If you’ve got family and friends coming to visit for the holidays, there are plenty of family-friendly fun things to do this month in Wilmington and at the beachesÐÐtake advantage of this wonderful weather and get outside with the kids. Most of these activities are free.
Here’s the ultimate list of fun family activities in Wilmington, NC this December. There’s something for everyone in your crowd, and Santa’s going to turn up pretty much everywhere, except the battleship and the planetarium.
Christmas By the Sea, at the venerable Carolina Beach Boardwalk, happens every Saturday night from now until Christmas. Bring the kids to see Santa, warm up with hot chocolate, hear old-fashioned story telling at the fire pit, and create Christmas crafts. Carolina Beach and Kure Beach join forces for the Island of Lights show, that goes on every night with both towns lit up and decorated on land and in the water. The festivities end on New Year’s Eve, with a family-oriented party at the Boardwalk.
After you’ve spent a balmy winter evening at the Boardwalk, where sweaters are optional, get your winter onÐÐbundle up and hit the Wilmington Ice House for some figure skating. The Ice House has public skating most days, so check their online calendar for exact times. Not to worry if you don’t have skates, they’ll rent you a pair for your twirling time. Be sure to bring jackets, gloves, and the rest of your snow gear even if you’re just watching–for the babies (and the grown-ups) it’s cold inside.
The Bellamy Mansion is a wonderful escape from the lights, hot chocolate, and Santas that take over this time of year. The home is a premier example of antebellum Greek Revival architecture. You can purchase a “Passport” for $24, which covers admission for the Colonial-era Burgwin-Wright House and gardens and the Victorian Latimer House, as well as the Mansion, anytime during a seven-day period.
Enchanted Airlie is a not-to-be-missed event. It’s self-guided tour through the magnificent Airlie Gardens, with gorgeous holidays lights and displays. Santa wouldn’t miss it, and if it’s a chilly night you can warm up with hot cocoa and cookies. A few selected local vendors are on the grounds in case you need to fit in some extra shopping. While you’re there, stop to see the 467-year-old Airlie Oak, and some of the specimen camillias that are in bloom.
The Wilmington Railroad Museum has lots of events planned for the month. The Train and Light Spectacular is Friday and Saturday nights, from 6:30 until 8. This walk-through Christmas train and village display features over 20,000 lights and innumerable trains. The Polar Express stops by the Museum on Saturdays and Sunday afternoons in December for two readings of the classic children’s story. The kids sit around a train-decorated Christmas tree and there’s a visit from Santa, too. The Museum also collects toys for Toys for Tots. Admission is $5.00, kids under two are free.
Formally known as the USS North Carolina, in 1941 she was the first battleship commissioned in 16 years and served in the Pacific during WWII. The tour is self-guided, so you can take as much time as you like going through all nine levels of the ship–the bunks, the mess, the operations and gunnery rooms–it’s not for the claustrophobic.
SkyQuest at the Cape Fear Museum is Dec 27, with three showtimes in the afternoon. SkyQuest is amateur astronomy at it’s finest–tour the cosmos, learn how the constellations are connected to mythology, and more–with the museum’s digital planetarium. Admission is free to museum members, or with general admission.
There’s so much to do in Wilmington you’ll need more than a month to get it all in, and some of them you can do all year long!