Celebrate Thanksgiving in the Brunswick Islands

Create new traditions this Thanksgiving and replace turkey with fresh seafood and changing leaves with changing tides. Thanksgiving in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is guaranteed to be a holiday to remember with endless opportunities for quality family time without the usual holiday chaos. Who needs football when you can watch the sunset over the ocean before a post-dinner nap? (OK, some of you may still want to enjoy watching football in your spacious beach rental).

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img_1947The Brunswick Islands offer activities for all ages and interests with outdoor adventures to explore, local shops to browse, history to discover and much more. The destination is also home to a range of beachfront rental homes, ideal for families of all sizes, with spacious kitchens and plenty of room to celebrate the holiday with stunning coastal views.

For those looking to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast without the stress of cooking, you’ll find a range of unique restaurants in the Brunswick Islands from traditional Calabash style and fresh-caught seafood to international flavors and casual American fare, several with waterfront dining.  And yes, some restaurants will also be serving traditional Thanksgiving fare.

After a day of thanks, find your Christmas cheer with holiday events, perfect for continuing the fun through the long weekend:

Ocean Isle Beach Christmas Parade & Tree Lighting
Friday, November 25th and Saturday, November 26th

The seaside celebration begins with the Tree Lighting on the Causeway on Friday at 5:00 p.m. where attendees are invited to bring their best singing voices and holiday cheer, complete with hot cocoa, coffee and other goodies. The fun continues Saturday with the Christmas Parade from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m., where spectators can view golf carts and other vehicles dressed up for the season, decked with lights, tinsel and garland. Santa will also be awaiting visitors at the Ocean Isle Beach Fire Department beginning at 4:30 p.m. http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/360

Ocean Isle Beach Flotilla
Saturday, November 26th

Take the Christmas celebration dockside to view boats of all sizes dressed up for the holidays. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., spectators can view twinkling Christmas lights in this dazzling over-water parade on the Intracoastal Waterway. From illuminated snowmen to fishing Santas surrounded by festive palm trees, this is a not-to-be-missed beach tradition. Parade judging and an after party will follow at local favorite Sharky’s Restaurant. http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/499

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Step away from the holiday stress this year and spend time with family with the ocean as your backdrop – you’ll be thankful you did! To learn more about planning your Thanksgiving beach getaway, visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

Fish Tales in the Brunswick Islands

DSC_3069_OAK ISLAND PIER_LRIt’s almost fall, which means cooler weather and water temperatures, and one of the best seasons for fishing is here again! In the Brunswick Islands, the fish are abundant, and all levels of anglers and fisherman can gear up to go after their big catch. With several ways to fish, the Brunswick Islands offer the best methods and top areas to catch fresh seafood this fall.

If you’re looking for beautiful scenery without needing a boat, pier fishing is for you. The Brunswick Islands has five ocean piers to choose from, all equipped with concessions, handicap access, bait, tackle and rentals. Pier fishermen can expect to catch red drum, sea trout, mackerel and more.

DSC_4299_DEEP SEA FISHING_LRFor the more adventurous fisherman, fishing charters are the way to go. Fishing charters are great for family trips or even a get together with old friends. Take a charter out to the Gulf Stream where the warm waters make for an eventful day of fishing with possibilities of catching tuna, wahoo, mahi-mahi, giant sea bass, king mackerel and more. Charters run both half day and full day trips, or if you are a truly dedicated fisherman, you can take a 24-hour immersion trip on a bunkhouse-fitted charter.

For bird and other wildlife spotting, kayak fishing may be up your alley. While kayaking through salt marsh creeks, black water rivers and coastal bays, you will be able to catch trout and flounder while enjoying the Brunswick Islands’ pristine nature. Surf fishing is also a great alternative for a casual day on the shore.

US Open cmsSolidifying the Brunswick Islands as a hotspot for fishing, the area is home to one of the state’s oldest tournaments, the U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament, which will be held September 29 – October 1, 2016 in Southport. The competition attracts over 400 boats and welcomes all ages, as well as spectators when the competitors bring in their catches.

The five ocean fishing piers and commercial fishing charters provide blanket fishing licenses but, if you are fishing in another setting, don’t forget your fishing license! For more information on saltwater licenses, please visit  http://www.ncdmf.net/, and for freshwater licenses, visit http://www.ncwildlife.org/. The Brunswick Islands feature several free public ramps for launching a boat, as well as plenty of parking spaces for your cars and trailers. Information on boat rentals can be found here.

Join us in the Brunswick Islands for your next fishing excursion and see why our waters are an angler’s paradise. For more information about fishing in the Brunswick Islands, visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

The Inside Scoop!

Flava Decorations 1“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy ice cream and that’s kind of the same thing!” says the sign outside Flava’s Ice Cream in Southport, NC. And who are we to argue? Better to step inside and enjoy a scoop of Death by Chocolate or their most popular flavor, Nutty Coconut, after a day out on the water or any of NC Brunswick Islands’ miles of pristine beaches!

In fact, you can easily satisfy your sweet tooth no matter where you are in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands – each town and island has several choices as unique and individual as the islands themselves!

Holden Beach is home to three ice cream shops that are must-stops. Beaches N Cream’s all-original, small batch recipes use only the freshest, local ingredients that are free of harmful preservatives, additives and hormones for the ice cream purist. Try the Apple Crisp, Boston Cream Pie, Butter Brickle, or County Fair Funnel Cake – the winner of the 2016 New Flavor Contest! With a new flavor featured almost every day, there is always a reason to go back! Head to Fantasy Isle Ice Cream for a one-of-a-kind miniature golf course experience, shaded and hidden by oak trees. Their ice cream however, is no secret. Hundreds of photos of satisfied customers line the walls, and they boast a solid five-star ranking on Trip Advisor. Or walk right off the beach and get your ice cream with an oceanfront view at Haley’s Ice Cream Store. Known for their brightly colored buckets of retro-50s candies, Sandman’s Candyland on Holden Beach also serves ice cream and shakes.

IMG_8791Calabash may be known as the “seafood capital of the world,” but Calabash Creamery sets the standard for old-fashioned ice cream by making it with 16 percent butter fat cream to give it a one-of-kind taste. More than 50 year-round and seasonal flavors, including Brownie Batter, Cinnamon Bun, Mango Tango and the home-town favorite, Cow-a-Bash Crunch, offer just as many reasons to stop in.

DSC_3847_OCEAN ISLE ICE CREAM_LRThe cute yellow building that welcomes you onto Ocean Isle Beach is the home of the Ocean Isle Creamery where you will find at least 17 homemade flavors every day! All the ice cream has its start from a dairy farm in Dunn, NC, and some of the creative creaminess includes Pecan Caramel Swirl, DreamSicle, Cotton Candy and the perennial favorite, German Chocolate Cake. The Ice Cream Shoppe, another favorite place to chill out on Ocean Isle Beach, celebrates its 30th summer this year with a great selection of splits and the best Strawberry Milkshake around!  Build your own sundae at Build a Sundae or have a side of fudge with your ice cream at Pete’s Sweets.

Because a trip to Sunset Beach isn’t complete without a stop at How Sweet It Is, make sure you sample the brightly primary-colored Play Dough ice cream at this adorable ice cream parlor! How sweet it is to have so many options, indeed! You can’t go wrong with their Dutch Chocolate, Banana Pudding or Sea Salt Caramel.

From their striped awning and walk-up window, Spike’s Dairy Bar in downtown Southport churns out favorites like Almond Joy, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and the “to-die-for” Coffee Mud Pie! Be sure to treat your four-legged family member with the ‘Pup Cup,’ a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with a dog biscuit!

Leaky Tiki Sign 2cropThe largest of NC Brunswick Islands’ five barrier islands, Oak Island offers several choices. Frosty’s is legendary for its ice cream and the tantalizing aroma of house-made waffle cones. Top the cone with a generous scoop of Peanut Butter Chocolate or Butterfinger Ice Cream for the ultimate sweet treat! Also on Oak island, Lil and John’s Sweetreat is great for a scoop of homemade ice cream and to pick up some house-made fudge for later.  In addition to ice cream, Tropical Treats offers a lighter take to cooling down with a variety of Italian ices and sno-cones. For a nostalgic taste, head to Dairy Queen for a Dilly Bar.

If you want to keep even lighter on the calories, touch down at, Ocean Isle Creamery, or Back Porch Ice Cream (Calabash) where frozen yogurt is served alongside ice cream.

Maybe you can’t buy happiness, but you can certainly find it in NC’s Brunswick Islands!

Updated June 9, 2017

Let Southport’s Yacht Basin Reel You In For Great Waterfront Dining!

Southport’s Yacht Basin is located where the Intracoastal Waterway, the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean meet; it’s also where an amazing convergence of waterfront dining options lure diners to experience local seafood, trend setting restaurants, seafood dives and quaint coastal-village charm.  This area in what was once a fishing industry town, connects firmly to Southport’s sea-faring history with a slew of restaurants now lining the docks.   Any of the decks, patios and outdoor dining options are perfect for watching for dolphins, sunsets and passing boats. What’s more, plenty of waterside “parking” means you can boat right up to dinner!

DSC_1482The eye-catching aqua exterior of Fishy Fishy Café hints at the Caribbean influenced fare of this favorite hot-spot!  Dine outside or in on specialties like Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Shrimp, Fish N Chips, Asian Tuna, or Blackened Salmon.  Live music makes for a great night out, and the bartenders can mix up a cool cocktail!  If Fishy Fishy looks familiar, fans of the guilty-pleasure TV series Revenge may recognize it as the setting for the bar where Jack worked!

A short stroll will take you to Yacht Basin Eatery.  A to-die-for view of the water and passing boats along with a wide selection of fresh seafood to burgers, sandwiches and salads, make this a favorite.  Dine on blackened grouper, Lobster Ravioli or Linguine with Red or White Clam Sauce while enjoying live music and a specialty drink from the extensive bar menu for a great night out!

DSC_1564Next door you’ll find Yacht Basin Provision Company, named #1 Seafood Dive in NC in the Spring of 2012 by Coastal Living magazine.  There’s always a line at the door as folks queue up for a menu featuring sandwiches from grilled yellowfin tuna to grouper salad to hamburgers and hot dogs as well as salads and sides.  Conch fritters and steamed shrimp are featured alongside daily specials, and cold beer is serve-yourself, straight out of the cooler on the honor system!  Does it get any better?  All seating is outdoors and offers prime views of the sunset and passing boats.

Sitting high atop pilings where the road meets the Cape Fear River, The Frying Pan offers a commanding view of the river and Bald Head Island.  From this lofty perch, fresh and local favorites such as sweet potato biscuits, pan seared seafood, a variety of fried seafood specialties, and mouth-watering homemade desserts are served up with spectacular waterfront views. Interesting fact, while its moniker certainly hints at a cooking style, the restaurant also pays homage to Frying Pan Shoals, a long, shifting area of rocky shoals just off the coast and nicknamed the Graveyard of the Atlantic, as the area is littered with shipwrecks.

Flava Decorations 1And, what waterfront dining experience would be complete without a stop at an ice cream parlor? The tagline for Flava’s Ice Cream is “more flavors, more fun,” and with homemade brownies and cookies complementing custom and tried and true ice cream flavors, it’s the perfect after-dinner stop.  And, you can pick up the obligatory t-shirt, too!

Visit here to see  a list of additional great dining options in Southport and the rest of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

Carving Memories in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Thanksgiving is the oldest American holiday, its roots in celebrating the blessing of the harvest have grown into a national giving of thanks for all of life’s bounty. This national tradition has even sprouted mini-traditions of its own, whether it be inviting family and friends over for an elaborate home-cooked meal, watching your favorite team take on their biggest rival or tuning into the beloved Thanksgiving Day Parade.

This year, add spice to your season and start a new tradition by soaking in the season (and sun!) in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. For the family who loves to travel when the kids are out of school, a fall escape to the beach is an escape from hectic holiday crowds. Let the gentle ocean waves, feel of the soft sand and warmth from the southern sun be the backdrop to a peaceful Thanksgiving retreat, perfect for catching up on some quality R&R before the winter holiday rush. With a variety of vacation specials, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands makes a Thanksgiving beach getaway both family and financially friendly.

DSC_1712A coastal celebration can also put you and your family in touch with the origins of this nation’s oldest holiday, which has come to be marked by stuffed turkeys, mashed potatoes and savory gravy. These items were likely not the only fare at the first Thanksgiving feast. Odds are seafood, available in abundance along and a signature of the New England coast, was also on the menu. Spend your Thanksgiving at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, and you too can celebrate the season with fresh, traditional coastal fare such as roasted oysters, steamed clams, fish and shrimp.

If shopping is a part of your Thanksgiving tradition, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands has something for you too. Across the islands and towns, you’ll find a large selection of specialty shops, art galleries, local craft boutiques, and antique treasures. In Shallotte, enjoy shopping your favorite brands and finding those Black Friday deals. Whether your tastes are contemporary or old-fashioned, downright fun or reflect a more traditional view, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for.

IMG_8979Looking to get in the Christmas spirit on your Thanksgiving beach vacation? The 11th Annual Ocean Isle Beach Flotilla on Saturday, November 28, 2015 takes the term “parade” to an entirely new level. During this free event, the Intracoastal Waterway provides a fluid route for a host of beautifully decorated sailboats and power boats of all shapes and sizes lighting up the waterways.

So this season, treat your family with a trip to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands and experience a new tradition marked by togetherness and many thanks for years past and to come!