Celebrate July 4th with Family Fun and Fireworks in NC’s Brunswick Islands

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If you plan on being in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands for the Fourth of the July holiday week, you’ll be in for a treat! The weather is warm, the days are long and sunny, and the sandy shores are awaiting your arrival and there is an abundance of festivities to celebrate all weekend-long.

IMG_2023The North Carolina 4th of July Festival in Southport, founded over 200 years ago, is one of the most historic celebrations in America. More than 50,000 people gather to commemorate the nation’s independence for several days full of family and fireworks. To kick off the week’s festivities, the pre-festival fun starts early at Waterfront Park on Bay Street with a Freedom 5K and 1-mile fun run on June 25 at 8 a.m. All ages are invited to participate in this family event.

Head over to Oak Island on July 1 for a family Beach Day of relaxation and entertainment. The celebration includes endless activities like sand sculpture building, volleyball, corn hole, bocce ball, and horseshoe tournaments. The fun continues into the evening with live entertainment and anniversary fireworks. Beach Day begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 9 p.m. with fireworks at the Oak Island Pier.

OIB July 4 golf cart parade 2For Sunday evening celebrations on July 3, be sure to get a spot at Ocean Isle Beach by 9 p.m. as the community sets off fireworks from the pier.  Ocean Isle Beach’s golf cart and bicycle parade starts at 10 a.m. on July 4th at the Museum of Carolina.

Attend Southport’s daytime July 4th celebrations with North Carolina’s most patriotic 4th of July Parade. Beginning at 11 a.m., the streets of Southport are filled with a variety of over 120 floats and cars, along with live music, concessions and a boat raffle. It’s not Independence Day without fireworks, and Southport lights up the sky with the best of them! At 9 p.m., crowds line the waterfront and boats anchor in the harbor to watch the spectacular display to commemorate America’s birthday.

Calabash will celebrate the 4th with fireworks on the riverfront and entertainment by Gary Lowder and the Smokin Hot Band. Festivities start at 6 p.m.

It’s no wonder the islands are a popular spot for July 4th and all summer long, offering a number of events for locals and visitors to make the most out of their holiday weekend by the beach. Plan your stay around these events! For more information on festivals and activities for the Fourth of July in NC’s Brunswick Islands, please visit our calendar of events.

The Inside Scoop!

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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 two 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. 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, Leaky Tiki’s 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 Banana Boat Landing (Southport), 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 on NC’s Brunswick Islands!

Island Hop without a Passport in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

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with five barrier islands, island hopping is a must when exploring North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands this summer! Located in the southernmost corner of North Carolina, the islands of Brunswick County are strung together with forty-five miles of silken coastline.

Graced with sunny, secluded beaches away from high-rises and crowds, each island provides its own unique character, charm and activities. Here, beaches are perfect for family vacations, reunions, weddings, surfers, nature enthusiasts, and golf getaways, and each island has something different to offer its visitors. It is impossible to pick a favorite, so vacationers should visit them all!

Sunset Beach

Old BridgeStart your island hop on the southernmost island at Sunset Beach for a peaceful and relaxing experience. You will find this island top of the list for a quiet and quintessential beach town as residents are passionate about preservation. Take a mile walk from the last beach access south to Bird Island and the Kindred Spirit Mailbox to learn about sand dune wildlife and experience the habitats of the beautiful coastal preserve. Don’t forget to also tour the Old Sunset Bridge Museum, home to the last pontoon swing bridge on the East Coast!

Ocean Isle

Next hop over to the seven miles of Ocean Isle Beach, where you will find something for every generation! Stroll along the shoreline, scan for signs of sea turtles or catch a wave with private or group surf lessons. To experience sea life with a life-size diorama and touch tank make a visit to The Museum of Coastal Carolina. If you are feeling adventurous, try ziplining through a 300-year-old swamp cypress canopy at The Shallotte River Swamp Park, which is a challenging and thrilling adventure for all ages!

Holden Beach

DSC_7135_HOLDEN BEACH BRIDGENamed one of the best family beaches in the U.S. by National Geographic Traveler magazine and voted one of the top 10 beaches by USA Today readers, Holden Beach is your ideal destination for small town charm. Cruise along the Intracoastal Waterway by kayak and enjoy a day “downtown” with lunch at one of the several restaurant decks overlooking the waterway and the many shrimp boats that call Holden Beach home. In this wildlife haven, your family will enjoy spotting dolphins and playfully chasing ghost crabs with flashlights in the evening.

Oak Island

Ten miles of uncrowded beaches with more than 60 access points, two fishing piers, two marinas and three public boat and canoe ramps makes the town of Oak Island a perfect stop. You will have just as much fun touring the town on bicycles with bells DSC_2743_CASWELL_LRand baskets while eating ice-cream as you will in the water! Include your four-legged family members as Oak Island is one of the top dog friendly beaches in the country according to Dog Fancy magazine.  Sharing the same island, Caswell Beach is a quiet, laid-back beach that is also convenient to the shops and restaurants of Oak Island.  Standing sentinel over its uncrowded mostly residential shores is the Oak Island Lighthouse, a tri-colored beacon reaching about 16 nautical miles offshore. Make an appointment in advance to schedule a climb to the top.

Bald Head Island

Finish off your island hop by secluding yourself from reality at Brunswick’s resort-style, no-cars-allowed, Bald Head Island, only reachable by ferry. Explore the unspoiled natural surroundings hiking, biking or by golf-cart. Bald Head Island is an eco-lover’s paradise with 10,000 acres of nature preserves and extraordinary wildlife. North Carolina’s oldest lighthouse, “Old Baldy,” and Smith Island Museum are favorite attractions for the vacationers!

There are a variety of accommodations for every stop on your island hopping adventure, so start booking your vacation today!

Brunswick Islands Sunrise/Sunset Photo Contest Winners

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along the shores of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, one of the South’s most stunning natural phenomena occurs every fall through winter. Named one of “10 Incredible Phenomena You Have to See in Fall” by Weather.com, our islands have the unique characteristic of running east-west along the coastline with our beaches facing south. Beginning in late fall, this orientation means you can sit on Oak Island, Caswell Beach, Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach or Holden Beach and watch both the sunrise and sunset over the ocean without having to move your beach chair!

Whatever the time of year, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands features some of the best sunrises and sunsets you’ll experience anywhere.  And no more proof is necessary to highlight this fact than the numerous entries in our first ever Sunrise/Sunset Facebook Photo Contest.  With such a large number of exceptional photos to consider, it was difficult to select four finalists!

Congratulations to our grand prize winner and recipient of a $100 Visa Gift Card and North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands beach towel, Donna Cone.  Donna captured this moment from the shores of Ocean Isle Beach.  Donna’s vibrant sunrise shot received the most likes during the Facebook contest.  For Donna “there is no better time than rising early before others are out to catch a gorgeous ocean sunrise. Truly a spectacular sight.”

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Ilona Miskell’s “Sunset at the Dock” shot on Ocean Isle Beach in September received second place honors. Her entry of a tranquil marsh sunset earns her a North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands rolling cooler and beach towel. Ilona told us that her son asked “Mom, don’t you think you have enough sunset pictures.”  She replied “Never!” She adds that “I feel like its a gift at the end of a splendid day.”

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Kelly Clemmons’ gorgeous shot of sunset captured from along the tide’s edge on Sunset Beach earns her third place honors and a North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands beach towel and hat.

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Shot on Sunset Beach, the wistful and artistic “Child’s Play at Sunset” submitted by Rochelle Aycoth rounds out our 4 top photos.  Rochelle believes “The Brunswick Islands offer the most unspoiled beaches around. The sunsets, especially heading into the fall, are particularly breathtaking.”  Rochelle will receive a North Carolina’s beach towel for her entry.

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Once again, congratulations to our four fabulous finalists!  And thank you to everyone who participated in the contest. Our random prize winner from all entrants is Stephanie Hogston, who wins a rolling cooler. Stephanie submitted a sunset shot from Oak Island.  Our random voter winner is Jeff Broughton who wins a North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands beach towel.

On your next Brunswick Islands visit, be sure to bring your camera and capture those amazing sunrises and sunsets. Who knows, you might be the winner of our next contest.

 

Find Maritime Merriment Along North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

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this holiday season, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands invites you to grab your family, hop in the car and pop in that Beach Boys Christmas album on your way to a coastal yuletide getaway. The holidays may be known for snow, sweaters and stockings, but that doesn’t mean your season can’t also be filled with sun, surf and sand.

While celebrating Christmas around palm trees, the ocean, and aquatic sea life might be unusual for many visitors, the locals of our islands know how to get into the holiday spirit even without the presence of snow. Let the locals be your guide as they bring on the Christmas cheer with an abundance of holiday festivities. Each of our islands and towns ring in the season with its own unique set of celebrations.

Oak Island awaIMG_9316 fb southportits the arrival of Little Saint Nick with the annual Christmas by the Sea Parade, held on the first Saturday in December. The parade travels 2.4 miles from Oak Island Town Hall to McGlamery Street. For a truly maritime take on a Christmas parade, the Ocean Isle Beach Flotilla and Southport Christmas Flotilla illuminate the Intracoastal Waterway and Cape Fear River with a parade of beautifully decorated sailboats and power boats of all shapes and sizes.

Historic Downtown Southport spreads the spirit of the season with Winterfest, a four-day Christmas celebration with a uniquely southern charm. Winterfest features a craft festival along with other exciting holiday events.

With so many events to choose from, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands caters to all ages and beckons you to escape the temptations of typical mainland festivities. This winter, shake up the season and make the coast a must-visit holiday destination!

For a complete list of our Christmas parades, tree lightings and other festivities, please visit the calendar of events.  And if you don’t make it to the Brunswick Islands for Christmas, it’s also a great place to unwind after the holidays and to ring in the new year!