Wilmington Riverwalk attracts national attention

Andrew Lemon, Contributing Writer

WILMINGTON N.C. – The Wilmington Riverwalk has been a staple of the downtown area for the past 40 years. Offering a view of the Cape Fear river and the historic storefronts of the city, various restaurants and gazebos line the 1.75 mile walkway, as well as a picnic area. The U.S.S. Battleship North Carolina, is also showcased to the Riverwalk’s patrons.

The appeal possessed by the local Riverwalk seems to have garnered national attention, being nominated as one of the top 20 riverwalks in the United States by USA Today’s 10 Best initiative, which focuses on travel both domestic and abroad. 

The nomination to the top 20 was decided by a panel of urban planners put together by USA Today themselves, but the general public has been invited to take on a more active role in the slimming down of the list into a top 10. 

Voting is now open, with Wilmington sitting in second place at time of writing, beating out cities such as San Antonio, Boston and Chicago. If you think Wilmington has the best Riverwalk in the United States cast your vote here. Voting is open through Feb. 15 and winners will be announced Feb. 26. 

Competitions such as these have impacts far beyond just a title. Winning an award from a third party such as USA Today can attract tourists to Wilmington, thus bolstering the area’s economy. The Riverwalk may bring people into the heart of downtown, but the businesses that line the river will likely see increased foot traffic as a result. 

“Every time I am downtown I make sure to stop by the Riverwalk,” said Whitley Lowe, a junior at UNC Wilmington. “It is just the kind of thing that fits really well into the vibe of the city, and with the restaurants right up along the water it is nice to have a seat and watch the river for a while after a meal.” 

Construction began on the Riverwalk in the 1980s with the goal of providing a scenic walkway for residents and visitors to Wilmington to enjoy a view of the river while travelling to their intended destinations. The Riverwalk has had additions constructed incrementally throughout the years, with the attraction finally being completed in 2017. 

The City of Wilmington has spent $33 million dollars on this project since it began. The Riverwalk is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is open to the public free of charge.