Wilmington, NC Travel Guide

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Best Things To Do in Wilmington, NC

The best things to do in Wilmington tend to revolve around the city's history and its waterways. For instance, this region – which was discovered by Giovanni da Verrazzano back in 1524 – boasts enough historical attractions to fill an entire vacation: from the 200-some block Historic District, which contains treasures like the Bellamy House, to the Battleship North Carolina, which was deployed during World War II. But the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Fear River are worth exploring too, and these are best enjoyed at Wrightsville Beach or via a leisurely stroll along the Riverwalk

How we rank Things to Do

Updated August 28, 2017

  • #1
    Things to do in Wilmington, NC
    View all Photos
    #1 in Wilmington, NC
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    No trip to Wilmington is complete without a stroll along its mile-long Riverwalk. This wooden boardwalk that borders Cape Fear River is lined with popular restaurants and bars – and punctuated by stools and benches that are perfect for taking a break and taking in the scene. 

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  • #2
    Historic District
    View all Photos
    #2 in Wilmington, NC
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The 230-plus blocks that comprise Wilmington's historic district are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and they contain everything from mansions to museums, as well as a host of restaurants and shops. One of the best ways to see the district's highlights is via a guided tour. Some

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  • #3
    Wrightsville Beach
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    #3 in Wilmington, NC
    Beaches, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Wrightsville Beach is located just 10 miles east of the Historic District, and it receives high praise for its wide ribbon of sand, which is easily accessible and lined by hotels, vacation homes, restaurants, bars and shops. There are even restrooms and showers at several beach-access points. Since the beach

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  • #4
    Airlie Gardens
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    #4 in Wilmington, NC
    Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Wilmington's 67-acre Airlie Gardens are enchanting. Not only do the gardens feature the flora and fauna native to this corner of North Carolina, they also contain a butterfly house and a tangle of footpaths ideal for a walk through the woods. Plus, a roster of special events further adds to

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  • #5
    Battleship North Carolina
    View all Photos
    #5 in Wilmington, NC
    Museums, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Back when Battleship North Carolina was commissioned in 1941, the ship was thought of as "the world's greatest sea weapon," and it turned out to be just that by participating in more than a dozen offensives in the Pacific Ocean during World War II. The ship was decommissioned in 1947

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  • #6
    Bellamy Mansion Museum
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    #6 in Wilmington, NC
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    This gorgeous 1800s Greek Revival mansion housed the Bellamy family, from the mid-19th century until the mid-20th century. The property contains 22 rooms, gorgeous gardens and restored slave quarters – and today, knowledgeable tour guides give guests both a history of the family and of the architecture.

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