathering place committed to arts education. Surrounded by long-leaf pine woodlands, outdoor sculptures and nature trails, the museum has 6-8 changing exhibitions annually; as well as numerous programs and workshops, classes and demonstrations.
Hours of Operation: Monday closed, Tuesday – Sunday: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Wednesdays & Thursdays: Open late until 9:00 p.m., Closed Holidays: Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Christmas Eve and New Year's Day.
CAPE FEAR MUSEUM - 814 Market Street, Wilmington, NC 28401 Phone: 910-798-4370
The Cape Fear Museum of History and Science, which is the oldest history museum in North Carolina, was originally founded for preservation of Confederate objects and memories of the Civil War. The collection eventually expanded to contain regional, national, and international art, history, and science artifacts. With a collection of more than 52,000 items for visitors to inspect, currently the museum collects, preserves, and interprets objects relating specifically to the history, science, and cultures of the Lower Cape Fear region.
Hours of Operation: Fall/Winter (September – May): Monday closed, Tuesday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sundays 1 – 5 p.m., Spring/Summer (May – September): Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sundays 1 – 5 p.m.
CAPE FEAR RIVERBOATS - 101 S Water St. #1, Wilmington, NC 28401 Phone: 910-343-1611
For the best in Wilmington NC entertainment, you can't go wrong with a visit to Cape Fear Riverboats, for a trip aboard the Henrietta III, North Carolina’s only true stern-wheel riverboat. The boat is optimistically named after Henrietta, a steamboat on the Cape Fear River that enjoyed a long and financially successful life. You can rent Henrietta III for weddings and charters or join one of the scheduled tours and events, including several holiday-themed cruises.
Hours of Operation: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday year ‘round, Saturdays too during the Season (April – November)
NEW HANOVER COUNTY ARBORETUM - 6206 Oleander Drive, Wilmington, NC 28403 Phone: 910-798-7660
The New Hanover County Arboretum covers seven lovely acres of gardens and plants, designed to demonstrate the best plant species for southeastern North Carolina landscapes including those in North Carolina coastal cities. Here you can learn about proper horticultural techniques to keep your plants alive and thriving, and also such topics as aesthetic design, environmental stewardship, and research.
Hours of Operation: Office Hours: Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Garden Hours: The gardens are open each day including holidays, rain or shine, during daylight hours.
NC AQUARIUM AT FORT FISHER - 900 Loggerhead Rd., Kure Beach, NC 28449 Phone: 800-832-3474
If you're still looking for things to do near Wilmington NC, try the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Down the coast a bit, the aquarium is located in Kure Beach, right at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Exhibits are designed to enable visitors to experience the aquatic environment of the Cape Fear region in a stimulating and educational manner. Different sections focus upon freshwater streams, swamps, and coastline habitats, as well as delicate reefs and the ocean.
Hours of Operation: Open 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily, Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
POPULAR GROVE PLANTATION - 10200 US Highway 17 N., Wilmington, NC 28411 Phone: 910-686-9518
Poplar Grove Plantation, one of the oldest surviving peanut plantations in North Carolina, was in the Foy family for six generations, and opened to the public as a museum in 1980. This plantation was the homestead of a successful farming family, and there are also outbuildings and crafts here that exemplify the needs of a working 19th-century community. A permanent exhibit called "From Civil War to Civil Rights: The African American Experience at Poplar Grove" is free to the public in the basement of the Manor House, a building which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Hours of Operation: Closed in January, February, open for advanced tour bookings and school groups only for Black History month. Open to the general public March through December. Monday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Sunday: 12 noon – 4:00 p.m. during low season; and Sunday: 11 a.m. -4:00 p.m. during high season (Memorial Day to Labor Day). Open on July 4th for Self-Guided Tours.
THALIAN HALL CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS - 310 Chestnut St., Wilmington, NC 28401 Phone: 910-632-2285
One of the oldest theatres in the United States, Thalian Hall presents a never-ending schedule of performances ranging from ballet and theatre to musical offerings in varied genres including jazz, pop, country and folk as well as screenings of a number of domestic, independent, and foreign films. Locals organize awards ceremonies, recitals, lectures, film festivals and charity events here too. This venue is one of the most heavily-booked facilities of its type in the entire country and its revenue provides massive stimulation to Wilmington’s economy.
Hours of Operation: Monday through Saturday: 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. or until curtain on performance nights, Sundays when there is a scheduled performance, open two hours prior to curtain.
We hope you find this list fun of things to do near Wilmington NC helpful, and that you find the North Carolina coastal cities to be friendly, pleasant, and interesting. You can bookmark this page so you’ll always have several Wilmington NC entertainment ideas handy.