Wilson is proud to have, “southern culture with a focus on the arts,” and this is all too visible in its many festivals, museums, unique craft shops and independent designers, and more. There are tons of things to do in Wilson, NC, and this list gives you a local’s perspective on some great local treasure.
This article lists some of the top cultural attractions of Wilson–what you find may surprise you!
1. Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park
Step into Whirligig Park and the spinning, quirky structures shooting up to the clouds will awaken and bemoan most people. These whirligigs put Wilson on the map, winning international artists’ awards and commendations and even the honor of being included in the 1996 Olympic Games as public art!
There’s also an inspiring story behind the park. Machine repairman Vollis Simpson spent his retirement experimenting with sculptures that eventually became the whirligigs. As more and more were built, locals and tourists would visit his farm for a peek and attention-grabbing pictures.
As Vollis got older, he had trouble maintaining the sculptures and keeping them moving. To make sure generations to come can experience its wonders, the community came together to relocate and restore the whirligigs.
Today, viewing his creations can be a delightful thing to do in Wilson, suitable for the whole family
Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park
Address: 301 Goldsboro St S, Wilson, NC 27893
Website: Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park
2. North Carolina Baseball Museum
Sports fans know that North Carolina is the birthplace of some of the big leagues’ brightest stars, both past, and present.
The North Carolina Baseball Museum is your place to find out more about them. This museum is run by volunteers alone, who have done an excellent job of keeping a memorabilia showcase of North Carolina’s most famous players. However, the volunteer staff also means that the museum has shorter opening hours than most–be sure to pay a visit from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Visiting the baseball museum is another great thing to do in Wilson that the whole family can enjoy!
North Carolina Baseball Museum
Address: North Carolina Baseball Museum 300 Stadium St SW, Wilson, NC 27893
Website: North Carolina Baseball Museum
3.Wilson Rose Garden
The Wilson Rose Garden is a fantastic tribute to this beautiful flower. Over 1,200 individual plants and 180 species are housed here. You will find roses that you have probably never seen in person, like miniature roses, climbing roses, and even hybrid roses!
It’s a perfect place to relax, have a romantic walk and an even better place to take amazing pictures. As the roses bloom seasonally, from May to October, you’ll catch the garden at its most beautiful.
Taking in the gorgeous garden scenery can be the perfect family trip and makes for a great thing to do in Wilson.
Wilson Rose Garden
Address: Wilson Rose Garden 4, 1800 Herring Ave E, Wilson, NC 27893
Website: Wilson Rose Garden
Apart from museums and gardens, there is another side to the culture of Wilson. Brewmasters is a favorite spot for locals to catch up with friends over drinks and amazing sandwiches.
The bottle shop located within the restaurant specializes in craft beer, serving over 1,000 beer types (and more than 100 wine types for wine lovers as well). The Friendly staff and friendly atmosphere make Brewmasters a great place to have a meal or try a unique beer while in Wilson.
As my favorite restaurant, visiting Brewmasters is always a great thing to do in Wilson!
Address: 2117 Forest Hills Rd W, Wilson, NC 27893
5. Imagination Station Science Museum
Science? Museums? Museums of science? All that may sound a bit boring, but the Imagination Station Science Museum is trying to engage both children and their parents with lots of interactive exhibits on how common everyday life objects and machines work.
Wouldn’t you like to know how honey is made? Visit the Honey Bee Observation Hive to see bees working hard to create the sweet treats we enjoy. The “Science on a Sphere,” a revolving sphere that simulates what different planets look like, is another popular exhibit.
Imagination Station Science Museum
Address: 224 Nash St NE, Wilson, NC 27893
Website: Imagination Station Science Museum
6. Downtown Wilson Walking Tour
The Wilson Visitors Center is the perfect point of departure for a fascinating tour around downtown Wilson. The Visitors Center is located in a 19th-century brick residence, and as you walk down the streets, you will see several other well-preserved historical examples.
Along the way, your guide will point out what used to be Hotel Cherry, a fancy 1920s establishment that now once again has meaningful use as an accommodation for the elderly. The Wilson County Courthouse, Wilson’s Arts Council and more attractions with distinctive architectural features may also be part of the tour.
Downtown Wilson Walking Tour
Address: 209 Broad Street Wilson, North Carolina 27893
Website: Downtown Wilson Walking Tour
7. The Kennedy Theatre at Barton College
The Kennedy Theatre is home to a dynamic theater school as part of Barton College, and also plays host as a platform for world-class performances. Drop by to catch the local students in action, but also stop in to watch international performers in concerts, musicals and more.
Some of the previous shows include classics such as Peter Pan, the Rocky Horror Show, and Macbeth. Simultaneously, feel free to look around Barton College, one of North Carolina’s leading liberal arts colleges.
The Kennedy Theatre at Barton College
Address: 800 Vance St NE, Wilson, NC 27893
Website: The Kennedy Theatre at Barton College
8. Hunt for antiques
If you’re looking for a special drawer, lamp or chair to complete the layout in your room, you might need something antique and one of a kind.
Wilson is, fortunately, home to a surprising array of antique shops that both buy and sell. You can find the value in your family’s old watch or find a hidden gem in a dusty corner!
Boone’s Antiques, Inc.
Address: 2014 US-301, Wilson, NC 27893, USA
Website: Boone’s Antiques, Inc.
Boykin Antiques & Appraisals, Inc.
Address: 2013 US Highway 301 S Wilson, North Carolina 27893
Website: Boykin Antiques & Appraisals, Inc.
9. Lake Wilson
Kayaking, frisbee golf, hiking, nature, Lake Wilson has it all. Lake Wilson is located on the North side of town and is just a short drive from downtown.
Lake Wilson offers a pristine shoreline and ample activities for anyone who enjoys the outdoors. An outdoor playground for children makes Lake Wilson a perfect place to bring the whole family.
Lake Wilson is known for its beautiful nature trail which is perfect for hikers of any experience level.
Address: 4621 Lake Wilson Road N, Wilson, NC
Website: Lake Wilson
10. Wilson Botanical Gardens
These family-oriented botanical gardens are the perfect getaway for those who appreciate the beauty of nature.
Whether looking to get out and smell freshly bloomed flowers or searching for a place to take the kids, the Wilson Botanical Gardens provide the perfect escape.
Wilson Botanical Gardens
Address: 1806 Goldsboro St S, Wilson, NC 27893
Website: Wilson Botanical Gardens
Wilson is awesome!
Wilson is often overlooked as a pit stop halfway between New York and Florida. We hope this list has shown, however, that Wilson deserves more than just a quick gas fill-up during your East Coast travels!
Wilson is an excellent town filled with art and culture. Wilson is also home to some fabulous food, which you can check out here, The Best Restaurants in Wilson, NC.