Top Reasons to Get Up Early in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

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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.

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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.

Shelling Tips for North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands Visitors

Shelling on Holden Beach NC

As the Atlantic waters warm up and the sun makes itself a permanent installation, beachgoers will soon flock to the coast for sun, sand and shells. Home to a beautiful array of sparkling shells, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands features 45 miles of scenic beaches perfect for every kind of shell-hunter. Visitors to the Brunswick Islands have a unique opportunity to discover coastal treasures and collect souvenirs as a reminder of their beach vacation. From sand dollars and scallop shells to true tulips and olive shells, there is sure to be a shell to catch everyone’s eye. Below are some of the top spots in the Brunswick Islands to find natural treasures washed up on the sand as well as a few insider tips to shelling in the area!

Ocean Isle Beach
No shelling adventure would be complete without a stop at Ocean Isle Beach. Home to some of the state’s coolest shells, like the colorful coquina clams or beautiful moon snails, Ocean Isle Beach is sure to delight beachgoers going for a shoreline stroll. But be sure to bring a bucket to hold your best discoveries, you never know what must-keep prizes you’ll find! Shelling tip: Be mindful of the tides when scheduling your excursion! Low tides are among the best times of day to uncover rare treasures that have sunk to the sandy bottom.

moon snails

Bird Island
Sitting on the west end of Sunset Beach is Bird Island, a 1200 plus acre nature reserve. Beachgoers in search of fully intact sand dollars are in luck, Bird Island’s secluded beaches is a great place to find this prized coastal souvenir. Shelling tip: Sand dollars are a species of sea urchin. If you find a sand dollar that appears “furry” and a dark green, red or purplish color, it is likely still alive! Please return it to its home by gently placing it back onto the sea floor a foot or so from the shore.

sanddollar

Holden Beach
Recent beach renourishment has contributed to Holden Beach’s position as a shelling haven. Boasting a non-commercial, laid back vibe, Holden Beach’s nine miles of beach are perfect for shellers on the hunt for a relaxed, family-friendly experience. Beachgoers may discover scallop shells of various colors or find a shimmering lettered olive or two glistening from below the shallow waters. Shelling tip: Don’t be afraid to get your toes wet! Sometimes there are beautiful treasures hiding underneath several inches of water.

scallop shells

The Point
Venture to the far west end of Oak Island and discover “The Point,” a spacious peninsula overlooking the east end of Holden Beach. This large, open beach is a sheller’s paradise! Beachgoers often have a lot of luck finding many ocean gems when hunting at low tide. Shelling tip: If you plan your shelling adventure during the middle of peak vacation season, be sure to get out to the beach early in the day. This will give you first pick of the shells that washed up overnight.

knobbed whelk

Whether you’re an amateur shell-finder or an avid shell connoisseur, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is the perfect destination to relax and unwind by discovering some of the East Coast’s best hidden treasures. From Sunset Beach to Bald Head Island, every mile of the 45 miles that make up the Brunswick Islands is sure to please the eye of every beachgoer. Grab your bucket and head to the shore, it’s time to get your shell on!

For more information on activities to enjoy during your vacation in the Brunswick Islands, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

Brunswick Islands Fun That Won’t Break the Bank

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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.

The Best Mother’s Day Gifts for Moms that Love the Beach

Spring is here and that means it is time to get ready to celebrate that one very special lady in your life. With Mother’s Day right around the corner, it is never too early to start planning how to show mom just how much you care. For moms that live by the motto “life is better in flip-flops” think beyond flowers this Mother’s Day and get coastal at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Check out our list of the perfect gifts for moms who always seem to have the beach on the brain!

Toast to Mom at Silver Coast Winery

Say “cheers” to mom this Mother’s Day with a trip to Silver Coast Winery in Ocean Isle Beach. The Silver Coast Winery story began on Mother’s Day 2002 when owner Maryann Azzato was gifted a half-acre plot of land from her husband, Dr. Bud. A full family affair, Maryann along with her siblings and children planted the very grapes that would grow to become this local gem and Mother’s Day must. The winery offers a vineyard, tasting room and tours daily. Visitors can also enjoy the local art that adorns the walls of the winery’s art gallery.

waterfront dining

Take Mom to Dinner with a View

We all know the sun rises and sets with mom, so this year treat her to a view as spectacular as she is. The beaches and coastal towns of the Brunswick Islands are home to an incredible array of world-class dining experiences featuring both local specialties and global inspiration. Whether mom loves tastes of the Caribbean, signature Southern dishes, flavors of the Mediterranean or a fresh catch of the day, there are countless options to choose from. Our surplus of tranquil and scenic beaches creates seemingly endless opportunities for dinner and a coastal sunset. With multiple magnificent vantage points overlooking the Atlantic or the Intracoastal Waterway, it is easy to find a special dinner spot with a view as perfect as she is.

Traverse the Beach Searching for Shells

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands’ 45 miles of sandy beaches create an abundant playground for exploring. Take mom back in time to simpler days when summers were spent searching for seashells in the sand. Sift through the sand for some of the popular shells found along our shores. From angelwings to olive shells, true tulips to sand dollars, there is always a hidden gem awaiting your discovery. These little treasures are sure to brighten up mom’s day for years to come and give her a piece of the beach to hold close to her heart all year long.

Trek to the Kindred Spirit Mailbox

For a unique beachgoing experience, take mom to serene Bird Island for a stroll along Sunset Beach to visit the beloved Kindred Spirit Mailbox. For years the mailbox has been a must-visit spot for much-needed reflection. Visitors venture to the secluded mailbox to write their stories and share their love with the universe. Year after year people come by to add their letters, notes, thoughts, poems, prayers and wishes to the growing stack of journals found inside. This Mother’s Day, treat mom to a special spiritual experience and share your story with the Kindred Spirit Mailbox.

Treat Mom to One Unforgettable Beach Experience

NC's Brunswick Islands family vacationThe best way to give back to a beach-loving mom is to treat her to the ultimate beachgoing experience with an unforgettable getaway to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Our peaceful beaches, incredible culinary scene, rich history, exciting events and popular attractions make a vacation to our coastal oasis a sure way to put a smile on mom’s face. There is no shortage of ways to show mom how much you love her at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, so be sure to seas every opportunity to make May 13 a Mother’s Day to remember.

For more information and ways to make a memorable experience at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

 

Find Seashells by the Seashore in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands’ 45 miles of scenic beaches provide plenty of opportunities for discoveries of coastal treasures along the way. Beachgoers going for a stroll are in for a treat with the variety of seashells found in the area – just keep a careful eye toward the sand.

To help with your next Brunswick Islands shelling excursion, below is a guide of just a few of the shells and other treasures you might find on your outing. Just remember to leave the seashells and creatures in their home if they’re still alive!  Shelling Tip: Be aware of the tides and schedule your shelling adventure for low tide.

Angelwings
Resembling the wings of an angel, this shell can get up to about 5 ¾ inches long with 30 sharply beaded ribs.

 

Olive Shells
These shiny, cylindrical shells can grow up to around 2 ½ inches long, and North Carolina is the Northernmost location where they are found in the U.S. 

Olive Shell

True Tulips
The large, spindle-shaped shells have smooth and shiny exteriors and can get up to 9 ½ inches in size.

True Tulip Seashell 

Sand Dollars
Sand dollars are not seashells but sea urchins.  Sand dollars that are safe to take home are white in color from being bleached by the sun. If you see a sand dollar that is darker in color and has tiny spines that resemble hair, please return them to the water.

 

Starfish
A starfish is not actually a fish, but an echinoderm, which is related to the sand dollar. Starfish can live for up to 35 years in the wild and should be handled gently.

To learn more about the shells found in the Brunswick Islands, visit the Museum of Coastal Carolina in Ocean Isle Beach. The museum features impressive displays of beautiful shells from the region and plenty of volunteers that can tell you more about them and even help you identify the shells you found on the beach. Visitors to the museum can also view shark jaws and teeth, and see live sea stars and urchins.

To get shelling and plan your visit to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, visit www.NCBrunswick.com.