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.

Seven Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Shell-heart

This Valentine’s Day think beyond a box of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers and treat your sweetheart to a romantic beach getaway. The beautiful beaches and charming coastal towns of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands make the ideal destination for a relaxing and romantic weekend. While Valentine’s Day weekend is a wonderful time to sweep your sweetheart away, the enticing variety of restaurants and attractions are perfect for planning a romantic getaway year-round.

Whether you are here for Valentine’s Day, an anniversary celebration, or simply a much-needed vacation, here are seven ways to celebrate with your sweetheart in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands:

Savor the Sunset

There is something inherently romantic about a sunset, particularly over the ocean. During this time of year, visitors to the Brunswick Islands can experience a true natural phenomenon. The east-west orientation of the Brunswick Islands means that you can sit on the beach and watch both the sunrise and sunset over the ocean without having to move your beach chair! Another way to capture unbelievable vistas that are sure to have you feeling sparks, is to take a romantic walk or bike ride along the beach.

sunset

Cozy Up at a B&B

Few things are more charming and romantic than a stay at a cozy bed and breakfast. Due to the location of these accommodations, guests can enjoy short walks to friendly coastal communities and white sand beaches. North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is currently home to a variety of fabulous B&Bs that are sure to be the perfect setting for your romantic getaway.

For more information about inns, hotels, resorts and vacation home rentals in the Brunswick Islands visit  www.ncbrunswick.com/accommodations.

Enjoy a Romantic Dinner for Two

No getaway would be complete without a romantic dinner for two. The area boasts a variety of waterfront dining options set along the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Fear River, Intracoastal Waterway and more. With an abundance of restaurant choices the Brunswick Islands offer guests a plethora of menu items such as fresh seafood, international cuisine and other fan favorites. Not only is the food top notch, but the waterfront views at many area restaurants are impossible to beat!

waterfront dining

Toast to Romance

For a fun break from the beach, couples can stop by our local winery. Located near Ocean Isle Beach, the Silver Coast Winery is the perfect spot for a romantic outing. Enjoy tastings of their award-winning wines, appreciate local artwork or stroll through their gift shop for some unique souvenirs. Or, if a cold brew is more your style, stop by one of the nearby breweries:

winery

Relax and Unwind

Treat yourself and your sweetheart to a relaxing appointment at one of the many day spas located in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Each spa offers a unique array of specialty services and treatments such as couple’s massages or facials that are sure to leave you and your loved one feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

Share a Secret

Take a romantic stroll or bike ride to Bird Island in Sunset Beach and discover a secluded little spot with a secret. Tucked away from the public eye is the Kindred Spirit Mailbox. The mailbox houses journals for locals and travelers alike to share their innermost thoughts. These journals have long held the wishes, thoughts, prayers and dreams of many Brunswick Islands visitors. For a truly unique experience, stop by the mailbox to share your love story, secrets or even plans for your future together.

Kindred Spirit Mailbox

Get Your Heart Racing

The Brunswick Islands are a great place to relax, but they are also perfect for sharing a bit of outdoor adventure. Try your hand at stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking along the Intracoastal Waterway. Or for a different perspective, soar through the skies at The Swamp Park. The Swamp Park offers miles of zipline tours, a 49 element 7 course adventure park and a Swamp Boat Eco Tour. In the Brunswick Islands there are plenty of ways for you and your sweetheart to try something new and make memories that will last for years to come.

kayaking in Brunswick Islands

For more ways to plan an unforgettable, romantic Valentine’s Day getaway to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

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.

Welcome to Calabash: “Seafood Capital of the World”

Seafood Capital

“Good Night Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are…”

 

Fans of classic television and radio will remember star Jimmy Durante and this infamous phrase, but not many know its connection to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

Legend has it that while visiting Calabash, Durante was feeling a bit under the weather. A local restaurateur offered to fix him something to make him feel better. When she did, he told her he’d make her famous, and from that day forward, he closed each and every show with this tribute!

Fast forward to today and Mr. Durante would be right at home –  still delighted to find delectable shrimp, clams, fish and oysters coated in a light batter, quickly fried to lock in freshness and served up in very generous portions!  This is dining Calabash-style, and the reason the town has earned the title of “Seafood Capital of the World!”  Restaurants from coast to coast have tried to replicate the style, but there is nothing like the experience of enjoying it in its home town of Calabash.

Calabash seafood

As you drive down to the docks that line the Calabash River, restaurant after restaurant beckons – family-owned and each holding their secret recipes tight! Enjoy a bucket of oysters, platter of Calabash shrimp, crab, flounder and even a full menu for land lubbers, if you must.

Calabash waterfront

Check out this list of dining options that any foodie or seafood aficionado will appreciate:

Beck’s Restaurant

Calabash Seafood Hut

Capt. John’s Seafood House

Capt. Nance Seafood

Dockside Seafood House

Ella’s of Calabash

The Boundary House

Waterfront Seafood Shack Market and Eatery

Insider Tips:

After a filling meal of local Calabash seafood, a stroll along the docks is the perfect way to walk off those generous portions and take in the ambiance of a working waterfront.

Try a scoop (or two) of Calabash Creamery’s Cow-a-Bash Crunch ice cream named one of “50 irresistible ice cream flavors” by USA Today.

If you prefer cooking up your own seafood, you can buy freshly caught fish and shrimp right from the docks along Calabash’s waterfront. Or you can catch your own by going out on one of the charters that leave from Calabash.

Let Southport’s Yacht Basin Reel You In For Great Waterfront Dining!

Southport’s Yacht Basin is located where the Intracoastal Waterway, the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean meet; it’s also where an amazing convergence of waterfront dining options lure diners to experience local seafood, trend setting restaurants, seafood dives and quaint coastal-village charm.  This area in what was once a fishing industry town, connects firmly to Southport’s sea-faring history with a slew of restaurants now lining the docks.   Any of the decks, patios and outdoor dining options are perfect for watching for dolphins, sunsets and passing boats. What’s more, plenty of waterside “parking” means you can boat right up to dinner!

DSC_1482The eye-catching aqua exterior of Fishy Fishy Café hints at the Caribbean influenced fare of this favorite hot-spot!  Dine outside or in on specialties like Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Shrimp, Fish N Chips, Asian Tuna, or Blackened Salmon.  Live music makes for a great night out, and the bartenders can mix up a cool cocktail!  If Fishy Fishy looks familiar, fans of the guilty-pleasure TV series Revenge may recognize it as the setting for the bar where Jack worked!

A short stroll will take you to Yacht Basin Eatery.  A to-die-for view of the water and passing boats along with a wide selection of fresh seafood to burgers, sandwiches and salads, make this a favorite.  Dine on blackened grouper, Lobster Ravioli or Linguine with Red or White Clam Sauce while enjoying live music and a specialty drink from the extensive bar menu for a great night out!

DSC_1564Next door you’ll find Yacht Basin Provision Company, named #1 Seafood Dive in NC in the Spring of 2012 by Coastal Living magazine.  There’s always a line at the door as folks queue up for a menu featuring sandwiches from grilled yellowfin tuna to grouper salad to hamburgers and hot dogs as well as salads and sides.  Conch fritters and steamed shrimp are featured alongside daily specials, and cold beer is serve-yourself, straight out of the cooler on the honor system!  Does it get any better?  All seating is outdoors and offers prime views of the sunset and passing boats.

Sitting high atop pilings where the road meets the Cape Fear River, The Frying Pan offers a commanding view of the river and Bald Head Island.  From this lofty perch, fresh and local favorites such as sweet potato biscuits, pan seared seafood, a variety of fried seafood specialties, and mouth-watering homemade desserts are served up with spectacular waterfront views. Interesting fact, while its moniker certainly hints at a cooking style, the restaurant also pays homage to Frying Pan Shoals, a long, shifting area of rocky shoals just off the coast and nicknamed the Graveyard of the Atlantic, as the area is littered with shipwrecks.

Flava Decorations 1And, what waterfront dining experience would be complete without a stop at an ice cream parlor? The tagline for Flava’s Ice Cream is “more flavors, more fun,” and with homemade brownies and cookies complementing custom and tried and true ice cream flavors, it’s the perfect after-dinner stop.  And, you can pick up the obligatory t-shirt, too!

Visit here to see  a list of additional great dining options in Southport and the rest of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.