North Carolina’s Wilmington offers unparalleled coastal views and access to historic landmarks such as the Bellamy Mansion and downtown Riverwalk area. Spend your days touring the Railroad Museum, or participating in hands-on exhibits at the Children’s Museum. After settling into your Wilmington vacation rental, head out for dinner at a fresh seafood restaurant in the historic district, or admire the sunset from decks of dockside eateries. Take a look at the top 10 things to do in Wilmington.

1. Tour the Wilmington Railroad Museum

Train enthusiasts enjoy a day touring the life-size caboose and boxcars of the Wilmington Railroad Museum. A guided tour includes the interactive exhibits and even a century-old steam locomotive. While the kids are playing in the Thomas the Tank Train play area, adults can learn about the history of the railroad. Time your trip near the holidays, and you just may see the Polar Express make an appearance at this popular attraction in Wilmington.

2. Take a Boat Cruise with Wilmington Water Tours

Make your way to the Cape Fear Boardwalk to climb on board a boat cruise with Wilmington Water Tours. The captain takes you around the shoreline by boat while offering tidbits about the history of the Wilmington area. Bring along your binoculars to see the expansive bird population along the route. When planning a date night away from your vacation rental, sign up for the dinner cruise complete with live music, dinner, and beverages.

3. See the City With Cape Fear Segway Tours

Roll along the Cape Fear Boardwalk instead of walking when reserving a Segway with Cape Fear Segway Tours. Expert guides offer an instructional workshop prior to guiding guests along the hot spots of Wilmington. Enjoy views of the Cape Fear River before heading to the historic district to see the Bellamy Mansion or Airlie Gardens, a 67-acre public garden in Wilmington.

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4. Kayak With Mahanaim Adventures

Make memories with your friends and family with a water-filled adventure kayaking the waters of Wilmington with Mahanaim Adventures. This outfitter specializes in group kayaking, providing you with an instructional workshop before you set sail. If your days are filled with sight-seeing attractions, consider taking the sunset kayaking trip or a salt marsh tour.

5. Take a Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride With Springbrook Farms Horsedrawn Tours

See the sights of Wilmington like the settlers did with a horse-drawn carriage tour. Springbrook Farms Horsedrawn Tours utilizes rescued horses to guide you through the historic district where more than 40 restaurants and shops are at your disposal. Sit back and relax as the horses pass by historic mansions, synagogues, and churches while the guide offers historical information about Wilmington. After your ride, stop in at The Copper Penny in the historic district for some American cuisine.

6. Treat the Kids to a Day at the Children’s Museum

Create magical experiences for your little ones with a play date at the Children’s Museum of Wilmington. This museum in Wilmington’s historic downtown features interactive exhibits to teach the kids about art, culture, science, and art. Let the kids play with magnets in the Magnetic Minds Science Research Center of the museum or help them learn more about dental hygiene at the Toothasaurus Dental Exhibit. The museum also hosts several camps and workshops where your kids can get hands-on experience creating science projects or making arts and crafts.

7. Bike Through Halyburton Park With a Rental From Bike Circles

If you didn’t bring your hiking boots to your vacation rental, you can still explore the nature reserves in Wilmington. Rent mountain bikes from Bike Circles to tackle the trails of Halyburton Park. The park is also home to picnic shelters for lunch and playground areas for the little ones. During the summer months, the park staff hosts yoga and pilates classes in the community center and family programs, such as the Eco Explorers for younger children.

8. See Underwater Creatures at the North Carolina Aquarium

Connect with the natural world when viewing marine life at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, located within minutes of your Wilmington vacation rental. The aquarium is home to salt marshes and tidal pools that house eels, rays, and sharks. Meet a rescued bald eagle or a rare albino alligator during your tour of this impressive facility where you can feel the skin of stingrays or get up close and personal with a loggerhead sea turtle. Stop by the gift shop to pick up a stuffed animal or souvenir to take back to your vacation rental.

9. Get Wet and Wild at Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park

When the North Carolina sun is blazing, cool off with a day at Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park, a complete entertainment center and water park. Float around peacefully in the Lazy River or feel the need for speed when sliding down the Tower of Slides. The Kiddie Splash Pool is ideal for novice swimmers, and the wave pool offers plenty of room for the entire family. Jungle Rapids offers more than just water adventures. The dry park is home to Jungle Lagoon Golf, go-karts, and laser tag. You can also test your strength on the climbing wall or try your hand in the arcade. Stop in at the Big Splash Cafe for a bite to eat when hunger strikes.

10. Shop Until You Drop at Marina Village

Whether you are looking for Wilmington souvenirs or holiday gifts for your loved ones, Marina Village is the place to go. This Wilmington shopping area includes specialty shops as well as restaurants such as The Bluewater Grill or the Bridge Tender. See the stunning views of the Cape Fear River when stopping in for lunch or dinner at the Dockside Restaurant for some fresh seafood. This popular area also hosts live music events and street festivals where local vendors sell homemade arts and crafts.

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