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.

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.

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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.

Celebrate Seasonal Freshness with Outdoor Markets in the Brunswick Islands

Farmers Market

Summer is the prime time for fresh, local goods in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. The area’s outdoor markets take place throughout each week so you never have to be without seasonal fruits and vegetables, whether you’re a local or a visitor. In addition to produce, the markets are filled with artists and artisans showing off their creative talents and offering pottery, photography, handmade goods, and homemade snacks and desserts. Topping off the perfect outdoor market scene, local musicians can also be found playing at several of the events, making these must-do summer and fall activities.

Southport Waterfront Market
Wednesdays through September 6, 2017; 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Fort Johnston Garrison Lawn, Southport
http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/1217

Local artisans come together by the Cape Fear River to offer fresh and local produce, baked goods, arts and crafts, and more. Enjoy the shade of ancient Live Oak trees with music and entertainment.

Oak Island Farmers and Artisans Market
Mondays through September 4, 2017; 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Middleton Park, Oak Island
http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/1306

Market-goers can pick up fresh produce, homemade goods, like cakes and jam, as well as a variety of handmade crafts, like jewelry and potholders.

Ocean Isle Beach Waterfront Market
Mondays through September 11, 2017; 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
East Second Street, Ocean Isle Beach
http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/1359

Held in the town center’s grassy field, feel the ocean breeze while shopping for local and homemade produce, baked goods, crafts and more.

Sunset Beach Waterfront Market
Thursdays through October 12, 2017; 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Sunset Beach Town Park
http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/1378

Set by the Intracoastal Waterway, the bustling market features local crafters and artists with their homemade treasures and original art. Shop for fresh produce from local farmers, fresh catches of the day, seasonal flowers and plants, and much more.

Shallotte Farmer’s Market
Saturdays through July 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Mulberry Park, Shallotte
http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/1278

The open-air market is filled with fresh, local produce, arts and crafts, and more. Entertainment by local musicians makes this market a must-visit on Saturdays. Four special seasonal markets will also be held during the fall and holiday season.

To see a full schedule of the outdoor markets and other events in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, visit www.ncbrunswick.com/events.

Top reasons to visit North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands right now

The math is a no-brainer!


Five barrier islands + four charming coastal towns + six separate beach communities = 45 miles of wide, stunning beaches! This southernmost corner of North Carolina is one of the South’s best kept secrets! Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Oak Island, Caswell Beach and Bald Head Island rank among North Carolina’s best beaches with uncrowded sand, surf and fun, and the picturesque Southern towns of Southport, Calabash, Shallotte and Leland draw visitors with family-owned, one-of-a-kind restaurants, galleries and shops.

Full-Moon Fever

The beach vacation isn’t just for daytime anymore!  North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is also the place to explore by the light of the moon for a new perspective on this pristiIMG_6444 b_edited-1ne coastal getaway. August 10, 2014 and September 8, 2014 are the last two full moons of the summer vacation season and the perfect times to join one of our outdoor adventure outfitters for a moonlight kayak trip to take to the marsh under the twinkling stars. Twilight kayak tours are also available for those that prefer to paddle during the last light of the day.

Purple Feet

For those who need one last blast of summer (and, don’t we all?!), North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands offers fun and quirky summer festivals and events  for a last great beach vacation including the Purple Feet Festival at Silver Coast Winery where, you guessed it, a grape stomp is part of the festivities!

Phlock to the Beach “A Buffett Style Beach Bash”

  • Aug 22, 2014 – Aug 23, 2014
  • Oak Island

25th Annual Oak Island Art Guild Arts & Craft Festival

  • Aug 30, 2014 – Aug 30, 2014, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Oak Island

Purple Feet Festival

  • Sep 6, 2014 – Sep 6, 2014, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Silver Coast Winery; Ocean Isle Beach

Back to school – NOT!

When kids head to school, that’s your signal to head to any of our five barrier islands as the already secluded beaches of Brunswick Islands will become even more serene. For a peaceful back to nature experience, visit Sunset Beach where all that separates you from the surf and marsh is a wide stretch of beach and dunes. Connect with nature on Bird Island and take a quiet stroll to the Kindred Spirit Mailbox and get in touch with and share your innermost thoughts.

Tomatoes, blackberries and peaches, oh my!

The flavors of summer are calling from North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Where ever you are staying for your beach vacation, be sure to get your hands on fresh, locally-sourced produce from the Shallotte, Oak Island, and Southport farmer’s markets. For great coastal dining, spruce up a family cookout with the fresh corn, green beans, tomatoes, watermelon, peaches and more. Oak Island Farmer’s Market even has honey, while Shallotte has handcrafted items such as pottery, jewelry, glassware and homemade bread, cakes and cookies. For a truly unique farmer’s market experience, stop by Southport Waterfront Market for local produce, baked goods, handcrafted items spread under ancient live oak trees and even live music. See the below dates and times for the markets as many close mid-September.

Oak Island FaIMG_0110rmer’s Market, Saturdays through Sep 8, 2014, 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Shallotte Farmer’s Market, Mondays through- Sep 13, 2014, 8 a.m. -12 p.m.

Southport Waterfront Market, Wednesdays through Sep 25, 2014, 8 a.m. 1 p.m.

Of course, if you want a night off from the kitchen, our restaurants offer great coastal and waterfront dining!

Turtle Tracks

Turtle alert – the loggerhead turtle nests that have been laid on our North Carolina beaches will begin to hatch in July and go through October! There is probably no experience more powerful than watching baby sea turtles boiling out of the nest and racing to the water line. Sea turtle conservation is conducted across North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands beaches, and, if you see folks camped out on the beach around sundown, stop by for a look. Chances are they are a group of volunteers on “turtle watch” waiting for the hatchlings to emerge and make their way to the ocean. View a video here to see what all the fuss is about!