Everybody loves a “Year in Review” list. Here are our picks for the top 10 highlights in Wake County tourism for 2019 (YMMV).

10] The opening of new, high-profile restaurants helmed by celebrity chefs
Jolie Scott Crawford—a five-time James Beard Foundation semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast—added a second restaurant to his Crawford Hospitality restaurant group’s portfolio. Jolie, a French bistro named for his daughter, opened in Aug. in Raleigh. 

Poole’side Pies Chef Ashley Christensen unveiled her newest dining concept in the City of Oaks. Poole’side Pies is a Neapolitan-style pizza shop inside a whimsical, swimming pool-themed setting. This is—without a doubt—Christensen’s most fun offering. 

High Horse Katsuji Tanabe—a renowned chef and three-time alum of Bravo TV’s hit competition series Top Chef—has opened High Horse, featuring his signature playful style and a unique combination of Mexican, Japanese and American flavors in City Market.

9] Drive Shack opens
Drive Shack—the interactive golf complex that caters to big groups looking for big fun—opened in Aug. in Raleigh. The three-story complex with ample free parking is located at 6901 Play Golf Way (not far from PNC Arena). The 65,000-square-foot facility includes 96 golf bays, a full-service restaurant, a rooftop bar, more than 300 televisions, an arcade area, meeting rooms and more. 

8] Carolina Hurricanes made Eastern Conference Final
One of the hottest teams in hockey, the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes surged into the Stanley Cup Playoffs with an historic late-season run. In round one, they took down the defending champions on the road in a double-overtime Game 7 victory. In round two, they made quick work of the New York Islanders with a four-game sweep.

7] Courage win second straight NWSL Championship
The top-seeded North Carolina Courage capped off an historic season with a 3-0 victory over second-seeded Portland Thorns FC to win the NWSL Championship. With the victory, the Courage cements its status as the best professional women’s soccer team in the United States--and possibly the world. 

6] Transfer Co. opens
Transfer Co. Food Hall, a food hall and market housed in a 43,000-square-foot renovated warehouse in downtown Raleigh’s Olde East neighborhood (just a few minutes on foot from the North Carolina State Capitol, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, Raleigh Convention Center and more), is open. The venue—the brainchild of founder Jason Queen—will serve as a gathering space for food producers, makers, vendors, restaurateurs, their guests and the local community.

5] R6 Raleigh Major comes to town
The inaugural event unlocked $1.45 million in direct economic impact for Raleigh, generating over 1,000 job inquiries, attracting more than 2,600 daily attendees, with over 70% of them traveling from other states and countries. Additionally, the event was broadcast to a global audience on Twitch in 15+ languages, garnering more than 16 million live stream views and over six million total hours watched. 

4] Moore Square reopens
Moore Square—a four-acre, urban park that was originally conceived as one of four public green spaces for the capital city—is now reopen to the public with a brand-new look, new features and a jam-packed calendar of events. Closed since late 2017 for a renovation and implementation of a new master plan, the City-managed park held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and massive celebration in August.

3] Dreamville Festival launches at Dix Park
Curated by platinum-selling rapper and N.C. native J. Cole, Dreamville Festival was a one-day, multi-stage, leisure-tourism event at Dorothea Dix Park with a one-of-a-kind celebration of local culture, food and art that also featured a curated selection of musical performers, blending together some of today’s biggest national acts with exciting up-and-comers. Plus, it's coming back in 2020!

2] IBMA broke records
The International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA's) World of Bluegrass, brought to you by Chiesi USA, and PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass festival saw a combined attendance of 218,301 in their seventh year in Raleigh. This year’s festivities also generated $18.65 million in direct economic impact within Wake County, the highest single-year total yet. 

1] Ashley Christensen named America’s best chef
Ashley Christensen was awarded the title of Outstanding Chef by the James Beard Foundation on Mon., May 6. The award is the highest individual honor for a chef, and Christensen is the only North Carolina chef to ever win the award. A fierce philanthropist and accomplished restaurateur, Christensen’s downtown Raleigh culinary empire includes six eating and drinking establishments.