Wilmington is overflowing with outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy. Spend time reconnecting with nature and finding wellness with one of Wilmington’s many outdoor attractions and activities.
Flora, Fauna and Beyond
Explore the 67 acres of formal gardens, wildlife, lakes, more than 75,000 azaleas in bloom during spring and the historic Airlie Oak at Airlie Gardens. Stroll along the trails to discover landscapes where there is always something in bloom. In the summer, visit the seasonal butterfly house to be surrounded by native North Carolina butterflies in an open-air structure. Restore your mind and body with a yoga class offered on the calming Oak Lawn with a certified teacher from Longwave Yoga, Wednesdays from April 20 through May 25.
At the New Hanover County Arboretum, wander through seven acres of seasonal gardens and unique features including a water garden with hundreds of colorful Koi, a Japanese garden with an authentic tea house and numerous Japanese maples. Little ones will enjoy the children’s garden and a cozy cottage.
At Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden, stroll down the walking trail to the wooden observation decks. You’ll see a collection of native carnivorous plants including Pitcher plants and the rare Venus flytrap, which only grows natively in the Wilmington area.
Take a trip to one of Wilmington’s many parks. Greenfield Park’s 250 acres are filled with biking and walking trails along the lake, as well as single or tandem kayaking rental opportunities. You’ll also find tennis courts, a skate park, playgrounds and picnic shelters. Ogden Park has a playground, an off-leash dog park, a walking trail with an exercise station, along with tennis and basketball courts and baseball, softball, soccer and football fields. There is also a state-of-the-art skate park.
Stroll down the scenic Riverwalk past restaurants and cafes, boutique shops and art galleries to Riverfront Park, where you’ll find a family-friendly, 6.63-acre, award-winning waterfront park. It contains a large plaza and green space, playground, seasonal water feature and gardens. Plus, the state-of-the-art Live Oak Bank Pavilion at Riverfront Park hosts Live Nation-produced concerts throughout the year, all of which can be enjoyed alongside views of the Cape Fear River and the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA.
Get your body moving and feel the salty breeze as you pedal your way along the River to Sea Bikeway, an 11-mile on- and off-road trail taking cyclists from downtown Wilmington to nearby Johnnie Mercers Pier. Or, take a ride on the Gary Shell Cross City Trail, a 15-mile off-road, multi-use trail that provides bikers and pedestrians access to numerous recreational, cultural and educational destinations in Wilmington. Bikes can be rented from Bike Cycles Shop.
Thrill-seeking cyclists will want to check out Blue Clay Bike Park, an 8-mile off-road trail system for mountain bikers as well as hikers and runners. The county’s most extensive bike trail, it provides an exciting option for experienced cyclists but is suitable for all levels.
Activities on the Water
Take to the water for a view of the Riverwalk with Cape Fear Riverboats. Their sightseeing cruises travel down the riverfront, while their nature tours travel up the cypress-lined Northeast Cape Fear River as you learn about local plant and wildlife. Wilmington Water Tours offers historic eco-tours and narrated journeys along the river, like the Eagle Island Cruise featuring views of unspoiled nature and a variety of wildlife.
Seasoned and aspiring anglers will find numerous ways to drop a line in Wilmington. Feel Good Fishing Charters & Adventures offers four-, six- and eight-hour charters that can be customized to include inshore, nearshore, deep-sea and fly fishing for up to eight guests. Interested in more than just fishing? The outfitter offers adventures including Family Explorer Day (a great option for families that can include birdwatching, fishing, nature tours and clam digging, plus teaching kids the basics of fishing), Sunset/Scenic Cruise (perfect for families or couples), Seafood Smorgasbord (host your own fish fry using freshly caught North Carolina clams and shrimp) and Birdwatching/Nature Tours (learn about the history of birds in the area from Captain Andre, a lifelong amateur ornithologist who has a passion for birdwatching).
Wilmington is an ideal destination for nature lovers and wellness enthusiasts thanks to its many parks, gardens, trails, outdoor attractions and waterways. Come enjoy Wilmington’s natural beauty with a trip to the North Carolina coast today.