When you get an itch to travel and experience somewhere and something new, put the passport away. You won’t need it because you will find memorable, one-of-a-kind adventures in Wilmington, N.C., and its island beaches. This vibrant, riverfront city on the North Carolina coast is brimming with under-the-radar experiences that will elevate your trip beyond the ordinary. Do and see it all during your vacation to Wilmington.
Test the Waters
Spend an extra-special day during your coastal getaway island hopping with friends and family on board a private Stargazer Yacht Charter. Enjoy the coastal breeze and open space on an hourly, half-day, full-day or multi-day cruise. Customize your trip by choosing from stops at Masonboro Island Reserve, Lee Island, Figure Eight Island, among others.
Get out on the water in Carolina Beach with Island Time Water Tours for a unique experience you are going to dig. Cruise with their captain on a pontoon boat out to the best clamming spots and scavenge for your own dinner. This interactive tour planned around low tide is unlike any other and each person is sure to have a memorable time – and full bellies!
Reserve Wilmington’s BrewBoat for 90 minutes of BYOB fun on the Cape Fear River for five to 15 people. The sustainable boat is 100% green as it cruises down the river, because you and your group provide the pedal power; or, you can opt to use the boat’s solar panel-powered electric motor when you need a breather. Stock up on natural and sustainable wines and locally brewed beer at Bottles and prepare for an outrageously good time with your squad. Explore the waterfront in nearby Carolina Beach aboard Sea Legs Pedal Pub’s water trolley, also powered by your own pedaling. Grab your crew and favorite beverages and have fun as their knowledgeable captains guide you along the way.
Take in the sights from the water for a fresh perspective and breathtaking views. Board the Captain J.N. Maffit or its larger counterpart, the Henrietta, for a scenic waterside escape with your closest friends and family. Both boats are available for private charters from Cape Fear River Tours, promising an intimate, nautical experience.
Join Wilmington Water Tours on a Birding Cruise down the Cape Fear River to discover birds of all kinds. Enjoy a continental breakfast on board while the three expert guides help spot and identify different species of feathered friends. Birders can learn more about local bird ecology and identification during a birding boat cruise of Masonboro Island and Bradley Creek with Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tours. These guided eco-cruises are designed increase conservation.
Countless visitors enjoy exploring Battleship NORTH CAROLINA (for good reason!), but did you know you can see even more – including unrestored areas – on a Hidden Battleship Tour? Available for adults only, this behind-the-scenes tour will lead you through some of the most interesting areas of the ship. To ramp up the thrill factor, consider joining a Battleship NORTH CAROLINA Ghost Hunt USA and see why the ship is known as one of the most haunted battleships. This hunt, offered periodically throughout the year, gives daring participants exclusive overnight access to areas that are usually off-limits as they test out EMF (electromagnetic field) readers and take part in ghost hunts and group vigils with experienced investigators. Be sure to get tickets in advance as they usually sell out quickly!
Experience all the destination has to offer with exclusive behind-the-scenes tours. Step back in time with a private horse-drawn carriage tour with Springbrook Farms Inc. During your own carriage, trolley or evening coach tour – all of which are offered year-round by reservation – you will be escorted through downtown Wilmington, passing by stately historic mansions and homes while a knowledgeable guide recounts local history. WilmingtoNColor Tours examine Wilmington’s racial past through the lens of rebuilding a better future. Book the private shuttle tour to learn about the area’s history and the only successful coup d’état on U.S. soil.
Wilmington served as the backdrop of many scenes in the cult classic TV show, One Tree Hill. Today, visitors can be driven around the area’s filming sites, including Nathan, Brooke and Lucas’ homes, with a guided tour from Heart Wilmington Tour Company. Plus, the tour allows plenty of time to get out and snap pics! Other series and movies such as Dawson’s Creek, Sleepy Hollow, The Longest Ride and many more were filmed in various locations across the city. Take a self-guided tour of all the top filming spots with this guide.
Just a short drive away in Kure Beach, take a deep dive into the history of Fort Fisher State Historic Site by joining an “Above the Scenes” walking tour. You will be guided all the way from the bottom floor of the fort to the top of the traverses, which is usually closed to the public. Held twice daily, this special 45-minute tour gives visitors a unique perspective of the fort. Advance tickets are not available, so get your tickets at the Visitor Center when you arrive.
A Taste of the Coast
Indulge in a unique dining experience with Seaside Charcuterie. The duo behind the local business creates custom charcuterie boards featuring a beautiful variety of meats, cheeses, fruits, nuts, crackers and jams. Plus, they can arrange a special picnic set-up at a location of your choosing.
See and taste a little bit of everything with a Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tour. Book a private tour online to meet the city’s best chefs while sampling an eclectic assortment of restaurants and learning about the history and culinary landscape of downtown Wilmington.
Cruise with Wrightsville Beach’s Epic Excursions to an uninhabited island where Wilmington’s True Blue Butcher and Table offers an unmatched culinary event. Enjoy expansive water views as the chef prepares an amazing fireside steak dinner over an open flame, featuring only the finest ingredients.
These experiences are sure to exceed expectations and make memories to last a lifetime – all close to home in Wilmington, N.C.