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Free Things to Do in Wilmington NC

Free Things to Do in Wilmington NC

Lockdowns are ending and COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted. People are starting to move out within the world again. Why not try it out on a budget? But where to go? What to do? How do I spend a day in Wilmington NC? We’ve got you covered!

Wilmington is best known for being one of America’s most vibrant riverfront communities. It has beautiful clean beaches, locally caught seafood, and a hip beer scene. It has an affordable cost of living. This historic beach town is a perfect mix of small-town charm and big-city living!

Downtown Wilmington River Walk

Downtown Wilmington River Walk is the perfect scenic route. It can be enjoyed alone, with a loved one, or as a family. It is 1.75 miles of absolute serenity. The route stretches along the bank of the Cape Fear River. Located in historic downtown Wilmington. It runs from the foot of Nun Street on the south to the Isabel Holmes Bridge on the north. Accessing the River Walk is quite simple with access points on Nun Street and various others.

Few tourists know some important facts about the Downtown Wilmington River Walk, which include:

  • It’s the city’s #1 tourist attraction.
  • The River Walk provides access to public parks and museums.
  • Historic interpretive signage along the route.


Historic District

Wilmington has one of the largest districts. It's listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The district development was laid out in 1737. It includes notable examples of Queen Anne and American Craftsman-style architecture.

Great historical buildings for your self-guided walking tour include:

  • Smith-Anderson House - The building is said to be the oldest surviving structure in Wilmington.
  • Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens - Built in 1770. It is the only structure in Wilmington from the colonial era that is open to the public. All rooms are furnished with 18th and 19th-century antiques. These showcase hundreds of objects from the days of John Burgwin.
  • Basilica shrine of St. Mary – Seen as a minor basilica in the Catholic Church. But, this piece of history falls under one of the many free things to do in Wilmington, NC.
  • Temple of Israel – built in 1876, the Temple of Israel is home to the state’s oldest Jewish community. It is a downtown landmark noted for its striking Moorish style which dates back to the 11th century. It is also one of the oldest reform congregations in the South.


Wrightsville Beach Mailbox

Picture taking a romantic walk on the beach. Stumbling across a mailbox with words written “leave a note.” That was all it took to start an 11-year-long love story by Bernie and Sidney Nykanen. They left a mailbox at their favorite spot at Wrightsville Beach.

During that time, the mailbox received love notes, marriage proposals, notes of joy, and lots more. The notes left by strangers filled over 200 journals. The notes and the mailbox were then sent to the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History. It can be viewed today. Madeline Flagler, from the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, says, 

“the mailbox on the beach became a piece of current history and symbolic of the spirit of Wrightsville Beach.”

This is exactly why Wrightsville Beach is one of the most fun walking places to visit. This makes it a great free thing to do in Wilmington, NC.


Carolina Beach State Parks

There’s no doubt when you think about Carolina Beach State Parks you automatically think of FUN! FUN! FUN!

This marina provides access to some of the best fishing spots. It has miles of hiking trails and the presence of the infamous Venus flytrap. The infamous Venus fly trap is one of the world’s most unique carnivorous plants. The Venus Flytrap refers to Venus, who happens to be the Roman Goddess of love.

Some of the free things to do at Carolina Beach State Park include:

  • Hiking a scenic white-sand trail leading to an overlook with a breath-taking view of the Cape Fear River
  • Cycling on the fitness trail, which also happens to be a multi-use trail for hikers as well. There is also a town-maintained bike path and paved greenway. It's accessible outside the park gate.
  • Fishing, provided you are in possession of a fishing license. Make sure to carry bug spray and a mosquito net to protect you and your food from the scourge of mosquitoes.
  • Picnicking during spring and fall for a less crowded, more temperature type of environment.


Seeing the Sunset

Light striking the water, turning it into a mirrored painting is one of the things that the majority of us enjoy. Watching a beautiful sunset calms the soul and mind. Wilmington sure delivers when it comes to that!

My personal top 3 list for just that is:

1. Downtown Wilmington - Watch the sun slowly fade away over the Battleship NC and the Cape Fear River.

2. Historic Fort Fisher - The oak trees make for a photographer's favorite spot.

3. River Lights – Which happens to be the self-proclaimed “best place to be to watch the sunset in Wilmington.”

Wilmington is an affordable small town with a big city energy. It is able to please all types of tourists, no matter the activities you desire. Wilmington is also known for The Battleship, which is a sight for sore eyes.

Follow this guide if you want to experience Wilmington in a new light and for free things to do in Wilmington NC.

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This place is for Publicity

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