Choose NC’s Brunswick Islands as your Homebase for the Great American Solar Eclipse

A once in a lifetime experience, The Great American Solar Eclipse is coming up on August 21. With the eclipse sweeping from the Pacific to the Atlantic, this natural wonder will transform the sky, turning daytime into twilight for just a few minutes. This is a can’t-miss event, so pack up your bags and make a one-of-a-kind vacation out of this natural phenomenon. Stay in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands where you’ll be a short drive to numerous prime eclipse viewing locations in the path of totality. Before and after the big event, the Brunswick Islands serve as the perfect spot to relax and escape the crowds.

Although the path of totality is slightly south of the islands, the Brunswick Islands’ 45 miles of beautiful beaches are an ideal lodging spot for easy accessibility to the main event. Find hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts, vacation rental homes, and many more options where you can settle in and rest up for the occasion. Spend the weekend on the beach, enjoy some authentic coastal cuisine and explore the Intracoastal Waterway.

Another perfect reason to choose the Brunswick Islands for your eclipse getaway is the Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach, where visitors can gain in-depth knowledge about the eclipse in advance of the event. The planetarium offers a state-of-the-art 85-seat SciDome Sky Theater, where visitors can view awe-inspiring and educational shows about space exploration and astronomy. Throughout the summer, the planetarium is hosting a special ECLIPSE: 2017 show at the theater, Monday-Friday at 11:00 a.m., highlighting the history and novelty of the incredible event. The expert staff at the Ingram Planetarium is prepared to equip all visitors with the knowledge and enthusiasm necessary to fully appreciate The Great American Solar Eclipse. Be sure to stop by the Galaxy Gift Shop at the Ingram Planetarium for your protective eye glasses –  a must-have for viewing the eclipse!

To plan your getaway to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

Fall in Love with Nature in the Brunswick Islands

February is the month of love, but visitors and locals can fall in love with North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands year-round, including its stunning nature and coastal beauty. Whether spotting dolphins from the sand or birdwatching in the marshes, the nature of the Brunswick Islands is sure to take your breath away. Plan your next date with the outdoors with one of these scenic adventures.

Sun, Sand and Surf
The Brunswick Islands’ 45 miles of beaches are filled with opportunities for amazing nature sightings. Take a morning stroll and spot sand dollars and other unique shells along the shore, or go for a bike ride at low tide and watch for dolphins playing in the waves. In the fall and winter months, watching the sun rise and set over the ocean is an incredible view on the Brunswick Islands’ south-facing beaches. No matter the time of year, beachgoers in search of natural beauty won’t be disappointed.

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Walk (or float!) on the Wild Side
Discover a different side of the barrier islands with the Intracoastal Waterway and the area’s vast ecosystem of salt marshes, creeks and estuaries. Find some of the best kayaking, paddle boarding and more in the region where salt water meets fresh, home to crabs, oysters, fish, shrimp, skates and even dolphins. Nature preserves and parks throughout the Brunswick Islands provide additional outdoor spaces to spot wildlife and unique plants. Or try a swamp boat eco-tour for an up close look at a cypress swamp.

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Shell-ebrate Miracles
For a truly heartwarming experience from July through October, watch baby sea turtles make their way to the ocean in their first moments of life outside their eggs. Thanks to an abundance of trained volunteers and the sanctuaries throughout the Brunswick Islands, the nests are observed and tended to so the community can be educated on the importance of the protection of this endangered species. Visitors along the beach at night can see this natural miracle for themselves, and watch as volunteers monitor the hatching process and guide the baby turtles to the ocean, where they can live for up to 50 years or more.

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Birds of a Feather
NC’s Brunswick Islands is home to eight sites along the North Carolina Birding Trail. The Islands’ prime location and varied ecosystems make it a haven for birds, and over 330 species have been spotted in Brunswick County. From the majestic bald eagle to the spectacular painted bunting, nature lovers are in for a treat. For a full list of the NC Birding Trail sites in the Brunswick Islands and the species often seen at each site, visit http://www.ncbrunswick.com/activity/brunswick-bird-watching-mainland.

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Out of This World
For a unique take on some other-worldly nature, visit the Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach. The state-of-the-art planetarium has an 85-seat SciDome Sky Theater with high definition digital protection and surround-sound system where visitors can learn about the universe around them. The theater shows educational programs about space exploration and astronomy, along with laser music shows. Explore the interactive exhibits in the Paul Dennis Science Hall for fun, hands-on learning.

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To learn more about nature exploration in the Brunswick Islands, and to plan your trip, visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

 

Discover the Museums of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Beyond the beautiful beach scenery, the Brunswick Islands hold a rich history, which guests can experience with a visit to the area’s museums. With history dating as far back as the colonial times and tales of pirates, visitors can explore the fascinating, in-depth past of the islands and coastal communities. Not only does the Brunswick Islands offer a great place for visitors to enjoy the beaches and sunshine, but a trip to coast can also be educational! Be sure to add these museums to your Brunswick Islands itinerary:

Fort Johnston – Southport Museum & Visitors Center:

Fort Johnston in Southport was built by the British in 1748. The fort was used to protect the region from the Spanish and French attacks during King George’s War. It served as the oldest active-duty fort in the United States after 250 years of federal service and was conveyed to the city of Southport in 2006. Today, visitors can explore the museum with an official tour guide or take a self-guided tour. Don’t miss the Safe Haven exhibit with memorabilia from when the movie was filmed in Southport. fort-johnston

Ingram Planetarium:

Visitors looking for more of an out-of-this-world museum experience can check out the Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach. This state-of-the-art planetarium has an 85-seat SciDome Sky Theater with high definition digital protection and surround-sound system. The theater shows educational programs about space exploration and astronomy, along with laser music shows. Explore the interactive exhibits in the Paul Dennis Science Hall for fun, hands-on learning. dsc_9509_sunset-beach_planitarium_lr

Museum of Coastal Carolina:

The Museum of Coastal Carolina on Ocean Isle Beach is North Carolina’s only natural history museum located on a barrier island. The museum showcases the unique coastal ecosystem of the Brunswick Islands and features the Southeast’s largest dry aquarium, collections of sea shells, shark jaws, wildlife dioramas and a Touch Tank with live sea stars, sea urchins and other animals. Young explorers will also love digging in the fossil pit for shark teeth. dsc_0010_oib_touch-tank_wm

North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport:

The North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport tells the story of the Cape Fear region and the people of its past and present. Exhibits provide a detailed history of pirates, shipwrecks, and the area’s extensive nautical history. The museum offers educational programs for both children and adults, making it enjoyable for all ages.mmsign

Old Brunswick County Jail Museum:

The Old Brunswick County Jail, built in 1904, has been maintained to keep its original form and serves as a museum open to the public. The two-story jail, which was used until 1971 before a new jail was constructed, has a runabout and two cells, which visitors can view on guided or self-guided tours. Visitors can also take a glimpse of the graffiti drawn by prisoners on the second floor. img_0523

Sunset Beach Swing Bridge & Museum:

The historic Sunset Beach swing bridge and tender house that linked the island to the mainland from 1958-2011, now rests in an area shaded by oak trees to serve as a museum and public gathering place. Locals thought that they would be saying goodbye to the swing bridge, but volunteers and the Old Bridge Preservative Society saved it from demolition. The tender house is now open to visitors and displays artifacts from the Blockade Runner Vesta, which ran aground on Sunset Beach. old-sb-bridge-horizontal-2

Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson Historic Site:

Brunswick Town was a pre-Revolutionary port located on the Cape Fear River that was destroyed by British Troops in 1776 and never rebuilt. Fort Anderson was constructed during the Civil War at the same site as the old village to defend the river and north toward Wilmington. What remains of Brunswick Town and the fort is now one of North Carolina’s historic sites and a working archaeological site. Visitors can view displays and audiovisuals about its history, as well as explore outdoor trails along the ruins of the fort.img_5863_tonemapped

Smith Island Museum of History:

Smith Island Museum of History is located on the grounds of Old Baldy Lighthouse on Bald Head Island and is a replica of an 1850s lighthouse keeper’s cottage.img_3467

When planning your visit to the museums in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, be sure to check the hours, which vary by season. To learn more, visit http://www.ncbrunswick.com/fun_and_adventure/heritage_museums.

Fall in Love with the Sunrises and Sunsets in NC’s Brunswick Islands

in our southernmost corner of North Carolina, one of the South’s most intriguing natural phenomena occurs every fall through winter.

Named one of “10 Incredible Phenomena You Have to See in Fall” by Weather.com, the beaches of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands have the rare distinction of running east-west as they parallel the shore. Beginning in late fall, this orientation means that you can sit on Oak Island, Caswell Beach, Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach or Holden Beach and watch IMG_4655both the sunrise and sunset without having to move your beach chair.

What’s the reason for the natural phenomenon and why does it only occur late fall through early spring?  To find the answer, we went to the experts – the folks who are on a first-name basis with the stars at the Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach.

The short answer, according to Ingram Planetarium manager Edward Ovsenik, is that, “Because our beaches are generally oriented to face south and since the sun is far enough south in the late fall through early spring, the sun appears to both rise and set over the ocean off our shoreline.”

But, why can’t you see the same thing in the summer, you ask?

“We say the sun rises in the East and sets in the West but this only occurs exactly in the East and exactly in the West at the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes, said Edward, who added, “When you think of the Earth revolving around the sun, the axis is tilted. As the Earth moves around the sun, the sun appears to move north and south of the equator by quite a number of degrees. At the Equinoxes the Sun is positioned over the Equator.  At the summer solstice, the sun is as far north as possible. However, in fall, winter and early spring, the sun is so far south of the equator that it rises not in the east, but southeast, and sets not in the west, but southwest.”

Ingram PlanetDSC_9509_Sunset Beach_Planitarium_LRarium in Sunset Beach strives to stimulate interest in and a broader understanding of our earth, our solar system and our universe. The Planetarium even hosts star shows, laser music shows and programs about astronomy, science and space exploration throughout the year.

When you visit this fall aIMG_0100 cnd winter, take the sunrise/sunset challenge at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Wake up early in the morning and experience the vibrant colors of the expanding sun as it climbs higher and higher, awakening the sky with every inch of radiance. Or, capture the last glimpses of daylight as the last effervescent tones of the sun expand over the vast horizon – all in the same day.

We are confident you won’t want to miss this bucket-list activity for it is one of the most scenic fall-nomena this season.