A slew of excellent athletic complexes
Wilmington has something for everyone, from the National Register Historic Districts, which feature majestic buildings worthy of preservation because of their architectural and historical significance, to the Airlie Gardens, a beautiful public garden that was created in 1886. The city is also home to a bevy of state-of-the-art athletic complexes like the Althea Gibson Tennis Complex, which has 19 lighted courts; and the Hugh MacRae Athletic Complex and Legion Sports Complex, both of which offer unique flexibility when it comes to planning a sports event. The city is also home to the Gary Shell Cross City Trail, which is a great place for a calming bike ride. Visitors can also enjoy a trip to the sprawling campus at UNC Wilmington, which is home to 18 varsity athletic teams.
Activities in Wilmington
After a thrilling buzzer-beater or a game-winning home run, players, coaches, and fans are inevitably left with one question: What do we do now? In Wilmington, answering this query is made easy, as there are a number of great options. For starters, visitors can spend a day at one of Wilmington’s scenic beaches. Also across the river from downtown Wilmington is the World War II Battleship NORTH CAROLINA, named one of the best museum ships in the country. In addition, Airlie Gardens boasts 67 acres of period gardens and lakes. For a little more mystique, take a tour of the Bellamy Mansion Museum. Built between 1859 and 1861, the mansion is a mixture of Neoclassical architectural styles.
Let us connect you with Wilmington & the Beaches
Vice President of Sales & Services
Phone: 800-650-9064 x125
- Sports is the fastest growing market in the Wilmington area, thanks to a variety of available sports venues and natural conditions. The year-round weather, breathtaking beaches and largest convention center on the N.C. coast are real crowd-pleasers.
- A Distinctive Destination
- Wilmington’s location, natural beauty, culture and history charm visitors
- Wilmington was voted America’s Best Riverfront in USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice travel awards
- Competitors and spectators can relax with their toes in the sand while taking advantage of Wilmington’s proximity to three island beaches: Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach
- A Distinctive Destination
- Maximum Registration Potential
- Wilmington offers all the perks that come with a coastal destination, along with the conveniences and amenities of a big city
- Many groups max out their registration at sporting events held here, including the Seaside Soccer Classic, Carolina Cup and PPD IRONMAN 70.3 North Carolina
- Plenty to See & Do
- Wilmington’s River District features more than 200 restaurants, shops and attractions in the downtown area alone, most of which are within walking distance
- Visitors can choose from a variety of tours including history and theme walking tours, trolley, horse-drawn carriage and Segway tours, kayak/canoe excursions, narrated cruises, behind the scenes film tours and culinary adventures
- The area hosts a wide variety of affordable festivals and special events throughout the year that may already be taking place during planned sporting events
- Some of the area’s attractions are particularly well suited for visitors (with kids in particular) who want to ‘get physical,’ with activities like laser tag, climbing walls, go carts, miniature golf, watersports, a trampoline park and more
- Book off season event dates from November through March for the best savings
- The Wilmington and Beaches CVB can work with hotels to determine more affordable arrival/departure patterns
Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach provide a unique setting for a 70.3 distance triathlon. With the amazing beach and rural country roads, as well as the beautiful historical downtown, it is a triathlete’s perfect playground. All the agencies involved in the planning of the 70.3 event are very accommodating and help make sure our event goes off without a snag. We always look forward to producing our event in Wilmington and Island Beaches every October.
–Brian Bohrer, IRONMAN 70.3 North Carolina
Our event is held as the culmination event for many of our youth teams across the state. When searching for a host location, Wilmington and Island Beaches checks all the boxes. With the support of the local youth club, Wilmington Hammerheads Youth FC, Wilmington offers a great weekend of soccer with a relaxed atmosphere, great fields and friendly, helpful people – from coordinating all the logistics and planning with a friendly smile, even down to the food trucks on location! There are so many activities for our team families off the fields as well, including great seafood, shopping, attractions and, of course, the beach. It is a perfect getaway event for teams and individuals.
–Colby Morton, North Carolina Youth Soccer Association
USTA North Carolina continues to consider Wilmington and Island Beaches a perfect destination for statewide tennis events. The facilities are fantastic, the hotels are accommodating to our needs, but most of all, the people are the absolute best with which to work. Players are always thrilled to travel to the coast and take advantage of all the city has to offer – on and off the courts
–Caroline Downs, USTA North Carolina
USA Wrestling has loved our relationship with the Wilmington and Beaches CVB! Our wrestlers, parents and fans are at “home” when they come to Carolina Beach. The welcoming, relaxed atmosphere is a great break from the stress of everyday events, and our participants look forward to Beach Nationals with great enthusiasm. We often hear about participants who were reluctant to come the first time, but vow to never miss another because they are “hooked” after their visit! It is not just a great event, but also a great community that helps create that “hooked” feeling, and we have seen our event grow every year as a result.
–Ed Duncan, NCUSA Wrestling
A sports fan’s paradise
Wilmington Convention Center
Sports: Various indoor sports
Opened by the city of Wilmington in November 2010, Wilmington Convention Center has acted as a vital economic driver. The convention center offers meeting capabilities up to 2,000 people and a variety of spaces including a 12,000-square-foot waterfront event lawn. The Embassy Suites by Hilton Wilmington Riverfront, located adjacent to the convention center, is slated to open this fall. The center is a top spot for planners to settle in and prepare for a prime event.
Althea Gibson Tennis Complex
If you like tennis, you will love the Althea Gibson Tennis Complex. It boasts 19 lighted courts and a 1,500-square-foot clubhouse with a lounge, meeting room, and snack counter. The courts are open to the public free of charge, making this a fantastic place to play a match or get lessons.
Cape Fear Community College
Sports: Basketball, volleyball, soccer, golf
Twenty-five thousand students attend Cape Fear Community College, and many of them use its top-notch athletic facilities. The college offers men’s and women’s basketball and soccer, in addition to men’s golf and women’s volleyball. The basketball and volleyball arena is the Joe and Barbara Schwartz Center, which can hold 1,800 people and is home to the Wilmington Sea Dogs of the Tobacco Road Basketball League.
Cape Fear Regional Soccer Complex
Sports: Soccer, lacrosse, cross-country
Cape Fear Regional Soccer Complex offers seven full-sized soccer fields for challenge and classic soccer leagues, adult leagues, and other soccer tournaments. Home to the Cape Fear Soccer Club, this unique venue also boasts the opportunity for other events such as lacrosse and cross-country races.
Capt’n Bill’s Backyard Grill
Want some fun in the sun? Beach volleyball doesn’t get much better than at Capt’n Bill’s Backyard Grill, where visitors sign up, show up and have a great time. Whether a visitor is an Olympic gold medalist or an excited beginner, Capt’n Bill’s has tournaments for everyone, making it easy to meet new people and master volleyball skills.
Dig & Dive
Sports: Volleyball, cornhole, bocce ball, dodgeball
Dig & Dive is offering Wilmington residents and visitors a new way to play with their food. Inside patrons will find two dozen flat-screen televisions and a number of delicious menu options. Outside, it gets even better as Dig & Dive features some of the finest sand volleyball, cornhole, bocce ball, and dodgeball facilities on the East Coast. And make sure to check out the courtside Tiki Bar.
Gary Shell Cross City Trail
Sports: Running, biking, walking
The Gary Shell Cross City Trail runs 15 miles and presents Wilmington residents with a peaceful off-road path on which they can walk, run and bike. It stretches from Wade Park through Halyburton Park and Empie Park to the Heide-Trask Drawbridge at the Intracoastal Waterway. Take the Gary Shell Trail and you will have access to various recreational, cultural and educational destinations throughout the city.
Hugh MacRae Athletic Complex
Sports: Football, soccer, lacrosse
Located across the road from Hugh MacRae Park, this sprawling athletic complex offers three full-sized soccer fields. Though the fields don’t have lights, this is a popular spot for a variety of sports for people of all ages.
Legion Sports Complex
Sports: Baseball, tennis, soccer, lacrosse, swimming
Legion Sports Complex includes some main components that make it one of North Carolina’s most athletically-flexible venues as it houses Jurgenson-Gabriel Field, Buck Hardee Field and Robert Shipp Pool. Jurgenson-Gabriel, commonly called Legion Stadium, seats 6,000 spectators and is perfect for performances, exhibitions, athletic events and other activities. Buck Hardee Field is great for a baseball tournament, while the complex also boasts four lighted tennis courts.
Sports: Baseball, football, soccer, lacrosse, running, biking
Ogden Park sports three lighted baseball fields, one lighted softball field, a youth football stadium, nine tennis courts, and three soccer fields. There are also shelters, a dog park, a playground and a paved trail that runs around the lake.
Ogden Skate Park
Skating enthusiasts won’t want to miss the good times at Ogden Skate Park. The site was just completed in February of 2017 after roughly eight months under construction. The concrete park spans 10,000 square feet with a skate bowl and street features like railings and steps.
Sports: Baseball, volleyball, football, basketball, lacrosse
Any sports fan will enjoy Olsen Park, where there is room for large-scale tournaments in a number of athletic events. The amenities include five baseball and softball fields, one concession building, a volleyball court and ample parking. In addition, Miracle Field is on location and boasts a special rubberized turf playing surface that enable individuals with mobility issues to participate in many different sports.
Sports: Tennis, baseball, softball, volleyball, cross-country, golf, soccer, swimming
Often referred to as “The Dub,” UNC Wilmington first broke ground in 1947 and has since opened venues such as Trask Coliseum—home to the men’s and women’s basketball teams—and Brooks Field, where the baseball team plays. The university has 18 varsity athletic teams, including ones for basketball, volleyball, cross country, softball and swimming.
Wilmington Ice House
Sports: Ice skating, hockey
Wilmington’s most popular ice house offers locals and tourists a chance for public skating in addition to hosting hockey tournaments and figure skating competitions. Visitors can also take skating lessons, making Wilmington Ice House a prime site to enjoy a fantastic frozen experience.
Sports: Basketball, baseball, soccer, football, volleyball
Veterans Park is located in southern New Hanover County, just off of Carolina Beach Road. It features two picnic shelters, a playground and a half-mile paved walking trail. There are also five baseball fields—four Little League-size, one for high school competition—two regulation soccer fields, and nine tennis courts. Sports enthusiasts will also love the basketball court and sand volleyball courts.
Finding Your Way To Wilmington
Getting to this port city is possible by land, by sea, and by air. Though there are plenty of places to dock a boat, we’ll focus in this section on how to find Wilmington by driving or flying.
By Car: The major east/west interstate transportation artery I-40 leads directly to Wilmington, which is also served by U.S. highways 17, 74/76, 117 and 421. The area also features convenient access via the state’s numerous interstate highways.
By Air: Both Delta and American fly into the Wilmington International Airport, which is a short distance from the center of Wilmington. Currently there are direct flights between Wilmington and five major cities, including New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Charlotte.