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April 8, 2024

Top Things to Do in Wilmington: Your Ultimate Stress Relief Guide

Stress is not unfamiliar to any of us these days. Having ways we relieve stress can be one of the most difficult, but most important, things we do. So, we put together a guide for the best things that Wilmington has to offer that will help you relieve stress, all centered around exploring the very best things in Wilmington!

From a ton of trails, beaches, gardens, museums, and amazing food, we think once you start hitting up some of these spots, you’ll forget you were stressed to begin with!

Don’t miss our guides to the Triangle and Charlotte!

Trails and Greenways

If you’re needing a breather from your daily grind or work day in Wilmington, hitting the trails and greenways might just do the trick. Taking a stroll or bike ride through these outdoor trails can work wonders for your stress levels. So, whether you’re flying solo, walking the dog, or catching up with a friend, Wilmington offers plenty of scenic spots to explore. Under the trees and along the water, you’ll find a sense of calm that’s hard to beat.

  • Gary Shell Cross-City Trail – 15-mile, mostly off-rad, multiuse trail
  • River to the Sea Bikeway – 11 miles on and off-road, takes you from downtown Wilmington to Wrightsville Beach
  • Carolina Beach State Park Trails – nearly 9 miles of easy trails to walk
  • Masonboro Loop Trail – 1.4 mile multi-use path

Check here to discover more trails nearby!

Playground Parks

Maybe you’re not convinced that playground parks are your thing when it comes to stress relief, but there are a few undeniable benefits. Whether it’s letting the kids run wild while you take a moment to catch your breath, or indulging your own inner child on the swings, Wilmington’s parks have something for everyone. With sprawling green spaces, fun art installations, and even dog parks to enjoy, these parks offer a refreshing change of scenery.

  • Long Leaf Park – May through September, there’s a splash pad perfect for cooling off without hitting the beach. Plus a story walk, sand volleyball courts, walking trails, and more!
  • Greenfield Park – 190 acres of walking and biking grails along Greenfield Lake! With two tennis courts, a skate park, an amphitheater, and boat and kayak rentals, this is the perfect oasis for everyone.
  • Maides Park – basketball courts, tennis courts, picnic shelters, and a playground are available.
  • Arrowhead Park – has set ups for Gaga Ball and Pickleball courts!

Explore here to find more parks nearby!

Botanical Gardens

If you’re in the mood for something a bit slower-paced, a visit to one of Wilmington’s botanical gardens might be just what you need. Spread out a blanket, soak up some sun, and admire the colorful flora that North Carolina is known for. Wilmington’s botanical gardens offer a slow, relaxing way to recharge your batteries.

  • New Hanover County Arboretum – Free!
  • Airlie Gardens
  • Green Swamp Preserve – See unique plants like Venus Fly Traps!

Art and History Museums

Wilmington isn’t short on cultural attractions either, especially when it comes to museums. Whether you’re interested in science, art, history, or just looking for something fun to do with the kids, Wilmington has you covered. Best of all, many of these museums offer free admission, making them a budget-friendly way to spend your day and learn something new in the process.

  • Battleship North Carolina
  • Cameron Art Museum
  • Bellamy Mansion Museum
  • Cape Fear Museum of History and Science
  • Wilmington Railroad Museum
  • The Children’s Museum of Wilmington – for ages 1 – 10

Farmer’s Markets

There’s something special about a Saturday morning spent at the Farmer’s Market, with a coffee in hand, enjoying the beautiful weather of Wilmington. Wilmington’s farmers’ markets offer the freshest local produce, artisanal goods, and fresh catch of the day! Enjoy the vibrant atmosphere and support local businesses.

  • Riverfront Farmers’ Market
  • Tidal Creek Co-op Market
  • Carolina Beach Farmers’ Market
  • Wrightsville Beach Farmers’ Market

Camping Spots

For those who find solace in the great outdoors, Wilmington has some fantastic camping spots nearby. Whether you prefer the tranquility of a lakeside retreat, the rugged beauty of a forested campground, or camping on the beach, there’s something for everyone. Pack up your tent, gather your friends or family, and escape into nature for a stress-relieving weekend.

  • Carolina Beach State Park – traditional camping, RV, and wheelchair-accessible sites. The park also has four camper cabins that can fit 6 people, with electrical outlets, heating, and air-conditioning!
  • Freeman Park – reservations are required, but you can camp on the beach with the correct permits, vehicle, and tent!
  • Jones Lake State Park – inland towards Fayetteville, this wooded park has camping, fishing, hiking, and swimming – and you can bring your dog!

Grab a Treat with a Friend

Wilmington’s food and coffee scene is rather amazing, offering a ton of different options that will not only taste good but keep you feeling great. Whether you’re in the mood for a cozy coffee shop, a trendy brunch spot, or a gourmet eatery, Wilmington has it all. So grab a friend, sit back, and enjoy good food, good company, and good vibes!

  • Casa Blanca Coffee Roasters – craft coffee, plates and bowls made with local ingredients
  • Social Coffee Supply – “people first, coffee second.” Now has two locations!
  • Adapt Kitchen & Juice Bar – nutrient-dense food and beverages to keep up with the pace of your active lifestyle
  • Drift – delicious bowls, sandwiches and coffee, with many locations!

Day Trips from Wilmington

Sometimes, a change of scenery is all you need to hit the reset button on stress. Luckily, Wilmington is surrounded by charming towns and natural wonders just waiting to be explored. From historic villages to scenic beaches, there’s no shortage of day trip destinations within a short drive of Wilmington. So pack your bags, hit the road, and discover all that this beautiful state has to offer!

  • Fayetteville – Visit the Cape Fear Botanical Gardens, or go for something adventurous like ziplining among the trees!
  • Bald Head Island – Explore pristine beaches and charming coastal villages.
  • Southport – Wander through quaint streets lined with historic homes and shops.
  • Raleigh-Durham – Visit one of the area’s many universities, the botanical gardens at Duke University, or stop by for a Carolina Hurricanes game!

So, where will you go first?!

Here’s to exploring our city and our state, leaving our stressors behind, and prioritizing our mental health!

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