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Top Ways to Experience History in Wilmington and Beaches

A look into the history of Wilmington, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach

Top Ways to Experience History in Wilmington and Beaches

Much of the antebellum architecture and Civil War remnants of Wilmington and Beaches' past as a key Confederate port have been preserved for visitors to explore, particularly in areas like Kure Beach.

Murals Showcasing North Carolina's History and Pride in Wilmington's Historic Downtown / River District

If you're a history buff traveling to Wilmington and Beaches, you'll definitely have your fair share of tours to explore. Travelers who just want to get a sense of the area's past in a unique way—like taking a yoga class on a historic naval ship—will find lots of hidden gems and worthwhile attractions throughout Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach.

Below are a few ways that the area's notable locals recommend taking in the history of Wilmington and Beaches.

Battleship NORTH CAROLINA (BB-55)


The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA is a preserved battleship from World War II that welcomes visitors and private events (it’s a popular spot for weddings).

Wilmington's local yoga studios have taught classes on the Battleship, which makes for a truly unique historic experience in Wilmington's Historic Downtown / River District.

The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA is also a great backdrop when watching the sunset from one of Wilmington's Historic Downtown / River District rooftop bars, like Cloud 9. “It’s wonderful to watch the sunset over the Cape Fear River with the Battleship in view. It totally can’t be missed,” says Haley Jensen of Beer Barrio.

Biking and Hiking through Fort Fisher

The Road to Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

Fort Fisher State Historic Site was a Confederate fort that protected trade going in and out of Wilmington.

Today Fort Fisher State Historic Site contains a historic Museum and Visitors Center, led by local history buff John Moseley. Visitors can walk, hike, and bike around the area, located nearby Kure Beach.

Walk Through Wilmington's Historic Downtown / River District

The Cotton Exchange in Wilmington's Historic Downtown / River District

Wilmington's antebellum architecture and aura live alongside character-filled new restaurants, breweries, and shops in Wilmington's Historic Downtown / River District.

Each of Wilmington's Historic Downtown / River District unique neighborhoods has a bit of history as well.

“The South Front District includes the historic neighborhood, which has all of our old prestigious buildings, including spots where people like George Washington stayed. The British soldiers also stayed there when Wilmington was occupied by England during the Revolutionary War,” says Billy Mellon of manna ave. 123.

If you're someone who's not totally into history, the architecture is still worth checking out!

Bellamy Mansion and Pints for Preservation

Music at The Bellamy Mansion

The Bellamy Mansion is a great example of preserved antebellum architecture right in Wilmington's Historic Downtown / River District. Built between 1859 and 1861, it lives on today as a museum for history and design arts in Wilmington.

You can take in the area's history with a local beer in hand, as The Bellamy Mansion Museum often teams up with local breweries like Flytrap and New Anthem Beer Project to raise money as part of Pints for Preservation.

Enjoy a Show at Thalian Hall Center for Performing Arts

Thalian Hall Center for Performing Arts is one of the Top Spots to Catch Live Music in Wilmington and Beaches. It’s also a great way to experience the area's rich history.

Thalian Hall is a historic city hall built in the 1850s. “Thalian Hall has got to be our number one spot,” says Dan Brawley of Cucalorus Festival. “It’s been in a bunch of films and television shows. It's an 1858 proscenium theater that has an incredible schedule of live theater, community theater, music, and touring shows.”

Latimer House

Recommended by: Jason Frye

Source: Facebook

According to local author Jason Frye, "The Latimer House is a critical element of Wilmington's architectural history, and it's the starting point for a lot of history and architecture tours downtown. It's a part of the historic district and it's surrounded by a lot of antebellum mansions. Wilmington is one of those places that was spared the torch when Sherman was marching through the south, so we have a bunch of pre Civil War homes, and that's one of those."

Fort Fisher Ferry

Recommended by: Jason Frye

Author Jason Frye shares, "I like taking the Fort Fisher Ferry across the Cape Fear River down to Southport. Southport is another cute little historic town nearby that's perfect for a quick little day trip. There is something about riding that ferry, you go out, you park your car, you step out, and you really get a feel for what life was like in Wilmington 150 to 200 years ago, because you're on the river, and that was the highway, and you get to experience it from that perspective."