Seek relief from summer s dog days with our list of evening activities, shaded respites, water adventures and air-conditioned museums. August is here.
1. Jam out to Airlie Gardens summer concert series, taking place now through September 19 on the first and third Fridays of the month. Park at the old Cinema 6 Theater on Oleander Drive and catch the free trolley to the gardens. Tunes begin at 6 pm. Tickets may be purchased online at the gardens website.
2. Learn to shag, an up-tempo offshoot of the jitterbug, then head to Red Dogs in Wrightsville Beach on the first and third Saturdays of every month for beach music beginning at 7:30 pm.
3. Hang ten at one of Wrightsville s famous surf spots. Short boarders congregate in the waters near the piers and the jetty (500 feet away by law), while long boarders prefer the north end. Beginners can learn the basics with a one-hour lesson from one of many local surf instructors.
4. Cool off on a hot afternoon with one of the many sweet treats served up on Wrightsville Beach: ice cream, frozen custard, Hawaiian shaved ice, frozen yogurt, an ice cream cookie sandwich or a fresh fruit smoothie.
5. Book a fishing expedition and hook some dinner with one of Wrightsville Beach s many fishing charters.
6. Jog, power-walk or run around the 2.45-mile John Nesbitt Loop. Walk the dog early in the morning, before temps reach 85 degrees or more. Don t forget the pet waste bag!
7. Join the North Carolina Coastal Federation for a coastal birding trip, hosted by Capt. Joe Abbate aboard The Shamrock. Bird tours take place every Wednesday from 10-11 am and launch from the Blockade Runner Beach Resort.
8. Escape to Masonboro Island, the 8.4-mile undeveloped island that s just a 5-minute boat ride away from Wrightsville. Pitch a tent and camp out under the stars.
9. Pose beside a turret for a photo op at the USS North Carolina Battleship, one of the most decorated battleships to see combat during World War II, earning 15 battle stars. The ship is open every day for tours.
10. Listen to classic rock tribute bands at Wilmington s Downtown Sundown Concert Series at Riverfront Park every Friday from 6-10 pm now through August 29.
11. Bring a sand chair or blanket to Kure Beach s Ocean Front Park and Pavilion for Boogie in the Park. Free concerts take place every Sunday evening from 5-8 pm now through September 13.
12. Tour downtown Wilmington s historic mansion museums, the Bellamy Mansion, Burgwin-Wright House and Latimer House, to discover finely preserved pre-Civil War architecture and artifacts.
13. Cross the Snow s Cut Bridge to Pleasure Island for Fireworks by the Sea, a free show near the Carolina Beach Boardwalk every Thursday at 9 pm now through August 21.
14. View carnivorous Venus flytraps in their native habitat, Carolina Beach State Park. But do not remove them.
15. Bike the River to Sea course from downtown Wilmington to Wrightsville Beach, a 20-mile scenic trek.
16. Stop and smell the roses at the New Hanover County Arboretum, the beautifully landscaped 7-acre park. Bring the whole family to explore the Japanese tea garden and purchase some potted native flowers to plant at home.
17. Visit recovering sick and injured sea turtles at the Karen Beasley Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Surf City, open for summer tours Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.
18. Slither into the Cape
Fear Serpentarium in downtown Wilmington for a look at some of the world s most venomous snakes, like the Gaboon viper, the Central American bushmaster, the puff adder and many others.
19. Learn about a temporary egg tooth called a caruncle, see a real sea turtle carapace and more at the Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Projects free Turtle Talks every Tuesday evening now through August 26 at 7 pm at the North Carolina Coastal Federation s Stanback Coastal Education Center on West Salisbury Street.
20. Shop for local goodies like fresh fruits and veggies, herbs, baked goods and handmade crafts at the Wrightsville Beach Farmers Market, Mondays from 8 am until 1 pm through Labor Day; or the downtown Wilmington Farmers Market, Saturdays from 8 am to 1 pm through November 22.
The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher
Located in Kure Beach, about a 45 minute drive from Wrightsville, is the oceanfront home of a display of native and foreign wildlife. Indoors, visit the new Butterfly Bungalow, housing hundreds of free-flying butterflies, meet local sea life like loggerhead sea turtles and sharks. Outdoors, visitors can observe model turtle habitats, or go on a supervised crabbing excursion or fossil hunt. The museum is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Tickets range from $10.95 for adults; $9.95 for seniors and military; to $8.85 for children. Those 2 and younger and members are admitted free. For more information about summer camps and other special programs, call 910-458-8257.
The Cape Fear Museum of History and Science
Founded in 1898, this is the oldest history museum in North Carolina. Located on Market Street near historic downtown Wilmington, the museum s exhibits range from dinosaurs and outer space to the history of the Cape Fear region. The museum is open Monday-Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm and Sunday from 1-5 pm. Admission is $7 for adults; $6 for seniors, college students, and military with valid ID. Children 5 and younger and Cape Fear Museum members are admitted free. Admission is also free the first Sunday of every month to New Hanover County residents.
Cameron Art Museum
The CAM, which opened in 2002, is two separate facilities: the art museum and the Pancoe Art Education Center. With the option of guided or self-guided tours, visitors can see an extensive collection of local and international art, from paintings and woven baskets to outdoor exhibits. Visit resident pottery master Hiroshi Sueyoshi in the clay studio and watch him shaping pottery. The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm, and until 9 pm on Thursdays. General admission is $8; seniors, military, and students $5; children $3; and free for members, and children 1 year and younger.
Wilmington Railroad Museum
Built to preserve the history of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and celebrate railroad history in the Southeastern US, the museum is within restored ACL Warehouse B, built in 1883 in historic downtown Wilmington. Inside are professional model trains alongside interactive children s models. Outdoors is a fully renovated ACL steam engine. The museum is open Monday-Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm and Sunday 1-5 pm. Admission for adults is $9; seniors and military $8; and children $5.
The Children s Museum of Wilmington
The Children s Museum, located in historic downtown Wilmington a few blocks down Orange Street, provides a hands-on learning environment for ages 1-10 with painting, science experiments and dress-up. Using exhibits such as a Teddy Bear Hospital, Toddler Treehouse and an Imagination Circus, children are encouraged to explore, question and learn about themselves and the world around them. The museum is open Monday-Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm and Sunday from 1-5 pm. Admission is $9 per person; military and seniors $8; and free for children under 12 months and members.
Wrightsville Beach Museum of History
Inside a turn-of-the-century beach cottage is a museum that shares the history of Wrightsvillle Beach. Off of the John Nesbitt Loop on West Salisbury Street sits the restored and renovated Meyers Cottage, built in 1907. With a scale model of Wrightsville circa 1910, old photographs and relics, visitors can see how the beach town has changed and grown. The museum is open Tuesday-Friday from 10 am to 4 pm, Saturday from noon to 5 pm, and Sunday from 1 to 5 pm. Admission is free.