Eight Free Things To Do in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Caswell Beach Oak Island Lighthouse

Sometimes the best things in life are free, and that is no exception in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. This summer discover just how easy it is to go big on a budget in the Brunswick Islands. When you’re visiting, be sure to check out the below eight free activities that are sure to bring on the smiles without breaking the bank or sacrificing the fun factor.

1. Oak Island Lighthouse

Located on Caswell Beach, the Oak Island Lighthouse is a must-visit spot that proves it is possible to elevate your vacation experience at no added cost. The 153-foot structure is the last lighthouse built in North Carolina. While tours to the top of this 15-story beauty are free, friendly donations from visitors are always appreciated and help ensure that future travelers to the area will enjoy the scenic views awaiting atop the 131-step series of ships ladders.

Kindred Spirit Mailbox

 2. Kindred Spirit Mailbox

While walks along the beach are always a priceless perk of a coastal getaway, at the Brunswick Islands you can take a tranquil stroll to a tucked away mailbox full of secrets. Standing in the sands of beautiful Bird Island is the Kindred Spirit Mailbox. This mailbox to nowhere is a true hidden gem holding small notebooks full of the thoughts, dreams, wishes and prayers of wayward travelers. Walk along Bird Island and see the mailbox firsthand to soak in the magic and add your own musings to the ever-growing collection.

 

3. North Carolina Maritime Museum

Venture to Southport to visit one of the three maritime museums sponsored by the state of North Carolina. Visitors to the museum can dive into the rich history of the Cape Fear River region. The museum’s well curated collection tells the story of the region and covers shipwrecks, piracy, the Civil War, and other nautical adventures. While admission to the Maritime Museum is free, donations are appreciated.

Southport tour

 4. Self-Guided Tour of Southport

One authentic and charming way to explore the area is by foot. Spend less and see more with a self-guided tour starting at the Fort Johnston – Southport Museum & Visitors Center. Here maps and brochures that will lead your journey through historic Southport can be found. Stops include churches and homes dating back to the 1800s as well as landmarks like City Hall, the Old Brunswick Jail, Old Smithville Burial Grounds and River Pilots Tower. Southport, “American’s Happiest Seaside Town” as noted by Coastal Living, has been a beloved Brunswick Islands destination since the late 1700s. No stranger to the spotlight, Southport’s innately picturesque scenery has served as the backdrop to many popular films and TV shows such as Safe Haven, A Walk to Remember and The Secret Life of Bees.

Brunswick Town

5. Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson

History buffs will delight in a day trip to the Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson Historic Site. Admission is free and grants visitors access to tour and roam what is left of old Brunswick, a major pre-Revolutionary port on North Carolina’s Cape Fear River. Brunswick Town was razed by British troops in 1776. While the town was never rebuilt, during the Civil War, Fort Anderson was constructed on the old town grounds and functioned until the fall of the Confederacy. Today notable sites include the hulk of what was once Brunswick’s St. Philip’s Anglican Church and remains of a sea captain’s house used by royal governors.

sea turtle

 6. Turtle Talks

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is home to unforgettable and wonderful wildlife experiences. Loggerhead sea turtles are known to frequent the area, and sometimes lucky visitors are able to catch a glimpse of a magnificent sea turtle gliding through the ocean waves or watch in awe as baby sea turtles make their way toward the sea. Many of the local sea turtle protection organizations offer free seminars, designed for the whole family, to share important information about protecting loggerhead sea turtles. These “Turtle Talks” can are held late spring through summer. See our calendar of events for details.

7. Summer Concerts

The ways to enjoy some free fun in the sun continue with summer concerts at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Starting in May through Labor Day week each of our beach communities hold live music performances that are free to enjoy and perfect for family members of all ages. Each community has their own schedule and performing artists change every week, so be sure to check out our calendar of events for more information on who will be playing during your stay.

Farmers Market

8. Farmers Market

In North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, it is easy to live like a local with summer outdoor farmers markets starting up in May. Many of our friendly beach communities host their own outdoor market, some located along the waterfront, offering fine artisanal goods, locally grown produce, baked goods, photography, pottery and other handcrafted items. While the fresh and local goodies are for sale, a stroll through one of our quaint farmers markets is a relaxing way to enjoy a morning at the beach.  See our calendar of events for locations and times.

For more information on things to do at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

Forecast Reads 100% Chance of Fun with these Rainy Day Beach Activities

Museum of Coastal Carolina

Sometimes cloudy skies decide to follow you on your vacation. Even the best-laid beach plans can be interrupted by a bit of inclement weather. While sunny skies are always ideal for a coastal getaway, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands offer an abundance of enticing indoor activities that are not only unbeatable elements of a foolproof rain plan, but also make for incredible vacation stops to experience under the clearest of skies. No matter the weather, the travel forecast will read 100% chance of fun with these indoor activities and experiences.

NC Maritime Museum in Southport

Learn Something New

While our 45 miles of tranquil beaches are no stranger to the national spotlight, our scenic and lively community offers visitors more than just sand and surf. History buffs can venture to Southport to experience Fort Johnston-Southport Museum & Visitors Center and the North Carolina Maritime Museum. Fort Johnston-Southport Museum, originally built by the British in the mid-1700s, offers docent lead or self-guided tours showcasing the history, heritage and culture of Southport. For an even broader look into the history of the Brunswick Islands, the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport shares the story of the Cape Fear region, complete with pirates, blockade running, riverfront archaeology and more. Science seekers can enjoy a rainy day spent under the stars at the Ingram Planetarium on Sunset Beach or a day spent exploring one of the largest dry aquariums on the East Coast at the Museum of Coastal Carolina on Ocean Isle Beach. The Visitors Center at Brunswick Town Fort Anderson in Winnabow includes a video history of the site as well as archaeological artifacts. Guests of all ages and interests can immerse in the rich history and unique culture of the Brunswick Islands with an incredible array of indoor museums and historic attractions that prove a rainy day at the beach still beats a sunny day at the office.

breweries and wineries

Check Out the Culinary Scene

Enacting a rain plan shouldn’t mean taking a raincheck on a good time. With countless culinary experiences offering the best in seafood, family dining and international cuisine, there are endless opportunities to spend quality time with your family and travel companions around a fun and flavorful meal. The booming restaurant scene of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is accompanied by a handful of local hotspots serving up good times by the glass. Makai Brewing Company not only crafts tasty Brunswick Islands brews, but also brings the spirit of Hawaii to even the most overcast of days. Craft beer connoisseurs can also swing by veteran-owned Check Six Brewing Company or the Brunswick Islands’ newest brewery, 34° North Experiment Station Brewery. Check Six offers free brewery tours and features a taproom boasting a fun historical and early aviation theme. 34° North Experiment Station Brewery is the second location for the Red Hare Brewing Company where guests can enjoy small batches of funky experimental beers, inspired by the wild yeast and bacteria of the coastal winds. Local flavors can also be found at Silver Coast Winery in Ocean Isle Beach where guests can enjoy winery tours, tastings, an art gallery, gift shop and more.

Take Time for Retail or Spa Therapy

When life gives you rain, seek a little retail therapy. Throughout our islands and towns, a large selection of specialty shops, art galleries, local craft boutiques and antique treasures await. Whether you are on the hunt for the perfect souvenir or a little something special, you are sure to find exactly what you are looking for among a beautiful coastal backdrop, stunning southern homes and charming streets. For Christmas in July, visitors can stop by The Christmas House in Southport or St. Nick Knacks/Callahan’s in Calabash for a fun collection of festive goodies sure to make a rainy day feel like the most wonderful time of the year. No matter your taste or budget, there is something for everyone to shop and experience.  For a little “me time” try a trip to one of the area’s many day spas for some pampering.

For even more rainy day itinerary ideas, ask a local! Members of our friendly coastal community are sure to have the inside scoop on how to make the most of what Mother Nature has in store. Rain or shine, a vacation to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is always a good time.

For more information on things to do at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.NCBrunswick.com.