Whether embarking on a solo adventure, planning a romantic escape or embracing camaraderie on a trip with friends, Wilmington offers authentic experiences year-round for adult travelers. Delve into rich history, immerse yourself in lively coastal culture, sample local flavors and more during a grown-up getaway to this vibrant riverfront city.
Historical City Sightseeing
Explore Wilmington’s Riverwalk, named one of America's Best Riverfronts in USA TODAY’s 10 Best Reader’s Choice travel awards. Here, historic charm converges with city allure along the edge of the Cape Fear River. This picturesque pathway serves as a portal to boutiques, markets, al fresco eateries and more. From the Riverwalk, set out on sightseeing river cruises with Cape Fear River Boats and Wilmington Water Tours. Take advantage of the Bizzy Bee water taxi service along the Riverwalk to reach the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA, which has nine levels waiting to be explored.
Wilmington’s National Register Historic District stands as one of the South's largest and most picturesque districts. It boasts a collection of historic homes open for tours, including the Bellamy Mansion Museum of History & Design, which shines as a splendid example of early 19th-century architecture. Dating back to 1770, the Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens features rare artifacts and a Colonial-style terrace garden. Explore the Latimer House for a glimpse into the area’s Victorian past. For a group experience, join knowledgeable local guides with Springbrook Farms’ on a narrated horse-drawn carriage tour.
Captivating Coastal Culture
Tap into your creative side and visit Cameron Art Museum (CAM), which hosts ever-evolving exhibitions of regional, national and international art. The museum also features outdoor installations, including the USCT Park’s Boundless sculpture honoring U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) who served in the Civil War and once fought on the same grounds where the museum is today.
New Elements Gallery showcases creations by regionally and nationally renowned artists, while Art in Bloom Gallery features an eclectic collection of paintings, sculptures, glassworks and other treasures. Home to more than 50 working studios, theArtWorks is a distinctive art village and creative hub where artists create, display and sell various types of art. Formerly St. Andrews Church, the Brooklyn Arts Center + The Annex now stands as the cornerstone of the Brooklyn Arts District, hosting art shows and markets throughout the year. In the same neighborhood, Acme Art Studios highlights local artists’ diverse mediums. Nearby Bottega Art & Wine combines the artistic appeal of a gallery with the social atmosphere of a wine bar.
Appreciate the art of stand-up at Dead Crow Comedy Room, a full-time comedy club regularly featuring new comedians. Enjoy an array of performances, including theatre and dance, at The Wilson Center, or attend a show at Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts, one of the most historic venues in the country. In addition, find local talent in the area's numerous bars, restaurants and venues with live music, including Bourgie Nights, an intimate music lounge with an impressive performance lineup or at Reel Café, which features different live performers on each level including their scenic rooftop bar.
Sip and Savor
Craft beer aficionados can follow the self-guided Wilmington Ale Trail to find more than 20 breweries and bottle shops across Wilmington and its beaches. For a memorable group activity, pick up local brews and board a BrewBoat Wilmington cruise, propelled by your collective pedaling power and a solar-powered motor. To sip and adventure on dry land, join Wilmington Bike & Brew Tours for an e-bike tour of local craft breweries. Raise a glass to ghostly lore during the Haunted Pub Crawl. Visit wine bars and distillery tasting rooms and explore the craft cocktail scene – whether on a river-view rooftop or in a tucked-away speakeasy like The Blind Elephant.
From the mind of James Beard semifinalist for "Best Chef Southeast," Chef Sunny Gerhart combines the robust flavors of Spanish and Italian cuisine at his newest restaurant, Olivero. Featuring dishes from Gerhart's family recipes with a coastal twist, the seasonal menu features house-made pasta, local seafood and more. Another semifinalist for Best Chef Southeast, Chef Dean Neff uses fresh, locally sourced ingredients resulting in Seabird’s award-winning fare. Expand your palate at other foodie favorites like The Green House, a fine-dining vegan eatery highlighting fresh produce and plant-based proteins. Embark on a Taste Carolina tour to sample your way through the city’s finest flavors.
Recharge in a space that embodies Wilmington’s welcoming spirit. Surrounded by beautiful 19th-century homes, ARRIVE Wilmington offers low-key luxury with its mid-century modern design. Providing the amenities of a boutique hotel but freedom of a rental, DREAMERS by DW is a former Victorian home surrounded by the serenity of a minimalist design. Stay in charming, picturesque settings steeped in tradition, such as The Verandas or C.W. Worth House Bed and Breakfast, which earned the number one ranking in the 2023 USA TODAY 10 Best Readers' Choice travel award contest for Best Bed and Breakfast. Both are Victorian-era residences that combine modern amenities with historic charm. Situated right along the river, Hotel Ballast of Hilton’s Tapestry Collection combines warm hospitality with elegant ambiance. Nearby, the Embassy Suites and Aloft Wilmington at Coastline Center also offer convenient amenities and Riverwalk access.
Nearby Beach Fun
With three island beaches just a short drive away, even more exceptional experiences await. Embrace the area’s natural beauty by visiting one of the two state parks for a group hike and adventure. Solo travelers, couples and groups can explore the Flytrap trail or one of the nine different trails spanning 8.5 miles at Carolina Beach State Park. In Kure Beach, Fort Fisher State Recreation Area features six miles of undeveloped shoreline along with primitive trails through maritime ecosystems, such as the Basin Trail, where you can discover a former WWII bunker.
Epic Excursions in Wrightsville Beach offers a variety of island excursions, including customizable charters. Further, elevate the experience with an add-on catered seafood boil on the uninhabited Masonboro Island Reserve.
Treat yourself to exceptional vacation experiences and explorations that make every well-earned day of vacation or leisure count. Plan a grown-up getaway to the historic riverfront city of Wilmington and its island beaches.