Wilmington was voted as one of "The South's Best Cities" by readers of Southern Living magazine in 2019, and 2020 is shaping up to be just as exciting.
From a continued culinary renaissance to new and renovated accommodations and attractions, from movie magic to more to love for craft beer drinkers, now is the time to discover all that’s new in Wilmington.
ARRIVE Wilmington opened its doors in 2019 following a complete restoration and renovation with attention to history and modern amenities with retro-chic flair and local inspiration. The second ARRIVE location to open in the U.S., ARRIVE Wilmington is planning to expand in the near future to offer even more rooms and services for guests.
The Verandas reopened its doors following a year-long renovation. This AAA Four-Diamond bed and breakfast set in a historic home is even more stunning than ever, welcoming guests to enjoy exquisite furnishings, gourmet breakfasts and gracious hospitality.
The new Aloft Coastline Hotel is under construction and slated to open its doors in late 2020. Located along the Cape Fear River in downtown Wilmington, the seven-story, 125-room hotel will feature a full-service restaurant, rooftop bar, meeting and banquet rooms, a fitness center and an outdoor pool.
Midtown welcomed a Holiday Inn Express & Suites this year. The national hotel chain will open another location in Porters Neck in late summer 2020.
Between the Covers: A North Carolina Literary B&B will add a new room in the late summer that will feature a newly remodeled en-suite bathroom with custom stained glass for a unique and inspiring stay. The room will be dedicated to its namesake Rhiannan Giddens, a North Carolina-born poet, songwriter and artist.
Prestigious awards and innovative restaurant and food concepts define Wilmington’s burgeoning culinary scene. Beloved chef Dean Neff – formerly of Wilmington’s PinPoint – became the city’s second chef to earn a James Beard Award nomination for Best Chef: Southeast in 2019. Known for using fresh local ingredients, Neff plans to open a new yet-to-be-named restaurant in downtown Wilmington in 2020.
Hot spots Sweet n Savory and Grand Cru Food and Wine Bar each recently won a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. Manna ave. 123 received its fifth consecutive AAA Four-Diamond rating, retaining the distinction of being the only restaurant in Wilmington with this accolade. Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn and Joe’s Oasis were featured on The Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food,” the chef at Cast Iron Kitchen was featured on the Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games,” and the most popular menu item from Cheesesmith Food Truck – The Buffalo Baby grilled cheese – was included in an episode of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on the Cooking Channel.
Beloved Washington, D.C., restaurant Floriana is planning to open its second location in Wilmington in early 2020. Located at the corner of Market and Water streets in an iconic historic building known for its riverfront balcony dining, the restaurant will serve Northern Italian-style handmade pasta dishes, steaks, chops and more. Also, keep an eye out for Michael’s Steak and Seafood, a gastropub concept slated to be opened by New York restauranteurs in early 2020. The restaurant’s menu will feature steak and local seafood accompanied by 30 craft beers on tap.
Explore the new Legacy Gallery on the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA to view some of the ship’s most prized artifacts. While onboard, be sure to check out the Window on Wilmington to experience the city’s historic downtown in a whole new way.
The famous Burgwin-Wright House Museum and Gardens will celebrate 250 years in 2020, a truly remarkable accomplishment and a testament to Wilmington’s commitment to preserving its history for future generations.
The Cameron Art Museum was one of 10 recipients in the state of a Z. Smith Reynolds Inclusive Public Art Grant. The grant will be used to interpret the story of the U.S. African American troops who fought at the Civil War Battle of Forks Road, which took place on the museum’s campus.
Tours & Exhibits
The Cape Fear Museum of History & Science, which earned the prestigious designation as a Smithsonian-affiliate museum, recently welcomed a new exhibit “Snoopy Soars with NASA.” Visit the museum before April 12 to help Snoopy traverse the moon by building a lunar rover, create a comic strip about landing on the moon or climb into Snoopy’s doghouse to navigate through space.
New to the Children’s Museum of Wilmington are three exciting exhibits: Community Market, Active Lifestyle and the Lawson Learning Center. Kids can grab a mini shopping cart to peruse the produce section, work the register and learn more about the importance of nutrition in the Community Market.
Set sail with Wilmington Water Tours for the recently added 3 Bridges Cruise to learn about the area's history and ecology while cruising along the Cape Fear River or hop aboard a classic Sunset Cruise now offered Tuesday through Sunday. Or tour around town with Wilmington Tours’ new guided walking tours. Stroll along tree-lined streets, visit historic sites and stop in local pubs for a cold brew during your tour.
Expect changes to the riverfront this year as work begins on North Waterfront Park, which recently broke ground. Slated to open in 2021, the new park will feature a number of amenities including a large outdoor performance space managed by Live Nation, greenspace and lawns, a playground, splash pad, large plaza, trails and gardens.
Serve up an ace at the recently renovated Althea Gibson Tennis Center at Empie Park. With the addition of new hard courts, additional parking spaces, landscaping and sidewalks, the complex is now the largest tennis facility in eastern North Carolina.
Golf lovers will enjoy a day on the links at the Wilmington Municipal Golf Course, recently ranked as one of the “Top 100 Golf Courses of the World” by Top100golfcourses.com. The course was designed by famed golf course designer Donald Ross.
Brews are Back
Wilmington Brewing Company recently expanded, adding a 5,000-square-foot event space and additional parking spaces. New Anthem Beer Project also expanded, opening its second location in Wilmington’s South Front District in 2019. Front Street Brewery, a downtown staple, will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in June 2020.
End of Days Distillery is slated to open in 2020, featuring tours, tastings and private events where guests can sip on a pour from the distillery’s handcrafted spirits collection.
BrewBoat Wilmington recently unveiled a new BYOB cruise that lets groups of up to 15 combine beer, peddling and boating.
Wilmington’s spring beer festival, Marchtoberfest, will take place on March 7 and feature more than 40 North Carolina breweries accompanied by German food and music.
Hollywood Comes to Wilmington
Wilmington is often referred to as “Hollywood East” for good reason. The film industry is experiencing a renaissance with big-name productions coming to town and Wilmington’s EUE Screen Gem Studios from Spooktacular movies including Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends, sequels to the Michael Myer’s fabled tale, to “The Georgetown Project” starring Russell Crowe.
For updates about what’s new at Wilmington’s Island Beaches, visit: