Get the Local Lowdown on Tours & Cruises

Whether you’re a traveling craft beer aficionado with a taste for good suds, an epicure who loves culinary tours, an entertainment junkie who seeks out famous movie and TV locations, an art or history aficionado with a passion to learn more, or an outdoor lover looking to explore the sights by boat, Wilmington and Island Beaches has plenty of options for both guided and do-it-yourself explorations, by land and sea and everything in between.

Start exploring below, or view the full list of tours and cruises.


History Tours

If history is your passion, let Tour Old Wilmington take you to the many landmarks which make historic downtown notable during a walking tour. Or, experience downtown Wilmington and its 230-plus-block National Register Historic District at the pace of days gone by during a horse-drawn carriage tour with Springbrook Farms. The rescued Percheron draft horses and costumed carriage driver-guide visitors on a narrated journey highlighting downtown Wilmington’s history, as well as the famous personalities who have called the city home.

Head "behind the hatch" at the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA and discover the hidden nooks and crannies of the storied WWII ship, from the inner bottom of her hull all the way to the top of her fire control tower. Download the World War II Heritage Guide Map and explore dozens of notable nearby locations – from a shipyard to the USO – that led to Wilmington being dubbed "The Defense Capital of the State" during WWII and the first city in the country to be designated an official "American World War II Heritage City" in 2020.

Looking for a more modern "spin?" Try a guided Cape Fear Segway tour. Get started with a quick Segway how-to and then take off on the sidewalks and along Wilmington’s Riverwalk. Or download the Wilmington History Tours mobile app and choose your own adventure. The app includes five historical tours – including Pub Crawl Wilmington and African-American History. Explore historic sites at your own speed, with each “stop” featuring a 3- to 5-minute history lesson and historical photos.

Artistic Tours

Make your way to one of America's most beautiful and historic theatres, Thalian Hall Center for Performing Arts, for a one-hour guided tour of the theater that has been in operation since 1858. Tours may include the main lobby, historic 1858 lobby, historic 1858 Thalian Hall main stage, historic gallery level, Studio Theatre and backstage areas.

Bibliophiles and history buffs alike will want to check out Old Books on Front Street, which offers weekly Literary History Walking Tours. Venture down streets that have served as the settings of famous novels and into the lives of authors who passed through and lived in Wilmington.

Get the inside scoop on Wilmington’s vibrant arts and culture scene with the Arts Council of Wilmington. Find info on the various arts venues, local artists and pedestrian art installations throughout the city.  

Historic Home Tours

Discover the splendor of three of Wilmington's historic house museums. Get an up-close look at historic architecture at Bellamy Mansion Museum of History & Design, originally built in 1861 as a prominent family’s residence; take in a prime example of Georgian architecture and Colonial-style gardens at the Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens, or envision what upper-class life was like in Victorian Wilmington at the Latimer House Museum. All three homes offer regular tours that provide a glimpse into the history of prominent families who once called Wilmington home.

Held the second Thursday of every month from May to September, visitors can enjoy a two-for-one visit with live music and a tour of Bellamy Mansion during the Jazz at the Mansion Concert Series.

Food and Brew Tours

Beer lovers can create their own self-guided tour with the help of the Wilmington Ale Trail, a complete guide to all things breweries, bottleshops and bars in Wilmington. It also includes information about local craft beer festivals – which take place throughout the year – and tour information to make your coastal brew-hopping vacation complete.

Craft cocktail lovers will enjoy a visit to award-winning End of Days Distillery, where a behind-the-scenes tour shows visitors the process of sourcing, fermentation, distillation and finishing. Tour group size is limited and reservations are encouraged.

Sample numerous local favorites, famous hotspots and coastal flavors on a gourmet food tour with Taste Carolina. The Downtown Tasting Tour highlights five to six restaurants and bars in downtown Wilmington’s Historic District. Meet local chefs and owners while learning about Wilmington’s burgeoning culinary scene. The Downtown Evening Drinks and Tasting Tour includes stops at five of downtown Wilmington’s eclectic assortment of restaurants and bars. The Farmers’ Market Tour and Cooking Class starts with a guided tour of the Riverfront Farmers’ Market, followed by a quick tour of historic downtown Wilmington and breakfast. Participants in this Saturday-only tour will then be treated to a cooking class by a local chef, followed by lunch.

Stay up-to-date on the latest news, brews and what's hoppin' in the craft beer scene in Wilmington and beaches here.

Famous Film and TV Tours

With a long list of film and TV credits to its name, see how the Wilmington area – also known as "Hollywood East" – has served as the backdrop for hundreds of projects ranging from blockbusters to indy productions.

Transport yourself from Wilmington to Capeside – the beloved hometown of Dawson, Pacey, Joey and Jen from the TV show “Dawson’s Creek” – with a self-guided Dawson's Creek Locations Tour featuring dozens of locations made famous by the popular WB series. Follow a mapped walking tour of locations in downtown Wilmington, and then head to Midtown and our nearby island beaches for more.

You'll think you're back in Tree Hill as you make your way through Wilmington with a One Tree Hill Walking Tour. From Riverfront Park, the backdrop for some of the show’s outdoor basketball games, to the Wilmington Riverwalk and the spaces that held “Karen’s Café” over the years, fans of the show will love to recreate the show's most epic scenes during this self-guided tour.

Haunted Tours

Wilmington is considered by some experts to be one of the most actively haunted cities in the world. Get in touch with your paranormal side during a Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington, which takes brave visitors on an eerie adventure through the past with tales of haunted homes and burial grounds. The Haunted Cotton Exchange Tour traverses stairs, alleyways and courtyards of the eight inter-connected buildings that make up the former cotton market, many of which have been in use since the Civil War. For beer – and ghost – lovers, the Haunted Pub Crawl raises a glass to the most ghostly downtown pubs.

Waterway Tours and Cruises

Check out the waterways surrounding Wilmington on a scenic cruise. Cape Fear Riverboats, Inc. offers daily, narrated one-hour sightseeing tours from March through October that educate visitors about the Cape Fear River and downtown Wilmington. Wilmington’s longest continuously running boat tour, the group also offers eco-tours, evening sunset cruises and more.

From historic and eco-tours, to sunset cruises and narrated tours of the beautiful Cape Fear River, Wilmington Water Tours offers morning, afternoon and evening excursions all year long. Signature cruises include the Champagne Sunset Cruise and Music Sunset Cruise.

Be eco-friendly and paddle along the Cape Fear River in an environmentally friendly paddleboat with BrewBoat Wilmington. The 15-passenger vessel invites visitors to embark on a 90-minute BYOB (Bring Your Own Beverage) excursion. Reserve your spot today on a seasonal group cruise or a private charter.

Step off the beach and sail our island blue waters. Or better yet, let someone guide you into the sunset while you enjoy food, drink and a sunset you won't soon forget.

Cruise into the sunset with harbor cruises from Blockade Runner's Surf to Sound Adventures, offering a variety of cruises and charters to all visitors. La Dee Dah Sunset Cruises offers a special sunset cruise experience—a perfect choice for date night or an unforgettable vacation excursion with friends. If you're looking for a themed cruise or narrated adventure, join one of Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tours many expeditions—eco-tours, birding adventures, sunset cruises and more. Epic Excursions offers a variety of island excursions including private half and full day charters, paddleboarding charters, surf charters and sunset cruises, and glamping (glamorous camping) adventures sure to delight everyone.

Set sail with Shamrock Sailing Adventures with Captain Jim and experience two-and-a-half hours of breathtaking scenery, bird watching and maybe a dolphin or two. Hop aboard with Wrightsville Performance Sailing and take the helm aboard a beautiful J/80 or simply sit back and let their experienced captain sail you around the island.

Explore the tours offered at Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Wrightsville Beach to let local experts show you everything these coastal towns have to offer, from historic landmarks to modern-day points of interest.