Brunswick Islands Fun That Won’t Break the Bank

budget

A vacation filled with golden memories doesn’t need to cost its weight in gold. In North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, some of our best attractions are the most wallet-friendly, making it easy for you to enjoy a five-star vacation without the five-star price tag. Learn about the rich history of the area, explore Brunswick Islands’ stunning natural beauty or stroll around on a self-guided walking tour, all without breaking the bank.

Dive into the rich history

From Southport to Calabash, the Brunswick Islands are filled with a rich history, unique ecosystems and interesting animal life. Native American tribes, the Revolutionary War and even pirates have all impacted the area and formed the culture we know today. History buffs can pop into any of the several free or low-priced museums in the area to take a deeper dive into the events that formed the culture of the region today while ocean lovers can visit one of the largest dry aquariums on the East Coast to learn more about our marine and sea plant life.

Maritime Museum of Southport

Stop by the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport and discover all there is to learn about the maritime history of the area. The museum is located along the waterfront where the Cape Fear River, Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean merge, making it an ideal spot to learn about the local seafaring culture. Admission is free so visitors can easily explore exhibits about shipwrecks, piracy, the Civil War, commercial fishing, hurricanes and much more.

maritime museum

Museum of Coastal Carolina

The Museum of Coastal Carolina is a great way to spend an afternoon with your little ones or to simply learn about the diverse ecosystem of Coastal North Carolina. The museum offers many opportunities to experience marine life up close with hands-on activities like a fossil pit with shark teeth that you get to take home, life-sized wildlife dioramas and a Touch Tank with live animals like sea stars, sea urchins and more. You can also learn more about sea turtle nesting in the area with an informative and entertaining video of nesting sea turtles on Ocean Isle Beach! The museum is $9.50 for adults (13-61), $8.50 for seniors (62+), $7.50 for children (3-12) and free for ages 2 and under. The museum also offers a $2.00 discount if you bring your same-week Ingram Planetarium ticket.

museum of coastal carolina

Sunset Swing Bridge & Museum

Take a step back in time at the Sunset Swing Bridge & Museum and learn about the iconic bridge that linked Sunset Beach with the mainland. The bridge was decommissioned after the opening of the Mannon C. Gore Bridge in 2011. The old swing bridge and tender house still serve as a free museum for the public, only now they’re safely sitting on dry land. During your visit to the museum, be sure to check out the artifacts from the Blockade Runner Vesta which ran aground on Sunset Beach during the Civil War.

old swing bridge sunset beach

Outdoor Fun

With the diverse vegetation found throughout the Brunswick Islands, there’s always a new landscape to explore. Whether you’re most comfortable on the mainland, the islands or in the parks, our communities are filled with fun ways to enjoy the great outdoors.

Live Music in All Settings

Keep an ear out for all the amazing free concerts in the area during your stay. Several of our towns and islands put on summer concert series that are free for all to enjoy. Recline in your beach chair while you listen to music when you stop by the concerts happening at Holden Beach, Southport, Ocean Isle Beach, Oak Island, Calabash or Sunset Beach. If an evening in the park sounds like more of your scene, head inland for the Leland Concerts in the Park series, Shallotte SummerFest series or the Boiling Spring Lakes concert series.

OIB concert

Island Farmers and Artisans’ Market

If you’re looking for a unique, locally made souvenir, or just want to sink your teeth into some fresh produce, be sure to check out the many farmer’s markets that take place from late spring to late fall and features vendors offering produce, homemade jams, cakes and a variety artisan goods like jewelry, furniture, rugs, potholders and much more. Chat with locals while you stroll the aisles of goodies.

Oak Island Lighthouse

When visiting Caswell Beach be sure to visit the Oak Island Lighthouse. The lighthouse opened in 1958 to replace the Cape Fear Light, and stands as the newest lighthouse in North Carolina. Climb to the top through a series of ship ladders for a stunning view of the Brunswick Islands. Top tours of the lighthouse are available for free year round by appointment and second level tours are available on Wednesdays and Saturdays from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

oak island lighthouse

Family Tee Time

Spend some quality time on the course with your family.  Many area golf courses such as the Brunswick Plantation Resort and Golf, Rivers Edge Golf Club, Sandpiper Bay Golf Club, Crow Creek Golf Club and Sea Trail Golf Club, offer free golf for juniors while playing with a paying adult. Check their websites or call the pro shop for details.

junior golf

Walking Tours

If you’re looking to get some steps in on your vacation, a walking tour could be just the ticket. There are several guided and self-guided tours in the area highlighting everything from the islands’ rich history to popular movie shooting locations.

Self-Guided Movie Location Tour

Check out the backdrops for some of your favorite movie scenes with a self-guided tour of the movie and TV shooting locations in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands by picking up a map from the Fort Johnston-Southport Museum & Visitor Center. Our charming towns and beaches have been featured in box office hits like Iron Man 3, Weekend at Bernie’s and Safe Haven as well as episodes from popular television shows like Dawson’s Creek, Hart of Dixie and Matlock. See for yourself the familiar homes and beaches that brought these scenes to life!

safe haven

Historical Walking Tour of Southport

Get active and take a self-guided walking tour through historic Southport. The tour will lead you to architecture dating back to the 1800s, as well as several significant landmarks in the area. Grab a map from the Fort Johnston-Southport Museum & Visitor Center and make your way around while learning the history and events that shaped Southport into the town we love today.

fort johnston

Soak Up Some Vitamin Sea

No vacation to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is complete without a few hours simply relaxing on the sand and soaking up some rays. Take some time to slow down and enjoy the natural beauty of our beaches.

fun

Shelling on the Shore

If you’re looking for an active alternative to sunbathing on the beach, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands’ 45 miles of breathtaking beaches offer a perfect spot to go hunting for beach gems like the variety of seashells that wash up on the sand. Shelling is a great activity to teach kids about the ocean, or just to take in the scenery. The most abundant types of shells that you might find include Angelwings, Olive Shells, True Tulips, Sand Dollars and Starfish. Take a scenic stroll down the beach and search for these little treasures of the tide!

shells

For more information on activities to enjoy during your vacation in the Brunswick Islands, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

Bottoms Up at these Brunswick Islands Breweries

brewery

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.

brews

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.

Plan the Perfect Spring Break in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

holden beach pier

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands features 45 miles of beautiful, undiscovered and uncrowded beaches that make it the perfect destination for a spring break trip that is both fun-filled and relaxing. The islands offer adventure by land, water and air, as well as world-famous seafood and a winery worth the trip. In addition to a wide range of charming B&Bs and inns, there are plenty of vacation rental homes, ideal for vacationers wanting both privacy and group gathering spaces. With so much to do, see and experience, families find that spending Spring Break in the unspoiled Brunswick Islands offers more beach for your blanket, and for your budget!

Check out some of our tips for planning the best Spring Break in the Brunswick Islands:

Explore by Land, Air and Sea
The Brunswick Islands are an ideal getaway destination promising relaxation and adventure perfectly suited to every member of the family. A beloved spot for annual family vacations and reunions, the Brunswick Islands are a charming and dynamic destination waiting to be explored by land, air and sea. Here are a few of our favorite ways your family can enjoy Spring Break from every perspective!

  • Land
    Enjoy a quintessential seaside experience by renting a bike and exploring charming island towns or coastal communities such as historic Southport. Discover the hidden gems of the Brunswick Islands’ quaint communities and feel like a local while cruising past scenic ocean views and colorful storefronts. During low tide, take a bike ride on any of the beaches and cruise with the ocean breeze.
  • Air
    Take a coastal excursion to new heights and soar above the Carolina marshes on a zip line at The Swamp Park. Built in the canopy of 100-year-old cypress trees, large and small groups alike are welcome to enjoy a bird’s eye view on 1.25 miles of zip line cable. Or, test your limits on the aerial adventure park with over 50 different challenge elements.
  • Sea
    Balance on a paddle board, test your athleticism with SUP yoga, or sit comfortably in a kayak. From a meandering paddle downstream to navigating the ocean tide, there is an island adventure suitable for everyone. Visitors are welcome to bring their own gear or rent equipment from a local outfitter during their stay.

spring break paddle board

Dinner with a View
In Calabash, the “Seafood Capital of the World,” the food—a savory blend of seafood, southern favorites and mouthwatering treats—is only half the experience. The other half is the unique setting! Eateries right on the water, cozy restaurants to share with friends and Southern diners serving up the best home-style dishes, help to make up the unique atmosphere of this coastal town. It is where the world-famous Calabash style of cooking originated. Be sure to stop in at any of the original family-owned restaurants and try it for yourself.

calabash

Drink Like a Local
Since their doors opened in 2002, Silver Coast Winery has prided itself on serving the best “European Style Wines at the Beach.” Owner Maryann Azzato had a dream of opening her own winery since her father made wine throughout her childhood. In 2004, Winemaker Dana Keeler joined the team and dedicates his more than 35 years of wine making experience to Silver Coast, which has won over 300 national and international medals for its wines. Adult family members can also enjoy hand-crafted local libations at any of our three breweries: Check Six Brewing Company, 34° North Experiment Station and Makai Brewing Company.

silver coast winery

Celebrate with the Community
A Brunswick Islands vacation experience goes beyond the beach. It also includes a variety of festivals and events for families, foodies and fun-lovers that will introduce you to the local flavors and customs of the area. Be sure to check out our calendar of events to see what all your family can experience while in town!

Rain Plan? Check!
While tranquil waters, white sandy beaches and glowing sunshine beckon families to our sunny shores each spring, sometimes the cloudy weather sneaks its way into the forecast. Don’t let a little precipitation rain on all your Spring Break fun! While outdoor excitement is often the selling point of a beach vacation, our enticing indoor activities make for unbeatable elements of both foolproof rain plans and clear sky itineraries alike. Be sure to include these popular sites in your travel plans!

fort johnston

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands offers an endless array of one-of-a-kind sites, bites, activities and experiences, making it easy to craft a Spring Break itinerary guaranteed to please every member of the family. For more Spring Break travel ideas and special offers, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

Nine Reasons Golf in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is a Hole in One

golf course

From classic coastal golf courses that offer some of the most scenic views in the Brunswick Islands to challenging links play designed by the masters, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands earns its reputation as North Carolina’s Golf Coast with every tee shot, fairway drive and perfectly calculated putt. The North Carolina part of Grand Strand golf, the Brunswick Islands, is home to 567 holes of challenging and rewarding golf gold spread across more than 30 championship courses, all in one amazing destination. Exemplifying coastal golf at its finest, each course offers players a one-of-a-kind experience within a one-of-a-kind destination. Need even more reasons to make Brunswick Islands your golf getaway destination? Check out nine reasons golf in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is a hole in one!

1. Layouts Sculpted by Legends
Golf outings in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands place players directly in the footsteps of some of the golf greats. Our championship courses offer some of the best golf on the Grand Strand, with layouts sculpted by legends such as Palmer, Byrd, Maples, Jones, Cate and Couples.

2. Ample Courses for All Skill Levels
Our 30+ top golf courses were each built to accommodate players of all skill levels, including junior golfers and those new to the game. Many courses offer private and group lessons lead by golf professionals who specialize in targeting and improving all aspects of your game. Experienced golf enthusiasts will also enjoy some of our community’s more challenging courses, including the area’s only par 6.

3. Experience Unparalleled Scenic Views
The Brunswick Islands golf experience is about more than a game. Our world-class golf is perfectly paired with unparalleled and sweeping views of our natural coastal North Carolina landscape; it’s why you come to the coast, right? Play alongside the Intracoastal Waterway and amidst long, tree-lined fairways with magnificent, moss-draped live-oaks. With such scenic water views and maritime-forest lined fairways, your golf game will not be the only thing to amaze.

4. Home to Stand Out Holes
With 567 holes of golf, more than 30 championship courses and more than 120 miles of fairways, it is no surprise that North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is home to some pretty stand out holes. Waterfalls, tidal marshland, panoramic river views, the area’s only par 6 and an island green are just some of the features that highlight our courses. Check out our recommendations for some of the top golf holes in the area for even more reasons to take a swing at a golf getaway to the Brunswick Islands.

5. Better Climate and Longer Seasons
The mild coastal climate of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands means you not only get more enjoyable playing weather, but a longer season to play in. A golf getaway to the Brunswick Islands is always a great idea, no mater the time of year, but winter and spring offer an even better reason to visit. Now is the time to play and getaway. While it may be chilly in the north, our average high is 58 degrees in February and 66  in March. Bermuda greens make for exceptional year-round play.

6. Awesome Packages and Specials
A golf getaway to the Brunswick Islands is the total package – literally! Visitors can easily book accommodations and tee times. For the latest in offerings, check out our golf packages and specials, where winter and spring seasonal packages offer 18 holes, cart and range balls starting at $49 and stay-and-play packages beginning at $69 per person.

golf courses

7. Stay and Play Availability
Whether a foursome or a group of 20 or more, our extensive accommodation options range from oceanfront vacation homes to course-side condominiums, homes, hotel and resort rooms, all perfect for golf getaways of any size. Several of our golf packages offer exceptional stay and play offers, giving avid golfers the opportunity to see, do and experience more in the Brunswick Islands. A longer stay means more days to enjoy our expansive array of fairways and finds.

8. Trip Planning Resources
Planning the ultimate golf getaway can be overwhelming, but we are here to help you plan the perfect trip. Flip through our Official Guide to Golf in NC’s Brunswick Islands or order a copy to be sent to you directly. In addition to featured golf packages and promotions, trip planners can download our course map and directory for an overview of the golf scene in the Brunswick Islands.

9. Many Ways to Play, One Incredible Destination
An unbeatable golf scene is only the beginning when it comes to enjoying North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Visitors can get more out of their golf getaway with delicious dining, countless area activities, exciting events, cozy coastal accommodations and more. In North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands there are many ways to play, both on and off the green.

woman golfer

Each course features its own unique personality and challenges, but all share one enticing promise – a golf getaway or excursion to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is a hole in one! For more information on how to plan your next golf excursion or getaway, please visit www.ncbrunswickgolf.com.

Seven Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Shell-heart

This Valentine’s Day think beyond a box of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers and treat your sweetheart to a romantic beach getaway. The beautiful beaches and charming coastal towns of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands make the ideal destination for a relaxing and romantic weekend. While Valentine’s Day weekend is a wonderful time to sweep your sweetheart away, the enticing variety of restaurants and attractions are perfect for planning a romantic getaway year-round.

Whether you are here for Valentine’s Day, an anniversary celebration, or simply a much-needed vacation, here are seven ways to celebrate with your sweetheart in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands:

Savor the Sunset

There is something inherently romantic about a sunset, particularly over the ocean. During this time of year, visitors to the Brunswick Islands can experience a true natural phenomenon. The east-west orientation of the Brunswick Islands means that you can sit on the beach and watch both the sunrise and sunset over the ocean without having to move your beach chair! Another way to capture unbelievable vistas that are sure to have you feeling sparks, is to take a romantic walk or bike ride along the beach.

sunset

Cozy Up at a B&B

Few things are more charming and romantic than a stay at a cozy bed and breakfast. Due to the location of these accommodations, guests can enjoy short walks to friendly coastal communities and white sand beaches. North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is currently home to a variety of fabulous B&Bs that are sure to be the perfect setting for your romantic getaway.

For more information about inns, hotels, resorts and vacation home rentals in the Brunswick Islands visit  www.ncbrunswick.com/accommodations.

Enjoy a Romantic Dinner for Two

No getaway would be complete without a romantic dinner for two. The area boasts a variety of waterfront dining options set along the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Fear River, Intracoastal Waterway and more. With an abundance of restaurant choices the Brunswick Islands offer guests a plethora of menu items such as fresh seafood, international cuisine and other fan favorites. Not only is the food top notch, but the waterfront views at many area restaurants are impossible to beat!

waterfront dining

Toast to Romance

For a fun break from the beach, couples can stop by our local winery. Located near Ocean Isle Beach, the Silver Coast Winery is the perfect spot for a romantic outing. Enjoy tastings of their award-winning wines, appreciate local artwork or stroll through their gift shop for some unique souvenirs. Or, if a cold brew is more your style, stop by one of the nearby breweries:

winery

Relax and Unwind

Treat yourself and your sweetheart to a relaxing appointment at one of the many day spas located in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Each spa offers a unique array of specialty services and treatments such as couple’s massages or facials that are sure to leave you and your loved one feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

Share a Secret

Take a romantic stroll or bike ride to Bird Island in Sunset Beach and discover a secluded little spot with a secret. Tucked away from the public eye is the Kindred Spirit Mailbox. The mailbox houses journals for locals and travelers alike to share their innermost thoughts. These journals have long held the wishes, thoughts, prayers and dreams of many Brunswick Islands visitors. For a truly unique experience, stop by the mailbox to share your love story, secrets or even plans for your future together.

Kindred Spirit Mailbox

Get Your Heart Racing

The Brunswick Islands are a great place to relax, but they are also perfect for sharing a bit of outdoor adventure. Try your hand at stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking along the Intracoastal Waterway. Or for a different perspective, soar through the skies at The Swamp Park. The Swamp Park offers miles of zipline tours, a 49 element 7 course adventure park and a Swamp Boat Eco Tour. In the Brunswick Islands there are plenty of ways for you and your sweetheart to try something new and make memories that will last for years to come.

kayaking in Brunswick Islands

For more ways to plan an unforgettable, romantic Valentine’s Day getaway to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, visit www.ncbrunswick.com.