Among the many draws to North Carolina’s beautiful coast are all the wonderful beaches. However, if you’re looking for a delightful change of pace after a few days lounging by the ocean, how about a daytrip into Wilmington. If you like walking along cobblestone streets in a Historic District, seeing the sights and sounds of active port, and experiencing a good dose of Southern hospitality, you will love Wilmington.
USS North Carolina Battleship
Make your first stop the most decorated American Battleship of World War II, the USS North Carolina. As you walk the 9 decks of the wonderfully preserved battleship, you will be treated to a glimpse into how the crew worked and lived as they performed their duties on a warship during combat. You can visit just about every part of the ship, from the Bridge to Gun Turrets to Crews Quarters to the Galley to the hospital. It’s a small floating city where every day services were available to the crew from a Barber Shop, Dentist, Post Office, Tailor, Cobbler and much more.
It’s a self-guided tour, so you can go at your own pace. You are directed to follow the blue arrows, but it’s easy to get distracted and turned around. Be mindful of your direction while exploring this incredible step back into naval history. The ship is not air-conditioned, but there is a ventilation system pumping in air at various locations. There are a lot of stairs to climb, keeping strollers and wheelchairs limited to the main deck. It is a popular attraction and 200,000 visitors cross the gangway to board the ship each year. This American treasure is a must-see while you are in Wilmington.
For a great way to get out and see some of the city, hop on a trolley for an 8-mile sightseeing tour around Wilmington. Enjoy the fully narrated tour as your guide takes you pass beautiful mansions, historic museums, television & movie locations, and more. Your family is bound to learn about the city’s history, architecture, and fascinating natives.
Get Out on the Water
The best way to see the Wilmington’s historic waterfront is by taking a cruise on the Cape Fear River. Board the elegant red and white riverboat, Henrietta III for a sightseeing, lunch, murder mystery, or sunset dinner cruise. Floating down the river will give you a unique way to experience the Port City and your kids will be delighted by a boat ride.
One of the most beloved areas of the city is the nearly two miles of wooden walkway along the Cape Fear River perfectly named Riverwalk. Boutiques, restaurants, cafes, and pubs line this popular spot to get in a good stroll and take in great river views. Directly across the river, sits the majestic Battleship North Carolina where it rests in its permanent home.
Don’t forget to explore the brick-lined streets of the Historic District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. History is on constant display at every turn, with many homes here being marked with historical plaques telling a bit of its past. Take a horse-drawn carriage tour of the area to learn about the city’s history. If you don’t have time for a tour, take a drive through on your own to enjoy the wonderful atmosphere.
For the little ones, try Children’s Museum of Wilmington where you’ll find interactive stations throughout three historic buildings. For snake lovers, there is a museum for you, Cape Fear Serpentarium featuring over 100 species of reptiles in their natural environments. For those wanting to step back into an 1800’s antebellum residence, take a tour of the Bellamy Mansion Museum of History and Design Arts. For those who love the movies, go on a Hollywood Location Walk to see where movies and television shows have been filmed.
For more information, check out wilmingtonandbeaches.com.