Family-Friendly Attractions in Wilmington, NC
Wilmington and its three nearby island beaches offer an array of engaging and entertaining experiences for kids of all ages. With activities ranging from cruise adventures to thrilling waterpark slides, create vacation memories that are as unique as your family. For kids and adults alike, this must-see Southern destination promises a fun-filled, family-friendly getaway.
Hop aboard one of the area’s many water tours and scenic cruises. Live the pirate life for a day aboard a swashbuckling Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tours adventure through the area's coastal waters, stopping to dig for treasure on uninhabited Masonboro Island. Or visit Carolina Beach and join Island Cruises for a seasonal pirate-themed tour to retrieve stolen bounty and create on-board arts and crafts. On the Carolina Runner with Soundside Adventures at Wrightsville Beach, head to Money Island to climb up the sand dunes before sliding down to look for buried treasure left by Captain Kidd. Up to six family members can set sail on Soundside’s Bella, a 44-foot-long, fully equipped catamaran, on a private charter. For a different kind of adventure, add stand-up paddleboards (SUP) to your customizable Epic Excursions experience.
Classic Boardwalk Delights
The kids probably won’t care that the Carolina Beach Boardwalk made Budget Travel’s list of “America’s Most Awesome Boardwalks,” but they will be excited by the vintage seaside boardwalk’s seasonal amusement rides, arcade games and weekly summer fireworks shows. Enjoy a hot, handmade treat at Britt's Donut Shop, a seasonal staple since 1939. Stop in at the Fudgeboat and choose from a variety of fudge flavors displayed on a vintage wooden boat hull. Shop a variety of gift shops, relax on the bench swings and enjoy classic beach fun at the lifeguard-protected shore during the summer months.
Take the kids on a history adventure they will never forget aboard the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA, a heroic ship that fought in every major naval offensive in the Pacific of WWII, earning 15 battle stars. On a guided or self-led tour, envision the daily life of the ship’s crew in 1942 with the whole family as you explore areas of the ship including the galley, engine room, living quarters and more.
Discover a new family-favorite hobby as you take advantage of the area’s abundant watersports activities. Learn how to hang ten during a surf lesson for the whole family with an outfitter like Tony Silvagni Surf School, owned by an Olympic gold medalist surfer. Try out one of the world’s fastest growing sports with a SUP lesson, guided tour or rental from Wrightsville SUP and Cape Fear Paddleboarding. Get active in nature as you kayak along the waterways with Wrightsville Kayak Company, around Carolina Beach State Park with Paddle NC or out to a nature reserve near Kure Beach with Kayak Carolina. See who can reel in the biggest catch on a fishing adventure.
Round up the family for an action-packed day at Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park. Make a splash while enjoying the kiddie pool, wave pool, lazy river and fun-filled water slides including Volcano Mountain and the Sidewinder. Face off in friendly competition at Jungle Mini Golf, Grand Prix Go-Karts or Laser Force Arena. The fun continues indoors with a climbing wall, jungle-themed indoor playground and dozens of arcade games.
Kids can be a conductor for the day at the Wilmington Railroad Museum as they learn about the history of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, romp in the Thomas the Tank Train play area, see model trains in action and explore a life-size 100-year-old steam locomotive. Creativity comes alive at the Children’s Museum of Wilmington where children learn about arts, science and culture through hands-on exhibits. The Cape Fear Museum of History and Science offers engaging exhibits including the hands-on Space Place, the Michael Jordan Discovery Gallery and a 20-foot-tall giant ground sloth replica.
Active Indoor Play
Take a break from the heat with exhilarating indoor activities perfect for the whole family. Bounce on over to Defy Wilmington for high-flying trampoline fun, including a massive trampoline dodgeball cage, or hop to the 28,000-square-feet of trampoline fun at Flip N Fly trampoline park in Mayfaire Towne Center. Enjoy a thrilling time at Crossfire Indoor Paintball Park, where even the younger kids can play Nerf Wars. Located in a 10,000-square-foot cityscape, Battle House Laser Tag allows all ages to live out thrilling video game scenarios, offering special game times for kids ages 7 to 9 years old.
Venture Under the Sea
Immerse yourself in a world of aquatic wonders at the award-winning North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Feel the smooth or scaly skin of aquatic animals in touch tanks, meet a rare albino alligator, see a family of playful otters and watch a sea turtle glide through the water. Reserve tickets online for a behind-the-scenes tour, which offers special backstage access to exhibits.