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Celebrate Mom this Mother’s Day With Local Events

Mother's Day (Sunday, May 13) is a time to celebrate Mom and to thank her for all she does throughout the year.  Why limit the fun to just one day when you can celebrate all weekend in Wilmington, North Carolina’s historic river district and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Wrightsville Beach? Three island beaches and a Downtown riverfront with more than 200 shops and restaurants make Wilmington and its island beaches an ideal Mother’s Day getaway destination. To help plan Mom’s well-deserved trip, visit or call 1-866-266-9690 or and request a free official visitors guide. Here’s a sampling of events and activities that will help make Mom feel “oh-so-special”:
May 11: Big Band Jazz Concert: Fri. 8pm. Is Mom into jazz? Take her to see The John Brown Jazz Orchestra: A Big Band Hit List. Admission charge. Thalian Hall Center for Performing Arts, Wilmington. 910-632-2285; 
May 11: Birding Tour. 9am. Impress Mom by taking her on a free birding tour with a NC Audubon naturalist. Mason Inlet Waterbird Management Area, Wrightsville Beach. 910-686-7527;
May 11: Outdoor Concerts. 6pm-8pm. Does Mom love music? Take her to Mayfaire Town Centre to hear a free acoustic rock concert with music by The Other Guy. On the riverfront, check out the Downtown Sundown concert by The Voltage Brothers. Wilmington; & 
May 12: Bluegrass by the River Festival. 12noon-5pm. Mom will have a blast at this outdoor music festival that features foot-stomping, knee-slapping music by five bluegrass bands. There’s also a Kidzone, clogging and washboard clinics, and an open jam (bring your own instruments). Gate opens at 11:30am. Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area, Kure Beach.
May 12 & 13: Biological Wonderland Hike. 10am. Is Mom into plants? Join a park ranger to learn about different habitats that exist within Carolina Beach State Park and how each habitat affects the plants and animals that call the park home. Free. Meet at Flytrap Trail Parking Lot, Carolina Beach State Park, Carolina Beach. 910-458-8206; 
May 12: Farmers' Markets. Saturdays 8am-1pm. Rise early for regional produce, plants, herbs, and fresh flowers. The Riverfront Farmers’ Market (Downtown Wilmington) & Pleasure Island Farmer’s Market & Art Show (Carolina Beach Lake) feature local farmers, artists, crafters, food. Free. &
May 12 & 13: N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher: Moms love our aquarium and appreciate its special programs: “AUARIST APPRENTICE” (2pm, Sat.); “BEHIND THE SCENES TOUR” (1pm, Sun.) and “SALT MARSH & CRABBING” (3pm, Sun.). Admission/program charges apply. Pre-registration required for all programs. NC Aquarium at Ft. Fort Fisher, Kure Beach. 910-458-7468;
May 13: Mother’s Day Riverboat Luncheon Cruise. 12pm-1:30pm. Board an authentic riverboat and treat Mom to a deli buffet lunch and narrated scenic tour of the Cape Fear River. Admission charge. Pre-paid advance reservations required. Boarding begins at 11:30am. Henrietta III, riverfront at S. Water & Dock Streets. 910-343-1611; 800-676-0162;
May 13: Mother’s Day Cruise of Harbor Island. Moms cruise FREE on Mother’s Day (with at least one paid passenger in her party). 1-hour historic harbor cruises depart at 11am, 12pm; 1pm; 2pm; 3pm; 4pm; 5pm. Sunset cruise (1 ? hr.) at 6:30pm. Reservations recommended. Wrightsville Beach Scenic Cruises, Waynick Ave. (across from Blockade Runner Resort), Wrightsville Beach. 910-200-4002;
May 13: Captain’s Lazy Day Mother’s Day Cruise. 1pm-3pm. Treat Mom to a champagne brunch cruise of the storied Cape Fear River. Admission charge. Advance reservations. Boards at 12:45pm from Riverwalk at 212 S. Water St., between Orange & Ann streets, Wilmington. 910-338-3134;
Cape Fear Museum Exhibitions: “CAPE FEAR STORIES: LAND OF THE LONGLEAF PINE” (ongoing); “TOYS & GAMES”; “CAPE FEAR TREASURES: SHOES” (through July 15, 2012); “SHOPPING AROUND WILMINGTON” (through Feb. 17, 2013). Admission charge. Special event on Sat. May 12: PIRATE INVASION, 1pm-4pm. Cape Fear Museum, Wilmington. 910-798-4350;
Cameron Art Museum Exhibitions: “OUT OF FASHION” (through Aug. 19, 2012) and “JULIE VONDERVELLEN” (through Aug. 19, 2012). Admission charge. Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington. 910-395-5999;  
OUTDOORS & MORE: There are many ways to explore the natural beauty of Wilmington, NC and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Wrightsville Beach. Rent a kayak or canoe and paddle around our marshes, rivers, inlets and the Intracoastal Waterway. Watch for birds at one of the NC Birding Trail sites ( or take a leisurely paddle-boat ride on scenic Greenfield Lake and Carolina Beach Lake.  Ride a bicycle or surrey along the Carolina Beach Boardwalk or Carolina Beach Lake. Stroll along the Riverwalk, fish from an ocean pier, or charter a boat for offshore fishing. Hike a nature trail at area parks/gardens, including Carolina Beach State Park. Walk The Loop fitness trail around Wrightsville Beach Park.
BLOOMING GOOD TIMES: Dazzle Mom with beautiful spring flowers at the world-class Airlie Gardens ( Other showcase gardens are at Latimer House (Victorian), Burgwin-Wright House & Gardens (Colonial), and Bellamy Mansion (Antebellum). There’s also a free arboretum with 4,000 species of native plants on seven acres ( In addition there are public parks and gardens, and a university ‘arboretum’ campus ( You can search for rare Venus Flytrap and other carnivorous plants at Carolina Beach State Park. Just outside of town, the grounds of Poplar Grove Plantation are lovely in the springtime. 
THE FINER THINGS IN LIFE: DINING, SHOPPING, DAY SPAS: Introduce Mom to regional cuisine served at casual bistros, gourmet restaurants, old-fashioned diners, and outdoor cafés. Restaurants from the river to the sea serve Sunday brunch. Mother’s Day is a busy day so reservations are strongly encouraged. On Saturday, treat Mom to a culinary tour ( Top Chef Farmer’s Market Tour & Cooking Class (9:30am-12:30pm) OR the Heart of Downtown restaurant tour (2:30pm-5:30pm). For restaurant listings, visit Find a unique gift at specialty shops, beach & downtown boutiques, custom jewelers, museum shops, antique shops & art galleries. Or, Mom can rejuvenate at a day spa.
TOURS DU JOUR: Impress Mom with a guided tour. Downtown tours that depart at the foot of Market & Water streets include: Horse-drawn carriage/trolley tours (, 910-251-8889); Wilmington Trolley Company (, 910-763-4483); Culinary Adventures with Liz Biro (Sat. 9:30am-12:30pm & 2:30pm-5:30 pm;; 910-545-8055); Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington (, 910-794-1866); Hollywood Location Walk of Old Wilmington (; 910-794-7177); Tour Old Wilmington walking tour (; 910-409-4300).  Just a few blocks north: Cape Fear Segway Tours (;  910-251-2572). 
Whatever Mom’s interests, there are plenty of family-friendly activities to choose from in Wilmington, NC’s historic river district and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Wrightsville Beach. To find out about Spring special offers, events and experiences in Wilmington, N.C. and its island beaches, visit,,, and  For a complete Calendar of Events, visit  For a free Official Visitors Guide, call 1-866-266-9690;
Story By: Amanda Frasca.