Wilmington is a charming, historic town in North Carolina renowned for its traditional Southern charms and its proximity to both Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean. It features many historical points of interest and annual festivals, and there are numerous outdoor and water activities to enjoy in the Wilmington area. Wilmington is a great destination to rent a boat and get out on the water.

Boating in Wilmington

This picturesque maritime town is steeped in history and boating culture, with roots that reach back to the 1720s. It was a hotbed of activity during both the Revolutionary and Civil War, and it served as a center for American shipbuilding during World War II It was also the site of three prisoner-of-war camps. Wilmington prides itself on its culture and its proximity to the ocean that visiting boaters and residents both enjoy. It's a great place to explore on vacation, to rent a boat, and to get outdoors with your friends and family.

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Water Activities in Wilmington

Because Wilmington lies between fresh and saltwater bodies of water, boaters can enjoy a vast selection of boating and water experiences. Rent a boat in Wilmington and you can access both the scenic river and exquisite ocean shores in the same afternoon. Choose from pontoon rentals and speedboat rentals to get out on the water in Wilmington for sightseeing, soaking up the sun, and relaxing while exploring a new city. Boating is a great activity to do, perfect if traveling with kids.

The water activities in Wilmington are as varied as the waters themselves, with boaters being able to try lots of different fun things, including:

Fishing. Fishing is one of the most popular activities in Wilmington among visitors and locals alike. Fishing charters are great because you can try the brackish waters of the Cape Fear River, or plumb the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Rent a fishing boat or book a fishing charter in Wilmington for an epic day.

Fish species you can expect to catch in Wilmington include Red drum, Flounder, Speckled trout, Striped bass, Catfish, Sturgeon, Sharks, Skates, Bream, Crappie, Croaker, and Alligator gar.

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Active and sporty travelers visiting this city are in good company with the waterways here. Kayak rentals and paddleboard rentals in Wilmington are a great way to get outdoors, explore rivers and get exercise during your vacation. Work your upper body while soaking in great views around Wilmington, at spots like Oak Island and Wrightsville Beach.

Things to Do on Land in Wilmington

The historic downtown of Wilmington, North Carolina, features the stunning one-mile Riverwalk, which is consistently ranked as one of America’s best riverfronts. This seaside town is also famous for being one of the most involved in American film and television production on the East Coast. Wilmington also boasts an active theatre scene, with the historic Thalian Hall acting as a crowning gem – putting on about 250 events each year since 1858.

Wilmington also hosts a number of exciting festivals that celebrate a wide range of art forms. Cucalorus is a renowned independent film festival, and the Cape Fear Independent Film Network also puts on an annual film festival. One of the biggest DIY craft celebrations, the Wilmington Exchange Festival, is another popular yearly event. Music lovers might want to see if their boating trip coincides with one of several music festivals that take place annually in Wilmington, such as the North Carolina Jazz Festival and the Cape Fear Blues Festival. There’s even an azalea festival – the North Carolina Azalea Festival – which is sponsored by the Cape Fear Garden Club and takes place every spring with a street fair, concert series, interactive displays, home and garden tours, exhibits, a circus, art shows, and a parade.

With architecture that dates back to the early 1700s, Moores Creek Battlefield, Fort Fisher, and about 300 blocks of historic districts, Wilmington is a history lover’s dream. Numerous museums lie within the city limits, and boaters can even take a tour of a World War II-era battleship, the USS North Carolina, which has been converted into a permanent war memorial. Other highlights include the Cape Fear Museum, the gorgeous Bellamy Mansion, and the Museum of the Bizarre.

Boating Where the Rivers Meets the Sea

Wilmington, North Carolina offers the quintessential Southern town experience while also offering both freshwater and saltwater attractions. Its historical and cultural features add to the natural beauty of its surroundings, while its water activities and marinas will ensure a lasting appeal for boaters everywhere. Boaters will never forget the times that they have enjoying in-town festivals, historic sites, and water adventures in Wilmington.


Heading to Wilmington, North Carolina and need a boat rental? Download the GetMyBoat App to search your options for boat rentals, fishing charters, and more water experiences today!