Winter weather may cut into your beach time a bit, but it’s the perfect time to explore some of the many cultural attractions offered by Wilmington and its island beaches. Museums from the river to the sea have exhibits that range from art to the odd, and cover history from the Civil War to World War II. There’s something here for every age group, from dinosaurs to model trains to historic houses that recall life in the region from days gone by.

Here’s a round-up of museums to visit along with favorite selfie spots at each destination.

Cameron Art Museum

The region’s premiere art museum features exhibitions of significant works plus an outdoor art park. Through Spring 2020, put yourself in the picture with a Picasso or an Albers at the exhibit, “The Eye Learns,” part of a recent gift to the museum. Or go Zen amid the paper lanterns of Isamu Noguchi. Outdoors, chill out on the colorful Artist-Made Seating or catch a selfie amid the bottle trees.

Dancing Couple display at Cameron Art Museum

Biggest Wow!: Go Fred and Ginger with a selfie featuring the giant statue of a dancing couple.

Cape Fear Museum of History and Science

Exhibits on the natural environment and history of the area from Native American days, local son Michael Jordan memorabilia, and kid-friendly Dinosaur and Space themed interactive areas fill this downtown museum. Fun trick shot: Dress as an astronaut and jump into the air to look “weightless.”

Selfie at the Cape Fear Museum giant sloth exhibit

Biggest Wow!: Get a selfie with the 20-foot-tall replica skeleton of a Giant Ground Sloth dug up just a few miles away.

The Children’s Museum of Wilmington

Designed for kids 10 and under,  this fun spot offers indoor and outdoor playrooms with a pirate ship, grocery store, school bus, treehouse, pet shop, and even a dentist office - all ideal for selfies.

Pirate Ship at the Childrens Museum of Wilmington

Favorite Cute Kid Shots: Mount your youngster on the miniature triceratops in the Toddler Treehouse room, or aboard the pirate ship in the Ahoy! Wilmington exhibit.  

Wilmington Railroad Museum

This museum commemorating the city’s rich railroad history features a huge model train setup.

Selfie with railroad worker mannequin at the Wilmington Railroad Museum

Favorite Selfie: At the controls of the restored steam engine or aboard the caboose.

Museum of the Bizarre

This downtown “Odditorium” features lots of selfie ready spots, from a 3-D shark’s mouth to a mirror maze. A favorite selfie features the Annabelle doll from “The Conjuring,” filmed in Wilmington in 2013.

       Jamie Lee Curtis at the Museum of the Bizarre         Museum of the Bizarre selfie                

Film Fan Favorite: Recreate the shot Jamie Lee Curtis took with the Jason statue while she was in town filming the latest “Halloween” installment.

Fort Fisher State Historic Site

An important bulwark of the Confederacy, the fall of Fort Fisher in 1865 led to the end of the Civil War. Site includes a museum and battleground with cannons and artillery.

Selfie with the canons at Fort Fisher State Historic Site

Favorite Selfie: Climb to the top of the mound closest to the river for a selfie with cannons and a row of fortification mounds.


A monument to the heroism of WWII sailors, the battleship’s big guns fore and aft and the float plane mounted on deck are favorite selfie spots.

Visitor onboard the Battleship NC

Selfies through Time: Historic Houses

Wilmington historic houses recreate life from the 1700s through the early 1900s. A trio of these are clustered together in Wilmington’s historic downtown. Popular selfie spots at all three include colonnaded front porches and beautiful gardens. The porch of the magnificent 1859 Bellamy Mansion Museum of History and Design is a favorite spot for wedding pictures and selfies. Or take a selfie in its fourth floor belvedere with views over the city. At the 1852 Latimer House Museum, guests enjoy taking selfies with the many family portraits that grace the walls. The Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens, built in 1770 on the foundation of an old jail, offers selfie spots inside a jail cell or in the stocks.

visitor in "jail" at Burgwin-Wright House

Just north of town, Poplar Grove Plantation, where the Foy family grew sweet potatoes and peanuts from 1795 to 1971, is full of family memorabilia. Take a selfie under the arbor, with the mansion in the background, to catch the plantation vibe.

Goat at Poplar Grove Plantation

Kid Favorite: Selfie with the goats and donkeys in the barnyard.

At the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, housed in 1909 cottage, favorite selfie spots include in front of the model of Wrightsville Beach, circa 1910, in the trolley, or in front of the bathing suit timeline.

Hurricane pole at Wrightsville Beach Museum

Wow! Selfie: A shot with the Hurricane Pole comparing your height with Hazel’s 17-foot storm surge.

For additional information, follow the links on the Wilmington and Beaches Things To Do pages.