23 Indoor Things to Do in Wilmington, NC: History, Shopping, Attractions, & Dining

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While North Carolina is famed for its sun-soaked beaches and outdoor escapades, it’s no secret that weather can occasionally throw a curveball.

Whether a storm is rolling in or you just need a break from the summer sun, these indoor things to do in Wilmington, NC, will entertain, educate, and entice you to explore more of this interesting coastal city.

From enriching cultural experiences to family-friendly attractions, check out the city’s indoor delights.

In this comprehensive guide, we unveil the hidden gems and local treasures that make Wilmington’s indoor scene as thrilling as its outdoor wonders.

If you’re a local seeking fresh ideas, we’ve got you covered!

If you’re a visitor looking to make the most of your trip, enjoy all the top spots for indoor fun in Wilmington, day or night.

You might also like our full guide to all the best things to do in Wilmington, as well as options for date night or family-friendly fun.

And don’t skip our guide to Wrightsville Beach if you’re planning to spend the rest of your time out in the sea and sand!

Indoor Activities in Wilmington

Our guide starts in the downtown area and goes out from there so you can plan your activities.

From historic sites to museums to places to eat, shop, and play, there’s so much to enjoy in this city!

Cotton Exchange

History and shipping combine at the Cotton Exchange (321 N. Front St).

The Cotton Exchange is an 8-building complex full of shops that give you a unique, eclectic shopping experience.

Free parking is available; just be sure to get your ticket validated.

USS North Carolina Battleship

Commissioned on April 9th, 1941, the USS North Carolina Battleship (1 Battleship Rd NE) was one of the most decorated ships in World War II.

Today, it can be viewed by the public and is one of the best museums to visit in the Wilmington area.

Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington

Green Light Escape Room

Green Light Escape Room (130 N Front St.) is a fun, fully immersive escape room game in one of the largest facilities in Wilmington. 

Take your pick from one of 5 games, including The Attic or an Alien Escape, and complete puzzles, find clues, and help solve the mystery within the rooms and make it out!

Museum of the Bizarre

For those who enjoy the weird, strange, and unusual, a visit to Wilmington’s only odditorium museum, the Museum of the Bizarre (201 South Water St), is a must!

Gaze upon the Crystal Skull of Knowledge, shrunken heads, unicorn hair, and the area’s own Fort Fisher Mermaid just to name a few of the odd sights!

After you have your fill of the macabre, enjoy the mysterious laser vault and mirror maze!

Can you make it out!?

Children’s Museum of Wilmington

One of the best hands-on learning experiences for kids is the Children’s Museum of Wilmington (116 Orange St).

Children can explore 4 floors of hands-on play and learning including a pirate ship, a Wonders of Water play station, a Toddler Treehouse for younger children to explore, and a Little Beaker’s Science Lab to name just a few of the fun experiences your child can explore.

This is the perfect spot for indoor play in Wilmington where the kids can have fun while learning something new!

Live At Ted’s

Wilmington is the home of someone of the kind experiences, the same can be said for Live at Ted’s (2 Castle St).

Located under the Cape Fear River Bridge in what seems to be a very small home, Live At Ted’s is an intimate listening room and bar where music is the primary focus. 

Guests are asked not to speak during the performance to feel the magic and intimacy of the music.

Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts

For a truly one-of-a-kind show, visit the Historic Thalian Hall (310 Chestnut St).

Thalian Hall has been open and serving the community since 1858 when it was opened as a dual City Hall and performing arts center.

Award-winning shows include Steel Magnolias, Elf The Musical, and the Spongebob Musical

Definitely shows you won’t want to miss!

Bellamy Mansion

Step inside one of the best examples of antebellum architecture at the awe-inspiring Bellamy Mansion (503 Market St).

This 22-room mansion was built between 1859 and 1861 by the architect James F. Post for Dr. John D. Bellamy and covers 10,000 square feet.

Dr. John D. Bellamy was a physician, merchant, and Democratic Congressman for North Carolina as well as a close friend of President Woodrow Wilson.

He also enslaved over 100 people across his various properties in the state; you can visit the house on the Bellamy Mansion property where enslaved people lived.

Beautiful fountain and historic Bellamy Mansion on sunny day in Wilmington NC

Cape Fear Museum of History and Science

Wilmington and southeastern North Carolina are full of history dating back to before the establishment of the United States. 

A great place to explore that rich history, space exploration, and see genuine Smithsonian Artifacts, is at the Cape Fear Museum (814 Market St).

Explore the hands-on Space Place, wander around the Michael Jordan Gallery, and learn a great deal more about the history of the Wilmington area. 

Dead Crow Comedy

Tell your funny bone to beware as you enter Dead Crow Comedy (511 N 3rd St.), Wilmington’s only full-time comedy club. 

Shows include comedy tours of some of the best in the business along with improv shows, and an open mic night every Thursday at 8 pm for those trying their hand at being a comic. 

Wilson Center

One of the best concert and show locations in the area is the Wilson Center (703 N. 3rd St.), located in Cape Fear Community College. 

Shows include everything from Nick Carter and Billy Ocean to theater productions like To Kill a Mockingbird or The Illusionists Magic Show. 

Wilmington Railroad Museum

The port of Wilmington is the largest shipping port in North Carolina. 

Due to this, Wilmington was a crucial point for the major railway line of the southeast.

To explore this history, take a trip to the Wilmington Railroad Museum (505 Nutt St).

The museum includes a real 100-year-old steam locomotive and caboose you can climb on, a children’s hall, with train tables, and several areas where you can interact with the models!

Ten Pin Bowling Alley

Bowling, Billiards, and brews are all at your fingertips at Wilmington’s only bowling alley, Ten Pin Bowling Alley (127 College Rd).

While you play play or bowl be sure to enjoy some of the wings, burgers, or sandwiches this location has to offer. 

Enjoy not one but two bars, Lucky Strike, which is close to the bowling action, and Breaktime Billards, which houses billiards tables and TVs for your sports viewing pleasure.

Bowling alley

Defy Gravity Wilmington

If you’re looking for things to do in Wilmington when it rains, how about getting a little extreme?

Head to Defy Gravity (6431 Market St) to max out your air time and defy gravity as you jump across this 23,000-square-foot facility with wall-to-wall trampolines.

This location has a world-famous angled wall trampoline, one of the largest trampoline dodgeball arenas, an Olympic Foam Pit, and wall trampolines!

Regal Mayfaire Cinema

Probably the most popular movie theater in Wilmington is the Regal Mayfaire (900 Town Center Dr).

Most of the popularity of the cinema is likely due to the town-like structure around it. 

The cinema is the focal point as you drive down the short main road.

As you drive, you get the feel of an old town downtown area. 

Before or after your movie, catch a bite at the Fox and the Hound, Brixx Wood Fired Pizza, Red Robin, or other eateries in the area.

You can also shop at different specialty stores such as Barnes and Noble, Buckle, and Belk.

Flip N Fly

If you’re looking for a fun yet active time, check out Flip N Fly (830 Inspiration Dr)!

Flip N Fly is Wilmington’s largest indoor trampoline park with over 28,000 square feet of play area.

This includes a toddler/small child area, a ninja obstacle course, free play trampolines, and a dodgeball area just to name a few of the high-flying fun to experience.

What’s best is this park is excellent for all ages!

Bounce Parties and Games

Indoor fun doesn’t just have to be museums and theaters though!

Bounce Parties and Games (4310 Shipyard Blvd) is the area’s best indoor inflatable play zone complete with jump houses, an inflatable obstacle course, a toddler-only area for little children, and an arcade and snack bar. 

This is an excellent venue for hot or rainy days!

Let the little ones play while the parents sit back and watch!

Independence Mall 

If you’re tired of movies, museums, and indoor parks, or just want to get some shopping done, take a trip to Wilmington’s only indoor mall, Independence Mall (3500 Oleander Dr).

Clocking in at just over 1 million square feet, Independence Mall has roughly 150 different specialty stores and a full food court. 

Catch a ride on the train, get a new piercing, or shop for jewelry at Studio VII, explore your favorite stores such as Dillards, Belk, JCPenney, Hot Topic, or Five Below.

The mall also includes a full-size Lidl grocery store for any of your grocery needs!

Pachinko World

If you’re trying to figure out what to do in Wilmington when it rains, enjoy a truly unique experience with a trip to Pachinko World (2591 S. 17th St).

For those who don’t know what pachinko is, it is a pinball-type arcade game that derives from Japan and is extremely fun to play.

Pachinko World is the nation’s ONLY pachinko parlor!

As it is the only one in the United States this is truly an experience you don’t want to pass up.

The Pointe 14 Theater

Whether it be hot weather or rainy skies, the movies are a great place to seek refuge. 

The Pointe 14, Wilmington’s newest movie theater has 14 projection screens of premium quality and sound.

Of those 14 include laser, 3D, and 2D experiences as well as luxury seating and top-of-the-line food choices.

Cameron Art Museum

Experience the culture, beauty, and emotion of some of the best expeditions, arts, and exhibits at Cameron Art Museum (3201 S. 17th St).

Cameron Art Museum has been the epicenter of some of the greatest art seen in Wilmington for more than 60 years. 

Not only is the museum interesting, but the history of the site it sits is just as interesting. 

The museum sits on the site of a civil war skirmish called the Battle of Forks Road. 

Poplar Grove Plantation

Walk in the shoes of a pre-Revolutionary War family who settled in Wilmington in 1850 at Poplar Grove Plantation (10200 US Highway 17).

This completely restored peanut plantation and house rests on 14 acres in Scotts Hill, only a 17-minute drive from Wilmington, and includes a manor house, outbuildings, a mill pond, a kiln, and the original manor house.

Wrightsville Beach Museum of History

Located just outside of Wilmington in Wrightsville Beach, the Museum of History focuses on the history of the prolific beach.

Walk inside Myers and Bordeaux Cottage, built in 1907 and 1924 respectively, which gives you a glimpse of what life has been like on the beach for more than 100 years.

It is extremely fascinating to see!

Aerial view of Wrightsville Beach and pier in North Carolina

Final Words

We hope this guide helped you find lots of fun indoor activities in Wilmington!

Share your favorite local spots in the comments below.

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