Airlie Gardens – Wilmington NC Park Profiles

Azaleas and Live Oaks
To contact Airlie Gardens, please call (910) 798-7700.

Airlie Gardens is a property of New Hanover County and is maintained as a historic public garden. The gardens are the last undeveloped land open to the public along Bradley Creek in Wilmington. There is an admission fee that visitors and residents must pay to enter the park. However, entrance to the park is free on the first Sunday of each month for New Hanover County residents. This is County Free Day at the Gardens and photo IDs are checked upon entrance to the gardens in order for the entry fee to be waived.

Another option for admission is to become a member of the Friends of Airlie, a non-profit entity where the yearly cost provides benefits including free admission to the gardens and the summer concert series. There is a tiered membership scale ranging from Individual and Family up to big donor memberships.

Airlie Gardens is a beautifully maintained historic garden that was once part of a 155 acre property owned by the Jones Family, who started the gardens, and then the Corbett family who purchased the property in 1948. The 67 acre gardens were sold to New Hanover County in 1999 and are now preserved for public use.

Airlie is a stunning place to visit year-round but especially during Azalea and Camellia season. There are thousands of these plants and they are just spectacular when in bloom during the early spring. The centerpiece of this waterfront property is the Airlie Oak which dates back to 1545 and is the North Carolina State Champion Live Oak. A large field surrounds the Oak, ideal for picnics and for kids to run wild.

The trails that guide you through Airlie lead to unique landscapes and installations including the freshwater Airlie Lake with swans and other beautiful wildlife, a pergola garden, a tranquility garden, the historic Mount Lebanon Chapel, and the amazingly cool Minnie Evans Glass Sculpture Garden.

Airlie offers popular seasonal events such as the summer concert series, the Low Country Oyster Roast, and Enchanted Airlie around the holidays. The summer concert series kicks off  in May and occurs every other Friday evening. Parking for these concerts is off-site at the old Cinema 6 property at 5335 Oleander Drive and guests get to take a trolley to Airlie. The Oyster Roast is a popular benefit event every October and Enchanted Airlie is an event not-to-be-missed. Guests arrive at Airlie at dusk and tour the lighted displays throughout the gardens. There is usually an outdoor train display as well as an elaborately detailed indoor train or LEGO display.

In addition to these events, Airlie also hosts private weddings and environmental education programs open to the public including bird hikes, school field trips, and summer camps.

For residents of New Hanover County, a membership to Airlie Gardens is surely worthwhile. It is an extremely beautiful, tranquil, and inspiring place to visit, any time of the year.

For complete details and information about Airlie Gardens, please visit www.AirlieGardens.org.

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