What’s New?

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! To see what is new in our island beaches, check out our Carolina BeachKure Beach and Wrightsville Beach What's New pages.

 

Initiatives

Count on Me NC

As North Carolina’s restaurants, hotels, attractions and businesses reopen, Count On Me NC is a mutual pledge and public health initiative that empowers guests and businesses to help keep everyone safe and protected. See a map of participating businesses within New Hanover County and find more information on how local businesses are protecting visitors during this time on our COVID-19 visitor information page.

Downtown Alive

Downtown Alive is Wilmington’s newest alfresco dining and shopping scene, featuring open-air shopping and expanded outdoor dining. Downtown's sidewalk cafés and parklets are available to safely serve customers and allow diners to enjoy our restaurants responsibly. Advance reservations with participating restaurants are encouraged.

Attractions

New Happy Hour Tours at Thalian Hall

In addition to Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts historic tours, which take place each Monday at 2 p.m., new Happy Hour Tours have been added at 5 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays. Enjoy a multimedia happy hour as you hear stories about the unique history of the building from Tony Rivenbark, Executive Director of Thalian Hall. Sip a complimentary beverage of your choice, served in the intimate 1858 lobby, take a tour highlighting the theatre’s hidden gems and hear about new projects in the works. This experience is limited to 12 people per tour and reservations are required. Tickets are $20.

Wilmington Designated WWII Heritage City

On Sept. 2, 2020, to commemorate 75 years since the war ended, Wilmington became the first city in the country to be designated as a ‘‘World War II Heritage City’’ by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. The designation celebrates contributions by Wilmington to the World War II home-front war effort. From the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA (a WWII memorial credited with 15 battle stars) and Hannah Block Historic USO (pictured here) with its WWII homefront heritage lobby display in downtown Wilmington to Fort Fisher State Historic Site (where WWII soldiers were trained) and Fort Fisher State Recreation Area (where a WWII bunker remains a hidden gem today), the area’s historic contribution to the war effort is evidenced throughout the city and island beaches. Exhibits at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Wilmington Railroad Museum also interpret Wilmington’s role during World War II. Now through January 2021, visit Cape Fear Museum of History and Science to see the National World War II Museum’s traveling exhibition, Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in World War II, featuring artifacts, photographs and oral histories to highlight some of the extraordinary achievements and challenges of African Americans during World War II, both overseas and on the home front. Read more about the military history of Wilmington or craft your own self-guided tour by downloading the WWII Heritage Guide Map (PDF).

New Wrightsville Beach Cruises

Surf to Sound Adventures welcomed the newest addition to its fleet, the Carolina Runner. The 40-passenger boat will shuttle passengers to Masonboro Island on day trips, take passengers on sunset and twilight cocktail cruises, and is also available for charter. The catamaran boat is custom-designed for comfort and safety. Step aboard to explore nearby estuaries, waterways, uninhabited islands or catch an amazing sunset. Blockade Runner Beach Resort's Surf to Sound Adventures offers a variety of water activities and lessons for all.

Battleship NORTH CAROLINA

Explore the new Legacy Gallery at the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA. Dedicated to the recognition and interpretation of all of the ships named in North Carolina, it includes some of the Battleship museum's most prized artifacts and the Window on Wilmington, a new view of historic downtown Wilmington not found elsewhere. 

NEW 3 BRIDGES' CRUISE

Hop aboard Wilmington Water Tours’ 3 Bridges Cruise and gain a new perspective on the area’s history and ecology as they share fun facts and historical anecdotes while cruising along the Cape Fear River. Due to the growing popularity of their Sunset Cruise, sailing days are now Tuesday through Sunday. The Bizzy Bee Water Taxi has partnered with the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA to offer round trip water taxi service to four landings along the Cape Fear River in downtown Wilmington.

Henrietta Cruise

Cruise along the Cape Fear River on the new Henrietta Riverboat. Soak in the scenery on a 1-hour narrated sightseeing cruise, hear local legends and stories and see historic downtown from a new perspective. Or start your evening on an hour-and-a-half sunset cruise that includes an on-board bar and light snacks. Relax on the open-air upper deck or in the climate-controlled dining room while taking in the sites of historic downtown Wilmington at sunset.

Wilmington Tours

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. 

North Waterfront Park

The North Waterfront Park has broken ground and this urban green space will take advantage of views of the Cape Fear River and be connected by the downtown Riverwalk. A playground with a splash pad, shade trees and lush gardens will allow visitors to enjoy respite among the active downtown urban landscape. The park's largest feature will include a large open-air music venue managed by Live Nation. It is scheduled to open in Summer 2021. 

Restaurants and Breweries

Dean Neff's New Seafood Focused Restaurant

James Beard Best Chef nominee and former head chef of the award-winning PinPoint Restaurant, Dean Neff, plans to open his own restaurant called Seabird in historic downtown Wilmington. Seabird will be a community restaurant that celebrates the seasonality of the Wilmington area's diverse local seafood and is set to open in February of 2021. The restaurant will serve 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. 

Sweet D's Cuisine

A new family-run bakery brings fresh sweets made in-house daily to Wilmington's 17th Street corridor. Sweet D’s Cuisine features a croissant-focused menu full of baked treats, sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. Besides croissants, Sweet D’s options include cookies, pies, cakes, milkshakes and more. The bakery even has gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free options available.

Quanto Basta Wilmington

Enjoy fresh-made Italian food, global wines and craft cappuccino in the plaza at Quanto Basta Italian Eatery & Wine Bar. The restaurant's indoor/outdoor dining room is open to a courtyard and fountain to set the mood for a relaxing meal. Dishes include hand-stretched pizzas, spaghetti and meatballs, and fire-roasted chicken. Stop in for a classic Italian aperitivo from 4 to 5:30, enjoy dinner in-house or order to-go via curbside pickup.

END OF DAYS DISTILLERY

Located off Castle Street, Wilmington's first grain to glass craft distillery recently opened and is offering tours, tastings and a space for private events.

FLORIANA RESTAURANT

A beloved restaurant with original roots in Washington, DC's Dupont Circle neighborhood, Floriana, opened their second restaurant in the iconic riverfront restaurant location at the foot of Market Street offering scenic views and balcony dining in April. Diners can enjoy Italian-style handmade pasta dishes, steaks and chops in the dining room or stop in for a drink and small plates in the lounge.

Shopping & Entertainment

Independence Mall

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.

RIVER PLACE

The 13-story mixed-use River Place's new commercial offerings are slated to begin opening in fall 2020. When finished, River Place will include condos, apartments, shopping and restaurants overlooking the Cape Fear River. The project includes 403 parking spaces and new dining and shopping options including Mellow Mushroom, the Nutrition Spot and Dollar General-owned DGX.

CenterPoint

A new entertainment destination is in the works in Wilmington's Midtown. The pedestrian and bike-friendly property will include retail shops and restaurants along with a seven-story, full-service hotel. The new development is set to break ground in 2020.

Lodging

Holiday Inn Express

A four-story, 116-room Holiday Inn Express is under construction at 839 Medical Center Drive near New Hanover Regional Medical Center, with an anticipated opening in February 2021.

Home2 Suites by Hilton

Home2 Suites by Hilton is under construction along the Market Street corridor. The 125-room extended-stay property is slated to open late 2020/early 2021.

Aloft Coastline Hotel

Currently under construction in downtown Wilmington, the Aloft Coastline Hotel will be a seven-story, 125-room property featuring a full-service restaurant, ground-level bar, rooftop bar, meeting rooms, banquet rooms, guest services, outdoor terraces, a fitness center, service kitchen 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 adjacent to the 100-year-old historic Coastline Conference & Event 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 2021.

AAA Inspector's Best Housekeeping Award 2020

16 lodging properties (12 hotels and 4 B&Bs) in Wilmington have been awarded the AAA Inspectors Best of Housekeeping Award, meaning that they fall within the top 25% of all hotels based on cleanliness and condition. This program highlights AAA Diamond designated properties that are the top tier in housekeeping. The list of Wilmington properties can be found here using the AAA Best of Housekeeping filter on the left side of the page.

THE HIVE BOUTIQUE HOTEL

The Hive Boutique Hotel celebrated its official opening in downtown Wilmington in February. The project included the complete renovation of an existing building and features 14 apartment-style suites. The property can accommodate leisure and business travelers, and group rentals for weddings and extended stays. Wilmington's newest boutique hotel will soon be home to a café and bar, Cross Street Waffles + Whiskey, and is expected to open this year.

THE VERANDAS BED AND BREAKFAST

Experience southern elegance in the newly renovated and restored Verandas Bed and Breakfast, an 8,500 square foot Victorian Italianate mansion located in the heart of the historic district. Consistently awarded the AAA/CAA Four Diamond Hotel Award, guests can enjoy the large formal living room, piano room, bedrooms with private terraces and elegant bathrooms with garden size soaking tubs.

Transportation

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.

Island Beaches

What's New

Exciting changes are always happening at our three island beaches. From tasting history tours to new restaurants and expanded sailing schools, and even a new Asian small-clawed otters' exhibit at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, find out what's new in Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach