Looking for ideas on the latest things to see and do in Wilmington and our Island Beaches on your next visit? Find the most recent news, updates, openings and additions here!
Riverfront Park & Amphitheater
Riverfront Park & Live Oak Bank Pavilion at Riverfront Park are officially open to the public. This urban green space, featuring 6.6 acres, 24,000-square-feet of gardens and 4,900 feet of paths, takes advantage of the Cape Fear River views and is connected by the downtown Riverwalk. Fountains, a playground with a water feature and plazas allow visitors to enjoy respite among the active downtown urban landscape. The park's largest feature is the large open-air music venue managed by Live Nation. The amphitheater holds 7,200 people - 2,400 seated and 4,800 on the lawn - and includes a rooftop VIP platform. The project has received WEDG Verification, which is the gold standard for resilient, ecologically-sound and accessible projects along the coast.
H2O Today is an exhibition at Cape Fear Museum of History and Science that examines the diversity and challenges of global water sources and promotes conversation, creativity and innovation through art, science and technology. Organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), the exhibition in on view now through Aug. 28, 2022.
Wilmington United States Colored Troops Sculpture Project
In the fall of 2021, a bronze-cast Wilmington United States Colored Troops (USCT) Sculpture will be unveiled at the location of the Battle of Forks Road on the grounds of The Cameron Art Museum. The site was chosen to commemorate the Civil War skirmish whose victory was won by the USCT and led to the fall of Wilmington. Durham-born Stephen Hayes has cast USCT descendants, USCT re-enactors, military veterans and community members in the sculpture project. The completed bronze sculpture will have nine life-size soldiers marching with muskets, a flag bearer and a drummer boy.
Use the Wilmington History app to explore Wilmington at your own pace. With five tours available, experience historic sites alongside an audio recording telling a 3-5 minute history about each landmark. The free app is available for iPhone/iPad and Android and includes a free mini-tour. The full tours - Pub Crawl Wilmington, African-American History, Civil War Wilmington, Old Wilmington I and Old Wilmington II - are available for purchase within the app at $5.99 per tour.
Filmed in Wilmington
Wilmington's vibrant film scene brings the city and island beaches to the big screen. Currently in pre-production is the Netflix series, "Florida Man" starring Edgar Ramirez, two-time Golden Globe nominee, as a former cop who must travel from Philadelphia to his home state of Florida for a presumably quick gig. Netflix has also given the green light to "Echoes," a psychological thriller about identical twins who have secretly switched lives since they were young. The limited series is by Brian Yorkey, the creator of "13 Reasons Why" - a breakout for Netflix. In theatres soon, Wilmington-made "Halloween Kills" theatrical release is expected Oct. 15, 2021, "SCREAM 5!" is expected January 2022.
Recently opened in the Brooklyn Arts District located in downtown Wilmington, sink your teeth into a gourmet burger at Angus Grill. Choose from 30 different burger types, like the Pimento Cheese & Bacon Burger, Brisket Burger or the Queso Burger, then choose one, two or three patties. The North Carolina-based burger joint also features cheesesteaks, brisket sandwiches, wraps and more on the flavor-filled menu.
Catawba Brewing Co.
Catawba Brewing Co. joined Wilmington's growing craft beer scene with a midtown location that has 24 beers on tap, including their popular White Zombie White Ale and Be The Ball Transfusion Sour. The kitchen works with local farmers, restaurants and other organizations to come up with specialty entrees that use local and exotic ingredients. Delicious food is paired with good craft beer you can enjoy inside, on the dog friendly patio or under the outdoor pergola.
MARIPOSA TAPAS BAR
Local restaurateur Bobby Zimmerman, owner of True Blue Butcher and Table, has put his culinary talents to use to create Mariposa Tapas Bar, located in the South Front District. A menu full of authentic Spanish tapas, an intentional wine list and an intimate atmosphere - inside or on the wide porch - welcome guests for brunch, lunch and dinner.
James Beard Best Chef nominee and former head chef of the award-winning PinPoint Restaurant, Dean Neff, opened the new restaurant Seabird, in historic downtown Wilmington. Seabird is a community restaurant that celebrates the seasonality of the Wilmington area's diverse local seafood. The restaurant serves high-quality coffee, tea, breakfast and lunch options with the dinner menu highlighting Neff's expertise in farm-to-table cuisine with a focus on seasonal ingredients.
Asheville-based Hi-Wire Brewing has opened a 7,920 square-foot taproom near downtown Wilmington, including two outdoor beer gardens and an expansive twenty-four tap bar. Choose from twenty-one taps of Hi-Wire beers, including year-rounds, seasonals, specialties, sours, and one-offs as well as three wine taps. A variety of family-friendly activities including soccer pool, table tennis, shuffleboard, foosball, and other assorted games keep visitors entertained.
Shopping & Entertainment
A sweeping redevelopment is transforming Independence Mall from a fully enclosed space into a modern, open-air retail destination. The redesigned space will feature a power center, a completely updated enclosed mall corridor, a modern lifestyle streetscape of upscale dining and retail, and a multi-tenant building complex that houses a wide array of specialty service providers. Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ulta, Five Below, and Lidl are among the new retail tenants.
The 13-story mixed-use River Place's new commercial offerings include 403 parking spaces and new dining and shopping options including Mellow Mushroom and the Nutrition Spot. Ruth's Chris Steak House will open in fall 2021.
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS & SUITES
Holiday Inn Express & Suites recently opened a new location in Wilmington at Porters Neck. The four-story hotel boasts amenities like a fresh hot breakfast, year-round indoor pool and a 24-hour fitness center and is located near Figure Eight Island and great golf courses.
Aloft Wilmington at Coastline Center
Currently under construction in downtown Wilmington, the Aloft Wilmington at Coastline Center will be a seven-story, 125-room property featuring a full-service restaurant, ground-level bar, rooftop bar, meeting rooms, banquet rooms, outdoor terraces, a fitness center and an outdoor pool, as well as a 7,000 square-foot ballroom. Guests can host weddings and private events on the rooftop looking out across the scenic Cape Fear River. The hotel will be connected to the 100-year-old historic Coastline Center, which will be renovated as part of the project. The existing building will house an additional 3,000 square feet of meeting space. The hotel is set to open in late summer 2021.
Wilmington International Airport Expansion
Wilmington International Airport (ILM) offers non-stop flights to Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C.; a $60 million airport expansion, scheduled for completion in late 2022 or early 2023, will see four additional gates, a restaurant, concessions and more added to the terminal. As part of a partnership with the Arts Council of Wilmington, public art will be included in the expansion project.