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.

Spring Break Road Trip: Top 5 Reasons NC’s Brunswick Islands is Guaranteed to Put Some Spring in your Step!

by the time Spring Break rolls around, most of us are suffering from a serious case of Spring Fever and are more than ready to Get. Out. Side!

It is also a perfect time for families, who maybe haven’t seen each other since the Holidays, to reconnect.  If you had to pick a central Spring Break gathering point for relatives spread up and down the east coast, and let’s not forget that uncle in Ohio, you couldn’t do better than North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands!    Centrally located on the East Coast, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are an easy, almost equidistant drive from population power houses Washington, DC (6 h 37 min) and Atlanta, GA (6 h 1 min).  Ohio clocks in at 9.5 hours, which doesn’t deter folks as every Spring and Summer, SUVs sporting OH plates peak out beneath the beach houses.

Now that you know how easy it is to get here, take a look at these wonderful ways to spend your NC beach vacation once you’ve arrived!

  1. Uncrowded Beaches

DSC_8627_RetouchedForty-five miles of uncrowded beaches on 5 barrier islands await vacationers at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.  There’s plenty of room to roam and spread out. While the kids splash around, bask in the sun and crack open that book you’ve been dying to read. Without the commercialism of typical spring break destinations, it is so much easier to truly relax and unwind. You won’t find the partiers or view-blocking high rise hotels here. Instead, enjoy pristine sand and natural rolling dunes for miles and miles.

       2. Outdoor Adventure

Swamp Park IMG_9365Bring out your wild side and experience new adventures. Zip through untouched swamp land at Ocean Isle’s new Shallotte River Swamp Park, which features a sustainable zipline course that navigates through a 300-year-old swamp and cypress canopy. Enjoy water-based action in the ocean, rivers and Intracoastal Waterway including canoeing, kayaking, wind sailing, paddle boarding, surfing and fishing. For those who prefer to stay grounded, enjoy a slow-paced stroll down one of the many piers or beaches, or explore the many parks and nature preserves our area has to offer.

  1. History & Museums

DSC_6132_LIGHTHOUSE COUPLECulture and history buffs alike will have plenty to keep their minds sharp this spring break. The state’s oldest standing lighthouse, Old Baldy, on Bald Head Island has stood over North Carolina’s coast for hundreds of years.  Oak Island Lighthouse on Caswell Beach was once the brightest lighthouse in the country. Now, both lighthouses are landmarks beckoning visitors to enjoy the breathtaking views from the top. This spring, you won’t want to miss the Museum of Coastal Carolina, the Southeast’s largest dry aquarium; or the North Carolina Maritime Museum, which gives families insight into tales of pirates and pillage, blockade running, riverfront archaeology, and other nautical adventures. The fun doesn’t stop there, as our islands offer an abundance of museums and historic sites to explore!

  1. Live Like a Local

Oak Island Vacation Rental HomeDive into the rich and relaxing culture of island life by renting a house for the week and enjoy the perks of being able to walk out the front door and onto the beach. Later, enjoy dinner by sampling the local flavors of the coastal area. Our local fishermen harvest a variety of top-quality seafood, including shrimp, blue crabs, grouper, flounder, oysters and clams. In addition, our picturesque Southern small towns offer family-owned, one-of-a-kind restaurants, galleries and shops to make the area one of the best North Carolina vacation destinations.

  1. Spring and Easter Events

The Spring Art Show kicks off the season on March 1 and runs through March 20 in Southport with paintings, pottery and more by local and other NC artists.  Over Easter Weekend, egg hunts and Easter events will keep you hopping from one end of the Brunswick Islands to the other. Then, in April, celebrate parrot-head-style at Phlock to the Beach with a weekend of Jimmy Buffett inspired high spirited fun and the Oak Island Lighthouse 5K, 10K & Half Marathon.  At the end of April, Days at the Docks features food, fun, arts and music on Holden Beach.