Often called the Port City, Wilmington is one of the largest cities in North Carolina. You’‘ll love the selection of vacation rentals in Wilmington, including historic homes downtown and beachfront rentals along the Atlantic. Most are well-within walking distance of hiking trails, swimming, and museums. Whether you plan your trip around one of the annual festivals, like the North Carolina Azalea Festival or the Riverfest, or simply want a beach adventure, Wilmington offers something for all ages.

1. Visit the Children’s Museum

Stimulate your child‘s imagination at the Wilmington Children‘s Museum. Located in historic downtown, the museum has age-appropriate, hands-on exhibits for children ages 1 to 8. Exhibits focus on math, science, and art, and even parents can join in and learn something new. Explore a space station, learn how a dental office works, and wear real chef hats in the kitchen. The museum is within walking distance of a variety of restaurants and cafes, so you can grab a bite to eat before heading back to your vacation rental.

2. Set Foot on a Real Battleship

One of Wilmington‘s most visited landmarks, the Battleship North Carolina, lets you visit a real battleship. Commissioned in 1941, this battleship took part in near every major WWII maneuver in the Pacific Ocean. Walk on the decks, and listen to guides tell about the history of the famous ship. Children can join in as part of the crew and pretend to steer, start the engines, and even fire the cannons.

3. Paddle on the Cape Fear River

To relax and become one with nature, take the kids to the Cape Fear River to kayak on the calm waters. Here, you‘re surrounded by giant cypress trees overhanging the water, abundant wildlife to watch and photograph, and a gentle current to help pull you downstream. Take a tour with Cape Fear River Adventures, who work with paddlers of all ages and skill levels to ensure you have a safe and successful trip.

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4. Set Sail on a Riverboat Tour

Get a good look of Wilmington from the water on board a Cape Fear riverboat. Sign up for a private charter to go fishing in the Atlantic, or join a tour between the Cape Fear River and the Black River. Once you get back, stop in at Anne Bonny‘s Grill on the dock for a surf-and-turf meal before turning in at your vacation rental.

5. Tour the Cape Fear Museum

During your vacation in Wilmington, visit the Cape Fear Museum. Learn about the history of the city, and view a collection of more than 52,000 items that relate to Cape Fear. Take the kids to the playground on the museum grounds to view flora and fauna of the region plus a variety of sculptures. The Museum also has a Little Free Library located by the boat pavilion where you can pick up something to read. If you are into geocaching, you‘ll find 11 different geocaches on the grounds.

6. Play on the Beach

A trip to Wilmington is not complete without a day spent at the beach. Choose from Wrightsville, Carolina, and Kure Beaches. Wrightsville is known for its crystal blue water and phenomenal surfing, and kids can learn how to stand-up paddleboard. Travel to Carolina Beach to find miniature golf, batting cages, and a historic boardwalk to explore. Kure Beach is slightly more remote and secluded. Walk along the water‘s edge looking for seashells, or let the kids play in the water while you relax in the sun.

7. Tour the Wilmington Railroad Museum

Learn how the railway made an impact on the coastal town of Wilmington at the downtown railroad museum. Little ones can enjoy the Thomas the Tank Engine play area, while you watch and enjoy over 20 different model trains in action. Step inside the life-size caboose, a boxcar, and a 100-year-old steam locomotive.

8. Play a Round of Glow-in-the-Dark Mini Golf

Try a round of golf in a psychedelic environment. Located at the Independence Mall, Glow Golf is the perfect way to spend a summer evening. The park also includes a laser maze challenge for older kids, as well as a snack bar.

9. Make a Splash at the Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park

Beat the heat of the day at the Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park. Stand in awe at the million-gallon wave pool, or zoom down the dual lane speed slides. Parents can float along the lazy river while kids spend time in the huge arcade playing their favorite video games. The park has a café for meals and snacks, and you can also make reservations for birthday parties and other special events.

10. Enjoy the Marine Life at the North Carolina Aquarium

If you are looking for a rainy day activity, the North Carolina Aquarium is the perfect place to explore. Let the kids visit the touch tank where they can learn about sea urchins, horseshoe crabs, whelks, and other creatures. A 24-foot deep offshore reef replica features views of sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, and eels, and you can view one of the hourly dive shows or one of the daily feedings.

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