Traveling independently can be intimidating, but it has become many people’s favorite way to explore a new destination. Embark on a solo journey through our charming city; whether learning about the area’s past, venturing through the outdoors or enjoying a performance, you’ll find there are many different ways to explore Wilmington when riding solo.
Exploring the Past
Connect with our coastal city by booking a guided tour, or let the maps and apps show you the way on a self-guided walking tour. Visit the different landmarks of Historic Downtown Wilmington on a guided tour with Tour Old Wilmington. Or, adventure at your own pace along one of the six different tours featured on the Wilmington History Tours mobile app.
Venture through some of Wilmington's historic homes, each offering special insight into the area's past. The Bellamy Mansion Museum highlights the architectural history of the early 1800s and offers self-guided audio and paper tours to follow at your own pace. Explore the gardens, visitors center and art gallery at the Burgwin-Wright House on your own before joining in on a guided tour of the house. With more than 600 historical objects on display, the Latimer House Museum offers guided tours exploring the upper-class lifestyle of Victorian Wilmington.
A Day of Adventures
Capture breathtaking views as you roam the lively 2-mile Wilmington Riverwalk with a backdrop of the Cape Fear River. Pop in the local markets, boutiques and art galleries along the walkway to find a souvenir to commemorate your solo stay. Check out the nearby Cotton Exchange, where you’ll discover a unique shopping experience made up of several complexes and courtyards that reflect the area’s history.
Wilmington is the perfect place to rediscover the importance of “me-time.” Experience the serenity of a Japanese garden at the New Hanover County Arboretum, which features an authentic tea house and water garden with Koi fish. Wander through the picturesque pathways and trails of Airlie Gardens to spot seasonal blooms and wildlife. Enjoy all the outdoors has to offer on a solo nature walk at Halyburton Park, a 58-acre nature preserve that provides an accessible walking and biking trail and picnic shelters. Grab a blanket and some snacks to curate an individual picnic in the gazebo and pond area of Long Leaf Park, or visit the outdoor gym and obstacle course.
From searching for wildlife to shark teeth, you can customize your own adventure on the water with Mahanaim Adventures. With several different kayak tour options, the outfitter can help plan a guided trip that caters to your interests or provide you with a single kayak rental for a solo exploration of the top five spots to kayak in Wilmington. Schedule a private eco-tour with Wilmington Outdoor Adventures and travel through the waters to explore the diverse wildlife and ecosystems with a professional wildlife biologist as your guide.
Arts & Entertainment
Get inspired on a solo visit to Cameron Art Museum and venture through the dynamic exhibits to interpret and appreciate the different works at your own pace. Visit one of Wilmington’s art galleries like Art in Bloom which features distinctive pieces from local and global artists, or Acme Art Studios, a collaborative working space with an in-house gallery. Connect with fellow art enthusiasts at Bottega Art & Wine, a wine bar with live music and a unique collection of art and jewelry.
Enjoy an evening to yourself by visiting the theatre. Catch a performance you’ve always wanted to see at The Wilson Center, which hosts the best of Broadway along with music, comedy and dance performances. Purchase tickets for a program at Thalian Hall, one of the oldest and most beautiful theatres in America, and strike up unexpected conversations with those sitting around you.
Table for One
Dining alone can be overwhelming, but Wilmington’s vibrant foodie scene has a range of dining styles to fit your comfort level. The Cargo District is an eco-friendly dining and shopping complex created from repurposed steel huts and shipping containers. Pick up a bite to eat from CheeseSmith, featured in the Cooking Channel’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate” for its gourmet grilled cheeses, or grab a pint from the Alcove Beer Garden, located in the center of the complex. The popular Cargo District’s open courtyard and picnic tables make it an ideal solo dining spot to absorb the friendly atmosphere and savor delicious bites.
One of the less daunting ways to dine by yourself is by finding a restaurant where you can grab a seat at the bar. Pull up a barstool at Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria, a restaurant by the award-winning author and television personality Chef Vivian Howard, and order a personal-size specialty pie. Featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” The Fork n Cork combines bar and comfort food with a diverse menu that ranges from burgers and chicken pot pies to duck wings and beef wellington bites. Grab a bar seat at manna ave. 123, the first restaurant in Wilmington to receive the prestigious AAA Four Diamond Award, for a meal crafted from the freshest ingredients on an ever-changing menu. Afterward, stop by Bourgie Nights next door to enjoy craft cocktails and live music in an intimate listening room environment.
Relax and Unwind
Wilmington’s boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts are the perfect way to travel solo, but not alone. One of Wilmington’s historic homes, The Verandas provide a taste of southern elegance with private guest rooms and public spaces to gather with other guests. Following recent renovations, the Graystone invites travelers to dine, stay and socialize in luxury while offering concierge services and a wine reception by the fireplace.
Millennial meets mid-century modern at the newly renovated ARRIVE Wilmington, where guests are welcomed in the library to enjoy the cozy courtyard bar, games and fireplaces. For travelers looking for more privacy on their solo vacation, two of Wilmington's boutique hotel options offer invisible or virtual service for their guests. Located in the heart of downtown, The Hive features an updated eclectic charm design with no front desk or lobby and virtual communication and service. Dreamers by DW, a former Victorian home, offers its guests all the amenities of a boutique hotel but the privacy of a vacation rental with a minimalist design and décor.
From exploring past and present Wilmington to enjoying dinner and a show on your own, embrace your independence on a solo trip to Wilmington. And check out more solo trip inspiration at nearby Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville Beaches, just minutes from downtown Wilmington.