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.

Enjoy Dinner with a View with Waterfront Dining in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Few scenes seem more signature of a beach vacation than a restaurant patio overlooking waves lapping the beach or the tranquil waters of the Intracoastal Waterway; and in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, fresh seafood with fantastic waterfront views is in no short supply. Each of our islands and towns are bursting with flavor and brimming with beautiful coastal views. The area boasts waterfront dining set along the Atlantic Ocean, the Cape Fear River, the Intracoastal Waterway and more, making for memorable meals for any getaway to the Brunswick Islands. With so many unique places to see and sample, discovering where to dine next will be an exciting culinary adventure. Top off your foodie bucket list with a visit to “The Seafood Capital of the World” in Calabash, and you’re in for a treat! Take your pick of the below waterfront dining options in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

Calabash seafoodThe Calabash seafood phenomenon began in the town of the same name, now home to several restaurants along the Calabash River. The folks at Waterfront Seafood Shack own their fishing and shrimp boats, and the fresh catches go straight to the seafood shack, ready to be prepared and eaten all in the same day. Visitors to this dining locale find themselves in the vacation mood with tiki-style décor and outdoor picnic tables for a true coastal dining experience by the water. Diners looking for scenic river views and an authentic Calabash seafood dining experience will find the perfect setting at Captain John’s Seafood HouseCaptain Nance’s Seafood, or Dockside Seafood House Restaurant. Visitors can also check out Calabash’s newest waterfront dining option, The Oyster Rock. Diners to The Oyster Rock can enjoy fresh seafood and scrumptious raw bar items with a scenic backdrop of the Calabash River.

Moving up the coast, Twin Lakes by the Sea in Sunset Beach boasts panoramic views of the Intracoastal Waterway. Take in the beautiful sunsets while you dine on fried, sautéed, grilled, broiled or blackened seafood. Chef Clayton Williams creates Calabash-style seafood with southern flare for guests to enjoy by the Intracoastal Waterway.

waterfront diningOn nearby Ocean Isle Beach, The Isles Restaurant & Tiki Bar sits along the ocean, serving fresh seafood in a family-friendly atmosphere. Enjoy a summer evening at The Isles’ oceanfront tiki bar. Over on the Intracoastal Waterway, Sharky’s Restaurant is Ocean Isle’s oldest restaurant and features 200 feet of boat docking for easy water access. The menu includes a variety of seafood, along with unique twists on other casual dining favorites. Next door on the Waterway, the Ocean Isle Fish Company Restaurant features a tiki bar on its upper deck where diners can enjoy expansive views (including boats bringing fresh seafood right to the dock) while feasting on coastal favorites. On the other side of the causeway, Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille overlooks the water with spectacular sunset views each evening. Menu items highlight fresh, local seafood, and guests can also get on island time at the restaurant’s raw oyster and tiki bars. On the mainland, The View at Brick Landing Plantation offers Intracoastal Waterway views from multiple patios and the spacious dining room. The restaurant’s seasonal menu is full of fresh seafood options and traditional dishes.

Toward the mainland, The Grillin’ Crab sits along the river on Shallotte’s Main Street. The restaurant’s covered waterfront deck is positioned perfectly for sunset views over the Shallotte River. Featuring Southern Coastal Fare, the menu showcases fresh seafood, along with prime cut steaks, as well as casual lunchtime options. On the Intracoastal Waterway and Shallotte River, the Inlet View Bar & Grill has been family owned and operated for nearly 40 years. Diners can savor fresh seafood with the shrimp on the menu coming straight from the family’s boat.

waterfront dining

Several restaurants sit along the Intracoastal Waterway in Holden Beach. Dock House Seafood and More offers an eclectic menu with unique items including a seafood pot pie and a mac-n-cheeseburger with an elevated view of the Waterway, including outdoor seating. Famous for their incredible shrimp burgers, Provision Company is a laid-back, open-air dining destination providing views of the boats passing along the Waterway.  Betty’s Waterfront Restaurant specializes in seafood including combo platters and items from the steamer. It’s menu favorites includes a Low Country Boil Pasta and shrimp & grits.

Back on the ocean, Island Way in Oak Island is a fine dining establishment with 18 large windows for guests to enjoy the coastal views. Perfecting steaks and seafood, the restaurant is ideal for celebrating a special occasion. On the other side of the island, the Fish House Restaurant offers fresh seafood and Intracoastal Waterway views. Just over the bridge to the mainland, The Dead End Saloon Fish Factory Grille is located at the South Harbour Marina on the Intracoastal Waterway. Bring the whole family to enjoy the dog-friendly patio, and the restaurant’s “fun” (rather than “fine”) dining and casual atmosphere. Also on the Marina, Joseph’s Italian Bistro serves award-winning cuisine with fantastic views of the Waterway. Try the fresh seafood options with the restaurant’s authentic Italian flavors.

waterfront dining

Head over to Southport for views of the Cape Fear River and Intracoastal Waterway as they meet the Atlantic Ocean. The Historic Yacht Basin is a picturesque waterside area with a host of eateries featuring scenic water views, many accessible by both land and water. The well-known Fishy Fishy Café has true vacation vibes with colorful décor, fun cocktails and delicious seafood small plates and entrees. Be sure to catch a sunset from the outdoor deck! The menu at Yacht Basin Eatery includes homemade comfort food and North Carolina beers, all to be savored overlooking the stunning waterfront views. Next door, The Provision Company of Southport is a no-frills seafood shack offering quality seafood with unobstructed water views. Sit on the covered patio for a delicious meal, and feel the waterside breeze.The Frying Pan offers yet another option for admiring a breathtaking waterfront view with a spectacular meal, including variations of classic seafood dishes with southern twists. Oliver’s on the Cape Fear, originally a ships chandler dating back to the 1700s, is now a fine dining restaurant with large windows facing the water, ideal for watching boats make their way up or down the river from the Atlantic. Sip on a seasonal cocktail at the restaurant’s outdoor patio just steps from the water.

Half the fun of vacation is discovering new dining spots to taste culinary creations and local flavors of the area.

To explore more dining options in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit http://www.ncbrunswick.com/fun_and_adventure/dining.

Eight Ways to Enjoy Shrimp in the Brunswick Islands

Shrimp Brunswick Islands

Sun, sand and seafood simply go hand in hand, and there is no better place to snag a signature shrimp dish than North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. No trip to the Brunswick Islands is complete without some coastal cuisine, and our charming beach towns are brimming with tasty dining spots serving up innovative and scrumptious shrimp creations. Foodies looking to come out of their shell to savor a delicious dining experience can check out the below shrimp seeking guide to the Brunswick Islands.

1. North Shore Shrimp Taco (Oak Island)

The dining scene at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is as vibrant as the collection of coastal communities themselves. Here not only will you find classic seafood dishes, but also flavors from around the globe. Kai-Joes on Oak Island is serving up North Shore Shrimp Tacos. This international fusion dish features grilled shrimp, Asian slaw and a special Thai chili sauce.

Shrimp Burger Holden Beach Provisions2. Grilled Shrimp Burger (Holden Beach)

For a fresh spin on an American classic, check out the Grilled Shrimp Burger at Provision Company on Holden Beach. This waterfront dining spot can be reached by land or boat and is a popular spot for families looking to enjoy fresh seafood and scenic views.

3. Shrimp Flatbread (Southport)

Stop by Fishy Fishy Café in Southport for a fun waterfront dining experience overlooking both the yacht basin and beautiful coastal marsh. Fishy Fish Café offers a variety of local seafood dishes including a Shrimp Flatbread appetizer. The baked flatbread features basil pesto, sun dried tomatoes, balsamic reduction, caramelized onions, parmesan and goat cheese to perfectly combine signature shrimp flavors and a taste of Italy.

4. Grilled Shrimp (Ocean Isle Beach)

While grilling is a popular preparation for shrimp, Jinks Creek in Ocean Isle Beach is adding their own flavorful flare to this method. Be sure to try their take on Grilled Shrimp featuring wild caught North Carolina shrimp that are garlic and herb marinated and served with charred pineapple and tomato salsa.

5. Cape Fear Shrimp & Grits (Leland)

Few things are more Southern than shrimp and grits, and few places do them as well as the Cape Fear Seafood Company. Swing by and be sure to order their take on this Southern staple complete with shrimp, applewood bacon, tomatoes, scallions and mushrooms in a low country cream sauce and served over cheese grits.

Shrimp Po Boy6. New Orleans Style Shrimp Po Boys (Shallotte)

For a taste of jazzy Bourbon Street in the Low Country, stop by Inlet View Bar & Grill in Shallotte. This family-owned spot serves up freshly caught shrimp, straight from the family-owned boats. One of the many tasty treats on the menu is the New Orleans Style Shrimp Po Boy served with lettuce, tomato and creole remoulade on a Leidenheimer New Orleans-style bread.

7. Shrimp Bucket (Sunset Beach)

A food tour of the Brunswick Islands would not be complete with a low country classic found at Crabby Oddwaters in Sunset Beach. Crabby Oddwaters offers guests the option of a Shrimp Bucket which includes one full pound of locally caught shrimp, corn, new potatoes, sausage and drawn butter. This dish is definitely one for sharing with the whole family!

Calabash seafood8. Calabash-Style Fried Shrimp (Calabash)

There can be no list of must try shrimp dishes that doesn’t include Calabash-style fried shrimp. There is a reason the name of this picturesque fishing community may already evoke mental images of seafood dishes lightly breaded and fried to perfection. Visitors to the area are often surprised to learn that this popular and distinctive style of seafood is actually named after Calabash, NC.  To find dishes featuring infamous Calabash-style fried shrimp head to any of the delicious seafood restaurants in the town for an authentic Calabash dining experience.  As an added bonus, several of the town’s seafood restaurants feature outdoor waterfront dining.

No matter what you are craving, there is a culinary experience for you at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. For more information on dining in the Brunswick Islands, please visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

Find Authentic Coastal Cuisine with Waterfront Dining in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

waterfront dining

No beach vacation is complete without enjoying fresh seafood with a view. Throughout North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, waterfront restaurants are serving up local fare in scenic settings. The area offers waterfront dining set along the Atlantic, the Cape Fear River, the Intracoastal Waterway and more, making for memorable meals for any getaway to the Brunswick Islands. Top it off with a visit to “The Seafood Capital of the World” in Calabash, and you’re in for a treat! Take your pick of the below waterfront dining options in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

Calabash seafoodThe Calabash seafood phenomenon began in the town of the same name, now home to several restaurants along the Calabash River. The folks at Waterfront Seafood Shack own their fishing and shrimp boats, and the fresh catches go straight to the seafood shack, ready to be prepared and eaten all in the same day. Visitors to this dining locale find themselves in the vacation mood with tiki-style décor and outdoor picnic tables for a true coastal dining experience by the water. Diners looking for scenic river views and an authentic Calabash seafood dining experience will find the perfect setting at Captain John’s Seafood House, Captain Nance’s Seafood or Dockside Seafood House Restaurant.

Moving along the coast, Twin Lakes by the Sea in Sunset Beach boasts panoramic views of the Intracoastal Waterway. Take in the beautiful sunsets while you dine on fried, sautéed, grilled, broiled or blackened seafood. Chef Alysa Watkins creates Calabash-style seafood with southern flare for guests to enjoy by the Intracoastal Waterway.

Waterfront dining view

On nearby Ocean Isle Beach, The Isles Restaurant & Tiki Bar sits along the ocean, serving fresh seafood in a family-friendly, fine dining atmosphere. Enjoy a summer evening at The Isles’ oceanfront tiki bar. Over on the Intracoastal Waterway, Sharky’s Restaurant is Ocean Isle’s oldest restaurant and features 200 feet of boat docking for easy water access. The menu includes a variety of seafood, along with unique twists on other casual dining favorites. Next door on the Waterway, the Ocean Isle Fish Company Restaurant features a tiki bar on its upper deck where diners can enjoy expansive views (including boats bringing fresh seafood right to the dock) while feasting on coastal favorites. Just opened in April, Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille overlooks the water with spectacular sunset views each evening. Menu items highlight fresh, local seafood, and guests can also get on island time at the restaurant’s raw oyster and tiki bars. On the mainland, The View at Brick Landing Plantation offers Intracoastal Waterway views from multiple patios and the spacious dining room. The restaurant’s seasonal menu is full of fresh seafood options and traditional dishes.

Several restaurants sit along the Intracoastal Waterway in Holden Beach. Captain Pete’s Seafood Restaurant features Chef Matt Karas’ creative culinary takes with an elevated view of the Waterway, including outdoor seating. Famous for their incredible shrimp burgers, Provision Company is a laidback, open-air dining destination providing views of the boats passing along the Waterway.

Provision Company Holden Beach

Back on the ocean, Island Way in Oak Island is a fine dining establishment with 18 large windows for guests to enjoy the coastal views. Perfecting steaks and seafood, the restaurant is ideal for celebrating a special occasion. Find more panoramic views of the ocean at The Flying Fish Café, known for their innovative menu of local ingredients with “West Coast style.” On the other side of the island, the Fish House Restaurant offers fresh seafood and Intracoastal Waterway views. Just over the bridge to the mainland, The Dead End Saloon Fish Factory Grille is located at the South Harbour Marina on the Intracoastal Waterway. Bring the whole family to enjoy the dog-friendly patio, and the restaurant’s “fun” (rather than “fine”) dining and casual atmosphere. Also on the Marina, Joseph’s Italian Bistro serves award-winning cuisine with fantastic views of the Waterway. Try the fresh seafood options with the restaurant’s authentic Italian flavors.

waterfront dining at Fishy FishyHead over to Southport for views of the Cape Fear River and Intracoastal Waterway as they meet the Atlantic Ocean. The Historic Yacht Basin is a picturesque waterside area with a host of eateries featuring scenic water views, many accessible by both land and water. The well-known Fishy Fishy Café has true vacation vibes with colorful décor, fun cocktails and delicious seafood small plates and entrees. Be sure to catch a sunset from the outdoor deck! The menu at Yacht Basin Eatery includes homemade comfort food and North Carolina beers, all to be savored overlooking the stunning waterfront views. Next door, The Provision Company of Southport is a no-frills seafood shack offering quality seafood with unobstructed water views. Sit on the covered patio for a delicious meal, and feel the waterside breeze.

The Frying Pan offers yet another option for admiring a breathtaking waterfront view with a spectacular meal, including variations of classic seafood dishes with southern twists. Oliver’s on the Cape Fear, originally a ships chandler dating back to the 1700s, is now a fine dining restaurant with large windows facing the water, ideal for watching boats make their way up or down the river from the Atlantic. Sip on a seasonal cocktail at the restaurant’s outdoor patio just steps from the water.

The Inlet View Bar and GrillToward the mainland, The Grillin’ Crab sits along the river on Shallotte’s Main Street. The restaurant’s covered waterfront deck is positioned perfectly for sunset views over the Shallotte River. Featuring Southern Coastal Fare, the menu showcases fresh seafood, along with prime cut steaks, as well as casual lunchtime options. On the Intracoastal Waterway and Shallotte River, the Inlet View Bar & Grill has been family owned and operated for nearly 40 years. Diners can savor fresh seafood with the shrimp on the menu coming straight from the family’s boat.

Half the fun of vacation is discovering new dining spots to taste culinary creations and local flavors of the area. To explore all the dining options in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, visit http://www.ncbrunswick.com/fun_and_adventure/dining.

Check Off Your Beach Bucket List in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Beach Bucket

A beach vacation in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands offers a chance for some rest and relaxation and also opportunities to create lifelong memories with loved ones.  Across the destination’s five islands, you’ll find all the activities that make for the best beach vacation memories, along with a few unexpected surprises.

Here are seven Brunswick Islands’ beach bucket list activities sure to make your vacation memorable for the whole family:

Build a Sandcastle

Sandcastle

Opportunities abound to try your hand at sandcastle artistry, or relaxing in the sun and strolling alongside the ocean. With 45 miles of idyllic beaches and six separate beach communities over five barrier islands, fun in the sun awaits travelers in need of a relaxing escape or an adventure-packed getaway.  Sandcastle building tip: create a good strong packed foundation for your sandcastle and be sure to keep your sand wet while building!

Get a Sweet Treat

Satisfy your sweet tooth and stop by one of the many locally-owned ice cream shops and creameries sprinkled throughout the destination. With unique flavors and quality ingredients, you’ll be in for a treat. Each shop offers something special, whether it’s homemade recipes, specialty cones, or a welcoming environment with rocking chairs to sit and enjoy some dessert.

Savor Local Seafood

Calabash seafood

Fulfill your craving for fresh seafood with famous Calabash-style cuisine in the town where it was created. Calabash, the “Seafood Capital of the World,” is home to several locally-owned restaurants serving up lightly-battered, perfectly prepared seafood. Numerous restaurants throughout the islands – many with outdoor waterfront dining – feature menus with fresh, locally-caught seafood and home-style sides.

Discover a Coastal Secret

Venture one mile down the coast on foot or by bike from the last beach access on Sunset Beach and take a serene journey to the Kindred Spirit Mailbox, an unexpected sight among the dunes of Bird Island. Take a seat on a nearby bench and write down your innermost thoughts and dreams on one of the notebooks inside the mailbox, or read notes left by other visitors.

See an East Coast Phenomenon

With the beaches of the Brunswick Islands’ unique positioning toward the South, you can set up your chair on the beach to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic and stay put in the same spot to catch a breath-taking sunset over the ocean. You can see this phenomenon for yourself beginning in the fall and continuing through the winter months.

Be on Turtle Watch

Witness the incredible sight of 250-pound Loggerhead sea turtles laying their eggs on the beach, followed by their babies making their first journey from their nest to the sea. From May to August, you might spot the mother laying her eggs in the dunes, and from July to October the babies hatching and venturing toward the ocean.  Local Sea Turtle Protection Organization volunteers monitor the nests throughout the season to answer questions about the process and can tell you when nests may be ready to hatch. Also, several of the Sea Turtle Protection Organizations offer free “Turtle Talks” throughout the summer. See the events calendar for details.

Go Beyond the Beach

Paddleboarding

Looking to get your toes out of the sand and into a marsh or inland adventure? Explore the beautiful marshes, creeks and estuaries along the Intracoastal Waterway by paddle board, kayak and boat. Channel your adventurous side with some fishing or climb the Oak Island Lighthouse or Old Baldy for a stunning aerial view of the ocean and the marshland. Go ziplining over a swamp or explore nature preserves for carnivorous plants.

To begin planning your bucket list-worthy beach vacation to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, visit www.NCBrunswick.com.