30+ Awesome Things to do in Wilmington, NC

There is no shortage of amazing things to do in Wilmington, NC. We should know best since it is the closest thing we have to home as full-time travelers. Wilmington has something for everyone whether you stay on land or water.

Visitors flock from all over to experience the stunning North Carolina coast here. You can be as active and ocean ready when you visit Wilmington or you can enjoy a completely relaxing trip just lounging on the sand just dipping your toes in the water. One thing is for certain, when you visit Wilmington you’ll be breathing in that fresh ocean air and life will instantly feel more complete.

It’s my favorite place in North Carolina to enjoy a little salt water on the face and get kissed by the sun.

After several years of experience, I wanted to share some of the best things to do in Wilmington, NC fit for anytime of the year.

Specifically, we’re going to take a look at:

  • Where is Wilmington
  • Why Wilmington is a Must Visit
  • Things to do in Wilmington
  • Best Restaurants in Wilmington
  • How to Get to Wilmington
  • How to Get Around Wilmington
  • Wilmington, NC Weather
  • Where to Stay in Wilmington
Beach in Wilmington, North Carolina

Where is Wilmington, North Carolina?

Things to do in Wilmington North Carolina

Wilmington, North Carolina is a port city in New Hanover County. It’s located in southeastern North Carolina only an hour north from the border of South Carolina.

It’s a coastal city with a large population of almost 125,000 people. It’s well known as a popular beach vacation destination in the south with great beach destinations like Fort Fisher, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach and Kure Beach drawing in tourists.

It was well known as one of the largest centers of American film and television production in the United States behind Los Angeles and New York City.

We Love Wilmington, NC

Beach Packing List
Enjoying the Wilmington beaches

I made a move from Michigan to Wilmington, NC, when I was 19 years old.  In search of a different lifestyle in the South and a college degree. Wilmington became my home while I attended the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

People often asked me why I moved to Wilmington, and the truth is I was searching for an “out” of the harsh Michigan winters. I Googled “Universities on the beach,” and the rest was history. It took me one day in Wilmington to realize I picked an excellent school and home and that I was living where other people vacation.

I think the decision to move to North Carolina completely changed the path of my life as well. I got involved in some great programs while in college, used my school’s study abroad program to venture out to Australia, fell in love with travel, and now I run a travel blog for a living and have traveled to over 85 countries.

Cameron and I also met in Wilmington, and now travel back here every year when we want to slow down for a bit since Cameron’s family has a home here. We both very much consider ourselves locals, and that’s why it pains me to see vacationers here doing the same few things day after day when there is so much more. (Oh, and Cameron has even been on the local news… We get this place.)

So hopefully these unique things to do in Wilmington, NC will help you discover something new and convince you what to do in Wilmington, NC on your trip.

Best Things to do in Wilmington, NC

Go to the Beach!

Enjoying the beach in Wilmington!

Well I can’t start off this Wilmington travel guide without mentioning that you need to visit the beach while here. Let’s be honest, it’s probably the main reason you are traveling to Wilmington!

There are three main beaches in the Wilmington area to visit.

  • Wrightsville Beach: The most conveniently located to most of Wilmington. Located at the end of Causeway Drive and home to awesome landmarks like Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier. Wrightsville Beach has the most “upscale” vibe to it out of any of the beaches and is where you will find some of the higher-end hotels and restaurants in the area. It’s a fabulous beach to enjoy year round.
  • Carolina Beach: Carolina Beach is actually a separate about a 30-minute drive from Market Street in Wilmington. It sits along the Cape Fear River and is home to Carolina Beach State Park. Carolina Beach feels much more of a kitschy beach town, but I honestly love the whole ambiance of it much more than Wrightsville. It has great beach bars and restaurants and home to an amazing boardwalk.
  • Kure Beach: The quietest out of all the beaches, with a little bit of an older beach town vibe. It’s about a 5-10 minute drive past Carolina Beach to get to Kure Beach. Make sure to walk the Kure Beach pier!
Beach Packing List

Other beach destinations around Wilmington:

  • Masonboro Island: Only accessible by boat. There are public and private boat ramps in Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach. Makes for a great day out!
  • Figure Eight Island: A private island where a booking is required. But if you can get a rental unit there you’re sure to have a great time.
  • Topsail Beach: About 50 minutes from Wilmington. Another quiet beach community.

Stroll Through Airlie Gardens

things to do in wilmington

One of the best things to do in Wilmington, NC is stroll through the beautiful Airlie Gardens. Airlie Gardens a 67-acre botanical garden you can find on the way to Wrightsville Beach. If you want an easy day outside with your loved one, this is one of the most romantic things to do in Wilmington.

The gardens are filled with oaks, outdoor art, walking paths, and seasonal flowers. This makes it the perfect place to come on a beautiful sunny day for a picnic. Throughout the year, several events can be enjoyed on the grounds including an Oyster Roast and a whole summer concert series.

Go Fishing!

things to do in wilmington

For many who come to the coastal town, they have one thing on their mind – fishing. There are many ways you can go fishing in the Wilmington area. However, before you start, make sure you have a fishing license to do so legally.

There are two exceptions to a fishing license that is if you’re fishing from a pier that charges a fee to fish or if you’re on a charter fishing boat (both carry special commercial licenses that cover you). There are many ways you can try your hand at fishing, some include:

  • Surf Fishing from the beach.
  • Fish in Snow’s Cut and from Carolina Beach State Park.
  • Deep-sea fishing with a charter boat from Carolina Beach or Wrightsville Beach.
  • Cast a line off of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, or Johnny Mercer Pier.
  • Hop on the Winner Gulf Stream Fishing cruise
  • Take your own boat of course!

Enjoy a Live Event!

things to do in wilmington

Being at the beach and having an excellent downtown area Wilmington plays host to several festivals year round. Most of the ones we love are in the spring and summer, but there is something to do almost every weekend.

A few of our favorites are the NC Azalea Festival, the Cucalorus Film Festival, and Wilmington Beer Week. If you’re looking for a weekly event, check out the farmers market at Tidal Creek Co-op or catch a concert at Greenfield Lake Amphitheatre.

Stand Up Paddleboard at Wrightsville Beach

Stand-up paddle boarding is one of the most fun things to do in Wilmington. Wrightsville Beach was my favorite beach to go to as a college student. It has an entirely different vibe at Wrightsville Beach than at Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. I find it to be a bit cleaner and less crowded than Carolina Beach – especially during the summer months. Though Kure on the other hand, remains more secluded though it is quite far from the city of Wilmington.

Of course, you can travel to Wrightsville and lounge around, but Wrightsville SUP offers everyone the chance to try to stand up paddleboarding. Rentals start at $35 or you can take lessons.  If you think you’ll be stand-up paddleboarding more than once it might not hurt to invest in a stand-up paddleboard. We did and it makes our summers that much more amazing. Take a look at the best inflatable stand-up paddleboards.

Disc Golf in Wilmington

things to do in wilmington
Joe Eakes Park, Kure Beach

Disc Golf is Cameron’s favorite thing to do in Wilmington when the weather is beautiful. The Wilmington area has four disc golf courses, and they’re all free to use, making it one of the best free things to do in Wilmington, NC. All you need is a disc which you can pick up for $10 at several shops around the area. Or pre-purchase your own online on Amazon.

You can find them in store in Wilmington at Outdoor Provisions, surf shops (CB surf), Dicks Sporting Goods, and a bunch of other places.

Here are four disc golf courses around Wilmington:

  • North Regional Park, Castle Hayne: This course is on the PDGA, and it’s the best course in the area. It has 18 holes and many challenging par 4 and 5 holes. It’s prone to mud when there is fresh rain, but it’s terrific on a chilly day.
  • Joe Eakes Park, Kure Beach: This is my favorite course because it’s a full 18 holes and has a few challenging holes. What makes it the best for me is it’s all in a coastal forest with sand fairways. The weather is reliable with plenty of water close by, but it also gets windy!
  • Arrowhead Park18 hole par three disc golf course. There are plenty of hills that make for fun elevation changes and it’s in a beautiful little park.
  • Good Hops Brewing, Carolina Beach: This is the most straightforward course with all of the holes at par 3. It’s also on the brewery’s property so you can legally pick up a craft beer inside and play while drinking. AWESOME!

Run “The Loop”

things to do in wilmington

If you’re in the mood a bit of exercise and like to run there is a great running trail around Wrightsville Beach area. The John Nesbitt Loop, or “The Loop” as referred to by locals is the perfect 2.5-mile running path around the beach. Don’t worry, it’s dog and kid-friendly and isn’t all runners! If you’re big on running there are other great places to head in Wilmington.

Places like Hugh Macrae Park, Carolina Beach State Park, or the Cross City Trail are perfect. When training for a race, Cameron would take the trail from UNCW to the loop and back (that’s a half marathon all on a paved path) so even serious runners will plenty of room to stretch the legs. Check out the Gary Shell Cross-City Trail map here!

Enjoy a Trolley Tour Downtown

things to do in wilmington

Downtown Wilmington, with its historic building and homes, fully deserves to be appreciated and exploring is a definite Wilmington thing to do. I love our historic waterfront. If it’s your first time, consider hopping on a trolley, it’s one of the best things you can do in Wilmington. That’s right – downtown Wilmington still runs modified trolleys through town. Tours run for 45 minutes and cost $12 for adults.

Fondue Yourself

things to do in wilmington

Another great thing to do in Wilmington is eat amazing fondue. If you’re looking for a place to have a nice dinner heading to Historic Downtown Wilmington will provide the most options. They have a number of riverside dining options, which are excellent in the summertime.

One of my favorite restaurants to go to is Little Dipper Fondue. Little Dipper is a locally owned fondue restaurant with an intimate setting. They have great specials every day of the week, so make sure to check em out online first.

Bar Hop Downtown

things to do in wilmington

If you’re looking for a night out on the town with your friends you have three places around Wilmington. The Wrightsville Beach Bars, Downtown Wilmington, and Carolina Beach. I always found Wrightsville Beach bars to be where the frat guys hung out so didn’t bother going there often, while Carolina Beach is a bit far from Wilmington to go drinking.

I wish I knew the number of bars downtown, but trust me when I say there are enough to have a good time. Most of the bars are lined up on Front Street, but they go as far back as 3rd. There’s a bar for just about any type of crowd downtown. There are rooftop bars, clubs, dive bars, breweries, beer halls, country bars, chill bars, and more.

There even used to be a Dueling Piano Bar, but unfortunately, that’s gone now. It may seem a little “younger” downtown, but remember that Wilmington isn’t just a vacation town, but a college town too.

Our favorite bars in Downtown Wilmington, NC are:

Listen to Music at the Downtown Sundown

things to do in wilmington

If you’re lucky enough to be in Wilmington on a Friday night during the summer, make sure to experience the Downtown Sundown Concerts. It’s one of the best free things to do in Wilmington in the summer.

Every Friday during the summertime, local bands and musicians perform on the riverwalk in Wilmington while the sun goes down. It’s almost always cover bands, so you know what you’re getting into ahead of time. Downtown Sundowns are free and family-friendly, but it’s possible to drink beer and wine there.

Shop at the Cotton Exchange

The Cotton Exchange is where you can find many boutique shops in Wilmington. It’s located in the historic downtown area and is best visited on the weekends when you can see the place come alive.

The vendors sell a ton of antiques, locally made products, and art. If you like shopping for unique finds this is one of the best things to do in Wilmington!

Dinner and Movie Night

One of my absolute favorite things to do when I was in college (and now) was hit up dinner and a movie at Mayfaire Town Center. I know you can do this just about anywhere in the United States, but to me, there is just something extraordinary and nostalgic feeling about going to Mayfaire Town Center, plus it’s perfect for when the weather is crap.

Mayfaire is the upscale shopping center in Wilmington. It’s got your upper-class staple shops like Williams Sonoma and Pottery Barn, but it’s also got your everyday places to shop like Michaels. Also, they have one of the few H&Ms in the state of North Carolina. To me it’s not about the shops it’s about having a drink at the Fox & Hound before catching the latest movie in a lovely theatre. The cinema now features reclining chairs and couches.

Take the Kids to Jungle Rapids

things to do in wilmington, nc

Want to cool off without getting sandy at the beach? Jungle Rapids is an outdoor waterpark great for families looking for a fun time in Wilmington. They have Two Body Water Slides, a Lazy River and Wave-pool, and a few other fun rides. They also have bowling, golf, go-karts, mini-golf, and a rock-climbing wall!

Play Some Beach Volleyball

things to do in wilmington

I’ve been playing volleyball since I was 11 years old so you can bet the first thing I searched for when I moved to Wilmington was a volleyball court. There is one main establishment for organized beach volleyball in Wilmington, Capt’n Bill’s located on Market Street.

I played on teams, and even worked part-time as a referee at Capt’n Bill’s for four years in Wilmington, and I love the vibe there. Teams from all levels play in leagues, and the place can get pretty competitive on the nights with higher league play. There is also a fun bar with food in case you just want to watch.

Tour the USS North Carolina

things to do in wilmington

One of the most unique things to do in Wilmington is tour a battleship! USS North Carolina (BB-55) is the lead ship of the pair of North Carolina-class battleships and docked right in Wilmington, NC. The Battleship is open every day of the year for visitors to come and visit and learn all about the ship that participated in every major naval offensive in the Pacific area of operations during WWII.

If you happen to be in town over the Halloween festivities, make sure to check out their spooky haunted ghost ship!

Listen to the Ghost Stories From a Historic Port Town

things to do in wilmington

These days Wilmington is very much a vacation destination, but that wasn’t always the case. Wilmington was, and still very much is a port town. The city was settled by European Americans along the Cape Fear River back in the 16th century.

A lot of action happened in Wilmington in those years, particularly in the downtown area near the river. If you feel like stepping back in time you can get spooked on a Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington. It’s one of the best things to do in Wilmington, NC at night, and perfect for anyone willing to hear some chilling ghost stories.

If you want a little drink with your story check out their haunted pub crawl!

Kayak Around Zeke’s Island

things to do in wilmington

One of Cameron’s favorite activities in Wilmington, NC is to kayak around Zeke’s Island. Zeke’s Island is an NC Coastal Reserve only accessible by shallow water boats.

Once there you will be able to enjoy the peace and quiet of the coastal marshlands. It’s a great opportunity to see all the biodiversity of Wilmington. There is a boat ramp at Federal Point – adjacent to the Zeke’s Island site to launch from.

I would recommend taking a cooler and some chairs for relaxation once there. I wouldn’t recommend crossing the old civil war wall that leads out to the island. Cameron once got caught out there during high tide and it wasn’t a good day – his sister hopped away with 26 stitches in her knee from oyster shells.

Visit the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

things to do in wilmington, nc

One of the most fun things to do in Wilmington, NC for families is head to the aquarium. The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is a place where kids and adults alike can visit and learn about marine life. It’s one of our favorite things to do in Wilmington, NC.

Unlike some of the mega aquariums around the United States, the Fort Fisher aquarium is a real research center and not a cash cow. The N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher is a member of the 230 accredited members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

They have a number of exhibits and shows open every day of the year, so no matter what day you visit you’ll be sure to have a good time. It’s here that you can also meet the rare albino alligator named Luna and a rescued bald eagle named Maverick. They also have an awesome butterfly garden in the Spring and Summer.

Head to the Beach Bars

While there are beach bars at both Carolina Beach, Wrightsville, and Kure my absolute favorite place to enjoy the beach nightlife is at Carolina Beach. During the summer a vivacious crowd can be found at the numerous bars around the island.

The beach bars at Carolina Beach feel much more “beachy” to me than at Wrightsville where the college crowd hangs out. Kure Beach is also lovely, but it is much quieter than Carolina. We’re Carolina Beach regulars so here are our favorite bars in Carolina Beach.

  • Fat Pelican: This doesn’t only make our list of favorite bars in Wilmington, but the world. It’s eclectic, packed with character, and just crusty enough to make it the perfect dive bar. We love the crowd as there is no age limit here (21+ mind you) and you’ll find every walk of life.
  • Crush & Grind: We love the atmosphere here as it’s all about craft beer and wine in a modern atmosphere. The owner also makes some fantastic coffee – try out the cold brew!
  • Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar: On a beautiful day it’s impossible to beat sitting on the remains of a pier and enjoying a cold drink. The only negative for us is the price with $5 beer cans and $12 cocktails (We’re not in NYC!).
  • Sea Witch Tiki BarLive music on the weekends and awesome tiki bar feel. They have a large open courtyard and often draw a crowd in the summer.
  • The Last Resort: This little bar sits right on Carolina Beach Ave, and you can’t miss it.
  • Nollies Taco JointThere probably isn’t a better bar food than tacos.

Hunt for a Venus Flytrap at Carolina Beach State Park

things to do in wilmington

One of the great Wilmington, NC Attractions is Carolina Beach State Park. Carolina Beach State Park is one of my favorite places in Wilmington to watch the sunset every day. We spent a month here in 2018 and spent almost every evening in the park. Besides sunsets, it also provides a good platform to fish from and launch your boat into the Cape Fear River.

Besides that, we like to come here and enjoy a hike through the woods beneath the fantastic trees.

They have beautiful shaded campsites here for campers and RVs. Carolina Beach is also home to the Venus flytrap! That’s right Carolina Beach State Park is home to one of the most famous carnivorous plants in the world and one of the only places you can find it in the wild.

Practice Yoga on the Beach

things to do in wilmington

If you like to do yoga and you like to go to the beach, Wilmington is perfect for you. You can easily bring your own mat to the beach to practice yoga with the sound of the ocean waves. Or if you prefer an instructor and a class there are plenty of those too.

Wilmington Yoga Studios and Longwave Yoga both offer yoga retreats, beach yoga, and SUP yoga. If you head to Wilmington Yoga Studios be sure to check out Tidal Creek Coop on the floor below for healthy food. See our favorite travel yoga mats for practice before you go.

Have a Coffee at Bitty and Beau

things to do in Wilmington

Bitty and Beau was not around while we were in college, but has become a well known national sensation and for a good reason! The coffee shop was opened by a local couple who have two children (Bitty and Beau) with Down Syndrome.

To combat the high employment rate for individuals with IDD and other disabilities, the Wrights opened up the first Bitty and Beau in Wilmington and employed people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

They now have two locations and employ over 60 people between the two coffee shops. Oh, Amy Wright may or may not have won CNN’s Hero of the Year. (Hint – she won).

Catch a Baseball Game

things to do in wilmington

While the Carolinas have no Major League Baseball team, there is still a collegiate summer baseball league here. The Wilmington Sharks play at Legion Stadium during the summer. It makes for a great evening out. Thirsty Thursdays are the best time to watch as they offered $1 draft beers – no joke.

Experience Hollywood East

wilmington north carolina

Did you know Wilmington was once dubbed the “Hollywood of the East” or”Wilmywood”? That’s right; little old Wilmington is home to a considerable amount of film productions over the years. It’s why I chose to get my Film Degree at UNCW. One Tree Hill, Iron Man, The Conjuring, and a ton of Nicholas Sparks’ books turned movies were all filmed in Wilmington.

Many movies are shot on location, but EUE Screen Gems Studios also plays a massive role in film production in Wilmington. Movie making in North Carolina was much larger while we lived in Wilmington. However, the state legislature voted to end film incentive tax credits after 2014 film production in North Carolina has almost come to a standstill. With nearly all movies and TV shows heading to Atlanta these days.

Guided tours don’t run here as much as they used to, but for true fans, you can do a self-guided tour around filming locations.

Pick Delicious Strawberries

things to do in wilmington

Lewis Nursery and Farms is a family-run business growing all the good stuff on their land – strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries! During the spring season, they allow visitors to pick their own strawberries, which is a fun day out. Don’t worry, if you’re feeling a little lazy you can buy the pre-picked fresh berries still.

Get Out to Masonboro Island

things to do in wilmington

Masonboro Island is state-protected land and the entire island is undeveloped. It’s an amazingly beautiful area and one of the last places you can truly experience an untouched coast.

Believe it or not, but the mouth of the Cape Fear River and Wilmington is one of the most biodiverse spots in the continental United States – and highest on the East Coast.

Try Britts Donut

Things to do in Wilmington
One of those simple but important Wilmington NC things to do

Everyone and I mean everyone who lives in Wilmington raves about Britts Donuts in Carolina Beach. Now I’ve never really been much of a donut fanatic, but I can confirm that Britt’s Donuts are delicious.

They’ve perfected the glazed donut, and besides coffee and milk, it is the only thing they sell. Come in the summertime and you’ll likely be waiting in line to try one. Don’t expect to pay with a credit card here. If you feel like mixing it up, head to Wake N’ Bake donuts for some other amazing original creations.

Jump Around at the Trampoline Park

things to do in wilmington, nc

If you’re wondering what to do in Wilmington NC when it rains hit up Defy Gravity Trampoline Park. The “park” is a 23,000 square foot facility with wall-to-wall steel-frame trampolines, slacklines, foam pits, and a dodgeball arena.

If you have a group and looking to bounce around Defy Gravity is your place. This is one of the great things to do in Wilmington for kids especially on a rainy day.

Best Restaurants in Wilmington

beach packing list

This is all our opinion, but these are the best places to eat and drink in Wilmington!

  • Indochine: Whenever there’s a special occasion, we head to Indochine. Indochine is a Thai infusion restaurant, and it’s downright amazing and reasonably priced. I’ve never been to Indochine, no matter the day or time of year when there isn’t a line. So be prepared for that – but you won’t regret waiting. It is an institution in Wilmington, and a must-try.
  • Satellite: An impressive bar that often hosts events, live music on the weekend, and draws a hip crowd.
  • Hibachi Bistro: My favorite “cheap eats” spot in Wilmington. Hibachi Bistro serves up cheap and quick hibachi meals, and on Wednesday they have half priced sushi.
  • Dock Street Oyster Bar: If you’re a shellfish fan then this is the place to head. They offer steamed and raw oysters in a relaxed bar atmosphere.
  • Flaming Amys: This colorful restaurant is another Wilmington institution known for its awesome burritos.
  • The Copper Penny: Awesome cheap eats and bar food downtown.
  • Little Dipper: As mentioned before, Little Dipper, is great for a date night or Ladies’ night.
  • Taqueria Los Portales: For authentic, no frills, not “American” Mexican, this place is fantastic.
  • Front Street Brewery: Front Street Brewery is…well…A brewery located right on Front Street. They have tasty beers and good food which you can enjoy inside or on the patio when the weather is good. Prices are very reasonable. You’ll probably end up waiting in a line if you come during a nice summer weekend day.
  • Cape Fear Seafood Company: It doesn’t look like much on the outside, and it’s not ocean front, but Cape Fear Seafood Company serves fresh local reliable seafood.
  • Slice of LifeHands down the best pizza in Wilmington.
  • Crush & Grind: This is our favorite coffee shop in Wilmington, although really it is in Carolina Beach. They serve great coffee and then the place turns into a wine bar at night. I also love that they use eco-friendly products and paper straws keeping the oceans clean here! (*Hurricane Florence wiped out Crush & Grind we hope it returns!)

Things to do in Wilmington, NC Map

Map of things to do in Wilmington, NC
Click to get the interactive map

How to Get to Wilmington, North Carolina

If you are flying to North Carolina you will be pleased to know that Wilmington has its own airport/ The Wilmington International Airport (ILM) is a small airport near Wrightsboro that services multiple flights a day.

Most flights from around the country are connected via Charlotte Douglas, but there are some from Atlanta and Dallas.

ILM is probably the easiest airport to navigate through as it is small and quiet. If you can get a flight here then do it. Often it doesn’t cost much more than flying into Charlotte or Raleigh.

If you are driving to North Carolina you’ll likely find yourself on Interstate 40, which starts (or ends) in Wilmington. Wilmington is about two hours away from Raleigh, fours hours from Charlotte, and 1.5 hours to Myrtle Beach.

Transportation in Wilmington, NC

There is not much in terms of public transport in Wilmington, as with the rest of the United States. The best way to get around Wilmington is with your own rental car. Rental cars can easily be picked up at ILM. If you have never rented a car before make sure to check out our rental car tips to save time and money.

Wilmington, NC Weather

Wondering what the Wilmington weather will be like? You might expect me to say that the best time to visit Wilmington is during the summer months, but not exactly. The summer months between Memorial Day and Labor Day are by far the busiest in Wilmington, but that doesn’t make them the best. During these months the temperatures are often over 90°F with high humidity.

In my opinion, the best time to visit Wilmington is during the shoulder season when it’s sunny and warm enough to enjoy the beach, but not humid and hot enough that all you want to do is sit in front of the air conditioner.

Those months are April, May, September, and October. Traveling during the shoulder months will also be cheaper than traveling during the high season.

If you can come during any of those months and still wondering when the Wilmington weather might be best, then bet on September and October. The temperatures will be super comfortable and the ocean will be much warmer than in the springtime. The only downside to planning a trip during September? Hurricane season, which is always a bit of a threat to the Wilmington coast.

Where To Stay in Wilmington

Things to do in Wilmington

Hilton Garden Inn Wilmington Mayfaire Town Center

Everyone in Wilmington knows Mayfaire as the nice shopping center with a great movie theatre, restaurants, and name brand shops. The Hilton here has great reviews and is only a few minutes from Wrightsville Beach.

Things to do in Wilmington

Hampton Inn & Suites Carolina Beach Oceanfront

This is the newest hotel on Carolina Beach and has a modern interior. We haven’t stayed here, but have popped in to grab a coffee and have a drink on their back deck. Looks nice and they have great reviews. The hotel is located right on the boardwalk so your steps away from the beach.

Things to do in Wilmington


The vast majority of people head to the coast here and use a vacation rental service – if resorts are your thing this isn’t the place for your vacation.

Cameron’s family-run an Airbnb in Carolina Beach. It is amazing, a good value, and his mom even has the Superhost status. Check it out here.

New to Airbnb? Here is $30 off your first booking! Read more about choosing a good Airbnb here.

About Natasha

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.

5 thoughts on “30+ Awesome Things to do in Wilmington, NC”

  1. I am a recent transplant to Wilmington and every day I’m here, I love it more!! I love the flip-flop sound that hear ever day at WORK! The 10 minute drive to Wrightsville Beach after working….best thing since sliced bread.
    I thought I would always call New Mexico Home, however, my heart is falling totally in love with this amazing “little city”.
    Wilmington is HOME! Where listening to the waves crashing over themselves….eases my cares away.
    I am excited to set out on this adventure and discover this place.
    Question….why would anyone who lives here eat at a chain restaurant? Eat local…we truly have some awesome fare!!!

  2. Causeway Cafe was purchased and just reopened as Gulfstream!! It’s a second location (the first is in Carolina Beach and beloved by locals and tourists alike) Serving breakfast all day, lunch and they’re releasing dinner hours soon!

  3. My husband and I are cconsidering moving to Wilmington from LA. We visited briefly and are planning to go back for a more in-depth look. I have to say that after reading your blog, we may just have found a new home! Thanks!

  4. Happy to hear! We’re on our way to Wilmington right now! Ready to enjoy some great spring weather and beaches!

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