The natural areas in and around Wilmington, NC are one of the area’s biggest draws. Stroll through beautiful gardens, take a short walk or a full day hike on trail through the woods, travel across town without your car via a paved walking and biking path, or enjoy all the beaches, Intracoastal waterway, and Cape Fear River have to offer, whether you explore them from the shore, in the water, or by boat. This region has incredible natural diversity, just waiting for you to experience it all!

Things to See and Places to be Outside in Wilmington

Sail Wilmington

Sail Wilmington is one of our favorite outdoor activities in Wilmington. Captain Alan and first mate Kaete are the perfect sailing companions.  Glide the river on their beloved 30 foot boat, named Jammin’. This riverfront adventure is for all ages and can be quite romantic.


More Get Outdoors coming soon!

More Get Outdoors coming soon!

Area Parks

Airlie Gardens
300 Airlie Road
Wilmington, NC 28403
Learn More about Airlie Gardens

Notes: We highly recommend a trip to Airlie Gardens. Take a beautiful walk around the grounds and breathe in the salt air. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful attractions in our community.

Carolina Beach State Park
1010 B Rd, Carolina Beach, NC 28428
(910) 458-8206

Notes: Hike, bike, camp, kayak, fish and more in this awesome State Park along the shores of the Cape Fear River and Snows Cut.

Greenfield Lake Park & Gardens
1510 South 3rd Street
Wilmington, NC 28401
More on Greenfield Park

Notes: Lots to do for the whole family. If you brought your bikes or running shoes, take a four mile loop around the lake. There are also canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, playgrounds, tennis courts and a skateboard park.

Empie Park
3405-A Park Avenue
Wilmington, NC   28403
More on Empie Park

Notes: Located in Mid Town. Empie offers tons of recreational options including a dog park, tennis and basketball courts, bocce, shuffleboard, horseshoe pits, playgrounds, a walking/biking path, picnic areas and more.

Halyburton Park
4099 S 17th St
Wilmington, NC 28412
(910) 341-0075
More on Halyburton Park

Notes: What’s there to do at Halyburton Park? Bike, run, or walk around the park’s trail system. Hit the playgrounds, have a picnic, or do a headstand in yoga class.

Hugh McRae Park
1799 S College Rd
Wilmington, NC 28403
More on Hugh McRae Park

Notes: Located about half way between downtown Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach. Hugh McRae has trails around the outside of the park, one of the best playgrounds in Wilmington, sand volleyball courts, multiple baseball and softball fields, tennis courts, picnic areas, and a dog park.

Ogden Park
Ogden Park Dr (off of Market Street)
Wilmington, NC 28411
More on Ogden Park

Notes: Ogden Park is a popular destination for locals living on the northern end of Wilmington. There are walking trails, sports facilities, a dog park, and more.

6150 Rock Creek Rd NE
Leland, NC

Notes: Great place to take a hike across the Cape Fear River in Leland. It’s a 175 acre park loaded with walking trails. No dogs are allowed on the property (boo).

River Road Park
6300 River Rd.
Wilmington, NC 28412
(910) 798-7198

Notes: Nice little park along River Road which has a small boat launch and handicapped accessible fishing pier.

Veterans Park
835 Halyburton Memorial Parkway
Wilmington, NC

Notes: Primarily used as a large sports complex filled with soccer, baseball, and football field.

Poplar Grove Plantation
10200 US Highway 17 North
Wilmington, NC 28429
(910) 686-9518

Notes: Offers daily tours of the home and grounds. Plus there are acres of beautiful wooded trails.

Brunswick Nature Park
2601 River Road
Winnabow, NC 28479

Notes: Located across the Cape Fear River in Brunswick County. Explore close to 900 acres on land, via kayak, or hit the biking trails.

Local Surfing Information

All year round you’ll find people surfing in Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach. Here are some resources to help you get out on the water.

Surf Reports

Check out for a current conditions in Wrightsville.

You can find live surf CAMS of Carolina Beach, Wrightsville, and Kure Beach at SurfChex.

Surf Board Rentals in Wrightsville

WBSurf Camp
222 Causeway Drive, Wrightsville Beach (at Surfberry)

Aussie Island Surf Shop
1 North Lumina Avenue
Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
(910) 256-6789

Surf Board Rentals in Carolina Beach

Wheel Fun Rentals
107 Carolina Beach Ave. N.
Carolina Beach, NC 28428
(910) 458-4545

Pleasure Island Rentals
2 North Lake Park Blvd.
Carolina Beach, NC 28428
Phone: (910) 458-4747


As you may imagine, there are plenty of places to launch a boat, kayak, canoe, PWC, or paddle board around Wilmington and the area beaches. Here are some of the most popular spots:


Wrightsville Beach (on Intracoastal Waterway)
109 Causeway Drive
Wrigtsville Beach, NC 28480

Notes: Get there very early on the weekend as parking is very limited. As you’re coming over the Wrightsville drawbridge, be sure to be in the right lane and you have to make your first right over the bridge and then wrap around back under the bridge to the launch area.

Castle Street Boat Launch (on Cape Fear River in downtown Wilmington)
602 Surry St
Wilmington, NC 28401

Notes: Recently rebuilt. Popular outlet for fisherman and those looking to explore the Wilmington waterfront, the State Port, and the backwaters for the NE Cape Fear River and Brunswick River.

Trails End (Intracoastal Waterway)
621 Trails End Road
Wilmington, NC 28409

Notes: This is a popular launch spot for locals who live in the area. It’s off of Masonboro Loop Road and is about mid way between Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach.

Snows Cut (Intracoastal Waterway)
220 Annie Drive
Carolina Beach, NC 28428

Notes: Nice launch at the confluence of the Intracoastal Waterway, Snows Cut (leading to the Cape Fear River), and the Carolina Beach canal. There is a marina directly across the launch to refuel.

Carolina Beach State Park (Cape Fear River) – PAID LAUNCH
1010 B Rd
Carolina Beach, NC 28428
(910) 458-8206

Notes: We’ve found the Carolina Beach launch to be less hectic than some of the other popular launch areas. While being located on the Cape Fear River, you can be in the Intracoastal Waterway in minutes.

Ft. Fisher/Federal Point
2515 S Fort Fisher Blvd
Kure Beach, NC 28449

Notes: Popular area for fishermen, and paddlers. You typically only see smaller boats being launched.

Ogden Park in Wilmington NC

By | Get Outdoors, Living Here, Parks | 2 Comments
To contact Ogden Park, please call (910) 798-7620. Ogden Oasis From the moment you pull in to Ogden Park you will be struck by its beauty. Located at 615 Ogden Park Drive off of Gordon Road. When you first enter Ogden Park you'll see three baseball fields and one softball field. Youth leagues play here and you will often see parents on the field, practicing baseball with their kids during the week. There is a very clean...
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Events Center at Halyburton Park

Halyburton Park

By | Exercise, Get Outdoors, Kids, Parks | 2 Comments
To contact Halyburton Park, please call (910) 341-0075. Halyburton Park is managed by the City of Wilmington, NC and is located on S. 17th St. beyond Cameron Art Museum and just before you get to S. College Road. Halyburton has a smooth paved 1.3 mile loop trail through the pine forest with off-road hiking trails through the middle of the loop. Halyburton is a favorite destination for families because of the two playgrounds, swingset, picnic...
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Azaleas in bloom around Greenfield Lake Park in Wilmington, North Carolina

Greenfield Lake Park

By | Attractions, Events, Exercise, Get Outdoors, Parks | 2 Comments
To contact Greenfield Lake Park, please call (910) 341-7855. One of Wilmington NC's Coolest City Parks Greenfield Lake Park is a beautiful city park located just a couple miles from Historic Downtown Wilmington, North Carolina. The park features a flat four mile walking and biking path which weaves its way around the lake back to the main parking area. Greenfield Lake is a popular fishing spot for locals who frequently congregate at the spillway at the...
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Dogs playing on the beach. Leash law information for areas around Wilmington.

Leash Laws and Pet Rules – Wilmington NC, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach

By | Get Outdoors, Living Here | 9 Comments

As dog owners in Wilmington, we’re always looking for fun things we can do with the whole family, including Teddy, on the weekends.  We take him on nice, long leash walks but he also loves to run and play off his leash.  Since we can’t bring the kids to the dog parks in Wilmington (not to mention our golden retriever isn’t very friendly at the dog parks), we have to find places where Teddy is…

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Azaleas and Live Oaks

Airlie Gardens – Wilmington NC Park Profiles

By | Attractions, Get Outdoors, Parks | 3 Comments
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...
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Hiking trails in Brunswick County, North Carolina with golden retreiver, Ted.

Hiking Trails in Brunswick County NC

By | Exercise, Get Outdoors, Parks, Road Trip Ideas | 2 Comments

Although Brunswick County is best known for its chic beach towns, not many people know that is it also home to the largest number of rare plant species in the state, and they are all on display in some of these nearby nature trails. Green Swamp Preserve This 15,000 acre ecological treasure trove is located in the heart of Bunswick County, and its brilliant open savannas show off some of the most beautiful examples of…

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View of downtown Wilmington, North Carolina in the fall.

The Best Fall Activities in Wilmington, NC

By | Exercise, Get Outdoors, Kids, Living Here, Road Trip Ideas | No Comments

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…

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Kids at playground

Hugh McRae Park

By | Exercise, Get Outdoors, Parks | 6 Comments
To contact Hugh McRae Park, please call (910) 798-7620. Hugh McRae Park in Wilmington, NC is a favorite of ours. We loved it when the kids were little because they have a great, age-appropriate playground for toddlers. And they also have a very cool, big playground for big kids. The only time this was hard was when one child was a toddler and the other was ready for the big playground. But we'd just split...
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Pumpin picking around Wilmington, NC

Hayrides and Pumpkin Picking – Fall Activities in Wilmington NC

By | Attractions, Get Outdoors, Kids, Living Here, Road Trip Ideas | 2 Comments

During our first fall season after we had kids, I swore I had never been on so many hay rides collectively in my life!  Wilmington loves to celebrate our temperate fall season with fall festivals, hay rides, and pumpkin picking.  These are fun ways to celebrate with family, friends, and others in our community.  Most of the schools have their own fall festivals which are also fundraisers for the PTAs.  The kids absolutely love those. …

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Fire on the North End of Carolina Beach.

Fall Camping in Wilmington NC

By | Get Outdoors, Kids, Living Here, Travel Ideas | 2 Comments

Fall is fast approaching, even though it may not feel like it yet.  With the onset of cooler temps comes more opportunities for outdoor activities that are just too hot for the summer. Summertime in Wilmington is all about finding the water – at the beach, at a pool, or on a boat.  It’s just too hot for almost anything else.  So fall brings some relief in terms of the temperatures as well as some…

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Warming up for tennis match at Empie Park in Wilmington

Empie Park in Wilmington

By | Exercise, Get Outdoors, Parks | No Comments
To contact Empie Park, please call (910) 341-7852. Empie Park in Wilmington, NC - centrally located along Independence Blvd between Park Ave. and Wrightsville Ave - is a beautiful park with plenty to do for the whole family.  Recent upgrades and improvements to the park make it highly accessible via the Wilmington Cross City Trail and provide more activities for more people (and dogs!). Althea Gibson Tennis Complex Empie Park is the home of the...
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