Top Reasons to Get Up Early in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

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It can be tempting to hit the snooze button while on vacation, but with plenty of morning activities and scrumptious breakfast dishes to enjoy, early wake up calls have never been more satisfying in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands! From appreciating the soothing sounds of the ocean to perusing the local outdoor markets to sampling delicious breakfast treats, the Brunswick Islands offers several opportunities to make the most out of your mornings.

For one-of-a kind finds, check out our list below for some amazing morning activities and dishes to inspire visitors to rise and shine:

Sunrise on the Beach

The sunset gets its fair share of hype, but choosing to wake up at daybreak is when you find some of the most peaceful sights in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. With 45 miles of beaches, there are plenty of opportunities to sit back and relax while you catch the sunrise. Start your morning off right by taking a scenic beach walk and appreciating the beautiful sunrise in the Brunswick Islands.

Blueberry Pancakes at The Purple Onion Café

Satisfy your sweet tooth with a stack of oversized, hot-off-the griddle pancakes at The Purple Onion Café in Shallotte. The Purple Onion has been a community favorite since 2004, serving visitors and locals breakfast and lunch. Stop in for traditional breakfast items along with blueberry pancakes. These fluffy blueberry pancakes are packed with tart blueberries that are just calling your name!

Fried Chicken and Waffles at Taylor Cuisine and Catering

The historic town of Southport boasts gorgeous scenery, rich heritage and a wide array of culinary options. Taylor Cuisine and Catering has been a Southport staple for 14 years and counting, offering a variety of unique omelets, sweet and savory waffles and much more. Try a southern staple by ordering their impeccable homemade waffles served with crispy fried chicken. It’s sure to leave your taste buds craving more! Taylor Cuisine and Catering invites guests to revel in their timeless, southern breakfasts that resemble Grandma’s old-fashioned home-cooked recipes.

Outdoor Markets

Get a head start on your day and discover the unique treasures featured at any of the Outdoor Markets located in the Brunswick Islands. The Outdoor Markets take place in Southport, Ocean Isle Beach, Sunset Beach, Oak Island and Shallotte. They feature a large variety of fresh baked goods, local produce, handcrafted art and jewelry and much more. Show up ready to shop till you drop and discover all the handcrafted goodies and yummy treats around the Brunswick Islands. The Outdoor Markets are open on different days of the week at various times, so be sure to visit www.ncbrunswick.com/events for additional information.

Sunrise Omelet at Sunrise Pancake House

Nationally known for its seafood, Calabash is also home to one of the best ways to start your day. Boasting some of the tastiest breakfast creations in town, start your day at the Sunrise Pancake House. This family owned spot offers visitors and locals a variety of delicious breakfast and lunch items, including a tasty Sunrise Omelet that consists of ham, potatoes, onions and cheese topped with diced tomatoes.

Sunday Brunch at Shagger Jacks

No Sunday is complete without brunch, and Shagger Jacks in Oak Island is a great place to enjoy a hearty meal with family and friends. Guests can enjoy all the unique offerings like the Hippy Chick Granola, made from a local conveyor, and brunch favorites including the Island Spiced French Toast. This dish invites guests to enjoy spiced rustic white bread topped with coconut rum infused syrup, fried plantains and bacon. Need we say more!

Seashells by the Seashore

Enjoy a peaceful beach walk in the morning as you search for a loads of beautiful seashells. Make your way to the shores early in the morning for first pick of a great variety of shells strewn across the beach. But before you take home your treasures, make sure that there are no living creatures occupying the shell! Some examples of area treasures waiting to be discovered are Angel Wings, Olives, True Tulips, Sand Dollars and Scallops.

scallop shells

Eggs Charleston at the Backstreet Café

Nestled on the southern tip of the Brunswick Islands lies Sunset Beach, home of the Backstreet Café. Visitors can settle in and savor the “Eggs Charleston,” an elevated take on Eggs Benedict. For this dish, Backstreet Café replaces Canadian bacon with authentic crab cakes drizzled in hollandaise sauce, topped with perfectly poached eggs and served over an English muffin. A choice of ground grits, fresh fruit or crispy hash browns completes this breakfast masterpiece.

Classic Combos at Mainstreet Grill

Are you more of a classic breakfast lover? If so, the classic combos at Mainstreet Grill are a must have for your taste buds! Located just minutes from the beach in Holden Beach, the Mainstreet Grill offers locals and visitors a causal dining experience with fresh and local food from farmers and fishermen in the area. Be sure to stop in and try any of the classic combos, served with eggs, toast or a biscuit, your choice of bacon, sausage links or sausage patty and either hash browns, home fries or grits. You also have the option to add buttermilk pancakes.

Avocado Smash at Drift

Millennials may be behind the avocado craze, but with all the health benefits you get from the fruit, there’s no wonder avocado dishes are a crowd favorite! Spoil your taste buds and get your caffeine fix at Drift in Ocean Isle Beach. For an unforgettable breakfast with a healthy twist, try the Matcha Latte and the Avocado Smash. Ripe smashed avocados are served on organic 21-grain toast and topped with crunchy pumpkin seeds, an almond peppercorn blend and extra virgin olive oil. This can’t miss treat is a must for early risers. Drift offers guests unique coffees, fresh fruits and handmade pastries served in a relaxed and friendly environment.

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Now that you have enjoyed the most important meal of the day, spend the rest of your time adventuring around the six barrier islands, 45 miles of beautiful beaches and the quaint coastal towns. Didn’t see your favorite breakfast dish? Check out all the delicious culinary options and waterfront dining experiences in North Carolina’s Brunswick islands! For more information on activities and dishes to experience on your next vacation to the Brunswick Islands, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

10 Scrumptious Shrimp Dishes to Enjoy on National Shrimp Day

National Shrimp Day

Known for its rich shrimping and fishing heritage and abundance of seafood restaurants, there is no better place to celebrate National Shrimp Day than in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands! On National Shrimp Day – or any other day – be sure to try some of these delicious, fresh seafood dishes for yourself.

Check out some of our favorite local shrimp dishes below!

1. Shrimp & Grits – Cape Fear Seafood Company (Leland)

Shrimp and grits is a staple offering at any Southern seafood restaurant and the Cape Fear Seafood Company in Leland takes this classic coastal dish to a new level. With fresh caught Carolina shrimp, applewood bacon, tomatoes, scallions and mushrooms in a low country cream sauce over cheesy grits, Cape Fear’s shrimp and grits is a perfect choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner on National Shrimp Day!

2. Shrimp Burger – Provision Company (Holden Beach)

If you’re looking for a true culinary experience to try on National Shrimp Day, check out the shrimp burger at Provision Company on Holden Beach. This delectable dish puts a spin on your standard burger with a patty made with grilled shrimp and topped with lettuce, tomato, onions and a creole remoulade sauce on the side.

3. Coconut Shrimp – Fishy Fishy Café (Southport)

Take the boat over to Southport and pull up right at the docks of Fishy Fishy Café where you can enjoy some tasty coconut shrimp, lightly battered and fried and topped with an orange Dijon glaze. Fishy Fishy Café offers tasty seafood with an unbeatable view and lively atmosphere that perfectly encompasses the personality of the Brunswick Islands.

4. Stateline Scampi – The Oyster Rock (Calabash)

If pasta is more your speed, head to The Oyster Rock in Calabash for their Stateline Scampi. This tasty shrimp scampi dish features large Carolina white shrimp sautéed in butter with fresh garlic, local diced tomatoes, white wine and fresh lemon tossed in bucatini pasta and comes with garlic bread and grated parmesan cheese. For a perfect mix of Italian cuisine and delicious Carolina seafood, The Oyster Rock is the spot for you.

5. Sweet & Sour Shrimp – The Fish House Restaurant (Oak Island)

For a creative take on classic fried shrimp recipes, head to The Fish House Restaurant in Oak Island and try their sweet & sour shrimp served with a fresh vegetable medley and your choice of starch. These flavorful morsels are deep fried before being tossed with pineapple and sweet and sour sauce, giving them a tangy, citrusy twist.

National Shrimp Day

6. Firecracker Shrimp – The Boundary House (Calabash)

Add some spice to your National Shrimp Day celebration and help yourself to a heaping portion of firecracker shrimp at The Boundary House restaurant in Calabash. These little guys have a bit of bite as they’re lightly fried and coated in a spicy chili sauce.

7. Stuffed Shrimp – Crabby Oddwaters (Sunset Beach)

Let your taste buds run wild this National Shrimp Day with delicious stuffed Shrimp at Crabby Oddwaters on Sunset Beach. These jumbo shrimp are packed with flavor and flaky crab meat and are baked to perfection, making for a great dish to celebrate this holiday.

8. Cheesy Shrimp and Lobster Artichoke Dip – Wing and Fish Company (Shallotte)

What better way to celebrate National Shrimp Day than with cheesy shrimp and lobster artichoke dip found at the Wing and Fish Company in Shallotte. This tasty dish is loaded with delicious shrimp and lobster folded into a blend of cream and parmesan cheese, spinach and artichoke hearts, and served with fresh baked tortilla chips.

9. Shrimp Étouffée – Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille (Ocean Isle Beach)

Indulge in Shrimp Étouffée this National Shrimp Day, a can’t miss treat found at Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille on Ocean Isle Beach. Enjoy locally caught shrimp simmered in spicy country ham and tomato broth topped with pickled red onion and served with buttered rice and scallions.

10. Traditional Calabash Shrimp (Calabash)

You can’t find a better place to celebrate National Shrimp Day than the Brunswick Islands, home of Calabash, North Carolina, the “Seafood Capital of the World.” Calabash’s title was earned thanks to its namesake cooking technique of lightly battering and frying shrimp, giving it a perfectly crispy outer shell while leaving the inside juicy and buttery. Other places can try to imitate it, but nothing beats the original for this tasty dish. There can be no list of must try shrimp dishes that doesn’t include Calabash-style fried shrimp. To find dishes featuring Calabash-style fried shrimp head to any of the delicious seafood restaurants in town for an authentic Calabash dining experience.  As an added bonus, several of the town’s seafood restaurants feature outdoor, waterfront dining.

National Shrimp Day

These are just a sampling of the many great seafood dishes and restaurants found in the Brunswick Islands. For more information on dinning options, visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

Bottoms Up at these Brunswick Islands Breweries

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Sun, sand and suds have always been the perfect pairing. Coastal breweries have been emerging at a rapid pace in the United States, and in the Brunswick Islands the craft brew scene has surfaced to quench travelers’ cravings. In addition to 45+ miles of uncrowded and unspoiled beaches, the Brunswick Islands have a thriving and unique craft beer scene that is inspired by the unusual elements found along North Carolina’s Coast. Since 2015, three breweries have opened in this idyllic destination each equipped with a unique vision and brews for every taste, palate and preference.

Just in time for National Beer Day on April 7, take a tour of the best Brunswick Islands Brews:

Take Flight at Check Six Brewing Company

The Brunswick Islands’ first brewery, Check Six Brewing Company opened in Southport in 2015. Veterans, Tim Hassel and Noah Goldman opened this family owned and operated aviation themed brewery in 2015. Check Six is a phrase used by fighter pilots to indicate the need to look behind them for enemy aircraft during flight. The Army, Navy and Coast Guard use the phrase “I’ve got your six” to indicate their backup. Hassel and Goldman chose this name to show visitors that they have all guests’ refreshment needs covered.

The brewery features 10 to 12 of Check Six’s own craft beers on tap and offers an array of varieties to please every beer aficionado’s taste preferences, ranging from blonde ales to stouts to IPAs. All labels coincide with the aviation theme, and each brew celebrates America’s rich fighter pilot history. Be sure to check out the Curtiss Jenny Brown Ale. This hoppier American interpretation of Northern English Brown Ales is named after the very popular American trainer airplane that ninety-five percent of all allied pilots learned to fly in WWI. This medium body malty and rich ale has a slightly nutty, toffee-like quality, with hints of chocolate, and a fresh dry-hoped aroma that perfectly complements a long day of fun in the sun.

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Get Funky at 34° North Experiment Station

The founders of the Marietta, Georgia based Red Hare Brewery opened their second craft brewery in Shallotte, North Carolina in April 2018. The founders Roger Davis and Bobby Thomas were intrigued by beers created through wild, spontaneous fermentation. According to Brewbound, “Roger set out to meet the Van Roys of the famed Brasserie Cantillon in Brussels, and to tour the inner-workings of the historic Belgian brewery. Roger was impressed and wanted to capture some the age-old spontaneous fermentation techniques of Cantillon, famous for producing Geuzes, Lambics, and Krieks, which are typical Belgian-style sours.”

After deepening their understanding of these unique brewing methods, they decided to open a second brewery where wild yeast could be captured from the surrounding environment, critical to the sour-brewing method. They found the location that they had been searching for in a 120-year-old historic drug store in the Brunswick Islands! This building off of the Atlantic shore allows for wild yeast and bacteria to float into the brewery off the cool ocean air. This brewery experiments with barrel aging and blending in a variety of fermenting vessels to concoct some radical brews. The 34° North Experiment Station also just happens to be on the same line of longitude as the original brewery in Marietta, Georgia!

red hare brewery

Hang Loose at Makai Brewing Company

Makai Brewing Company is a Hawaiian themed brewery located in Ocean Isle Beach. “Makai” is a Hawaiian word meaning “toward the sea”. Even if you’ve never been to Hawaii, you will still find the spirit of aloha at Makai Brewing. The brewery serves an ever-changing menu of craft beer brewed on premise, such as the popular Carolina Tropical IPA brewed with pineapple and mango, and the Nightingale Coffee Porter brewed with real Kona coffee beans. They even have a board where you can purchase a beer in advance for a friend, stranger or serviceman to enjoy during their next visit to Makai. Adding to the experience, the brewery is uniquely situated beside an Italian market, where you can order a sandwich to enjoy while you sip on your flight or pint!

makai brewing company

Whether you are a craft beer aficionado or new to the local libation scene, the breweries in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are creating special sips that are sure to help visitors relax, recharge and celebrate during their coastal getaway.

For more information on libations in the Brunswick Islands, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com/fun-and-adventure/attractions.

New Year’s Resolutions, Brunswick Islands Style!

New Year's Resolutions sand

Welcome the New Year by trading in post-holiday blues for ocean views in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Those looking to get away while staying on track with their 2019 resolutions can do so with ease in the Brunswick Islands. With countless coastal activities, a vacation to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is sure to keep you active, stress free and maybe even on the path to learning something new. Take a look at some of these common New Year’s resolutions and figure out how you too can stick to them while on a beach getaway to the Brunswick Islands.

Be More Active

Who says staying active can’t also be fun? Here in the Brunswick Islands we are in no short supply of fun, physical activities that the whole family can enjoy! Start with a fun and challenging climb to the top of one of our lighthouses. At 110 feet tall, Old Baldy stands as the oldest lighthouse in North Carolina and a climb to the top is one of the best ways to view scenic Bald Head Island. Or try climbing up the 131 ship ladder steps to the outside balcony of the Oak Island Lighthouse, located just across the way at Caswell Beach.

How about a little more thrill! Head over to The Swamp Park in Ocean Isle Beach. Whether soaring high above the ground on the 2.5-hour Zipline Tour, traversing the Aerial Adventure Park challenge course or taking a daredevil jump off the 50-foot Pelican Dive, there are plenty of ways to get the heart rate going from not only physical activity but also a healthy dose of adrenaline.

Heights not your thing? Try a simpler way to stay active like taking a long walk on the beach to find copious amounts of beautiful shells. Or, break out that bike and take it for a spin along the shore. Don’t have your bike with you? Not a problem. You can rent one from one of many outfitters in the Brunswick Islands.

Bikes

Learn to Relax

Pull up a beach chair, grab a good book and sink into the sand. There is no better way to relieve stress than by relaxing to the sound of the ocean. Studies show that the sights, sounds and smells of the beach help you to slow down and relax.

Or, try taking a reflective walk on Bird Island and stumble upon one of Brunswick Islands’ hidden gems. About a mile and a half from the nearest public access beach point lies the Kindred Spirit Mailbox. Full of notebooks and pens for passersby to leave their thoughts, the Kindred Spirit Mailbox has united wanderlust souls for decades. This is a great place to leave behind any troubles from the past year and to move forward with the next.

And if all else fails you can always relax with a glass (or bottle) of wine at the Silver Coast Winery. Known for their award winning wines, the Silver Coast Winery has been a Brunswick Islands staple since it’s opening in 2002. There is truly no better place to keep your “less stress” resolution than North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

relaxing beach chairs

Pick up a New Hobby

If your New Year’s resolution is to learn a new skill or hobby, well North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is the place for you. Whether you are looking to pick up a new sport or improve on a coastal classic, the Brunswick Islands has it all.

Let’s say your resolution is to take a few strokes off your golf game. With over 30 premier golf courses and countless helpful golf pros, you will be playing like a pro in no time. Or if golf isn’t your thing, try picking up a fishing pole and casting a line. From a boat, shore or pier, you are bound to catch not only dinner, but a love of the craft.

Gnarly dude! Ever look out into the waves and wonder what it would be like to surf like the pros? Well now you don’t have to. With the help of our seasoned professionals you will be hanging ten in no time! Or if you want a tamer option, try stand up paddle boarding or kayaking. Not only is great exercise and relaxing, but it will have you back out on the water time and time again.

surfing resolutions

Don’t let the fear of breaking your New Year’s resolutions stop you from taking a beach vacation! Not only do the Brunswick Islands allow for you to participate in your resolutions, but they let you thrive at them. For more information on the Brunswick Islands, check out www.ncbrunswick.com.

Seven Reasons to Shellabrate the North Carolina Oyster Festival

NC Oyster Festival

October marks the start of Oyster Season in North Carolina, and the Brunswick Islands is the place to revel in and enjoy this tasty treat. North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is the site of the state’s official oyster celebration, and the Annual North Carolina Oyster Festival returns to Ocean Isle Beach for its 38th year October 20-21, 2018. Check out our list of seven reasons to stop by and shellabrate at the North Carolina Oyster Festival!

1.Two Days to Experience

With so many things to do, explore and eat, the North Carolina Oyster Festival offers two days to experience the exciting and action-packed event. Visitors can swing by from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 20 and from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 21 for a shell of a good time.

NC Oyster Festival Oyster Stew Cook-off

2. Friendly and Flavorful Competition

The festival hosts several opportunities for a little friendly competition. Whether guests are looking to shag, shuck or stuff their faces, the North Carolina Oyster Festival has something for everyone. Festival-goers can enter the shag dance competition, oyster eating contest and oyster shucking contest. For even more festive flavor, attendees can buy a ticket to taste one of the delicious dishes prepared by local restaurants for the oyster stew cook-off.

3. Countless Local Arts and Crafts Vendors

The North Carolina Oyster Festival is not just a food festival, it is an arts and crafts extravaganza. The event brings in the best in fine art and crafts from around the area. Attendees can explore rows of vendors offering the best in handmade jewelry, painted glassware, hand-blown Christmas ornaments, natural soaps, jams, handcrafted clothing items, woodcraft, unique cuisines and more.

4. Plenty of Palate Pleasing Eats

While fried and steam oysters do hold the spotlight during this two-day seafood celebration, festival-goers can also sample an array of delicious eats. From crab cakes and BBQ to pizza and sweet treats, the North Carolina Oyster Festival features food for every palate.

NC Oyster Festival

5. Loads of Live Music and Entertainment

Music is an essential part of any great outdoor festival and every year the North Carolina Oyster Festival brings exceptional entertainers to the stage. Bring your beach chair and enjoy an incredible lineup of popular beach bands, cover artists and country music. This year’s lineup includes Wayne Stewart & September Rain; Chocolate Chip & Company; Trey Calloway; Tina Smith; and The Tim Clark Band.

6. Tastes of North Carolina History

The annual festival is undoubtedly about great food and a great time, but it is important to remember just why the mighty mollusk deserves a dedicated event. The oyster has been an important food source in coastal communities for thousands of years, and oyster harvesting has long been a big industry for North Carolina. While oyster harvesting recently experienced a decline, restoration and hatchery programs have helped protect this storied industry and preserve production of this coastal culinary staple.

7. Budget-Friendly for Every Itinerary

Admission to the two-day festival is $5.00 (cash only) for adults with no admission cost for children under 12, making it an easy addition to every travel itinerary. Bring your family to the Brunswick Islands to experience this North Carolina tradition!

For more information on the 38th Annual North Carolina Oyster Festival, visit www.ncbrunswick.com/event/north-carolina-oyster-festival-ocean-isle-beach-nc.  For more information about other events throughout the Brunswick Islands, visit our calendar of events.