100 FREE Things To Do Wilmington,NC

Family-Friendly, Fun regardless of age

Welcome to your ultimate guide to experiencing the best of Wilmington without spending a dime! 🎉✨ I’ve curated a list of 100 FREE things to do in this vibrant city, so you can explore, discover, and create unforgettable memories without breaking the bank. Whether you’re a local looking for new adventures or a visitor seeking budget-friendly experiences, I’ve got you covered. From stunning beaches to historical landmarks, family-friendly activities to hidden gems, this guide is your ticket to unlocking the abundance of free fun Wilmington has to offer. Get ready to embark on an incredible journey of discovery, filled with laughter, adventure, and endless possibilities. So grab your map, gather your friends and family, and let’s dive into the countless FREE treasures that await in Wilmington!

*Some activities may require paid parking
  1. Watch the sunrise at the beach. Sunrise is typically 6 AM. Parking is free at all beach accesses this early.
  2. Walk to Wrightsville Beach via the Summer Rest Trail and The Loop. Enjoy a free beach day! No need to look for parking at the beach. Instead, park at the old Port City Chop House and enjoy the walk. – View Post
  3. Beach day bucket list:
    • Build a sand castle – Don’t forget to cover up holes in the sand for the turtles.
    • Jump in the waves
    • Find seashells
    • Look for sharks teeth
    • Collect sand fleas in a bucket
  4. Walk on the Crystal Pier located at the Oceanic Restaurant and enjoy the view.
  5. Visit Harbor Way Gardens water feature/splash zone at Wrightsville Beach. Take a photo with the local flowers or play on the nearby playground. – View Post
  6. Walk to “The Mailbox” an iconic spot located in front of Shell Island Resort. Leave a love note or read others and reflect at the beauty of the beach.
  7. View the bird sanctuary in front of “The Mailbox” and see what type of birds you see.
  8. Walk the North End at Wrightsville Beach during low-tide. Small tidal pools form and its always fun for the kids to enjoy calmer water.
  9. Walk “The Loop” at Wrightsville Beach. – View Post
  10. Stop by South Channel Drive Mini-Park and dip your toes in Banks Channel. – View Post
  11. Visit the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History. View post
  12. Visit Wrightsville Beach Park Playground. View post
  13. Park and dip your toes in the water at Causeway Park. Every hour watch the Wrightsville Beach bridge open to allow vessels to pass. View post
  14. View or venture to Palm Tree Island. – View post
  15. Visit Airlie Gardens during their free admission days. Residents of New Hanover County are free the first Sunday of every month. –View PostRegister here
  16. Take a scenic drive down Airlie Road. Can you think of any movies filmed on this road? Pass by restaurants, where a few movies were filmed and enjoy the panoramic views of the intracoastal waterway.
  17. Attend free community events at Wrightsville Beach. Check out Summer Concert Series, Movies in the Park and educational events like Turtle Talks. Website

  18. Explore the Battleship North Carolina Memorial. You can walk around the ship for free. You’ll also have a wonderful viewpoint of Historic downtown across the river. Additional fees apply to tour inside of the ship. View PostWebsite
  19. Stroll along the scenic & Historic downtown Riverwalk. Parking is free the first 30 minutes in the parking decks. See what wildlife you notice along the river. More details on parking can be found here.
  20. Take a free tour of the Wilmington Convention Center. The hallways have a timeline of Wilmington history. – Website
  21. Kids 5 and under are free at Burgwin-Wright House, Latimer Houser and the Bellamy Mansion. Burgwin-Wright also hosts several free art shows throughout the year making the tour free for adults too!
  22. Hop on the free Port City Trolley for a 40 minute ride around historic downtown. You can catch the trolley at Padgett Station (located on 4th Street between Campbell St. and Red Cross St.) or simply wave to the driver along the route to signal them to stop. More details on the route and schedule can be found here.
  23. Explore The Cotton Exchange. – 3 hour parking is free for customers with validation from shops and restaurants. The buildings have a rich history, so be sure to read up before visiting or watch the short video on their website. Website
  24. Walk to Riverfront Park also know as Live Oak Bank Pavilion. A small climbing structure and water feature during the summer. This would be a good spot to walk from The Cotton Exchange since parking is scarce. – View Post
  25. Stop by the Riverfront Farmers Market downtown, The Wilmington’s Farmer Market at Tidal Creek, Frankie’s Outdoor Market, Wrightsville Beach Farmers Market (Mondays) or Poplar Grove Plantation (Wednesdays).
  26. Attend the free 4th Friday Gallery Walk in downtown Wilmington. – Click Here
  27. Visit the Wilmington National Cemetery and pay your respects to those who have passed serving our country. Memorial Day they hold a special ceremony. View Post
  28. Explore the historic downtown district.
    • Find the oldest building in Wilmington.
    • Find the Chandlers Wharf stream and waterfall.
    • Read historic signs on homes or the historical markers located on main roads.
    • Take a photo next to the Second Street Mural.
    • Can you find the old Nickelodeon painting?
  29. Explore the exhibits at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science on their free day, which is the first Sunday of each month for residents of New Hanover County. You can also secure free passes with your library card through New Hanover County Library. – View post
  30. Visit the Wilmington Children’s Museum with the free admission pass through the New Hanover County Library or NHC Smart Start. The Attractions Coupon Book also has a BOGO coupon. – View Post
  31. Go to Dram Tree Park and watch the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge. Look up the schedule to see when it opens. Read up on Dram Tree too.
  32. Take a walk around Greenfield Lake Park. For a small fee, you can also rent paddle boats at the boat house. Download the free audio tour here. – View Here
  33. Watch skaters at Greenfield Lake Skate Park
  34. On Sundays, Take a self-guided walking tour of the historic district with the help of the Wilmington Historic Foundation. – Click Here
  35. Take a self-guided tour of the historic Oakdale Cemetery. See if you can find each of these graves. – Click Here
  36. Take a self-guided tour of the Wilmington Murals. Treat it like a scavenger hunt and see who finds the most.- Check out this map
  37. Visit Earl Jackson/ Northside Splash Pad. The attached community pool, Earl Jackson, is also available for a small fee of $3 adults + $1 kids. – View post
  38. Tour the Wilmington Police Museum & Education Center. Details here.
  39. Watch Little League or Youth Baseball, Softball, Soccer at Long Leaf or Ogden Park. We love to take snacks and watch the games.
  40. Find a Little Free Library – donate your old books or take a new one to read. Find one near you.
  41. Explore Ogden Park. Play on the playground, walk around the pond, watch the geese and turtles and see what other animals you see. View Post
  42. Visit Empie Park and walk the Cross City Trail to a hidden bridge. View Post
  43. Stop by River Road Park. Launch kayaks or simply take in the views on the pier. See if you can find fiddler crabs. View post
  44. Visit the Fort Fisher State Historic Site. View the mounds & learn the history. – View Post
  45. Explore Fort Fisher Battery Buchanan and The Rocks at Fort Fisher located at the end of Fort Fisher Blvd South.
  46. Visit the Coquina Rocks during low tide at Kure Beach. – View post here
  47. Walk on the Kure Beach Fishing Pier and swing on the Kure Beach mini-boardwalk. – View Post
  48. Attend free community events at Kure Beach Ocean Front Park – Website
  49. Stop and explore the “bush forts” you can walk inside at Fort Fisher. – View post
  50. Visit the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area. Walk to the beach and bring a picnic. It’s always free to park, but get there early as spots fill up quickly.
  51. Walk Basin Trail and visit the WWII Bunker home to Robert E. Harrill aka “The Fort Fisher Hermit”. Research “The Fort Fisher Hermit” and learn about his life living off the land View post
  52. Visit the Nature Play area at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher – View post
  53. Ride the Aquarium Path – a paved bike path that begins at the Aquarium & connects to Fort Fisher Blvd. You can also walk the path and see if you spot any alligators in the small pond, which is a short walk from the Nature Play area mentioned above.
  54. Relax on the beaches of Carolina Beach.
  55. Walk the shops/restaurants and arcade on the CB Boardwalk.
  56. Watch the famous Britt’s donuts be made.
  57. Stop by the Mike Chappell Playground and Skate Park. – View Post
  58. Walk the Island Greenway around Carolina Beach. Click here for the route.
  59. Explore the trails at Carolina Beach State Park. Don’t forget bug spray and watch out for wildlife. View post
  60. Walk around Carolina Beach Lake Park. – Visit post
  61. Attend an event at Carolina Beach – Website
  62. Find the Carolina Beach Murals and snap a photo- Website
  63. Stop by the Smart Start Resource Room. Open Monday – Friday, 8AM – 5PM. – View post
  64. Visit Long Leaf Splash Pad. View Post
  65. Take a picnic to Long Leaf Park. Pick up pine cones to help out NHC Parks and Recreation, walk around the park or play on the playground. – View Post
  66. Visit the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden View Post
  67. Bike or walk along the Cross City Trail. Learn about the Gary Shell Cross City Trail, which begins at Wade Park. Click here.
  68. Visit and explore Wade Park. Learn about wetlands and their importance.
  69. Take in the scenery at Trails End Park. View Post
  70. Explore the nature trails at Halyburton Park and visit the Nature Center onsite to view and learn about native animals. View Post
  71. Visit the New Hanover County Arboretum. Bring quarters to feed the koi fish. – View post
  72. Explore the wooded trails behind UNCW, explore UNCW campus and check out the Bluethenthal Wildflower Preserve. See where to park here.
  73. Walk or bike to a hidden pond near Eastwood Rd. – View post
  74. Attend a community event. Website
  75. Walk the Abby Foy Nature Trail at Poplar Grove Plantation.
  76. Explore Pages Creek Park Preserve – View Post
  77. Visit Northern Regional Park and playground.
  78. Visit Pender Pines Gardens and don’t forget food to feed the animals onsite. Carrots, apples, etc. – View post
  79. Play at Kiwani’s Park in Hampstead View post
  80. Visit Soundside Park in Surf City – Visit post
  81. Go visit the World’s Largest Frying Pan – View post
  82. Visit Moore’s Creek Battlefield Historic Site. Details
  83. Visit the Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site. View Post.
  84. Check out Belville River Walk. – View post
  85. Enjoy a picnic and hike at Brunswick Nature Park. View post
  86. Explore the trails at Smith Creek Park or ride your bike around the pond. You can also launch a kayak or fish, but do not swim here. – View Post
  87. Visit the North Carolina Veterans Park. Walk around the pond and learn about lily pads and play at the playground.
  88. Enjoy a scenic drive along the River Road.
  89. Visit Arrowhead Park playground.
  90. Explore the trails at the Blue Clay Bike Park.
  91. Explore Ogden Park, walk around the pond, visit the playground and skate park. – View Post
  92. Watch airplanes take off and land at the Wilmington Airport Observation Area. – View post
  93. Walk around the Independence Mall.
  94. Visit Olsen Park playground (fully fenced in)
  95. Sign Up for Kids Bowl Free – Click Here
  96. New Hanover County Library Storytime and other free events. See their calendar here.
  97. New Hanover County Library – Find a book or rent a DVD to take home for a movie party at home! Also check out “Library of Things”.
  98. Kids DIY Workshops: You must pre-register
  99. Watch the sunset over the river downtown or over the ocean.
  100. Star gazing! Check out the “Astronomy Programs” offered with NC State Parks at CB State Park. – Click Here

Tag @WilmingtonMom or #FreeInWilmington when you share your adventures!

5 thoughts on “100 FREE Things To Do Wilmington,NC”

  1. Hello.
    This article is a fantastic resource for anyone looking to have fun and explore Wilmington without spending a dime. From beaches to museums to parks, there are so many amazing free activities to enjoy in this vibrant city. Grab your friends and family and get ready for an incredible adventure of discovery and fun! 🌞🌊🏞️
    Thanks for sharing.

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