The 10-acre garden is home to more than 100,000 azaleas that are in full bloom during the spring months. Visitors can take a self-guided walking tour which includes several formal gardens, historic structures, sculptures, a butterfly house and the famous and historic 465-year-old Airlie Oak. Be sure not to miss the beautiful bottle house (constructed completely of brightly-colored glass bottles).
Battleship North Carolina
Sitting across the Cape Fear River from historic downtown Wilmington, the Battleship serves as a museum and memorial of WWII. The USS North Carolina was launched in June 1940, and participated in every major naval offensive in the Pacific area of operations, earning 15 battle stars. .
Cape Fear Museum of History and Science
Founded in 1918, the Cape Fear Museum is the oldest history museum in the state of North Carolina. In addition to its permanent exhibits of science and culture of the lower cape fear region, seasonal exhibits such as the annual North Carolina Shell Exhibit in September, make visiting the museum a repeat adventure.
Poplar Grove Plantation
This historic plantation was the home of the Foy family who owned and occupied the plantation from 1795-1971. In addition to period furnishings, original family heirlooms are on display, including an 1890 wedding gown and authentic place settings of crystal and silver. Spinning, weaving, basket making, and blacksmith demonstrations are fun for all ages and bring the plantation’s history to life.
Completely in 1862, this 22-room manor is one of North Carolina’s most spectacular examples of antebellum architecture built on the eve of the Civil War by free and enslaved black artisans, for John Dillard Bellamy (1817-1896) physician, planter and business leader; and his wife, Eliza McIlhenny Harriss (1821-1907) and their nine children. Visitors may tour this renovated mansion, carriage house, slave quarters, and elaborate gardens.
This is the oldest museum house in Southeastern North Carolina. The house feature beautiful architecture, elaborate furnishing, formal gardens and orchard, as well as a spooky dungeon.
Latimer House Museum
Built in 1852 and currently the home of the Wilmington Historic Society, the house is a superb example of upper class southern living during the Victorian era.
North Carolina Aquarium at Ft. Fisher
Located 45 minutes by car from Wrightsville Beach, this ocean-front aquarium is home to typical sea creatures such as stingrays, jellyfish, sharks, etc. But it is also the home to a rare creature—an albino Alligator named Luna. New exhibits include the “Megalodon”–a whale-eating shark that ruled the seas 20 million years ago. This 3-D, interactive exhibit opened July 1, 2011. Plan your visit to include feeding time when divers enter the floor to ceiling tank to feed the sea creatures and answer visitors’ questions from within the tank.
Children’s Museum of Wilmington
This 3000-square-foot museum offers hands-on experience for kids 0-10, stirring their creative powers with a variety of activities such as painting, weaving, and sculpting, as well as exhibits and activities that explore nature and science.
Arts & Theatre
Cameron Art Museum
Opening in 2002, the museum is comprised of exhibits featuring fine arts, craft, and design. Visiting exhibits year round. Don’t miss the Pancoe Clay Studio, operated by master clay artist Hiroshi Sueyoshi, which offers workshops for beginners and experts alike.
Tours & Cruises
Horse Drawn Carriage and Trolley Tours
One of the most fun and best ways to experience Wilmington’s downtown historical area is by horse-drawn carriage. Feel free to take this tour several times, as each tour will take you on a different route (just make sure to remember the tour number).
Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington
Uncover the tales of pirates and crooks who frequented Wilmington of Old on this 90-minute walking tour. As you traverse alleyways, gravesites, haunted homes and landmarks in this 275-year old city, be sure to keep a watch over your shoulder. With over 30 haunted sites, the tour varies nightly.
Haunted Pub Crawl
This 2 1/2 hour adventure takes you to five haunted pubs. Must be 21-years of age for tour.
Hollywood Location Walk of Old Wilmington
Visit real locations and actual sets where some of your favorite films and television shows were filmed – Blue Velvet, A Walk to Remember, One Tree Hill, Dawson’s Creek.
EUE Screen Gem Studios
The largest motion picture facility in the United States east of California is located in Wilmington, NC. Over its 20 years history, EUE Screen Gem Studios has been home to more than 300 film, television, and commercial productions including Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill. (Call 910 343-3433).
Downtown near the Cape Fear River, eight restored buildings connected by brick walkways, open-air courtyards, and gigantic heart pine beams house 30 unique specialty shops and restaurants, each a charming reflection of the style and feel of Wilmington’s 19th century working port days. Located outside the Cotton Exchange, on the lower lever is the Wilmington Walk of Fame honoring locals such as David Brinkley, Charlie Daniels, Althea Gibson, and Roman Gabriel among ten other celebrities to date who have attained national acclaim
Wilmington’s premier consignment shop, the Ivy Cottage offers the highest quality pre-owned furniture and accessories stylishly displayed in three cottages. Visitors will find the shops more like stylish boutiques than the typical disheveled consignment shop. Ivy Cottage was opened in 1998 by the mother/daughter team of Sam Dunn and Kelaine Vargas, who had spent their lives living and traveling all over the world with military men where they gained a lot of knowledge in the furniture and consignment business.
Blue Moon Gift Shops
With more than 100 shops, visitors will enjoy a stroll through the Blue Moon Gift Shops featuring North Carolina-made jewelry, art, pottery, glass art, photography, paintings, nautical gifts, trendy clothing, gourmet food, and much more. Great place to shop for unique gifts.
Burchetta Glassblowing Studio and Gallery
For 30 years Burchetta Glassblowing Studio has specialized in Custom Blown Glass. John Burchetta and Elizabeth Miele, two of the world’s premier and innovative Glass Artists and Designers, offers their finest original Hand Blown Art Glass & Glass Jewelry direct at affordable prices. Glassblowing demonstrations and lessons available.