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.

Seven Reasons to Shellabrate the North Carolina Oyster Festival

NC Oyster Festival

October marks the start of Oyster Season in North Carolina, and the Brunswick Islands is the place to revel in and enjoy this tasty treat. North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is the site of the state’s official oyster celebration, and the Annual North Carolina Oyster Festival returns to Ocean Isle Beach for its 38th year October 20-21, 2018. Check out our list of seven reasons to stop by and shellabrate at the North Carolina Oyster Festival!

1.Two Days to Experience

With so many things to do, explore and eat, the North Carolina Oyster Festival offers two days to experience the exciting and action-packed event. Visitors can swing by from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 20 and from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 21 for a shell of a good time.

NC Oyster Festival Oyster Stew Cook-off

2. Friendly and Flavorful Competition

The festival hosts several opportunities for a little friendly competition. Whether guests are looking to shag, shuck or stuff their faces, the North Carolina Oyster Festival has something for everyone. Festival-goers can enter the shag dance competition, oyster eating contest and oyster shucking contest. For even more festive flavor, attendees can buy a ticket to taste one of the delicious dishes prepared by local restaurants for the oyster stew cook-off.

3. Countless Local Arts and Crafts Vendors

The North Carolina Oyster Festival is not just a food festival, it is an arts and crafts extravaganza. The event brings in the best in fine art and crafts from around the area. Attendees can explore rows of vendors offering the best in handmade jewelry, painted glassware, hand-blown Christmas ornaments, natural soaps, jams, handcrafted clothing items, woodcraft, unique cuisines and more.

4. Plenty of Palate Pleasing Eats

While fried and steam oysters do hold the spotlight during this two-day seafood celebration, festival-goers can also sample an array of delicious eats. From crab cakes and BBQ to pizza and sweet treats, the North Carolina Oyster Festival features food for every palate.

NC Oyster Festival

5. Loads of Live Music and Entertainment

Music is an essential part of any great outdoor festival and every year the North Carolina Oyster Festival brings exceptional entertainers to the stage. Bring your beach chair and enjoy an incredible lineup of popular beach bands, cover artists and country music. This year’s lineup includes Wayne Stewart & September Rain; Chocolate Chip & Company; Trey Calloway; Tina Smith; and The Tim Clark Band.

6. Tastes of North Carolina History

The annual festival is undoubtedly about great food and a great time, but it is important to remember just why the mighty mollusk deserves a dedicated event. The oyster has been an important food source in coastal communities for thousands of years, and oyster harvesting has long been a big industry for North Carolina. While oyster harvesting recently experienced a decline, restoration and hatchery programs have helped protect this storied industry and preserve production of this coastal culinary staple.

7. Budget-Friendly for Every Itinerary

Admission to the two-day festival is $5.00 (cash only) for adults with no admission cost for children under 12, making it an easy addition to every travel itinerary. Bring your family to the Brunswick Islands to experience this North Carolina tradition!

For more information on the 38th Annual North Carolina Oyster Festival, visit www.ncbrunswick.com/event/north-carolina-oyster-festival-ocean-isle-beach-nc.  For more information about other events throughout the Brunswick Islands, visit our calendar of events.

Get Your Groove on at Free Outdoor Concerts in NC’s Brunswick Islands

outdoor concert

The fun doesn’t have to end at the beach when the day ends. Bring your beach chair or blanket and the whole family to enjoy free outdoor music concerts scheduled throughout the summer in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.  Dance like no one is watching or just sit back and enjoy music of all genres from talented local bands to well-known regional favorites. You can catch a free concert practically every night of the week. And you’re certain find music you’ll want to tap your feet to from beach tunes, blues, rock, and soul to reggae, bluegrass, big band, and country. Visit www.ncbrunswick.com/events to get a complete schedule of concerts and bands.

Calabash Concert Series
Tuesdays, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. (through August 29)
Calabash Town Park, Calabash

Sunset Beach Concerts
Wednesdays, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. (through September 6)
Gazebo in the Village Park, Sunset Beach

Southport Summer Concerts – Thursdays in the Park
Thursdays, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. (through September 21)
Franklin Square Park and Garrison Lawn, Southport

Shallotte SummerFest
Thursdays, 7:00 p.m. (July 6 through August 10)
Mulberry Park, Shallotte

Ocean Isle Beach Concerts
Fridays, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. (through September 8)
Museum of Coastal Carolina parking lot, Ocean Isle Beach

Oak Island Summer Concerts
Fridays, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. (through August 31)
Middleton Park, Oak Island

Holden Beach Concerts
Sundays, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. (through September 3)
Holden Beach Pavilion, Holden Beach

No matter your musical taste, these summer concerts are sure to add to your summertime fun and relaxation. For a full list of the events taking place this summer and beyond in the Brunswick Islands, visit www.ncbrunswick.com/events.