Mom

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!

Mom

Summer Concert Series | 2023

Here is a complete guide to family-friendly summer concert series in and around Wilmington, NC. Be sure to double check on the linked websites below for up-to-date details!

Tuesday’s

Topsail

FREE

2023 Topsail Sounds Summer Concert Series will occur every Tuesday from 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM at Topsail Beach Town Center.
Bring your lawn chairs and join for live music and fun!

DateBand
Tuesday, May 23Bacon Grease
Tuesday, June 27JT Parrothead
Tuesday, July 25The Cruise Brothers
Tuesday, August 22Dos Eddies
*Check the website to verify

Wednesday’s

Mayfaire

FREE

2023 Mayfaire’s Sunset Music Series is every Wednesday night from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM in the plaza in front of Regal Cinema.
You can purchase wine for half price on Wednesday at Coquina Fishbar. Brixx Wood Fired Pizza has a special $8 mix drink cocktail every Wednesday night and Fox and Hound offers $1 off bourbon & whiskey and $4 dark horse wine glasses. Alcohol is not allowed in the Plaza. We love pets, but please leave them at home.

DateBand
Wednesday, June 7Riff Tide NC | Rock Cover Band
Wednesday, June 14The Graes | Folk / Pop Duo
Wednesday, June 21Jeremy Mathews | Americana
Wednesday, June 28School of Rock House Band | Rock ‘n’ Roll
Wednesday, July 5Jenny Lynn Vaugh | Country
Wednesday, July 12Sam Hatch | Variety of Genres
*Check the website to verify

Thursday’s

Burgaw

FREE

2023 Summer on the Square Concert Series

DateBand
Thursday, June 1Gary Lowder & Smokin’ Hot
Forks n’ Motion, Pepes Food Trucks
Thursday, June 15Rivermist
Top Dog Hotdogs, Fusion Blue Zone Cuisine Food Trucks
Thursday, June 29Carl Newton’s Review
Webo’s, Somethin’ Good Food Trucks
Thursday, July 13Bacon Grease
Southern Roots, The Sea Queen Food Trucks
Thursday, July 27Blackwater Band
Top Dog Hotdogs, Mama’s Chick’n & Ribs Food Trucks
*Check the website to verify

Wrightsville Beach Park

FREE

2023 Sounds of Summer Concert Series occur Thursdays from 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM at Wrightsville Beach Park.

Bring your picnic, lawn chairs, and blankets for an evening of music and fun! Coolers are welcome, but no alcohol is allowed in Wrightsville Beach Park. Bring extra money to enjoy Cool Beans Wilmington and Sabino’s Italian ice, plus food trucks!

DateBand
Thursday, June 15 Overtyme Band
Good time rock & roll!
Thursday, June 22ReSoul Band
Wilmington’s hottest new dance / party band
Thursday, June 29Southern Trouble
Contemporary country/country rock, southern rock, with a few rock tunes and blues thrown in.
Thursday, July 6Jack Jack 180
A blend of high-energy party, pop, and rock covers.
Thursday, July 13Loud Music Company
A heavy mix of seamlessly blended pop, rock, country, soul, and funk.
Thursday, July 20Brown Dirt Cowboys
Original music from Wilmington. We also cover everything from Elton to Avett Brothers.
Thursday, July 27The Cruise Brothers
Performs #1 hits from Motown to Nashville
Thursday, August 3No Regretz
Classic rock, blues
Thursday, August 10(Rain Date)
*Check the website to verify

Fridays

Airlie Gardens

**Advanced Tickets Required

All concerts are from 6 – 8 PM on the following Friday evenings by the Airlie Oak tree

DateBand
Friday, June 2TripleWide featuring Brett Johnson
TripleWide from Wilson, NC plays funky, bluesy, rockin’, soulful tunes along with local artist Brett Johnson!
Friday, June 16 ReSoul
ReSoul is a hot new R&B band based inWilmington, NC covering the best danceable soul tunes from the 70s through today!  Chaka Khan, Gloria Gaynor, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars, Alicia Keys, Sade, Liz Wright, and many others.
Friday, July 7 Motel Soap
Motel Soap performs primarily 70s & 80s pop & rock from bands such as Chicago, Toto, Journey, Steely Dan U2, The Beatles and more!
Friday, July 21Jim Quick & Coastline
Pulling from the threads of Soul, Blues, R&B, and Americana, Jim Quick and Coastline weave together their own genre of music known as Swamp Soul!
Friday, August 11 Bibis Ellison
One of Airlie’s favorites, we are thrilled to welcome back Bibis Ellison! Her high-energy, power-packed vocals get the whole crowd dancing to the latest pop and covers!
Friday, August 18Brown Dirt Cowboys
The Brown Dirt Cowboys from Wilmington, NC play original music as well as covers of everything from Elton to Avett Brothers!
Friday, September 1Signal Fire
Signal Fire is a group of diverse musicians with a common goal, to spread unity through music. Hailing from the coastal town of Wilmington, North Carolina Signal Fire brings a unique blend of reggae/rock music to the masses.
*Check the website to verify

Costs:
General Admission | $10*
Children age 4-12 | $3*
Children 3 and under | FREE
Airlie Members | Admission Based on Membership Level

To purchase tickets, check out their website below. Members get priority booking.

Downtown Wilmington | Port City Marina

FREE

Friday Night Live! on the Pier Summer Concert Series will be from 6:30 PM – 10:00 PM
Food, beer and wine will be available for purchase during the show. Wristbands to drink are $1, which will be donated to charities in our community.

DateBand
Friday, June 2Satisfaction (Rolling Stones)
Friday, June 9Slippery When Wet (Bon Jovi)
Friday, June 2320 Ride (Zac Brown)
Friday, July 7Breakfast Club (Classic 80′s)
Friday, August 4Tuesday’s Gone (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
Friday, August 11Troubadour (70′s)
Friday, August 25Guardians of the Jukebox (MTV Hits)
Friday, September 1Departure (Journey)
*Check the website to verify

To keep up with all the details, check out the Facebook page for these events linked below!

Downtown Wilmington | The Eagle’s Dare

FREE

2023 Free Concert Friday at The Eagle’s Dare from 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM.

DateBand
Friday, May 26COWBOY-Kid Rock Tribute w/ Mark Sinnis and 825
Friday, June 2Dr. Bacon with Churchyard Ghost
Friday, June 9Jared Petteys + the Headliners with The Phantom Playboys
Friday, June 16Same As It Ever Was with The Swellings
Friday, June 23Silence and Light with Shallow Signals
Friday, June 30Striking Copper Band with Justin Fox Band
*Check the website to verify

Hampstead

FREE

2023 Hampstead Alive After Five Summer Concert series will occur every Friday at 6:30 PM at Kiwanis Park in Hampstead.
Bring your lawn chairs and join us for live music, food trucks and fun!

DateBand
Friday, May 19Carl Newton’s Review
Friday, June 9Chocolate Chip and Company
Friday, June 30North Tower Band
Friday, July 21Heartstop
*Check the website to verify

Saturday’s

Oak Island

FREE

Bands By the Beach Town of Oak Island’s Summer Concert Series will be hosted every Friday (two Saturdays) from 6:30 – 8:30 PM at Middleton Park. Parking is not charged during special events like these concerts!

DateBand
Friday, May 26Blackwater Band 
Friday, June 2Christine Martinez Band
Friday, June 9Autumn Tyde
Friday, June 16Old Man Mafia Band
Friday, June 23The Entertainers
Saturday, July 1**Carl Newton’s Review
Friday, July 7Chocolate Chip & Co.
Friday, July 14Rivermist
Friday, July 7Too Much Sylvia 
Friday, July 28The Sand Band
Friday, August 4The Powell Brothers
Friday, August 11The Embers feat: Craig Woolard
Friday, August 18Carolina Line Bluegrass Band
Friday, August 25Back Porch Rockers 
Saturday, September 2**The Main Event Band
*Check the website to verify

Sunday’s

Kure Beach

FREE

2023 Boogie in the Park Concert Series is hosted every other Sunday from 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM at the Ocean Front Park in Kure Beach.

DateBand
Sunday, May 7Gary Lowder & Smokin’ Hot
Soul, R&B, Party
Sunday, May 21The Phantom Playboys
Rockabilly & 50’s Rock-N-Roll
Sunday, June 4Uptown Easy
Dance Party Band
Sunday, June 18Randy McQuay
Blues & Roots
Sunday, July 2No concert July 4th Weekend
Enjoy the Holiday
Sunday, July 16ReSoul Band
Soul, R&B, Dance, Party
Sunday, August 6David Dixon
Pop, Rock, Soul
Sunday, August 20Da Howlies
Southern-Fried Hawaiian
Sunday, September 3No concert Labor Day Weekend
Enjoy the Holiday
Sunday, September 17Folkstone Stringband
Bluegrass
Sunday, October 1The Holiday Band
Southern, Soul, Beach
Sunday, October 15No Regretz
Classic Rock
*Check the website to verify
Mom

Best Local Annual Memberships

Looking for a unique Christmas or birthday gift for a child in the Wilmington area? I have you covered! Feel free to send Santa or Grandma this list. These experiences are truly the gifts that keep on giving all year around.

Check out the top suggestions below along with all the details:

# 1 – NC Aquariums Annual Membership


Members receive unlimited free admission for one or two years at all three North Carolina Aquariums (Fort Fisher, Roanoke Island and Pine Knoll Shores), plus discounts or free admissions to reciprocal zoos and aquariums nationwide!

  • Family memberships receive free admission for two adults named on the card and their children or grandchildren under the age of 18.
  • Curator members receive the same Family benefits, plus free admission for one guest per visit (perfect for babysitter or grandparents).
  • Members also receive free walk-on admission at Jennette’s Pier, gift shop and program discounts AND reciprocity with 150+ Other Zoos & Aquariums, which means FREE admission into the NC Zoo in Asheboro, NC (worlds largest natural habitat zoo). This is the one reason why we get this pass every year. It pays for itself!

Annual Pass Cost: $89
Basic family, but check out the website for other options.

Insider Tip*We ask for this membership each year from our family for Christmas because it’s the perfect indoor activity and we visit the NC Zoo at least once a year. It pays for its self!

# 2 – Airle Gardens

Your membership to Airlie Gardens brings insider perks and rewards; including, advanced member-only ticket offers and year-round fun. Your support as a member helps the Garden continue to be a valued local attraction and allows Airlie to provide public programs, education and special events to our community. 

Current Members: Please DO NOT renew your membership more than 60 days prior to your current expiration date. You will receive an emailed and mailed renewal notice as a reminder starting 60 and 30-days prior to your expiration.Your Membership Card will be mailed to you, please allow 7-14 business days for processing. Use your E-receipt to redeem membership benefits immediately.

Annual Pass Cost: $75 – family
See website for other options

Insider Tip* Enchanted Airlie tickets are offered to members first in October. This allows you to get the time and date you wish to attend without the hassle of logging in early in hopes of securing a ticket. Also, depending on which membership level you get, your tickets will be free or discounted.

# 3 – Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park

Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park really is the only place in town that offers so many activities for kids in one place. Dry activities include Jungle Golf (outdoor putt-putt), mini bowling, spin zone, laser tag, arcade, rock climbing wall, outdoor go karts, Kid Jungle Gym (for kids 8 years and under).
The waterpark has 2 body water slides, a large wave pool and lazy river, The Super Bowl slide, The Sidewinder, The Rapid Racer and Volcano (check out my Jungle Rapids post) and also a large Kids Splash zone with several slides.

The season pass includes access to the waterpark, which is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Once the water park closes, your pass will allow you ONE free dry activity every Sunday between 4PM – 9PM from October – March (excludes laser tag). Children 2 and under are free and do not need an annual pass.

Annual Pass Cost: $160

Insider Tip* Jungle Rapids offers a discounted ticket for $160 if purchased before December 31, 2022. After that date, season passes increase to $180+. Keep in mind children 2 and under are free and do not need passes to the waterpark.

#4 – DefyWilmington

Defy is a indoor trampoline park that has basketball

Let them get in on the crazy fun happening at DEFY all year long with our Black Friday Annual Pass. Get 90 minutes of Flight Time every day — all for way less than $1 a day! Don’t miss out on our biggest deal of the year!

Annual Pass Cost: $119

Insider Tip* Don’t forget the Defy Grip Socks to avoid spending more money when you visit.

#5 – Children’s Museum of Wilmington

Annual Membership Cost: $110
*Other tiers are offered

# 6 – The Little Gym

An Annual Family Membership at The Little Gym of Wilmington, NC enables your child to participate in weekly classes. Each time they attend, they’re presented with opportunities to master new skills and accomplishments. As a parent, you benefit as well! Membership allows you to take advantage of several special privileges, including:

  • Participation in Priority Enrollment
  • Member Discounts:
    • Awesome Birthday Bash parties
    • Camps
    • Events & More Fun

Annual Membership Cost: $50
*Note that the $50 grants you access to membership perks – classes are typically $85 per month

# 7 – Wilmington Railroad Museum

If you have a train lover on your hands, this may be the best place in town for you! The Wilmington Railroad Museum is a fun interactive museum located in downtown Wilmington along the riverfront. Watch and learn about trains and how important they were to the Port City long ago.

  • Coach/ Individual | $50: Free admission for 1 person for a year + 10 % Gift Shop discount + Annual Membership Reception
  • Club Car/ Family | $80: (Best Value) Free admission for 4 persons for a year + 10 % Gift Shop discount + Annual Membership Reception
  • Pullman Pass | $150 : Free admission for 4 persons for a year + 10 % Gift Shop discount + Annual Membership Reception + 10 free passes for friends/relatives
  • Private Car | $250: Free admission for 4 persons for a year + 10 % Gift Shop discount + Annual Membership Reception + 20 free passes for friends/relatives
  • Railroad Baron | $500: Free admission for 4 persons for a year + 10 % Gift Shop discount + Annual Membership Reception + 20 free passes for friends/relatives + Limited Edition ACL History Book
  • Champion | $1,000: Free admission for 4 persons for a year + 10 % Gift Shop discount + Annual Membership Reception + 10 free passes for friends/relatives + Limited Edition ACL History Book + Sponsorship for you or your company

# 8 – Smart Start of New Hanover County

A very inexpensive and worthwhile annual membership. If you have a child 5 and under, this is a must. Stop by the Resource Room, which is free to use any time (to non-members as well). If you are a member, enjoy

For a $5 annual fee, families have access to:

  • Theme kits with educational toys and materials
  • Laminating supplies and equipment
  • Die cut machine
  • A two week trial membership to the Wilmington Children’s Museum & Cape Fear Museum
  • A wide variety of other books and materials available for check out

Annual Pass Cost: $5 (Yes, you read that correctly)

Insider Tip* Just buy this one. It’s worth every bit of $5.

# 9 – Fit For Fun

Do you ever dream of taking your kid to a indoor facility full of toys that they can play with for hours and that you don’t have to clean up or put away afterward? If so, Fit For Fun is the place for you. Open for kids 5 and under, this large building has ever Fisher Price toy you can dream of, rooms filled with toys and even a fenced in playground perfect for the little tots to explore.

If you’ve never been before, go check it out! For just $5, you can explore the center and see if an annual membership would be something you’d enjoy! They also have special events and activities – check out the calendar on the website.

Annual Pass Cost: $110

# 10 – Cape Fear Museum

Wait! Before you decide you have been to the museum a few times and scroll on, did you know this membership actually gives you access to A LOT more cool museums other than the Cape Fear Museum?

  • Free admission to Cape Fear Museum
  • Two guest passes to share with others
  • Nationwide reciprocal admission to more than 300 participating museums and science/technology centers through Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC)
  • Nationwide reciprocal admission to more than over 750 participating arts, cultural, historical and children’s museums along with botanical gardens and science and technology centers through North American Reciprocal Museum (NARM).
  • Reciprocal admission to over 175 participating museums through Southeastern Reciprocal Membership Program (SERM).
  • Priority registration and discounts for selected programs
  • Subscription to the Museum e-newsletter

Annal Membership Cost: $100
*For $125, you can get the Smithsonian Affiliate Membership which comes with a few extra perks!

Insider Tip* Check out all of the other museums you gain access to with this pass including Discovery Place in Charlotte, Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, and so many other throughout the nation!

Other memberships to look into:

  • Carowinds – Located about 3.5 hours from Wilmington – Carowinds has a fantastic annual pass with water park, rollar coasters and a kids section all included. If you have family near Charlotte or visit that area often – I highly recommend checking it out.
  • NSEA Swim @ Earl Jackson Pool – A local year-around pool located downtown offers an annual membership for $40 for the whole family!
  • YMCA Membership at the Y gives you access to all YMCA facilities Nationwide.  You also get member pricing for all of our programs including afterschool, preschool, soccer, basketball, eSports and more.   Each branch of the YMCA has different features but at our Nir Family YMCA offers a basketball gym, racquetball courts, indoor pool.  They also have cardio equipment, weights, and lots of fitness classes. In addition, they offer child watch during select hours so your children can be cared for while you have time to use the facility.
Explore Wilmington

Community Pools in Wilmington, NC

Earl Jackson Pool

Website

750 Bess St.
Wilmington, NC
(910) 833-5455

Pool Schedule:
Monday-Friday, 10:30 am-4:00 pm
Saturday-Sunday, 12:00-5:00pm

Daily Rate:
$3/Adult
$1/Child

Season Pass:
Month to Month
$10/Child
$25/Adult
$40/Family Up to 10

Echo Farms Pool

Website

4112 Echo Farms Blvd
Wilmington, NC  28412
Phone:  (910) 798-7730

Daily Rate:
$4/Adult
$2/Child

Season Pass:
$100/Individual;  $175/Family
*More information to come

Pool Schedule:
Tentative Public Swim Schedule (beginning May 28, 2022):
Monday, Wednesday & Friday 1-7pm
Tuesday & Thursday 1-5:30pm
Saturday & Sunday 12-6pm

Legion Stadium Pool

Website

2131 Carolina Beach Rd.  
Wilmington, NC 28412  
Phone: (910) 899-7348 

Pool Schedule:
Monday – Friday 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Saturday & Sunday 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Daily Rate:
$3/Adult
$1/Child

Robert Strange Pool

Website

410 S. 10th St.  
Wilmington, NC 28401  
Phone: (910) 899-7332 

Pool Schedule:
Monday – Friday 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Saturday & Sunday 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Daily Rate:
$3/Adult
$1/Child

Mom

I Survived Gestational Diabetes

Recently diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes?

I’ve been there friend. I remember it so clearly.

I had just finished my second glucose test and the nurse called. “Unfortunately….” {this was the part when that bubble formed in my throat and I knew I was going to start crying} “…you failed your glucose test.

Girl, I let her finish her sentence and I hung up. Tears burst from my eyes and all these thoughts came to the forefront. Keep in mind it takes a lot for me to cry and with those pregnancy hormones pumping through my body, I was doomed for a good ol’ ugly cry.

What did I do to get this? Is my baby okay? What is going to happen? I’m already a bad mom. I don’t eat THAT terrible. How do I get rid of it? Does this mean I’ll have diabetes when I’m not pregnant? (Do any of these questions sound familiar?)

I am not a medical doctor, a nurse or any of that, but I am a mom and I managed my gestational diabetes with what I ate and some medication, no insulin, thankfully. Check out my advice if you are just starting this journey, are in the midst of it or just because you want to hear from someone that survived gestational diabetes (and I think I’m a good mom. Haha..)

  1. It’s REALLY not your fault!
    • Re-read that if you need to. 🙂 Seriously.
    • After I failed (I hate this word is used) the first glucose test, I told myself that I would eat ZERO carbs or sugar until my 2nd test. That was honestly probably the wrong thing to do now looking back, but that is what I did. I thought maybe, just maybe, I could pass the second test if I didn’t have any sugar to process. By the way, I failed the second test by like .1. Ugh!
      • Later I learned that the type of gestational diabetes I had a milder condition in which a hormone made by the placenta prevents the body from using insulin effectively. Glucose builds up in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cells. So, the only way to get rid of it is to remove the placenta, but we don’t want to do that because that is how that sweet baby is getting fed and growing, right? Now, don’t freak out, but if you have some of the items on the below list, you may actually have diabetes – it just wasn’t diagnosed until now, but know that you can take steps to help your body out regardless of why you have it.
    • So, remember that you did not do this. It’s simply hormones and your placenta in most cases. Having said that, here are some factors that do increase your chances of having it, but again, it’s not your fault (so stop being so hard on yourself).
      • Over 25 years old
      • Overweight
      • Close relative with Type 2 Diabetes
      • PCOS
      • High Blood Pressure prior to pregnancy
      • Gestational Diabetes in previous pregnancy
      • Non-White ethnic groups
  2. Better food is best for baby
    • In the end, you are growing a little baby and that baby needs to eat real food. Yes, it is a bummer you can’t give them a piece of pizza and a cookie, but is that really best for your babe’s development? Probably not.
    • I ended up cutting out carbohydrates and sugars completely. I basically ate a keto type diet. I will say it was the healthiest Thanksgiving and Christmas ever. Haha..But all kidding aside, I barely gained any extra weight during pregnancy and found that my healthy eating habits made post-partum.
  3. Managing your gestational diabetes.
    1. Download a mobile app to help record your glucose levels and the food you eat. Some folks can get away with carbs, potatoes and other vegetables, but my blood sugar raised with all of these. I used “Glucose Buddy” which was geared towards the diabetic community, but it was very helpful.
    2. Listen to your doctor.
      • This may sound dumb, but my physician was so impressed that I had actually followed instructions. She told me most women diagnosed with GS at her practice don’t record their glucose and eat whatever they want. This could have greater implications on your baby, so just listen to the doc.
    3. Join a support group. I joined a FB group and just found it helpful to see that I wasn’t in this alone. I also had a friend who was also diagnosed. We would text and it was comforting to just know that we were both dealing with the same thing.
      • Check out Facebook groups or ask your OBGYN office if they offer any services for women to connect.
      • Maternal Mental Health therapy may also be an option if you are really struggling.

My prayer for you is that you take this Gestational Diabetes on and do what is best for you and your baby. You can do this! You will make it through and you will be better for it! Hang in there mama!

In Love, Amanda 🙂
Explore Wilmington

Brunswick Riverwalk Park

Address: 580 River Rd SE, Leland, NC 28451

Located just out of Leland, NC on HWY 133 sits a hidden gem that we stumbled upon after visiting Brunswick Nature Park one afternoon. Brunswick Riverwalk Park is one of those parks that I could visit over and over again. I’d actually love to capture the sunrise here one morning because the views are just stunning.

The nature trail offers a wide dirt pathway which leads to a long boardwalk overlooking the Cape Fear River. The boardwalk and trails are wide enough for a double stroller, so walking here with a friend would be a breeze! The park offers several covered picnic shelters, picnic tables, benches, a kayak launching ramp, two large wooden docks (one is a fishing pier) and two playgrounds. There is even an open air education building used by the county, which is sponsored by Duke Energy.

  • Parking: Yes, large paved lot
  • Restrooms: Yes (to the right of the parking lot)
  • Stroller Friendly: Yes! (Make it a double)

Tucked near the waters edge on the right side of the park is a special memorial honoring area Veterans.

It’s always nice to be immersed in the outdoors and this smaller park does just that. We walked about 2 miles total and really enjoyed it! The nature trail is covered by large oak trees and the park is shaded for the most part as well. To top it all off, there is a local farmer’s market with produce and a local seafood company right in the parking lot.

Mini History:

From what I’ve read, the 22-acres of land was once a rice plantation and was purchased in 2013 by the County of Belville. Joe Breault, a former Commissioner, was the advocate for making this land a recreational attraction for public residents to enjoy. The county has plans for expanding the park down the riverfront, one day, adding an ice cream shop, a bait and tackle store and/or a sandwich shop. In 2018, Hurricane Florence hit the park and the county had to repair a good portion of the boardwalk, which set back the plans for expansion.

This park is truly is a hidden gem that I am happy to share with you, friend. Enjoy watching dragonflies, orbit spiders and birds over the river with your family. Please share your photos with me on Instagram by tagging @wilmingtonmom. Have fun!

Your Friend, Amanda

Explore Wilmington

Greenfield Lake Park

Address: 1739 Burnett Blvd, Wilmington

Located close to downtown Wilmington, Greenfield Lake/Park is a must see. This is one of my favorite parks in Wilmington, NC. It’s filled with nature, wildlife and fun activities for kids and adults. Oh and there is a ton of space for dogs to enjoy as well.

Picnic under the covered shelters, on one of the many wooded lookout areas by the lake or on the grass under the huge mature tree. The park offers a lot for every age group and has a 4.5 mile paved walkway around the lake, which is great for a stroller or bike ride. The path easily fits a double stroller and is a great place to walk with a friend.

Watch out for alligators that call this lake home and see how many turtles you can count soaking up the sun or swimming around in the water!

  • Parking: Several parking lots
  • Restrooms: Available near the main entrance/ playgrounds
  • Stroller Friendly: yes!

Other activities offered:

  • 2 Tennis Courts (no lights) behind 302 Willard St
  • Greenfield Grind Skate Park (behind 302 Willard St) 
  • Water Access (no boat motors)
  • Kayak Access
  • Paddle Boats/Canoe Rentals (with a covered awning)
    • We love to rent these when a concert is performing at the Greenfield Lake Amphitheater
    • Cost: $10 – $15/Hour
    • 11: 00 AM – 5:00 PM, January – November (closed Tuesday)
  • Playground
  • Picnic Shelters
  • Fishing
  • Walking

Click here to view the City of Wilmington Park Map

Check out this great website, which has a “Guided Tour” and Brief History of Greenfield Lake – Cape Fear River Watch Website.

According to Cape Fear River Watch’s website, Greenfield Lake was built in the 1730’s by Dr. Samuel Green to help with rice production. In the early 1900’s the lake became a popular recreation destination for swimming and boating and there was once an amusement park on the park land. In 1925 the city bought the land for $25,000.

Greenfield Lake and Park is one of the most beautiful places in Wilmington. It is a fun place for kids to play and a peaceful place for parents too. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Your Friend, Amanda
Explore Wilmington

Summer Rest Trail

Address: 1981 Eastwood Rd, Wilmington, NC 28403 (Port City Chop House)

5. Summer Rest Trail

Take a stroll down this beautiful trail shaded with large trees and nice greenery. The trail is about .7 mile long (one way) and ends at the Wrightsville Beach Bridge. This trail is actually a small section of the Gary Shell Cross-City Trail and if you’d like you can continue walking over the bridge to Johnnie Mercer’s Pier or continue walking to the Wrightsville Beach Loop (as locals just say “The Loop”).

  • Parking: There are just a few parking spots reserved in the Port City Chop House parking lot
  • Restrooms: Not available
  • Stroller Friendly: yes!

The trail also passes by some beautiful homes that are just steps away from the Intracoastal Waterway. The homes themselves showcase large front porches, wooden swings, and large moss covered live oak trees. These homes embody true southern charm and are worth walking by.

Enjoy the views and remember that a girl can always dream, right?

Your Friend – Amanda
Explore Wilmington

Arrowhead Park

Address: 720 Arnold Rd, Wilmington, NC 28412

4. Arrowhead Park

Off of Carolina Beach Rd and River Road in the Silver Lake area is Arrowhead Park, which is one of the “go-to” parks if you are looking for Disc Golf. There are large open fields, a small playground, a covered picnic area, in addition to a basketball and tennis court. Overall, the park is geared towards older kids and it doesn’t have any paved trails for walking. (Yes, I walked around the parking lot while pushing my baby in the stroller. Haha!) The open fields would be ideal to let your dogs run free; however, there is not an enclosed “dog park” area.

The park also has a fenced in sand pit with a sign explaining a game I’ve never heard of before – “Gaga Ball”. You need to bring a ball that bounces in order to play.

Keep in mind the park is mainly in the sun with little shade unless you follow the disc golf course, which is in the woods. Make sure to bring sunscreen!

  • Parking: There is a large parking lot that can accommodate a large number of cars
  • Restrooms: Available at the picnic shelter
  • Stroller Friendly: yes, but not much of a walking area other than the parking lot

If you have small kids and live near the park, it would be a great place for a picnic; however, if you live on the opposite side of town, I personally wouldn’t waste the drive.

If disc golf is your jam, I think this would be a great spot. If it isn’t, I’d personally choose another park to venture to.

Best, Amanda
Explore Wilmington

Empie Park

Address: 3405 Park Ave, Wilmington, NC 28403

3. Empie Park

Located near the Independence Mall and behind Wilmington Fire Station 2, Virginia Pearson Empie Park aka “Empie Park” is a nice park for tennis players, small humans and dogs alike. The park includes:

  • a dog park
  • nice large playground
  • several covered picnic areas
  • 19-tennis courts with a clubhouse
  • basket ball court
  • baseball field
  • bocce ball court
  • access to the Gary Shell Cross-City Trail
  • Parking: Lots of parking spots on both the right side (where the playground, dog park and picnic shelters are) and on the left side (where the Althea Gibson Tennis Complex is).
  • Restrooms: Available near the playground and tennis annex
  • Stroller Friendly: yes!

Looking to get your walk on? You can do as my friend Jessie and I did and walk part of the Gary Shell Cross-City Trail, which crosses through Empie Park. We followed the trail onto the campus of UNC Wilmington. There and back is about 5 miles.

You will first pass through a neighborhood (Rosemont Ave), pass Flying Machine Brewery, and around the pond (down Randall Pkwy). It’s a nice walk and along the way are benches and a picnic area at Mill Creek Apartments. If you do choose to walk to UNCW, be mindful that crossing S. College Road requires everyone in your group to pay close attention. This is one of the most traveled roads in Wilmington.

If you are up for a walk, I recommend jumping on the Cross-City Trail. If not, enjoy the playground, watch the pups play and maybe try tennis. I hope you enjoy Empie Park.

Your Friend – Amanda