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.

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.

Brunswick Islands Sunrise/Sunset Photo Contest Winners

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.”

2 Donna DeBate Cone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

7 Ilona Miskell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

2 Kelly Heine Clemmons

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Rochelle Aycoth

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Award-winning winery

Looking for a break from the beach and want a unique Brunswick Islands experience? Whatever the reason, the Silver Coast Winery is a must-visit for any trip to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Winery tours, wine tastings, art galleries, gift shops and special events are included in the plethora of activities you will find at Silver Coast Winery.

Wine-maker Dana Keeler has won the winery over 300 local and international medals, and you can taste the Cabernets, Chardonnay, Tourigas, White Merlots and Viogniers that have put this winery on the map! While you sip, enjoy the local art that adorn the art gallery walls and the labels of Silver Coast’s wine bottles.

The winery is located midway between Myrtle Beach and Wilmington, just minutes from Sunset Beach and Ocean Isle Beach. Group rates are available.

Insider Tip: Bring a blanket for a picnic and enjoy the gardens!

Kindred Spirit Mailbox: Send a letter to a higher power

on a secluded stretch of beach far from the nearest public access point and nestled between sand dunes is an unlikely sight – a mailbox…with a bench next to it. The bench is where you sit to pen your innermost thoughts; the mailbox is where you place the journal when you are done. More than just a receptacle for pieces of paper, the Kindred Spirit Mailbox on Bird Island holds the wishes, thoughts, prayers and dreams of those who walk the 30 minutes to share and bare their soul and draw comfort from the act of doing so while enjoying the soothing sounds and sights of undeveloped beach, ocean and horizon.

The serene walk from the last public access on Sunset Beach will be sure to give you time to reconnect with self and spirit. Are you willing to share your deepest thoughts?

Insider Tip: The trip to Kindred Spirit is two miles roundtrip. Save more time for writing and reading and rent a bike on Sunset Beach for the journey.