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.

Best Beach Books: 7 of our Favorite Beach Reads Set or Filmed in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

beach reads

Life is better at the beach, especially when you have a good book! North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is one of the best places to stick your toes in the sand and jump into a classic beach read. With six beautiful beaches and an array of charming coastal communities filled with rich history, literature and romance, it is easy to see why the Brunswick Islands has inspired many authors and film makers alike.

Check out some of the best beach books that were either set in the Brunswick Islands or filmed scenes here for the movie adaptation of the novel:

Safe Haven
An iconic love story by Nicholas Sparks, Safe Haven, was set and filmed in the town of Southport. This dramatic thriller is about a young woman, Katie, who moves to a quaint southern town and begins a relationship with Alex, a widowed store owner. Just as their relationship starts to develop, dark secrets from Katie’s past begin to intrude on her new life.

Explore the charming southern town of Southport to see the various filming locations in Safe Haven like West Moore and Bay Streets where the dramatic NC 4th of July Festival was recreated for the movie, Ports of Call where Katie and Alex shared their first romantic dinner or grab a cocktail at Old American Fish Co., known in Safe Haven as Ivan’s, where Katie worked as a waitress. And for a more in depth look at some filming memorabilia, visit Fort Johnston – Southport Museum and Visitors Center.

Safe Haven

The Old Man and the Boy
The Old Man and the Boy, written by Robert Ruark, is a novel created out of a series of columns Ruark wrote for Field and Stream. Based on his own childhood memories of visiting his grandparents’ house in Southport, the book is about a young boy named Bobby who learns the value of hunting, fishing and becoming a gentleman from his grandfather, the Old Man. A perfect place to pick up this novel when visiting Southport, is the Robert Ruark Inn, a Victorian style B&B once owned by Ruark’s grandparents.

Robert Ruark Inn

Every Breath
Nicholas Sparks’ latest romance novel, Every Breath is about Hope Anderson, an ER trauma nurse, taking a break from her worries at her family’s vacation cottage in Sunset Beach, and Tru Walls, a safari guide from Zimbabwe, on a quest to discover his past. The novel is centered around the Kindred Spirit Mailbox, a truly unique landmark awaiting wanderers from far and wide. This one-of-a-kind mailbox sits about 1.5 miles from the nearest public access point on Bird Island, full of notebooks and pens just waiting for explorers to come divulge their secrets and leave messages of hope and inspiration for the next adventurer.

Kindred Spirit Mailbox

I Know What You Did Last Summer
I Know What You Did Last Summer is a spooky tale about four friends that run over a fisherman and dump his body in the water. A year later, they receive a frightening letter telling them that their crime was seen. Throughout the tale, the suspense increases as the killer stalks members of the group. Visitors to Southport will recognize iconic landmarks like the Amuzu Theatre and the Southport Riverwalk that were featured in the film adaptation of the novel.

Amuzu

Under the Dome
Under the Dome, filmed in Southport, is a book by Stephen King that was adapted as a TV series. The novel tells the story of the residents of a fictional small town that are cut off from the rest of the world by an enormous, indestructible dome. If you visit the town of Southport during your trip to the Brunswick Islands, you will be able to recognize the two-story house located on East Bay Street and the pilots tower on the Southport Waterfront, both featured in the series.

Under the Dome

A Walk to Remember
One of Nicholas Sparks’ most iconic novels, A Walk to Remember follows a popular high school senior, Landon Carter, as he falls in love with the local minister’s daughter, Jamie Sullivan. The two develop a powerful and romantic relationship in which they discover deep truths about one another. Visitors can stop by the beautiful church in Southport where Jamie’s dad worked as a minister or for a more romantic experience, visitors can watch the sunset over the Yacht Basin at the Riverwalk Gazebo where Landon told Jamie that he loved her for the first time.

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The Longest Ride
The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks is a tale of two separate love affairs, intertwined into one fate-driven novel. The first pair of star-crossed lovers is Luke, a former champion bull rider looking to make a comeback and Sophia, a college student who is about to head to New York City to start her dream job. As fate would have it, they have a chance encounter with Ira, a ninety-one year old man who shares with them the epic story of his relationship with his late wife Ruth. Be sure to pull up a beach chair and break out this novel when visiting the charming seaside town of Caswell Beach that served as the filming location for where Ruth’s family spent the summer in the film adaptation.

caswell beach

The Wedding
The Wedding by Dorothy West is set in the 1950s in a small New England enclave that consists of the finest of the East Coast’s black bourgeoisie. The novel tells the story of a family gathering for their daughter’s wedding to a white jazz musician. The movie adaptation of the novel was turned into a television miniseries by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films that features several Southport’s landmarks including The Brunswick Inn, Bay Street and Southport City Pier.

Brunswick Inn

No matter what book is on your summer reading list, all of the beaches and towns in the Brunswick Islands serve as a serene backdrop for diving into your favorite beach read. Take “A Walk to Remember” through these iconic film and book locations or forge your own path through the Brunswick Islands. Regardless of the itinerary, the Brunswick Islands is a “Safe Haven” for book worms and travelers alike.

For more information on North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands or to plan your next beach vacation, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

Small Town, Big Celebration: 4th of July Fun in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

4th of July

Summer is the perfect time for celebrations! Home to one of North Carolina’s biggest and oldest 4th of July events, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is the ideal destination to fly your American flag high and celebrate our nation’s independence. If you’re looking for a small, local celebration, you best look elsewhere because Southport does the 4th of July BIG – and this year the patriotic party will be bigger than ever before. Come and see why Coastal Living named Southport the “Best Beach Town in America for the Fourth of July.”

Since 1795, Southport has celebrated our nation’s Independence Day with grandeur. The NC 4th of July Festival is one of the most historic Fourth of July celebrations of any small town in America and annually draws crowds of 40,000 to 50,000 people. Scheduled for June 23 – July 4, 2019, the festivities commemorate our nation’s freedom with a multitude of events including a grand finale of fireworks over Southport’s iconic waterfront. A full calendar and schedule of events can be found here.

The celebration week continues with Beach Day at Oak Island on July 1. This beach day festival is the ideal event for families of all sizes and ages with live entertainment, inflatables, rides and games. Don your red, white and blue and show off your family’s skills in one of the day’s many family contests and competitions. As the sun sets on the festival, be sure to stick around for the annual Beach Day Concert. This year’s attendees are in for a real treat with a live performance by Steve Owens & Summertime Band, set right in the heart of the Beach Day grounds. Beach Day starts at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 9:00 p.m. with a fireworks show at the Oak Island Pier.

beach day

After a fun day spent in the sand and sun, visitors are invited to join an expected 50,000 people in historic downtown Southport during a festival that remembers the sacrifices made by those who protected our country’s rights and freedoms. This celebration from July 2 – 4 is the crown jewel of Southport’s famed Independence Day celebration. Visitors can browse through more than 100 arts & crafts booths, taste local flavors at dozens of vendors and enjoy the entertainment of live music.

On the last day of the celebration, be sure not to miss the NC 4th of July Parade, an annual crowd favorite at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 4 in Southport. This parade is so notorious, colorful and festive that it was even recreated and featured in the movie “Safe Haven.” Live concerts, arts and crafts, concessions and a boat raffle all lead up to the main event, a spectacular fireworks display over the waterfront starting at 9:00 p.m. Southport’s explosive fireworks show is one not to miss so be sure to stake out your spot early, the space fills up quickly with eager spectators!

4th of July

For more information on the NC 4th of July Festival and other Brunswick Islands July 4th events and activities visit our calendar of events.

Island Hopping in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Island Hopping

With five unique barrier islands, it’s no wonder that North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands has been a family favorite beach destination for generations. When you are looking to plan your next beach vacation, are you partial to the resort style of Ocean Isle Beach? Do memories of hanging out at the Oak Island Pier draw you back? Is it the family vibe of Holden Beach that has you visiting year after year? Or perhaps it’s the secrets that Sunset Beach holds? Whichever island is your favorite home-base, we encourage you to go island hopping on your next Brunswick Islands visit and discover the unique activities, cuisine and events that await on each of our barrier islands. Who knows, you may just end up with a new favorite beach to stake your umbrella!

Holden Beach
Geographically located in the middle of our string of barrier islands, Holden Beach is easily accessible from anywhere in the Brunswick Islands. Head here for a spectacular shrimp burger at Provision Company! Each nationally-acclaimed shrimp patty is made from fresh-off-the-docks shrimp, lightly fried and topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and a tasty special sauce, all served on a perfectly toasted bun or enjoyed atop a bed of crisp lettuce, cucumbers, crunchy croutons and garden-ripe tomatoes. Even better, your view overlooks the waterway and the many shrimp boats that call Holden Beach home. The reason this shrimp burger is extra good? Many of the area’s shrimp boats dock at Holden Beach and unload their catch directly to the restaurants and seafood purveyors here. Take a walk along the docks to see the shrimp boats and visit Old Ferry Seafood to pick up the latest fresh catch or a made-to-order Low Country Boil.

holden beach

Oak Island
Next, hop on over to Oak Island which features 14 miles of beautiful uncrowded beaches and is home to the towns of Oak Island and Caswell Beach. While there be sure to check out the newly rebuilt Oak Island Pier, the tallest pier in North Carolina! It is complete with a tackle shop, restaurant and plenty of space for pedestrians and anglers.

For a change of perspective head over to the east end of the island to explore Caswell Beach, home of the Oak Island Lighthouse. Get a bird’s eye view of the area with a free tour to the top of the lighthouse, offered on Tuesday, Thursday and some Sunday mornings throughout the summer by reservation only. General, no reservation required, second level tours are available from Memorial Day through Labor Day on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

caswell beach

Ocean Isle Beach
For a hair-raising adventure, visit The Swamp Park at Ocean Isle Beach! This unique attraction will have you soaring through the sky on a zipline course, exploring the lands by ATV tour, spotting marine life on the swamp boat eco-tour, or swinging through the trees on the aerial adventure park.

Be sure to visit this island on Wednesdays to check out the “All hands-on Deck” program at the largest dry aquarium in the southeast at the Museum of Coastal Carolina. This interactive program gives guests an opportunity to learn about the creatures that live in the diverse ecosystem found in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

ocean isle beach

Sunset Beach
Located on the southwestern end of the Brunswick Islands, Sunset Beach is one of the most unique beach experiences that can be found on the east coast because the western end of the island is a completely undeveloped nature reserve. Just a mile’s walk from the last public beach access, is the Bird Island Reserve which is home to a variety of birds, wildlife and beautiful sand dunes. Here you can rejuvenate your soul at the Kindred Spirit Mailbox, where visitors find comfort in divulging their wishes, prayers and dreams among the breathtaking beauty of the ocean. Once back from the beach, finish your Sunset Beach hop with a tour of the Old Sunset Bridge Museum, home to the last pontoon swing bridge on the East Coast!

If visiting Sunset Beach on a Thursday, you can explore the Sunset Beach Waterfront Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. where fresh produce and local goods are sold. Stay for some Thursday night fun and check out the laser light and music show at the Ingram Planetarium.

Kindred Spirit Mailbox

Bald Head Island
Accessible only by boat, jump on board the ferry that leaves from Southport and take the 20 minute ride over to Bald Head Island. There you can tour North Carolina’s oldest lighthouse, Old Baldy. Rising above the trees, looking out over the sea, marsh and harbor, the lighthouse is only a short walk from the ferry landing. Admission to the Smith Island Museum of History allows you to climb Old Baldy’s 108 steps for an incomparable view of the island and tour the museum to learn about Bald Head Island’s seafaring history.

bald head island

Be sure to make North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands your next island hopping getaway this summer! For more information on the Brunswick Islands and other special offers, 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.