24 Things to Do in Wilmington NC with Kids: Museums, Playgrounds, Parks & Activities

Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington

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Looking for fun things to do in Wilmington with kids to keep the family entertained?

Whether you’re pushing a stroller or trying to keep a teenager engaged beyond the screen, Wilmington offers an impressive variety of places to go and activities to try.

Explore everything from parks and playgrounds to shops and games to historical sites to mix some education into that fun vacation mode.

Make sure you check out our full list of the best things to do in Wilmington for even more ideas.

And, parents, see if you can sneak away for a few hours for one of these romantic things to do in Wilmington — you deserve some time to yourselves, too!

If your kids are big on adventure, check out our favorite NC State Parks to get them outdoors and appreciating nature.

For an epic activity, see how much of this North Carolina bucket list your family can do!

Family Fun in Wilmington

Our guide starts in the heart of Wilmington along the Riverwalk and then works out from there to places near Wilmington that are great for kids.

Plan your family getaway and keep these ideas at the ready so you can handle whatever mood the kids are in on any given day.

Wilmington Riverwalk

If you’re visiting Wilmington with kids, you have to start your trip at the always-popular Wilmington Riverwalk (301 N Water St.)

Starting at the hotel ballast and stretching down to Chandler’s Wharf, this two-mile riverwalk is breathtaking from sunrise to sunset.

As you walk, you can enjoy river-view dining, art, take a cruise on the Henrietta 3, or step inside the historic Cotton Exchange to shop in any of the 30 unique shops. 

While you’re downtown, take the kids into Kilwins, located right beside another great store, the Black Cat Shoppe.

Kilwins is an old-fashioned ice cream chain that makes the ice cream and cones right in front of you!

Riverwalk Sunset Time Wilmington North Carolina

Wilmington Railroad Museum

While you’re downtown, venture over to the Wilmington Railroad Museum (505 Nutt St.)

This spectacular museum has been open since 1979 and spans the rich 125-year history of railroading in Wilmington.

Inside the museum, you will find the local history of how the railroad system was important to Wilmington and a whole room of interactive model trains.

This location also includes a 100-year-old steam locomotive and caboose the kids can actually tour!

This also features as one of the best indoor things to do in Wilmington — check out the full list in case you have bad weather and need to keep everyone inside and having fun.

Children’s Museum of Wilmington

A wonderful and engaging museum for ages 0-10 is the Children’s Museum of Wilmington (116 Orange St).

The museum is highly educational and interactive. 

Top attractions include the pirate ship that promotes role play and imagination, a diner that teaches children about making healthy choices when eating, a bodies-in-motion exhibit that helps children understand what is going on inside their body, a full art studio, and a Little Beakers Science lab…just to name a few!

Altogether there are more than 17,000 square feet and 4 different floors boasting some of the best interactive and informative activities for kids in Wilmington.

Haunted History Tour

For older kids, this haunted history walking tour might just pique their interest in the people and places of historic Wilmington…ghosts and all!

It’s about a mile-long walk, so it should be a great activity for teens.

Check out more suggestions for things to do at night in Wilmington.

Bijou Park Area Sunset Wilmington North Carolina

Museum of the Bizarre

One of the strangest experiences in Wilmington is at the Museum of the Bizarre (201 S. Water St.)

Some interesting exhibits include the Crystal Skull of Knowledge, Alexander Hamilton’s Hair, and a Unicorn Horn.

Kids can also check out several oddities specific to the Wilmington area, like the Fort Fisher Mermaid and the Signal Lantern, known in the Wilmington Area as the Maco Light.

If that doesn’t keep them entertained, let the kids enjoy the fun laser vault room and mirror maze!

This is one of the more interesting family attractions in Wilmington that you won’t want to skip.

Cape Fear Museum of History and Science

The Cape Fear Museum of History and Science (814 Market Street) showcases more than 400 years of history and exhibits about the area’s past, present, and future.

Some fun kid-friendly exhibits include space, dinosaurs, and information about one of the most famous people to be born in the area: basketball legend Michael Jordan!

Battleship North Carolina

Tour an authentically restored WWII battleship when you visit the Battleship North Carolina (1 Battleship Rd. NE)!

Battleship North Carolina had an awe-inspiring record and was the most highly decorated American ship of World War II.

Today, the ship stands to educate everyone about the war and as a memorial to more than 11,000 North Carolinians who gave their lives during the war, an important lesson to pass on to the next generation.

Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington

Eagle Island Fruit & Seafood

One thing you have to remember about the Wilmington area is that everything has a story, and this is especially true for Eagle Island Fruit & Seafood (2500 US-421).

When you walk into this small side stand, you will be transported back to a time of old country stores.

Eagle Island Produce started in the 1960s and every local around will tell you you can’t pass by the place without stopping. 

Inside, you will find locally made foods, old-time candies like bb bats, and homemade ice cream that will make your mouth water.

Take the kids and share stories from your own childhood as you peruse the options.

Don’t forget to grab yourself one of the glass bottle sodas from the vintage coolers…folks love this blast from the past!

Battle House Laser Tag

You have never experienced laser tag like this!

Battle House Laser Tag (1817 Hall Dr.) is a 10,000-square-foot combat gaming arena. 

The laser tag weapons used are realistic, with each one being unique with its own stats and capabilities.

Battle House is truly a next-level experience that older kids and teens love!

Olsen Park

Another great park to visit with the kids is Olsen Park (5510 Olsen Park) — this is actually one of the best things to do in Wilmington with toddlers.

This park is well known for holding fast-pitch and co-ed slow-pitch softball tournaments in the area, with 5 softball/baseball fields and a volleyball court. 

Two of the biggest perks about this park are Miracle Field and the Kiwanis Miracle Playground.

Miracle Field is a rubberized turf field for anyone from Special Olympics athletes to Wounded Warriors to play on. 

Kiwanis Miracle Playground is the largest all-accessible playground in the southeast and is made for children with special needs in mind.

Defy Gravity

Adults and children alike can enjoy a high-energy environment at Defy Gravity (6431 Market St.)

Jump around this 25,000-square-foot indoor trampoline playground complete with obstacle courses, ziplining, and extreme trampoline dodgeball!

Mayfaire Town Center

With all the excitement and venues around town, do some shipping, dining, or catching a movie at the Mayfaire Town Center (6835 Conservation Way).

Described as an outdoor mall, Mayfaire is a neat area made like a traditional, old-school town.

Walk around stores like Barnes and Noble, Buckle, or Belk, catch a bite at one of many of the restaurants like the Fox and the Hound, Brixx, or Atlanta, grab some ice cream at Coldstone, or even catch a movie!

This site includes over 90 different shops and restaurants to explore, so kids of all ages are sure to find something they like.

Flip N Fly

For adrenaline racing and high-flying fun for all ages, go to Flip N Fly (830 Inspiration Dr), the Wilmington area’s largest indoor trampoline park and entertainment facility.

The 28,000-square-foot facility has wall-to-wall trampolines, a ninja course, basketball, and dodgeball.

There’s even a toddler area for little jumpers.

Airlie Gardens

Airlie Gardens’ (300 Airlie Rd.) history began in the 1700s.

Today, Airlie Gardens spans 67 acres and features a 500-year-old live oak tree known as the Airlie Oak.

The whole garden is simply breathtaking to see!

Welcoming visitors of all ages, check out their Garden Bingo or special events catered to younger visitors, including a weekly seasonal Butterfly Release.

Beautiful fountain and trellis on the lake in Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, North Carolina

Wrightsville Beach

For visitors and locals alike, a favorite area in Wilmington is most often the beach!

Wrightsville Beach (321 Causeway Dr.) is one of the most popular beaches in the area and a day of sand, sea, and sun is always one of the best kid-friendly activities in Wilmington!

Not only is it a beautiful stretch of sand, but it’s also unique in that it’s an island.

On one side, you have the loud, chaotic, rush of the ocean – great for surfing.

On the other side, enjoy the calm, quiet sound that is great for kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding.

Whatever your family’s preference, Wrightsville Beach is always a popular place to go in Wilmington with kids.

E-Bike Tour

Even better: make your trip to the beach part of the adventure!

Take an e-bike tour that will guide you from Downtown Wilmington out to Wrightsville Beach via streets and paths; make it a family adventure to add to your beach day fun.

Check availability on GetYourGuide or Viator.

Aerial view of Johnnie Mercers fishing pier and beachfront houses on Wrightsville Beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina

Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park

The only water park in Wilmington, yet also known as the best water park in Eastern North Carolina, is Jungle Rapids (5320 Oleander Dr).

Jungle Rapids has something for all ages!

There’s a kiddie area for babies, toddlers, or those who only want to get a little wet, a lazy river to ride around, a wave pool, and several different thrilling slides like the toilet bowl!

If your little ones still aren’t big fans of the water, no problem!

Jungle Rapids also includes an 18-hole jungle golf area, a kid’s jungle, laser tag, go-carts, a full arcade, mini bowling, a spin zone, and a rock climbing wall for your enjoyment!

Long Leaf Park (or Hugh McCrea Park)

Long Leaf Park (314 Pine Grove Dr.) is locally known as Hugh McCrea Park, and it’s one of the best parks in the Wilmington area.

The location includes baseball fields, two basketball courts, an off-leash dog park, a Ninja-Style fitness obstacle course, a garden area with a pond, an outdoor gym, a splash pad, an enormous playground, and a 1.55-mile parking trail…just to name a few!

With so many options, it is easy to see why this is one of the best parks in the area!

Independence Mall

Sometimes, you just want to find a place with shopping, attractions, play space, and food options to keep the kids happy. 

All three of those can be found at Independence Mall (3500 Oleander Dr).

The mall is more than 1 million square feet and includes roughly 150 specialty stores.

Go grocery shopping at Lidl, get a new piercing at Studio VII, eat in the food court, shop at Belk, or play a round of mini golf at GlowGolf – it’s all located inside the mall for your family’s one-stop-shop convenience.

Greenfield Lake Park and Gardens

Greenfield Lake was built in the 1730s by Dr. Samuel Green to aid with rice production in the area. 

By the 1900s, the lake had become a popular destination for recreation and swimming, becoming what we know today as Greenfield Park or Greenfield Lake Park and Gardens (1739 Burnett Blvd).

The park is a grand sight to see, and there are several biking and walking trails around this 250-acre park.

Let the kids roam free while enjoying this beautiful area.

Cameron Art Museum

Everything in Wilmington has some sort of history, even the Cameron Art Museum (3201 S, 17th St).

The art museum itself was established in 1962, but the site that the current building stands on is the site of the Battle of Forks Road.

This Civil War skirmish led to the capture of Wilmington by Union troops – led by the United States Colored Troops.

Today, the Cameron Art Museum is an interesting cultural experience offering rotating programs and exhibitions that change throughout the year. 

As you approach the building, you can enjoy perusing the outdoor sculptures before you even enter the museum. 

Kids 18 and under can enjoy free entry to the museum, making this an ideal family-friendly experience that won’t break the budget!

Halyburton Park

Wilmington has a bunch of excellent parks for kids, and Halyburton Park (4099 S. 17th St.) is certainly one of them.

The park is a 60-acre preserve, with 70% of it remaining undeveloped.

A 1.3-mile handicap-accessible path circles the perimeter of the park, which is ideal for little ones who want to stretch their legs or for the tiny ones still in strollers.

Within the park, there are other nature trails available, as well as a playground for children and shelters for picnics or parties.

Fort Fisher

If local history and the beach are more your family’s speed, head on over to Fort Fisher (1000 Loggerhead Rd).

Located a short drive outside of Wilmington, Fort Fisher was a Confederate Fort that protected Wilmington’s vital trading routes during the Civil War.

At Fort Fisher, the kids can also enjoy fishing, swimming, hiking, and surfing at the beach!

Brunswick Town

Another historical site located just a few minutes outside of Wilmington is Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson (8884 St. Phillips Rd. SE).

Brunswick Town, established in 1726, was the first and biggest port town in the area until it was attacked by British Troops in 1776.

Nearly 100 years after the fall of Brunswick Town, the Civil War began, and in 1861 Fort Anderson was built in the same location as the town. 

This area is rich with history so your kids can learn while enjoying exploring this gorgeous area!

Final Words

Are you ready for some family fun in Wilmington with the kids now? We hope so!

Share your favorite things to do to keep them busy and entertained in the comments below.

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