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What can I do in Wilmington, North Carolina?

Surfing is a popular activity at the beaches near Wilmington.
Visitors may enjoy touring a route of mansions and historical buildings in Wilmington.
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  • Written By: Cathy Rogers
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 23 July 2014
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Wilmington, NC, featuring affordability, a variety of activities and lack of congestion, is a great area for tourists. As a port city at the Cape Fear River, it houses the North Carolina Battleship, a World War II memorial. The Wilmington area also features boat cruises, sailing and charters.

Packed with a waterfront area of shops and restaurants, Wilmington also boasts a movie studio and several museums. A tour of the Battleship is a highly rated activity, especially for history or military buffs. With its large historic area, you can tour the route of mansions and landmark buildings in Wilmington by foot, carriage or even riverboat. You can even take a Ghost Walk tour or a Pub Crawl tour.

The Wilmington waterfront area houses many interesting shops, including those selling silver jewelry and quirky-themed items, and one packed with bright, island-colored T-shirts, hats and home accessories. Restaurants in that area include Elijah’s Restaurant, with a large, covered seating area overlooking the waterfront, and Water Street Restaurant, located in a building that formerly housed a peanut factory. Sidewalk seating, perfect for people watching, is available at Water Street.

The Bellamy Mansion Museum and Gardens is an antebellum house and museum that offers tours focusing on the history of the area and the home. Another is the Burgin-Wright Museum House and Gardens. Other museums include the Africa Museum, the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science and the Wilmington Railroad Museum.

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The Screen Gems Studio, home of the popular series Dawson’s Creek, also schedules periodic tours. Art museums and galleries are prevalent in Wilmington, also. Family fun includes a trip to Wilmington’s water park, the Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park.

For beach lovers, three beaches are just a short distance from Wilmington: Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach. Carolina Beach is a nostalgic, casual area with many smaller motels and rentals and few chain restaurants. Family-friendly activities include fishing, boating, walking trails, canoes, paddleboats and even a Ferris wheel. Kure beach is even smaller and quite family-oriented, perfect for fishermen with its huge pier. Wrightsville Beach features five miles of sand, along with a museum, biking, shopping, dining, and water sports.

Both the North Carolina Aquarium and the Fort Fisher State Historic Site/Recreation Area are located in Southport, a short drive or ferry ride away. Fort fisher is preserved as a National Historic Landmark due to its role as a stronghold of the Confederate Army during the 1860s. The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is one of three North Carolina Aquariums.

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