Awesome Fall Activities in Wilmington, NC

Taylor exploring the trails at Carolina Beach State Park just south of Wilmington, NC.Autumn is such a beautiful season here in Wilmington, North Carolina.  The sun still shines most days, we enjoy cool mornings and warm afternoons, the bugs start to disappear, and we can spend time outdoors without the ultra sweat-inducing humidity.  We don’t worry as much about slathering on the sunscreen or getting out early enough to beat the heat.  It seems to me that fall is a little more relaxed, with fun, active, outdoor activities that keep everyone moving.

Take a Hike

My family loves running around in the woods.  We stay away in the summer because it’s simply too hot and the bugs can be ferocious.  But the fall is a perfect time to get out and take a hike.  A couple of our favorite places right here in Wilmington are the trails at UNCW (what’s left of them anyway!), the hiking trails at Poplar Grove Plantation, Carolina Beach State Park, and Ev-Henwood Nature Preserve which is technically in Brunswick County but is managed by UNCW and is an easy trip right over the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.

Get Out and Play

Wilmington, NC and New Hanover County maintain a beautiful parks system with plenty of open space, wooded trails, paved trails, playgrounds, and recreational facilities including tennis courts and baseball fields.  These are some of our favorites:

    • Hugh McRae Park for it’s toddler playground, big kid playground, 1.55 mile paved trail, and the pond with pretty landscaping complete with a wooden bridge,

Hugh MacRae Pinic Area and Playround in Wilmington NC

Gary Snell Cross City Trail Connector

    • Airlie Gardens (admission fee) for running around and walking out on their long dock over Bradley Creek,

Azaleas and Live Oaks

    • Summer Rest Trail for a peaceful walk or ride (parking spaces are available in the Port City Chop House’s parking lot),
    • The Arboretum for exploring fun, kid-friendly gardens, and
    • Empie Park for the playground and plenty of space to run around.  Empie Park also just completed the Althea Gibson Tennis Center with 24 new courts!

Entrance to Empie Park in Wilmington, NC

Outdoor Concerts

Summer is the traditional time for outdoor music in Wilmington, but the fall also see its share of live, outdoor concerts.  Greenfield Lake Amphitheatre, in particular, has had some amazing concerts the past few seasons, including JJ Grey & Mofro, Bruce Hornsby, Drive By Truckers, Dr. John, Michael Franti, and more.

Walk on the Beach

Autumn is an amazing time to get out and walk on the beach.  It’s easy to find a parking spot, there are hardly any crowds, you don’t have to pack a million things, it’s not too hot, leashed pets are allowed on Wrightsville Beach and on the Pleasure Island Beaches (see Pet Rules on Wrightsville Beach and Beach Rules on Pleasure Island for more info), and you can walk for miles.  This is a favorite fall activity!

Surf Fishing

We are not much of a fishing family so I can’t attest to this personally BUT fishing is a huge pastime around Wilmington and the area beaches.  I’ve heard that surf fishing in the fall is spot-on! Visit a local tackle shop by Carolina Beach or Wrightsville Beach and we’re sure they can get you pointed in the right direction.

You can check recent fishing reports here.

Trip to the Zoo

The cooler weather of fall is a perfect time to visit the Asheboro Zoo.  It’s about an hour and a half to two hours from Wilmington so it can be an easy day trip. The Zoo is pretty well sprawled out with a lot of walking involved, making it too hot for a midsummer activity.  But now is a great time to take in the exhibits and animals at the Zoo.  As a bonus, admission is free with a Fort Fisher Aquarium membership!

OK – I know there are a ton more fall activities that are ideal in the Wilmington area.  These are a few family favorites.  Leave a comment and let us know about your favorite fall activity in southeastern North Carolina!