Wilmington’s Riverwalk snagged seventh place in this year’s competition to name the nation’s top riverfront destination.
Best Riverwalk is one of the contests organized by USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards, which highlight top attractions based on votes from readers. In 2014, Wilmington’s Riverwalk earned the No. 1 spot, but in 2021 and 2022, it landed in second and third places respectively.
Top rankings on the annual list can boost tourism in the area. While this year’s results are lower than expected, Connie Nelson, communications and public relations director for the Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the visitors bureau is still pleased with the recognition.
“While we are disappointed that Wilmington didn’t rank higher in this year’s Best Riverwalk poll, it is an honor to remain among the nation’s top 10,” Nelson said. “We are hopeful that Wilmington’s Riverwalk will be among the nominees in a future poll to give our residents and visitors another opportunity to vote and move up in the Best Riverwalk rankings.”
Twenty riverfront destinations were nominated for the contest by a panel of experts, and votes were collected from readers for four weeks before the results were announced today at noon.
A popular destination for locals and visitors alike, the 1.75-mile-long Riverwalk hugs the Cape Fear River’s path through downtown Wilmington. In addition to scenic views of the water, walkers can visit more than 200 restaurants, shops and other attractions located along the way.
Creation of Wilmington’s Riverwalk began in the early 1980s, and to date, the city has invested roughly $40 million on its construction and maintenance, a city spokesperson confirmed by email in December.
In recent years, the Riverwalk’s footprint has stretched northward alongside increased development in the area, including the additions of Live Oak Bank Pavilion and Riverfront Park. Another northern expansion could happen soon, moving the path’s northern terminus beyond the Isabel Holmes Bridge and connecting it to the Northside neighborhood. The city is currently investigating the feasibility of the project, with a feasibility study due to be completed in April.
The Detroit International RiverWalk claimed the top spot in this year’s contest. Click here
to see the full list of winners.