The 10 Best Things to do in Wilmington, NC with Kids | Family-Friendly Activities
Wilmington and the Cape Fear Coast are fortunate to boast some of the prettiest and most serene beaches on the east coast. During seasonal months lifeguards man the beaches keeping a watchful over us all. While parking at Wrightsville Beach can be somewhat of a challenge during peak summer months, less crowded options are to travel 30 minutes south to Carolina and Kure Beach or 30 minutes north to Topsail Beach.
A small yet comprehensive museum that will delight children of all ages (actually probably upto 8!). The museum offers interactive exhibits where children can learn about science and technology while also expressing themselves creatively in the art studio. Other offerings include a beautifully decorated “Toddler Treehouse” where the little ones can explore in a safe and cozy environment.
A great place to burn some energy on a rainy day. Wilmington now boasts a few choices of trampoline parks but I have only visited Defy Gravity. Yes you have to spend $3 on their socks, and yes it is crowded on weekends. That said, they do a good job of keeping the space clean and about as well ordered as one could expect.
These gardens are absolutely stunning and while small donations are encouraged, admission is free. The arboretum features a zen and rose garden, children’s play houses, and some really cool metal sculptures. They have plant sales throughout the year where you can support the initiative while finding some great deals. Bring a picnic and remember to bring a few quarters to feed the Koi.
One of the most magical and captivating environments in Wilmington, Airlie Gardens hosted over 120,000 guests in 2017. The home of the Azalea Festival Garden Party, summer concert series, oyster roasts and Enchanted Airlie (Airlie’s illuminated homage to Christmas), this is very special place in the Wilmington community. While these events are incredibly fun to attend the gardens themselves are probably best enjoyed with little to distract from their natural beauty. For residents an annual garden membership for $75 which includes Enchanted Airlie tickets, all summer concerts and annual admittance for the family is an absolute no brainer. For adult non member visitors the cost of admission is usually $9 with kids under 4 free, which still offers tremendous value.
Wilmington’s only water park. It can be expensive to visit for the day and for locals the season pass is the way to go. Lots to do including a lazy river, laser tag, arcade, waterslides, bumper cars, climbing wall and mini golf.
The park offers a glimpse of what life was like on the island prior to any development. This unique ecosystem features 3 different habitats; pine tree coastal, coastal riverfront and swampland. Several trails are offered, and there is something for all ages and fitness levels. Any visit isn’t complete without an attempt to locate the indigenous Venus Fly Trap in its natural habitat. Bring water and bug spray! If you enjoy camping near the beach, the park offers several sites suitable for tent, trailer and RV camping. There are also 79 cabins so there is definitely something for everyone.
The boardwalk has come along way over the years and now offers families an enjoyable, fun distraction should you tire of the beach. Visit the arcade and the carnival, or enjoy the bench swings that line the boardwalk. During the season visit Britt’s Donuts for a tasty and authentic Carolina Beach experience.
Frequently at the top of many visitors’ must see lists the Battleship North Carolina is moored across from downtown Wilmington on the Cape Fear River. The Battleship gives visitors the opportunity to gain an appreciation for the working conditions that the crew had to endure. For a fascinating tour, ( the 16” guns could fire a projectile 23 miles accurately), steeped in history look no further. Bring some water and closed toed shoes are recommended as you will be climbing lots of stairs!
This is a little hidden gem in Castle Hayne. They have many open days throughout the year where children can enjoy visiting this small farm and interacting with the animals. I believe that most of the animals are rescues and they are certainly in a happy place now. Kids love taking hay and pony rides and feeding the pigs, goats and rabbits and generally being outside. The owner, Mrs. McFaye, couldn’t be any nicer and charges a very fair amount for this lovely experience.