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

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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.

Spring Break Road Trip: Top 5 Reasons NC’s Brunswick Islands is Guaranteed to Put Some Spring in your Step!

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by the time Spring Break rolls around, most of us are suffering from a serious case of Spring Fever and are more than ready to Get. Out. Side!

It is also a perfect time for families, who maybe haven’t seen each other since the Holidays, to reconnect.  If you had to pick a central Spring Break gathering point for relatives spread up and down the east coast, and let’s not forget that uncle in Ohio, you couldn’t do better than North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands!    Centrally located on the East Coast, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are an easy, almost equidistant drive from population power houses Washington, DC (6 h 37 min) and Atlanta, GA (6 h 1 min).  Ohio clocks in at 9.5 hours, which doesn’t deter folks as every Spring and Summer, SUVs sporting OH plates peak out beneath the beach houses.

Now that you know how easy it is to get here, take a look at these wonderful ways to spend your NC beach vacation once you’ve arrived!

  1. Uncrowded Beaches

DSC_8627_RetouchedForty-five miles of uncrowded beaches on 5 barrier islands await vacationers at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.  There’s plenty of room to roam and spread out. While the kids splash around, bask in the sun and crack open that book you’ve been dying to read. Without the commercialism of typical spring break destinations, it is so much easier to truly relax and unwind. You won’t find the partiers or view-blocking high rise hotels here. Instead, enjoy pristine sand and natural rolling dunes for miles and miles.

       2. Outdoor Adventure

Swamp Park IMG_9365Bring out your wild side and experience new adventures. Zip through untouched swamp land at Ocean Isle’s new Shallotte River Swamp Park, which features a sustainable zipline course that navigates through a 300-year-old swamp and cypress canopy. Enjoy water-based action in the ocean, rivers and Intracoastal Waterway including canoeing, kayaking, wind sailing, paddle boarding, surfing and fishing. For those who prefer to stay grounded, enjoy a slow-paced stroll down one of the many piers or beaches, or explore the many parks and nature preserves our area has to offer.

  1. History & Museums

DSC_6132_LIGHTHOUSE COUPLECulture and history buffs alike will have plenty to keep their minds sharp this spring break. The state’s oldest standing lighthouse, Old Baldy, on Bald Head Island has stood over North Carolina’s coast for hundreds of years.  Oak Island Lighthouse on Caswell Beach was once the brightest lighthouse in the country. Now, both lighthouses are landmarks beckoning visitors to enjoy the breathtaking views from the top. This spring, you won’t want to miss the Museum of Coastal Carolina, the Southeast’s largest dry aquarium; or the North Carolina Maritime Museum, which gives families insight into tales of pirates and pillage, blockade running, riverfront archaeology, and other nautical adventures. The fun doesn’t stop there, as our islands offer an abundance of museums and historic sites to explore!

  1. Live Like a Local

Oak Island Vacation Rental HomeDive into the rich and relaxing culture of island life by renting a house for the week and enjoy the perks of being able to walk out the front door and onto the beach. Later, enjoy dinner by sampling the local flavors of the coastal area. Our local fishermen harvest a variety of top-quality seafood, including shrimp, blue crabs, grouper, flounder, oysters and clams. In addition, our picturesque Southern small towns offer family-owned, one-of-a-kind restaurants, galleries and shops to make the area one of the best North Carolina vacation destinations.

  1. Spring and Easter Events

The Spring Art Show kicks off the season on March 1 and runs through March 20 in Southport with paintings, pottery and more by local and other NC artists.  Over Easter Weekend, egg hunts and Easter events will keep you hopping from one end of the Brunswick Islands to the other. Then, in April, celebrate parrot-head-style at Phlock to the Beach with a weekend of Jimmy Buffett inspired high spirited fun and the Oak Island Lighthouse 5K, 10K & Half Marathon.  At the end of April, Days at the Docks features food, fun, arts and music on Holden Beach.

Carving Memories in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

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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!

Calabash: From shore to skillet

Calabash Seafood

“Good Night Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are…”

 

Fans of classic television and radio will remember star Jimmy Durante and this infamous phrase, but not many know its connection to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

Legend has it that while visiting Calabash, Durante was feeling a bit under the weather. A local restaurateur offered to fix him something to make him feel better. When she did, he told her he’d make her famous, and from that day forward, he closed each and every show with this tribute!

Fast forward to today and Mr. Durante would be right at home –  still delighted to find delectable shrimp, clams, fish and oysters coated in a light batter, quickly fried to lock in freshness and served up in very generous portions!  This is dining Calabash-style, and the reason the town has earned the title of IMG_2776editSeafood Capital of the World!”  Restaurants from coast to coast have tried to replicate the style, but there is nothing like the experience of enjoying it in its home town of Calabash.

As you drive down to the docks that lin
e the Calabash River, restaurant after restaurant beckons – family-owned and each holding their secret recipes tight! Enjoy a bucket of oysters, platter of Calabash shrimp, crab, flounder and even a full menu for land lubbers, if you must.

Check out this list of dining options that any foodie or seafood aficionado will appreciate:

Beck’s Restaurant

Calabash Seafood Hut

Capt. John’s Seafood House

Capt. Nance Seafood

Dockside Seafood House

Ella’s of Calabash

The Boundary House

Insider Tip: After a filling meal of local Calabash seafood, a stroll along the docks is the perfect way to walk off those generous portions.