Let Wilmington guide you to a mix of coastal sights, sounds and tastes that create lasting vacation memories. Whether you're a foodie looking to explore local cuisine, a history buff eager to learn about the area's past or an adventurer seeking thrills on the water, embark on tours that highlight the best of this must-see Southern destination.
Cruise and Conquer the Water
Surrounded by the Cape Fear River, Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean, Wilmington and its beaches invite you to adventure on the water. With Cape Fear River Boats, enjoy family-friendly sightseeing tours along the downtown riverfront. Wilmington Water Tours offers sunset cruises with live acoustic music, plus narrated river rides like the educational Eagles Island Cruise. Be energized by the thrill of the hunt on Wilmington Outdoor Adventures’ Shark Tooth Hunting Eco Tour, led by a knowledgeable wildlife biologist. Kayak your way to an under-the-radar island where you'll search for coveted shark teeth, fossils and artifacts.
Glide along Wrightsville Beach’s crystal blue waters and watch the sun sink into the sound with Soundside Adventures’ Allana Sunset Sail. Bring your binoculars to spot unique flora and fauna on Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tours’ eco-tour offerings, including the Birding Cruise, Sunset Dolphin Cruise and Airlie Gardens/Bradley Creek Boat Trip, which offers views of the picturesque Airlie Gardens from the water. Charter an island-hopping Epic Excursions cruise complete with a guided paddleboarding tour around private islands and salt marshes.
Book a guided Kayak Carolina Tour in Kure Beach and paddle out to Zeke’s Island Reserve to see protected shorebird habitats. At the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, marvel at a world of aquatic wonders like an albino alligator, sea turtle hatchlings and otter pups – and reserve tickets online for the behind the scenes tour, which offers special backstage access to exhibits.
Sample the Thriving Food and Drink Scene
Wilmington and its beaches are a culinary paradise, showcasing a variety of coastal cuisine and fresh local ingredients – and earning Yelp’s recognition as a “Top Foodie City.” To fully immerse yourself in our flavorful foodie scene, take a guided gourmet food tour with Taste Carolina, which leads groups to five or six of the most delicious spots in the city. You'll have the opportunity to sample local dishes, chat with chefs and learn about the area's culinary history. Find more local lore, fare and sips to savor with Tasting History Tours in nearby Carolina Beach.
Reserve a tour and tasting at the award-winning End of Days Distillery for a behind-the-scenes look at the entire sourcing, fermentation, distillation and finishing process that produces their craft spirits’ distinct flavors. Beer enthusiasts can chart their course along the self-guided Wilmington Ale Trail to try the best from local craft breweries. Make a stop at one of the Ale Trail’s unique bottle shops before a BYOB excursion aboard BrewBoat Wilmington’s pedal-powered vessel. With Bike & Brew Tours, board an E-Bike and pedal to three different breweries, in addition to fan-favorite filming locations and popular historic sites on the “One Tree Hill” Tour and History, Haunts and Breweries Tour, respectively.
Journey Through Rich History
Step back in time and discover the city’s authentic heritage with Tour Old Wilmington's walking tours, including the Historic Downtown Walking Tour, Oakdale Cemetery Walking Tour and Haunted Cotton Exchange Walking Tour. For an unforgettable nostalgic experience, tour the 230-block National Register Historic District aboard a Springbrook Farms carriage – led by rescued Percheron draft horses and a knowledgeable guide. Get a closer look at the grandeur of historic homes with guided tours of Bellamy Mansion Museum, Latimer House Museum and Burgwin-Wright House. With WilmingtoNColor Shuttle Tours, learn about African American achievements and influence in the city’s history.
Experience what life was like for the heroic WWII crew of the historic Battleship NORTH CAROLINA. Request a full guided tour to examine the ship from the hull to the top of the fire control tower, or opt for a themed offering like the firepower-focused Big Bang Tour.
Dive deeper into the area’s military history with a self-guided tour of Kure Beach’s Fort Fisher State Historic Site, home to the largest land-sea battle of the Civil War, featuring an audiovisual program at the Visitors Center and an outdoor trail with interpretive exhibit panels, a reconstructed 32-pounder seacoast gun and more.
Journey through the city's fascinating past at your own pace with the WilmingtonTours app. Using your smartphone’s location, the app virtually guides you through the city on several themed tours, including the African American History Tour and the 2nd Street to the River Tour, which explores the Riverwalk and the evolution of the area's river-based economy. After a day of adventure, raise an ice-cold glass to the ghostly side of the city’s legacy on the Haunted Pub Crawl, as seen on the History Channel, Discovery Channel and MTV.
An abundance and variety of genuine experiences await on tours and cruises in Wilmington. Enhance your vacation with additional tours of the city’s scenic island beaches, each offering transformative waters and local charm: Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach.