Wilmington, NC Travel Guide

USA  #18 in Best Places to Visit in the Carolinas
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Free Things To Do in Wilmington, NC

If you have extra time, Wrightsville Beach is worthwhile.
  • #1
    Things to do in Wilmington, NC
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    #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. 

    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. 

  • #2
    Historic District
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    #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 traveler-approved operators include Haunted Wilmington and Wilmington Trolley Company. But you can also download the Wilmington.tours app to your smartphone, which includes four tours, including one with a pub crawl theme and another with a Civil War slant, if you'd rather take a self-guided tour. 

    One visitor says it well when describing Wilmington as a "fascinating" but "under-appreciated" Southern city, citing the history that occurred on the port city's cobbled streets. Others say the historic district is charming and quaint, yet still feels cosmopolitan. 

  • #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 is situated several dozen miles from the Gulf Stream, it offers travelers warmer, almost transparent waters. 

    Recent travelers hail Wrightsville Beach for its clean sands and peaceful ambiance. They also appreciated the lifeguards, though some warn the surf can be rough, especially in the hours after a storm. 

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