What's New in 2020

Wilmington and our island beaches have a lot of new things to see and do in the New Year. From breweries to distilleries, restaurants, special events and an attempt at breaking a Guinness World Record, there's a lot happening in Wilmington and beaches to kick off the new decade. 

ATTRACTIONS

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 SCULPTURE AT CAMERON ART MUSEUM

Cameron Art Museum was the site of the Battle of Forks Road, a Civil War battle in which the Wilmington U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) were victorious. A new Public Sculpture Project dedicated to the Wilmington USCT by Durham-born artist Stephen Hayes will be unveiled to the public Nov. 14, 2020. The unveiling will be followed by a weekend celebration featuring artist talks, living history and performances for all ages. 

SNOOPY SOARS WITH NASA

Blast off with Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang during the Snoopy Soars with NASA Exhibit at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science through April 12, 2020. The exhibit explores the history of when Charlie Brown and Snoopy traveled through space with NASA's Apollo 10 mission in May 1969 and adds an interactive twist. Help Snoopy traverse the moon, create a comic strip about launching from earth to the moon and climb Snoopy's doghouse to navigate through space. 

NORTH WATERFRONT PARK

Plans for the North Waterfront Park have been finalized with construction underway. This urban green space will take advantage of views of the Cape Fear River and will 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 will also include a large open-air music venue managed by Live Nation.

NEW RIVER CRUISES

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 Cruises sailing days are now Tuesday through Sunday. The Bizzy Bee Water Taxi has partnered with the Battleship NC to offer round trip water taxi service to 4 landings along the Cape Fear River in downtown Wilmington.

RESTAURANTS, BREWERIES & MORE

DEAN NEFF ANNOUNCES NEW RESTAURANT

James Beard Best Chef nominee and former head chef of the award-winning PinPoint Restaurant, Dean Neff, plans to open his own restaurant in historic downtown Wilmington in June 2020 on the corner of Front & Market. 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. 

 

END OF DAYS DISTILLERY

Located off CastleStreet, Wilmington's first grain to glass craft distillery plans to open in February 2020. End of Days will offer tours, tastings and private events. 

 

FLORIANA RESTAURANT

A beloved restaurant with original roots in Washington DC's Dupont Circle neighborhood, Florianna, plans to open their second restaurant in the iconic riverfront restaurant location at the foot of Market Street offering scenic views and balcony dining in early 2020. Diners can enjoy Italian-style handmade pasta dishes, steaks and chops. 

 

MICHAEL'S ON THE WATERFRONT

After a two-year renovation on the 19th-century Riverwalk building, Michael's on the Waterfront is planning for a 2020 opening in late February. The gastropub will feature locally-caught seafood, steaks, flatbread pizzas and sandwiches alongside 30 craft beers on draft including selections from Wilmington breweries. 

 

SPECIAL EVENTS

GUINNESS WORLD RECORD

In the spring of 2020 Waterline Brewing Co. will attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Record for Most Dogs in a Single Photo. The current record held is 710 dogs. The brewery plans to host a dog event and potential puppy parade through downtown Wilmington following the photo. 

MARCHTOBERFEST

Prost on the Coast at the inaugural Marchtoberfest Wilmington NC'S Beer Festival, March 7th, 2020. Wilmington's spring beer festival features over 40+ North Carolina breweries, German-style beer, cuisine and music. Each ticket holder will also be entered to win a trip for two to Oktoberfest 2020 in Munich, Germany. 

 

WILMINGTON COFFEE FEST

Wilmington Coffee Fest will take place on February 1, 2020. The celebration of all things coffee includes local purveyors of coffee, roasters, distributors and more setup at both Hannah Block Historic USO/Community Arts Center and Waterline Brewing Co. 

LODGING

Holiday Inn Express & Suites

Holiday Inn Express & Suites recently opened its Midtown/Medical Center location. Currently under construction, the new Porters Neck location will open in August 2020. 

The Verandas Bed and Breakfast

Experience southern elegance in the renovated and restored Verandas Bed and Breakfast. The 8,500 square foot, Victorian Italianate mansion located in the heart of the historic district was fully renovated in 2019 and is now re-open to the public. 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

NEW ROUTES/CONNECTIONS COMING TO ILM

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 underway 2020 – 2022 will see five additional gates, a restaurant, concessions and more added to the terminal.

SHOPPING & ENTERTAINMENT

RiverPlace

The 13-story mixed-use building is slated to complete construction in 2020. When finished, RiverPlace will include condos, apartments, shopping and restaurants all overlooking the Cape Fear River.

 

NEWS & ACCOLADES

RE-ENERGIZED FILM INDUSTRY

Known as "Hollywood East," Wilmington's film industry is experiencing a renaissance with big-name productions including Hulu's "Reprisal" and sequels to the horror movie franchise, "Halloween," "Halloween Kills" and "Halloween Ends" being shot in Wilmington. "Halloween Kills" will be released in theaters Oct. 16, 2020. Upcoming productions include the horror film "The Georgetown Project," starring Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe. 

ISLAND BEACHES

CAROLINA BEACH

The non-profit Ocean Cure recently expanded the seasonal beach wheelchair accessible walkway at the Boardwalk by adding 1,500 square feet to widen the walkway and move it closer to the ocean. The Spot Bar & Kitchen will have its grand opening in 2020 while local establishment Surf House Oyster Bar & Surf Camp recently launched the Groundswell Dinner Series focusing on seasonal dinners aimed at highlighting sustainable seafood. Taste around town on the new "History in a Glass" drinks tour through Tasting History Tours or request an off-season tour offered for groups of 5+.

KURE BEACH

In February 2020, Fort Fisher State Historic Site will have a brand new temporary exhibit highlighting the African-American experience at Fort Fisher during the Civil War. Plans are underway to develop a two-story, 20k square foot visitor center and museum that will include new exhibits, a multi-purpose classroom, event space and more at Fort Fisher State Historic Site. On January 18 and 19, The 155th Anniversary Battle of Fort Fisher: Glory Enough for All will involve 500 re-enactors. The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher has begun construction on the new Asian small-clawed otter habitat. Built within the aquarium’s current freshwater conservatory building, the 3,000-square-foot habitat will feature interactive water elements, spaces for separate otter family groups and behind-the-scenes care areas. Their anticipated arrival in summer 2020 is part of the aquarium’s ongoing conservation efforts. Butterfly Bungalow, a seasonal exhibit, will return to the aquarium in late spring offering guests an immersive experience amongst hundreds of exotic butterflies. 

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH

Beginning in May, Audubon NC's Wrightsville Beach Bird Stewards will host a beach walk to view a nesting colony of Black Skimmers, Common Terns, Least Terns and American Oystercatchers on the South End of Wrightsville Beach. Found at Sweetwater Surf Shop, Before Work Surf Club, a sustainable clothing brand aiming to keep people excited about surfing while giving back to the community, hosted their first meetup with plans to expand the brand into shops across the southeast in 2020. The Blockade Runner Beach Resort has added two new sailboats and expanded their sailing program, and a new alliance with South End Surf Shop has also allowed the Blockade Runner to expand their surfing package. Plans are in motion for a rebuilt ocean access park, East Salisbury Oceanfront Park, which will include new showers and bathrooms, new landscaping, improved sidewalks and streetscaping for sidewalk areas. Gulfstream Restaurant opened its second location in the former Causeway Cafe building, serving breakfast and lunch family favorites. Plan your own day on the water through Shamrock Sailing Adventures with the new Build Your Own Itinerary option offering a custom, tailored experience based on your sailing skills including a USCG Licensed Captain. The Wrightsville Beach Museum of History has been accepted to host two upcoming Smithsonian Traveling Exhibitions: Water/Ways and 2020 Stories: YES. The Bordeaux Cottage, a historic cottage from 1924 and extension of the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, is in the process of being outfitted for its introduction into the 'museum campus.' When complete, the Bordeaux Cottage will feature the Lumina Room, Waterman Room with exhibits on boating and fishing as well as a presentation space.