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Brett Cottrell/Photo Courtesy of New Hanover County

Key Info

300 Airlie Rd.

Details

Parks and Gardens Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 4.0Value
  • 4.5Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

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 Airlie's allure: For instance, in December, the gardens host a monthlong festival of lights; in the summer, there are concerts every other Friday. 

A recent visitor to Airlie Gardens says that its oak trees are among the most beautiful she's ever seen. Many travelers also highly recommend visiting when the gardens are hung with twinkle lights at Christmastime. Another great time to visit is during the spring, when the garden's many flowers are in bloom. 

From March to December, the Airlie Gardens are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In January and February, the gardens are open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission to the gardens costs $9 for adults, $5 for military, and $3 for kids between the ages of 4 and 12. Kids 3 and younger get in for free. You'll find the gardens on the banks of Bradley Creek about 10 miles east of the historic district; on-site parking is available. For more information, visit the Airlie Gardens' website

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#1 Wilmington's Riverwalk

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. 

One traveler who praised the Riverwalk's views also recommended taking a water taxi to the Battleship North Carolina. Another traveler said the Riverwalk encapsulates the local culture, from the smell of the salty sea air to the surrounding history to the buzzy nightlife. 

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