Add These Top Attractions to Your Vacation Bucket List
Wilmington boasts some of North Carolina’s most popular tourist attractions based on annual attendance. In one vacation you can step aboard a real battleship or tour a historic Civil War fort, stroll through acres of beautifully manicured gardens, tour Victorian-era mansions, explore arts, history and science museums, and immerse yourself in aquatic fun at an award-winning aquarium. Discover the variety of attractions available for all ages.
A World War II Legend
Wilmington was the first city in the country to receive the designation of "American World War II Heritage City." Explore the decks of the World War II-era Battleship NORTH CAROLINA, named one of the “Best Museum Ships” by USA TODAY 10BEST, and experience how the sailors lived aboard the ship during wartime. Walk along the half-mile SECU Memorial Walkway that honors veterans from all branches of the military. For those on the city side of the river, the Battleship makes for a great photo opportunity from various locations along the Wilmington Riverwalk.
A Museum Mecca
Visitors are greeted by the skeleton of a 20-foot-tall Giant Ground Sloth found in Wilmington at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science. Children and adults alike love to explore the Wilmington Railroad Museum, featuring model trains and a 100-year-old steam locomotive. Kids up to 10 years old play and learn with hands-on exhibits, like Wellness Way and The Science of You at the Children's Museum of Wilmington. Arts lovers enjoy strolling through the galleries at the Cameron Art Museum as well as the outdoor sculpture garden. See spectacular examples of architectural styles from the 1700s and 1800s on a tour of the Bellamy Mansion Museum, Latimer House Museum or Burgwin-Wright House Museum.
Get lost in Airlie Gardens' 67 acres of formal gardens, walking trails, seasonal blooms, centuries-old oak trees, artistic sculptures and peaceful waterways. Spy over 200 species of birds that have been observed within the gardens, see the famous Airlie Oak (c.1545)—the largest Live Oak in North Carolina at 128 feet high,—and enjoy seasonal Summer Concert Series and the holiday favorite Enchanted Airlie. To explore more southern gardens, visit the nearby Arboretum at New Hanover County, known for its seasonal specialty flower gardens, koi pond and kids' play area.
Family Fun Park
For a family fun day in the water or on dry land, journey to Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park. You'll find the "Best Water Park in Eastern North Carolina" packed with colorful twirling water slides, a free-flowing lazy river and rolling wave pool. On dry land, children and adults love the competition of the Go-Kart course, Mini Bowling lanes and Lazer Tag zone. Practice your putting in the Jungle Golf mini-golf course or drop from 40 feet up on the Sky Tower ride. Head indoors to test your skills in the arcade, romp in the Kids Jungle indoor playground or scale the Rock Climbing Wall.
Attractions at Our Island Beaches
Visit the nationally recognized Carolina Beach Boardwalk, a vintage seaside boardwalk complete with summer amusement rides, local shops, grills and tiki bars and seasonal entertainment. Trek into Carolina Beach State Park to explore miles of maritime forest trails, or venture out on boat or kayak from the marina to find the best fishing spot. Step back in time at the state’s most visited historic attraction, Fort Fisher State Historic Site in Kure Beach, where the largest land-sea battle of the Civil War was fought. Nearby, spend a day at the award-winning North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Plan a visit to the historic cottages at Wrightsville Beach's Historic Square, home to the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History and Fred and Alice Stanback Coastal Education Center.