Wilmington: Not Just a Beach Vacation


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Children get up close and personal with marine animals at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

Photo courtesy North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

Planning a family vacation isn’t easy. There are so many interests to consider — your teenage daughter, your 8-year old son, your husband and, yes, you. Consider Wilmington for your next family excursion. Not only does it offer quick access to Wrightsville Beach (only a 15-minute drive away), Wilmington also boasts plenty of other activities that appeal to multiple members of the family.

The Children’s Museum of Wilmington

Designed for ages 10 and younger, The Children’s Museum of Wilmington features a number of interactive and educational exhibits. Kids can pretend to be a pirate aboard the “Ahoy Wilmington!” pirate ship, heal teddy bears in the “Teddy Bear Hospital” or discover their inner artist in the “Art Studio.” Museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, 1-5 p.m. The museum offers additional hours on Mondays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day. Admission is $9.75 ($8.75 for seniors and members of the military). Children under age 1 are admitted free.

North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher displays more than just exotic fish in glass ceiling observation windows. You’ll discover an albino alligator, loggerhead sea turtles and a rescued bald eagle. Enhance your visit with a behind-the-scenes tour or crabbing experience in the salt marshes. The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tickets are $12.95 for ages 13-61, $11.95 for ages 62 and older, $11.95 for members of the military, $10.95 ages 3-12, and free for ages 2 and younger.

Battleship North Carolina

You don’t need to be a history buff to enjoy the massive USS North Carolina. Nearly every nook and cranny of this battleship is open to the public. Explore the engine room, mess hall, captain’s quarters, artillery storage — you name it. The ship is not air-conditioned, so arrive early on hot days, since it warms up quickly below deck. The USS North Carolina is open daily (including holidays) from 8 a.m.–5 p.m., except Memorial Day through Labor Day when hours are extended until 8 p.m. Admission is $14 for ages 12 and older, $10 for ages 65 and older and members of the military, $6 for ages 6-11, and free for ages 5 and younger.

Hollywood Location Walk

Dubbed Hollywood East, Wilmington boasts more than 400 TV and movie credits. The Hollywood Location Walk leads tour groups past filming locations where your family can snap selfies in front of landmarks from “Ironman 3,” “We’re the Millers,” “Tammy,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Sleepy Hollow” and, of course, “Dawson’s Creek.” Tour days and times change throughout the season. Consult Hollywood Location Walk’s website for specific times. Tickets are $13 for ages 6 and older, and free for ages 5 and younger.

Wilmington Riverwalk

The Wilmington Riverwalk was recognized as Best American Riverfront by USA Today in its 2014 10Best Readers’ Choice awards. It’s the perfect place to gather with your family at the end of the day to recap your adventures. Catch a boat tour with Wilmington Water Tours and point out the sites you saw. Afterwards, enjoy a family meal with fresh seafood from The Pilot House Restaurant or the burger of the day from The Basics. For dessert, head over to Wake N Bake Donuts – winner of multiple awards, including the top prize on the Cooking Channel’s “Donut Showdown” for one of its creative confections.

Learn more about Wilmington at wilmingtonandbeaches.com.

Bryan Richards is a craft beer, food and travel writer who recently added family travel writer to his credentials with the birth of his son.

 

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May 2018

This Memorial Day, honor those who have served our nation as Project Uplift USA hosts the annual Freedom Balloon Fest at Fleming Loop Park in Fuquay-Varina. See 35 hot air...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fleming Loop Park
2321 N. Main St.
Fuquay-Varina, NC  27526
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Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
Website »

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Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
Website »

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Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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This Father's Day weekend, Kings Dining & Entertainment welcomes single fathers for a time to be celebrated with other single dads and have fun with their children. Register today...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Dining & Entertainment
141 Park at North Hills St.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Baptist Grove Church
Telephone: 919.787.4528 ext.224
Contact Name: Cynthia Jacko
Website »

More information

Discover Historic Yates Mill - a place of business, community, and exciting local history! Watch a brief slideshow, then explore the inner workings of the mill itself and witness the power of water...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Age 6 & under free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Show More...
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This Memorial Day, honor those who have served our nation as Project Uplift USA hosts the annual Freedom Balloon Fest at Fleming Loop Park in Fuquay-Varina. See 35 hot air...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fleming Loop Park
2321 N. Main St.
Fuquay-Varina, NC  27526
View map »


Website »

More information

Warrior Tech, the Triangle’s only elite Ninja obstacle training facility, celebrates its one-year anniversary with a “Techiversary” party. Enjoy food trucks, live music and...

Cost: $20 individual ticket, with group discounts available. Children 4 and under free

Where:
Warrior Tech OCR Training Facility
220 Dominion Drive
Suite G
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Warrior Tech Obstacle Course Readiness
Website »

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This Father's Day weekend, Kings Dining & Entertainment welcomes single fathers for a time to be celebrated with other single dads and have fun with their children. Register today...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Dining & Entertainment
141 Park at North Hills St.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Baptist Grove Church
Telephone: 919.787.4528 ext.224
Contact Name: Cynthia Jacko
Website »

More information

Discover Historic Yates Mill - a place of business, community, and exciting local history! Watch a brief slideshow, then explore the inner workings of the mill itself and witness the power of water...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Age 6 & under free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
Website »

More information

This Father's Day weekend, Kings Dining & Entertainment welcomes single fathers for a time to be celebrated with other single dads and have fun with their children. Register today...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Dining & Entertainment
141 Park at North Hills St.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Baptist Grove Church
Telephone: 919.787.4528 ext.224
Contact Name: Cynthia Jacko
Website »

More information

Weekly basic skills cooking class offered for children ages 5-10 at Whole Foods North Raleigh.  This free class meets at the cafe each Tuesday at 4 p.m. and is offered by registering...

Cost: Free

Where:
Whole Foods Market (North Raleigh)
8710 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
Website »

More information

This Father's Day weekend, Kings Dining & Entertainment welcomes single fathers for a time to be celebrated with other single dads and have fun with their children. Register today...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Dining & Entertainment
141 Park at North Hills St.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Baptist Grove Church
Telephone: 919.787.4528 ext.224
Contact Name: Cynthia Jacko
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
Website »

More information

Join us at Chatham Marketplace in Pittsboro every Thursday at 10 a.m. for a casual storytime on the porch or even out in the yard. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Chatham Marketplace
480 Hillsboro St.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
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Sponsor: Chatham Marketplace
Telephone: 919-542-2643
Contact Name: Craig Kolman
Website »

More information

This Father's Day weekend, Kings Dining & Entertainment welcomes single fathers for a time to be celebrated with other single dads and have fun with their children. Register today...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Dining & Entertainment
141 Park at North Hills St.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Baptist Grove Church
Telephone: 919.787.4528 ext.224
Contact Name: Cynthia Jacko
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
Website »

More information

Explore the gardens to find the perfect spot to spread a picnic blanket for garden stories and crafts. Meet at the Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center. Dress for the weather. Ages 3-5 with...

Cost: Free for Arboretum Family members, $5.00 per child for nonmembers.

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Road
Campus Box 7212
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Telephone: 919-513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
Website »

More information

This Father's Day weekend, Kings Dining & Entertainment welcomes single fathers for a time to be celebrated with other single dads and have fun with their children. Register today...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Dining & Entertainment
141 Park at North Hills St.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Baptist Grove Church
Telephone: 919.787.4528 ext.224
Contact Name: Cynthia Jacko
Website »

More information

Enjoy goat hayrides, live music, food and drink, gemstone mining, petting farm animals and more. Limited parking; $10 donation for the Kids Farms Foundation. 

Cost: $10 parking donation

Where:
Old Mill Farm
8913 Hwy. 751
Durham, NC  27713
View map »


Sponsor: Kids Farm Foundation
Telephone: 191-926-09440
Contact Name: Marci
Website »

More information

Learn about the life cycle of the firefly and discover what makes a firefly glow, as well as what species are found in the Raleigh area and how to identify fireflies by their flashes. Weather...

Cost: $1.00 per person

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Learn about the environment at interactive education stations and get an up-close look at some of the living things found along a trail. Visit owls, bees and butterflies; learn how to identify...

Cost: Free

Where:
E. Carroll Joyner Park
701 Harris Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
Website »

More information

Tour D’ Coop is the largest backyard chicken coop tour on the east coast, encompassing more than 20 coops from Raleigh and surrounding cities. The Tour features coops from DIY to designer,...

Cost: $10-$25

Where:
Wake County Backyards
, NC


Website »

More information

Go on a pirate adventure with the Paw Patrol as Mayor Goodway prepares for a big celebration. Meet the newest pup, Tracker. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $22-$33/person

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Professionals from Capital Area Disc League “CADL” provide the basics of disc golf for beginners. Register for an instructional session at either 9 a.m. or 10:15 a.m. Take your own...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Celebrate the inaugural season of the Raleigh Firebirds, a professional men's basketball team. Enjoy sports-specific clinics, interactive games, inflatables and more. Register on event day....

Cost: Free

Where:
Spring Forest Road Park
4203 Spring Forest Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27616
View map »

More information

Want to get inside Historic Yates Mill? Join us for a half-hour tour (starting at 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30 or 3 p.m.) to view the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the mill's history...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Age 6 & under free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

This Father's Day weekend, Kings Dining & Entertainment welcomes single fathers for a time to be celebrated with other single dads and have fun with their children. Register today...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Dining & Entertainment
141 Park at North Hills St.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Baptist Grove Church
Telephone: 919.787.4528 ext.224
Contact Name: Cynthia Jacko
Website »

More information

Go on a pirate adventure with the Paw Patrol as Mayor Goodway prepares for a big celebration. Meet the newest pup, Tracker. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $22-$33/person

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore the historic heart of downtown Raleigh on a walking tour of Fayetteville Street. Tours highlight the people, places, architecture and political movements that have shaped...

Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Celebrate Latino arts and culture with a culinary event, children’s arts and crafts workshops, traditional piñata-breaking ceremonies, Latin American dance and music...

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Apex
, NC  27502


Website »

More information

The Beaver Queen Pageant is Durham’s own special mix of folly, pageantry, and humor. Contestants take on beaver personalities and compete for the title of Beaver Queen with their fashion,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Duke Park
106 W. Knox St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association
Telephone: 919-698-9729
Contact Name: Rachel Cohn
Website »

More information

Go on a pirate adventure with the Paw Patrol as Mayor Goodway prepares for a big celebration. Meet the newest pup, Tracker. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $22-$33/person

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Join City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources and staff and volunteers from the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center at the big field at Dorothea Dix Park to view the stars and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Dorothea Dix Park Big Field
101 Blair Drive
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Website »

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