Wilmington offers an abundance of accessible adventures for visitors. Whether you explore engaging museums, wander through manicured gardens or experience the scenic Riverwalk, this historic city’s Southern hospitality and genuine experiences will provide an accessible coastal getaway.
Explorations For Everyone
Immerse yourself in creativity and culture at the Cameron Art Museum (CAM), which offers a supported experience for visitors with disabilities. The museum’s Connections Program tours typically occur on Mondays when the facility is otherwise closed to the public, providing a calm environment for adapted exhibit exploration and optional hands-on activities. CAM’s Connections tour is free for visitors and caregivers, but the museum requests pre-registration. Wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Cape Fear Museum of History and Science, a Smithsonian Affiliate, provides an accessible experience for visitors with mobility impairments. Elevators and free wheelchairs allow for full exhibit exploration. Investigate astronomy in the museum’s Space Place, learn about an all-star athlete’s Wilmington roots in the Michael Jordan: Achieving Success exhibit and discover the region’s rich and complex history in Cape Fear Stories.
With a wide variety of accessibility resources, imagination runs wild for all at the Children’s Museum of Wilmington. The museum offers programs like Social Stories, Sensory Sundays and Speech Therapy Guide to foster an accessible environment for all children. Visit the front desk to pick up a museum map that marks the expected noise levels in each area. Noise-canceling headphones and sensory bags and a calming cave are also available onsite.
The main deck of Battleship NORTH CAROLINA welcomes those with mobility issues aboard with a special ADA admission. The Back Porch Tour is designed for those with limited mobility and journeys through the visitor center, exhibition hall and observation deck, and the SECU Memorial Walkway is a fully accessible public path around the Battleship. Please note that the lower and upper decks of the Ship are not fully accessible to individuals with limited mobility.
The scenic Riverwalk runs alongside the Cape Fear River and is lined with an assortment of unique shops, art galleries and outdoor dining. While the Riverwalk is accessible and wheelchair-friendly, certain sections may be temporarily closed off for repairs.
Picturesque Parks and Gardens
Airlie Gardens is a coastal oasis for all, complete with 67 acres of seasonal blooms and live oaks. Paved pathways and rest benches throughout the grounds enhance accessibility for visitors in wheelchairs or with restricted mobility. Although not wheelchair accessible, the volunteer-operated tram service typically runs daily, but Airlie Gardens recommends calling ahead to confirm its schedule.
Full of flowering plants and lush landscapes, the New Hanover County Arboretum is home to the Ability Garden, specially designed to provide opportunities for people of all levels of ability to try out gardening in raised flower beds. The Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden showcases a collection of native, carnivorous plants such as the Venus flytrap. This ADA-accessible park features a wheelchair-friendly pervious concrete walking trail with a wooden observation deck.
Wilmington’s Long Leaf Park is home to an inclusive playground for children ages 2-12 of all abilities. Wheelchair users are welcome to enjoy the playground’s Liberty Wheelchair Swing and the seasonal splashpad. A loaner water wheelchair is available for those whose mobility devices cannot tolerate moisture. To use the swing and water wheelchair, contact the parks and gardens office at (910) 798-7620. Nearby Olsen Park features the accessible Kiwanis Miracle Playground and Miracle Field, which is designed with a rubber surface and wheelchair-accessible jungle gym – providing a safe and pleasant experience for all.
Capture the magic of a live performance at The Wilson Center. The venue features the best of Broadway, such as “Mean Girls” and “Come From Away,” comedy shows, concerts and more. Designed to accommodate all, the Center offers accessible seating, wheelchairs, listening devices and drop-off services. Thalian Hall, one of the most historic theatres in America, hosts various performances and offers accessible seating and an elevator for visitors. Enjoy exciting concerts and events at Live Oak Bank Pavilion at Riverfront Park, which provides an accessible entrance and section.
Wilmington has a wide range of accessible accommodations, including full-service hotels and motels that can meet the needs of any traveler. Both located along the river, Hotel Ballast and Embassy Suites Wilmington Riverfront offer a comprehensive list of accessible features for mobility-and hearing-impaired guests, from dedicated suites to parking options. ARRIVE Wilmington, a boutique downtown hotel, has ADA features throughout the property with pathways, public areas and designated guest rooms.
In addition to Wilmington’s accessible experiences, nearby Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach offer accessible seaside accommodations and offerings to enhance your vacation.