Free and Cheap Things to do in Wilmington

The Best Things In Life Are Free

Free and Cheap Things to Do in Wilmington NC2017-06-25T12:51:22+00:00
Explore Our Local Parks

With over 25 parks and athletic fields in New Hanover County, there’s just no excuse for staying indoors, especially with the year round mild weather the area enjoys. In addition to typical park amenities, there are also designated areas at a few locations for fishing and boating. Several local parks have a very active calendar of happenings and classes, from Bridge to Zumba, plus outstanding nature and science programs offered at Halyburton Park. Remember, Fido needs fresh air and exercise too and would love a trip to the 2-acre dog park at Empie Park! Locations, calendars and info here:


Go Biking

Grab your helmet, pump up those tires and see the area from the comfy seat of a two-wheeler. Although it is not a Cyclist’s City (yet!) along the lines of Boston, Portland, or Seattle, Wilmington is trying. Hundreds of miles of bike lanes and designated cycling trails have been added and even more are on the way. Click on this link for maps and information about group rides:


Take a Walk

A beautiful day and some comfortable walking shoes are all you’ll need for exploring some of the area’s most intriguing places. Enjoy your own leisurely pace with a self-guided tour of historic downtown Wilmington, Free maps are available at the Convention and Visitor’s information kiosk, just off the Riverwalk at the foot of Market Street and from their office in the Coastline Center-next to the railroad museum, at 505 North Nutt street.Other pleasant walks are the 5-mile trek around scenic Greenfield Lake and the 2.45 mile Wrightsville Beach Loop.


Visit Historic Oakdale Cemetary

For a free tour that is definitely off the beaten path, yet lovely, fascinating and extremely educational, consider a visit to historic Oakdale Cemetery. A backdrop of stately oaks, draped with Spanish moss, lush magnolias and stands of azaleas create an intimate, park like setting. Located at 520 N. 15th Street, free maps are available at the entrance and will lead you to the resting places of several local luminaries including, newsman David Brinkley, Confederate spy, Rose Greenhow and young Nancy Martin, who was buried at sea in a keg of rum.

Check out Poplar Grove Plantation

See what life was like on an antebellum peanut plantation with a visit to nearby Poplar Grove Plantation. Tours of the home are $12, however, it is free to bring your own picnic and explore the grounds of this lovely country estate. Along with the resident farm animals and small playground, there is a well-maintained network of wooded walking trails adjacent to the house, where leashed dogs are allowed as long as their owners pick up after them. Throughout the year, Poplar Grove hosts several free outdoor concerts and the Wednesday Farmer’s Market.

Visit One of Our Libraries

The New Hanover Public Library system conducts a variety of special programs, including lectures, films, and children’s activities. Currently each of the four branches has something for all ages, such as a job search lab, story times, book signings, and even yoga! Learn more here: Of course, the small fee for a library card is one of the best bargains around.

Visit UNCW

Have you visited the campus of UNC-Wilmington lately? Free art exhibits, concerts, and lectures are par for the course, along with very inexpensive movie tickets and $1 popcorn over at the state of the art Fisher Center.

Sample Local Beer & Wine

Select a designated driver, review the “Drink Responsibly” guidelines and then Google, “beer and wine tastings” for the Wilmington area. You will be pleasantly surprised to discover how many there are and the fact that most are free! Such gatherings are becoming very popular as new wineries and craft breweries are springing up all over. Word on the street is that some of the Port City’s most sought after food trucks are becoming fixtures at these tours and tastings!

Check Out Historic Fort Fisher

Indulge in more frugal fun with a trip the southern end of the county. Walk the pier, visit Ft. Fisher, learn about Native American history and the significance of the Federal Point Lighthouse:

Go Fishing

Being bordered by the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean makes fishing a favorite pastime for many. Getting started is relatively affordable, just be aware that even for surf fishing a license is required. However, a quick trip to check prices at the fish market will reveal that the sport of fishing can yield a great return for a nominal investment! Find out how to get a license, where to fish and what’s biting now:

Author: Lisa Andree