5 Reasons to Host a Beach Feast this Thanksgiving

thanksgiving

Everyone loves a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, but it is no secret that coordinating the annual feast can be one massive feat. This year step away from the pressure of holiday cooking and create new traditions with family and friends in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands! Replace the roasted turkey with fresh seafood and celebrate Thanksgiving at the beach. Families can switch up their travel plans with a little bit of sun, sand and surf to enjoy the ultimate Turkey Day getaway. From one-of-a kind experiences to remarkable waterfront dining, there are many reasons to celebrate Thanksgiving with all the trimmings in NC’s Brunswick Islands.

1. Giving Thanks for Nature’s Beauty

Occurring every fall, NC’s Brunswick Islands invites visitors to experience a unique, natural phenomenon that takes place on the coast. Due to a combination of the Earth’s rotation and the Brunswick Islands’ east-west orientation, the phenomenon allows beachgoers to experience the sunset and sunrise over the ocean without ever moving their beach chairs. With fall in full swing, there is no better time to witness an awe-inspiring sunrise in the morning and absorb the last glimpse of daylight as the sun sets into the vibrant horizon.

sunrise

2. Spacious Beaches for the Whole Family

With the whole family gathered, you’ll need plenty of room on the beach for football and sandcastles. Trade in the changing foliage for changing tides and experience more beach for your blanket. The daytime temperatures in NC’s Brunswick Islands average in the high 60°s in November, so it is still mild enough for beaching. Visitors can enjoy building sandcastles, reeling in the catch of the day, searching for washed up shells or just sitting and relaxing on the beach, all without breaking a sweat. 

sunset beach

3. More House for More Family

Thanksgiving is all about bringing the whole family together! With NC’s Brunswick Islands being a great central location to many larger cities, this destination offers the perfect place for families to reconnect for the holidays. Thanksgiving is one of the best times to take advantage of the seasonally discounted rates on vacation rentals, inns and bed and breakfasts. Visitors can choose from a range of beachfront rental homes, ideal for families of all sizes, with spacious kitchens and plenty of room to celebrate the holiday with stunning coastal views.

vacation home

4. Pet-Friendly Thanksgiving

Don’t leave your dogs at home this holiday! Dogs love the feel of sand on their paws and the joy of splashing around in the waves just as much as humans do. Luckily, during the fall and winter months, Brunswick Islands’ beaches have relaxed leash laws. Visitors can book a special pet-friendly rental home, so their furry friends can tag along and enjoy the holiday by their side. Who’s going to eat the left-over table scraps, anyways? Although the pet regulations are more relaxed during the fall and winter, the rules do vary based on the beach. Be sure to check the applicable regulations before heading to the waves to assure yourself, and others, the best beach experience possible.

dog

5. Have a Beach Feast You’ll Never Forget

For those looking to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast without the stress of cooking, you’ll find a range of unique restaurants in NC’s Brunswick Islands. From traditional Calabash-style seafood to international dishes and casual American fare, there are numerous restaurants around the area that will please everyone in the family’s palate. Rather than slaving over a hot stove this fall, indulge in delicious local meals bursting with flavor while you take in picturesque waterfront vistas. You don’t have to worry about missing out on your favorite Thanksgiving dishes! Several restaurants in the area, including The Boundary House and Ports of Call, will be serving a traditional Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings. And if you want to ditch the cooking but still enjoy a night in, you can pick up your feast from The View at Brick Landing Plantation, Hickory Shaft Bistro, The Purple Onion Café or Causeway Gourmet.

From sunrise to sunset, there are plenty of reasons to be thankful when visiting North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands this holiday season. For more information on what to do, where to stay and how to plan your trip to the Brunswick Islands, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

A Fresh Look at Calabash

Shrimp boats bring fresh seafood to the Calabash waterfront

Outstanding food, beautiful views, and a rich history lead to a memorable dining experience and few places can match Calabash in these attributes, especially for seafood lovers.

For generations, visitors to the Brunswick Islands and surrounding counties have made the trek to Calabash for its world renowned seafood. At first, local fishermen and their families served up fresh seafood straight from the boat right on the banks of the Calabash River. Then in the 1930s, these families opened restaurants near the waterfront serving uniquely delicious, lightly breaded fried seafood. This style of cooking became known as Calabash-style seafood and led to the sleepy fishing village earning the nickname “Seafood Capital of the World.” Other restaurants have tried to imitate the Calabash-style of preparing seafood, but nothing compares to enjoying authentic Calabash seafood where it all originated.

calabash seafood

Even today, shrimp boats still call the Calabash waterfront their home and their daily catch can be purchased fresh from the boats right on the docks. These days, the shrimp boats are joined by fishing charters and head boats providing half day and full day fishing excursions. Not a fisherman? Try a two hour dolphin cruise or a sunset cruise that will delight the whole family! Or simply take in the quiet beauty of a walk on the docks after a perfect meal of shrimp, clams, oysters, fish or scallops. And if you’re there in the early morning or in the evening you’ll be amazed at how the shrimp boat captains deftly maneuver the large boats along side the docks.

Delight Your Taste Buds

Whether you are a tried and true Calabash traditionalist or looking for a contemporary variation, longstanding and new restaurants abound with seafood choices. From a classic Calabash fried seafood platter to signature oyster dishes to the catch of the day served fried, broiled, blackened or sauteed, you’ll be sure to find a dish to dazzle your taste buds along with a friendly atmosphere. Whether you choose a restaurant with a waterfront view or one located “up the hill”, you can’t go wrong. The restaurants of Calabash routinely make the lists of must visit seafood establishments in publications such as Southern Living and Coastal Living. Be sure that Beck’s RestaurantThe Boundary House, Calabash Seafood HutCapt. John’s Seafood HouseCaptain Nance’s SeafoodDockside Seafood HouseElla’s of Calabash, The Oyster Rock or Waterfront Seafood Shack is on your dining list.

Enjoy Calabash seafood with waterfront views

Non-Seafood Offerings

For visitors looking for alternative dining options, Calabash has something that will please every palate! Calabash Gourmet & Sushi Bar offers fresh sushi and sizzling Mongolian fare. Grapevine Restaurant serves up pastas, salads, and seafood with a Mediterranean flair. MMM Que Rico brings the tastes of Peru and Argentina to Calabash. There’s also places serving deli favorites, pizza, southern fare, bagels, hot dogs, burgers and more. If you are in the mood for something sweet, try the delicious ice cream flavors at Calabash Creamery. Its Cow-a-Bash Crunch ice cream was included by USA Today in its list of “50 irresistible ice cream flavors.” Then once you’ve completed your culinary adventure through Calabash, grab a brew at the craft beer bottle shop, Coastal Craft Beverage Co.

Half the fun of vacation is discovering new dining spots to taste culinary creations and local flavors of the area, and if Calabash isn’t on your foodie radar yet, it should be. To explore all of the dining options in Calabash or to plan your trip to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

5 Outstanding Oyster Dishes in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

oyster

I scream, you scream, we all scream for… oysters! Oyster season is upon us here in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands! Serving up classic dishes like Oysters Rockefeller to steamer pots big enough for the whole family, there isn’t a better place to kick off oyster season than in the Brunswick Islands!

From upscale waterfront restaurants to casual, family-friendly eateries to a major festival dedicated to these yummy mollusks, the options for oysters in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are endless!

Check out these five outstanding oyster dishes found in the Brunswick Islands:

1. Pit Roasted Oysters – The Oyster Rock, Calabash

The Oyster Rock is known for many things but most notably is their oysters – I mean it is in the name! They offer a variety of oyster dishes but one of their most popular entrees is the Pit Roasted Oysters. Cooked over a custom outdoor pit, these oysters are served up plump, juicy and piping hot, ready to eat! As an added bonus The Oyster Rock is located on the banks of the Calabash River and has a beautiful outdoor seating section perfect for watching the fishing boats come in.

If you prefer your oysters fried, then stick around Calabash for some authentic Calabash seafood! This unique style of seafood comes lightly breaded and fried to perfection. Get your seafood prepared Calabash style whether it be oysters, shrimp, flounder, scallops or the catch of the day!

2. Steamer’s Pot – Castaways Raw Bar and Grill, Holden Beach

Head on over to Castaways Raw Bar and Grill in Holden Beach for your next oyster feast! This local hot spot is home to many unique, mouthwatering dishes but none more so than the Steamer’s Pot. Made to share, this southern staple consists of oysters, crab legs, clams, mussels, shrimp, corn-on-the-cob, sausages and red potatoes, all steamed together in a pot with Old Bay and herbs. Or, if you want a cooler option try the Seafood Tower! Served on ice, the Seafood Tower is built with little neck clams, mussels, peel-n-eat shrimp, oysters on the half shell and a half pound of crab legs.

3. Oysters Rockefeller – Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille, Ocean Isle Beach

Located on the Ocean Isle Beach Intracoastal Waterway, Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille is a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Nothing can beat the view of a sunset from their outdoor deck, except maybe their food! Jinks Creek serves up a variety of oyster dishes, but if you are looking for a coastal classic then try the Oysters Rockefeller- freshly shucked local oysters topped with pernod cream, chopped farm greens and bacon, oven broiled and served at the perfect steaming temperature!

4. Oyster Toppings – Moore Street Oyster Bar, Southport

Located in what was a 19th century pharmacy in downtown Southport, the Moore Street Oyster Bar has been beautifully transformed into a lively, family-friendly restaurant. Depending on the season, Moore Street Oyster Bar offers a rotating variety of oysters brought in from all over the east coast. Once your oysters are picked then comes the difficult part… choosing the toppings! Moore Street Oyster Bar has six hot oyster dish toppings to choose from and three cold options. And for the oyster lovers 21 and over in the group, try a Moore Street Oyster Bar specialty… The Oyster Shooter! This shooter combines Tito’s Vodka, lemon horseradish ice, house-made hot sauce and a raw oyster! This is one oyster stop you won’t want to skip.

5. Beginner vs Pro Oyster Baskets – Swain Seafood Shack, Oak Island

As the largest of Brunswick County’s barrier islands, Oak Island is home to many incredible dinning options, but one restaurant that comes to mind is the Swain Seafood Shack. With oyster baskets designed for the eager and the hungry, this is the family oyster lovers paradise! The Beginner Baskets serve up 6-7 ounces of fried oysters along side homemade shack chips, hush puppies and coleslaw, where as the Pro Baskets come with a hearty helping of 9-10 ounces of delicious fried oysters!

oysters

From classically coastal dishes to pit roasted oysters to uniquely topped oysters on the half shell, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is serving up the best raw, steamed and fried oysters around! Not convinced? Well then check out the 39th Annual North Carolina Oyster Festival in Ocean Isle Beach on October 19 – 20! This event features live entertainment, an arts and crafts show and a variety of delicious food options, including all the oysters you can eat. And for a little healthy competition, check out the oyster shucking contest, oyster eating contest or the oyster stew cook-off.

For more information on dinning, events and more in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

What’s Roasting in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

coffee

It’s no secret that mornings are improved with a cup of joe in hand. North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is overflowing with many local coffee shops to help kick-start your day and keep you caffeinated during your island getaway! With National Coffee Day quickly approaching on September 29th, there’s no better time to discover the many ways to enjoy America’s favorite refreshment in the Brunswick Islands.

From enjoying a cup of freshly brewed coffee in a cozy cafe to snagging your coffee to-go and sipping it on the balcony of your beachfront vacation home while watching the beautiful sunrise over the ocean, the coffee options are endless in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

Check out just a few of the places you can get your daily dose of coffee in the Brunswick Islands:

OIB Surf & Java

Surf’s up! Get caffeinated and gear up in this combined coffee house and surf shop at OIB Surf & Java in Ocean Isle Beach. Wake yourself up with a vanilla and toasted marshmallow “Cloud Nine” latte before hitting the waves with one of their custom, handmade surfboards. After you’ve had your surfing fix, grab some of their coffee beans to brew at home and rejuvenate after a long day on the waves.

Mavericks Java

Of course, no morning is complete without your coffee, and Mavericks Java answers the call! Mavericks Java, located in Sunset Beach, is a laid-back, family owned coffee shop where you can enjoy friendly service and a wide variety of coffee specialties. This coffee shop prides itself on utilizing perfectly shade-grown coffee beans in their beverages. Mavericks Java serves hot, cold and blended beverages and for a local favorite try the s’mores latte. Featuring a delectable blend of chocolate, marshmallow and graham crackers, there is no better way to bring summer to a close than with this flavorful drink!

Jumpin’ Java Espresso Company  

If you are looking for delicious refreshments that put some pep in your step, then hop on over to Jumpin’ Java Espresso Company! Head to Shallotte or Oak Island for a comfortable atmosphere and a variety of mochas, lattes, espresso and pastries. Choose from traditional coffee options or branch out with special offerings like the Absolute Magic that features macadamia, white chocolate and caramel. We suggest ordering the Absolute Magic blended like a frozen frappe, but the drink can also be served hot. Insider Tip: The Shallotte location has a drive thru, so you can enjoy your coffee to-go without getting out of your car!

coffee

Island Jo Coffee & Café

Get your caffeine fix and start your morning off right at the locally owned and operated coffee joint, Island Jo Coffee & Cafe in Oak Island. Spoil your taste buds with good eats, friendly service and delicious signature drinks. Grab a veggie quiche that features mushrooms, onions, red and green peppers, and broccoli and wash it all down with a refreshing salted caramel iced coffee. These can’t miss treats are a must for early risers!

Ocean Boulevard Coffee

For a true local experience, look no further than Ocean Boulevard Coffee in Holden Beach. Ocean Boulevard features artwork and photography from local artists, so this neat spot is a great place to sip your coffee in an atmosphere that inspires creativity! Try the delicious Bella’s BonBon, one of their specialty drinks named after the shop owner’s brindle boxer. The drink includes the perfect blend of caramel and vanilla and can be served hot, blended or iced. Take home a piece of this local spot by purchasing their delicious coffee beans or some of their featured artwork.

Port City Java

Those searching for a refreshing brew in a relaxing environment will find just that at Port City Java. With two locations in Southport and Leland, Port City Java offers a full breakfast and lunch menu along with delicious signature drinks. You won’t want to miss out on their black and tan mocha made from espresso, caramel syrup, Ghirardelli chocolate sauce, white mocha powder and topped with whipped cream and a triple drizzle. If you just can’t get enough of their drinks, you can purchase their coffee beans to take home!

Drift Coffee & Kitchen

You don’t have to lose sight of your health and fitness goals during your vacation when you visit Drift Coffee & Kitchen in Ocean Isle Beach. Drift offers a variety of holistic breakfast and lunch options ranging from fresh acai bowls to savory turkey and avocado sandwiches. Satisfy your thirst with a delicious beet latte that is served hot and features beet powder and steamed almond milk. You can even enjoy this healthy treat at home! Drift sells their unique coffee beans, so you can take a taste of Ocean Isle Beach with you.

coffee

For more things to do and to explore other dining options in the North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

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

early

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.

early

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.