We all have those times when cash is low, but we still want to have fun! Happily, there’s plenty to do for free or on the cheap in Wilmington, NC. Here are a few ideas for days when you’d like to go out and have a good time with little or no money in your pocket. Most of these free or cheap things to do are fun for kids, too!

Spend a Day at the Beach

Pack a cooler with sandwiches and cold drinks and head to the beach for a fun outing. Parking at Wrightsville runs about $2.50 an hour, but even so it’s a pretty inexpensive day. Parking at Kure Beach (when you can find it) is free.

Check Out a New Park

Wilmington parks often have programs or events, so be sure to check calendars. And if you haven’t yet been to all 25 New Hanover County parks and athletic facilities, get ready to be surprised at the variety! A few suggestions:

  • Hugh MacRae Park: Play tennis, take the puppers to the dog park, take the kids to the large playgrounds, or stroll on a bridge over the duck pond.
  • Greenfield Lake Park: Rent a canoe, kayak, or paddleboat for $10 an hour, admire the turtles and alligators, or walk the 4-mile perimeter, all for free. The skateboard park is only $2.
  • Smith Creek Park: Launch a kayak or take the kids to the playground at this newer park.
  • Hayburton Park: Check out the many learning activities at Halyburton or take a ride, walk, or skate on the paved trail.
  • Oakdale Cemetery: Not a park, but the park-like setting of this historic cemetery makes it a great place for a stroll. There are free maps at the entrance, or take a guided tour for $10.

Explore Historic Downtown Wilmington

spring wilmington nc

Put on comfortable shoes and take a walk downtown. Pick up a free map of downtown highlights at the visitor kiosk at the foot of Market Street. Or play Riverwalk Bingo while you walk.

Catch a FREE Summer Concert

WDI’s Downtown Sundown Concert Series Calendar

Where: Parking lot at Princess and Water streets in downtown Wilmington May 26 – Sept 1st.
Time: 6-10 p.m. Fridays. Area acts serve as openers, and headliners play at about 8 p.m.
Admission: Free. Wristbands are sold at the event for $1 and can be purchased by people who are 21 and older who want to drink beer or wine during a show.

Take a $10 Sightseeing Cruise on a Cape Fear Riverboat

While you’re downtown, step onto a Cape Fear Riverboat for a sightseeing cruise with fun and educational narration. Kids and adults alike love a boat ride, and it’s a great way to rest up during a busy day. Cruises are $10 for adults, $5 for kids, and free for kids 2 and younger. Take a picnic along!

Take Advantage of the Library

In addition to free books, movies, and music, the New Hanover Public Library system offers special programs, including lectures, films, story hour, book signings, yoga, and more.

Don’t Forget the Cape Fear Area

Head south to Fort Fisher for free fun and an educational day. Walk the pier at Kure Beach, then visit the Fort Fisher Museum for a taste of history and a view of both the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean at once.

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