A Local's Guide on Things to Do in Wilmington

A Local's Guide on Things to Do in Wilmington

  • Jenna Kazmierczak
  • 06/30/23

North Carolina has certainly become one of the most desired states to live in recently. More and more people from around the country are choosing the Tarheel State to call home, and Wilmington is attracting its fair share of attention.

Whether you want to live in a family-friendly neighborhood by the ocean, enjoy southern living in style in Wrightsville Beach real estate, or experience modern culture and art, Wilmington has you covered. Let’s take a local’s look at what to do here.

Sample from a year’s worth of activities

The social calendar for Wilmington residents and visitors rarely lets up throughout the year. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a single month where there are no festivals or events to attend. Here are a few of the most prominent social activities in Wilmington:

  • The North Carolina Jazz Festival in February goes on for three days at the Hotel Ballast

  • The NC Azalea Festival in April celebrates state pride with a cavalcade of parades, outdoor galas, historic house tours, and neighborhood parties

  • The Fourth of July celebration is one of the state’s biggest, and you can’t miss the stunning light display over the Cape Fear River

  • Riverfest in October is a momentous event all children will enjoy

  • Christmas light displays throughout the holiday season are an excuse to go all out with your light shows and take a tour of the town in all its winter finery

Relax on numerous beaches

North Carolina just wouldn’t be the same without its legendary southern-style beachfront. Wilmington may just take the cake when it comes to waterfront property, thanks to its central location between many other metropolitan areas.

Carolina Beach is the city’s most famous place to enjoy the oceanside views, with Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach following. Explore the boardwalk on Carolina Beach and sample from local ice cream parlors and clothing stores. Check out the Carolina Beach State Park to watch the fish and sea life native to the area, or go to the Freeman Park Recreation Area by boat or a four-wheel drive car to catch some of the most eye-popping sunsets in town.

Museums and gardens galore

Culture and art have always been a major priority among Wilmington’s citizens, as you can tell quite quickly driving through town. The city is absolutely full of some of NC’s most thrilling museums and expo centers, including the must-see Museum of the Bizarre, perfect for kids and kids at heart, and the New Hanover County Arboretum, where artists of the green thumb variety share their inspiration.

The Cape Fear Museum of History and Science features exhibits on all the Hollywood films that have used Wilmington as a backdrop. The Cameron Art Museum is a great place to work out your mind and your body with all their indoor and outdoor art pieces.

Parks and green spaces

North Carolina is known across the country for its pleasing mixture of East Coast flora and fauna and Southern signature design. Nowhere is it easier to sample this uniquely North Carolinian blend of landscapes and cultures than in the city’s numerous parks. Airlie Gardens is the first one to visit. It includes 67 acres of flowers and shrubs that are over a century old.

Arrowhead Park and Long Leaf Park are two other New Hanover County parks that deserve mention. Poplar Grove, one of the last peanut farms in the U.S., is still thriving in town, and you can tour its grounds and the manor home anytime you visit. Lastly, don’t miss the opportunity to check out the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden for a truly memorable trip around some of the world’s most unique and wild plants.

Take a trip through North Carolina history

As one of the most prominent states in the Civil War and other turning points in our nation’s history, you don’t have to look far before you’re reminded of the central part this state has played in the creation of the U.S. Go to Fort Fisher, where the largest Civil War battle fought on a beachhead began, to view a historic building that still stands.

The North Carolina Aquarium, located by Fort Fisher, is the perfect place to spend an afternoon with the family learning more about the animals and plants that have lived here for millennia. Finally, don’t forget to visit the Wilmington Railroad Museum, a quirky and upbeat building that tells the story of the railroad industry in town.

Top-notch shipping districts

Modern-day Wilmington may have one foot in the past, but it certainly has more momentum pushing into the 21st century. Shopping is a way of life in Wilmington, thanks to its many diverse boutiques and commercial areas. Chandler’s Wharf is a great place to sample from local jewelers, clothing stores, fresh food, and designer apparel. The Cotton Exchange, located in one of Wilmington’s most charming historic buildings, features over 30 specialty shops serving up fresh seafood, southern antiques, and upscale fashion.

Music and entertainment

A tour through Wilmington, NC, wouldn’t be complete without savoring all the fun nightlife and live music there is to enjoy here. Whether your tune is for country western, rap and hip-hop, or classic folk music, this city has something for all. The Live Oak Bank Pavilion is where you’ll find the broadest range of music and live entertainment, while the Greenfield Lake Amphitheater is certainly the most scenic event space. The Summer Jazz Series at the Mansion is a year-long part of the social calendar, taking place every second Thursday of the month. Finally, check out Reel Café or the Satellite Bar and Lounge for a chance to dance the night away and catch a glimpse at the area’s rising talents.

Reach out to a local real estate expert today

We hope this guide of things to do in Wilmington will better expose you to all the fun to be had in this delightful oceanside community. If you have any questions or comments to share, or you’d like to learn more about Wrightsville Beach real estate, get in touch today! Contact Jenna Kazmierczak for more information.

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