5 Reasons to Host a Beach Feast this Thanksgiving

thanksgiving

Everyone loves a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, but it is no secret that coordinating the annual feast can be one massive feat. This year step away from the pressure of holiday cooking and create new traditions with family and friends in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands! Replace the roasted turkey with fresh seafood and celebrate Thanksgiving at the beach. Families can switch up their travel plans with a little bit of sun, sand and surf to enjoy the ultimate Turkey Day getaway. From one-of-a kind experiences to remarkable waterfront dining, there are many reasons to celebrate Thanksgiving with all the trimmings in NC’s Brunswick Islands.

1. Giving Thanks for Nature’s Beauty

Occurring every fall, NC’s Brunswick Islands invites visitors to experience a unique, natural phenomenon that takes place on the coast. Due to a combination of the Earth’s rotation and the Brunswick Islands’ east-west orientation, the phenomenon allows beachgoers to experience the sunset and sunrise over the ocean without ever moving their beach chairs. With fall in full swing, there is no better time to witness an awe-inspiring sunrise in the morning and absorb the last glimpse of daylight as the sun sets into the vibrant horizon.

sunrise

2. Spacious Beaches for the Whole Family

With the whole family gathered, you’ll need plenty of room on the beach for football and sandcastles. Trade in the changing foliage for changing tides and experience more beach for your blanket. The daytime temperatures in NC’s Brunswick Islands average in the high 60°s in November, so it is still mild enough for beaching. Visitors can enjoy building sandcastles, reeling in the catch of the day, searching for washed up shells or just sitting and relaxing on the beach, all without breaking a sweat. 

sunset beach

3. More House for More Family

Thanksgiving is all about bringing the whole family together! With NC’s Brunswick Islands being a great central location to many larger cities, this destination offers the perfect place for families to reconnect for the holidays. Thanksgiving is one of the best times to take advantage of the seasonally discounted rates on vacation rentals, inns and bed and breakfasts. Visitors can choose from a range of beachfront rental homes, ideal for families of all sizes, with spacious kitchens and plenty of room to celebrate the holiday with stunning coastal views.

vacation home

4. Pet-Friendly Thanksgiving

Don’t leave your dogs at home this holiday! Dogs love the feel of sand on their paws and the joy of splashing around in the waves just as much as humans do. Luckily, during the fall and winter months, Brunswick Islands’ beaches have relaxed leash laws. Visitors can book a special pet-friendly rental home, so their furry friends can tag along and enjoy the holiday by their side. Who’s going to eat the left-over table scraps, anyways? Although the pet regulations are more relaxed during the fall and winter, the rules do vary based on the beach. Be sure to check the applicable regulations before heading to the waves to assure yourself, and others, the best beach experience possible.

dog

5. Have a Beach Feast You’ll Never Forget

For those looking to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast without the stress of cooking, you’ll find a range of unique restaurants in NC’s Brunswick Islands. From traditional Calabash-style seafood to international dishes and casual American fare, there are numerous restaurants around the area that will please everyone in the family’s palate. Rather than slaving over a hot stove this fall, indulge in delicious local meals bursting with flavor while you take in picturesque waterfront vistas. You don’t have to worry about missing out on your favorite Thanksgiving dishes! Several restaurants in the area, including The Boundary House and Ports of Call, will be serving a traditional Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings. And if you want to ditch the cooking but still enjoy a night in, you can pick up your feast from The View at Brick Landing Plantation, Hickory Shaft Bistro, The Purple Onion Café or Causeway Gourmet.

From sunrise to sunset, there are plenty of reasons to be thankful when visiting North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands this holiday season. For more information on what to do, where to stay and how to plan your trip to the Brunswick Islands, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

5 Outstanding Oyster Dishes in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

oyster

I scream, you scream, we all scream for… oysters! Oyster season is upon us here in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands! Serving up classic dishes like Oysters Rockefeller to steamer pots big enough for the whole family, there isn’t a better place to kick off oyster season than in the Brunswick Islands!

From upscale waterfront restaurants to casual, family-friendly eateries to a major festival dedicated to these yummy mollusks, the options for oysters in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are endless!

Check out these five outstanding oyster dishes found in the Brunswick Islands:

1. Pit Roasted Oysters – The Oyster Rock, Calabash

The Oyster Rock is known for many things but most notably is their oysters – I mean it is in the name! They offer a variety of oyster dishes but one of their most popular entrees is the Pit Roasted Oysters. Cooked over a custom outdoor pit, these oysters are served up plump, juicy and piping hot, ready to eat! As an added bonus The Oyster Rock is located on the banks of the Calabash River and has a beautiful outdoor seating section perfect for watching the fishing boats come in.

If you prefer your oysters fried, then stick around Calabash for some authentic Calabash seafood! This unique style of seafood comes lightly breaded and fried to perfection. Get your seafood prepared Calabash style whether it be oysters, shrimp, flounder, scallops or the catch of the day!

2. Steamer’s Pot – Castaways Raw Bar and Grill, Holden Beach

Head on over to Castaways Raw Bar and Grill in Holden Beach for your next oyster feast! This local hot spot is home to many unique, mouthwatering dishes but none more so than the Steamer’s Pot. Made to share, this southern staple consists of oysters, crab legs, clams, mussels, shrimp, corn-on-the-cob, sausages and red potatoes, all steamed together in a pot with Old Bay and herbs. Or, if you want a cooler option try the Seafood Tower! Served on ice, the Seafood Tower is built with little neck clams, mussels, peel-n-eat shrimp, oysters on the half shell and a half pound of crab legs.

3. Oysters Rockefeller – Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille, Ocean Isle Beach

Located on the Ocean Isle Beach Intracoastal Waterway, Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille is a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Nothing can beat the view of a sunset from their outdoor deck, except maybe their food! Jinks Creek serves up a variety of oyster dishes, but if you are looking for a coastal classic then try the Oysters Rockefeller- freshly shucked local oysters topped with pernod cream, chopped farm greens and bacon, oven broiled and served at the perfect steaming temperature!

4. Oyster Toppings – Moore Street Oyster Bar, Southport

Located in what was a 19th century pharmacy in downtown Southport, the Moore Street Oyster Bar has been beautifully transformed into a lively, family-friendly restaurant. Depending on the season, Moore Street Oyster Bar offers a rotating variety of oysters brought in from all over the east coast. Once your oysters are picked then comes the difficult part… choosing the toppings! Moore Street Oyster Bar has six hot oyster dish toppings to choose from and three cold options. And for the oyster lovers 21 and over in the group, try a Moore Street Oyster Bar specialty… The Oyster Shooter! This shooter combines Tito’s Vodka, lemon horseradish ice, house-made hot sauce and a raw oyster! This is one oyster stop you won’t want to skip.

5. Beginner vs Pro Oyster Baskets – Swain Seafood Shack, Oak Island

As the largest of Brunswick County’s barrier islands, Oak Island is home to many incredible dinning options, but one restaurant that comes to mind is the Swain Seafood Shack. With oyster baskets designed for the eager and the hungry, this is the family oyster lovers paradise! The Beginner Baskets serve up 6-7 ounces of fried oysters along side homemade shack chips, hush puppies and coleslaw, where as the Pro Baskets come with a hearty helping of 9-10 ounces of delicious fried oysters!

oysters

From classically coastal dishes to pit roasted oysters to uniquely topped oysters on the half shell, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is serving up the best raw, steamed and fried oysters around! Not convinced? Well then check out the 39th Annual North Carolina Oyster Festival in Ocean Isle Beach on October 19 – 20! This event features live entertainment, an arts and crafts show and a variety of delicious food options, including all the oysters you can eat. And for a little healthy competition, check out the oyster shucking contest, oyster eating contest or the oyster stew cook-off.

For more information on dinning, events and more in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

Five Reasons to Visit North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands this Fall

Holden Beach in September

Just because summer is coming to an end doesn’t mean your beach trips have to! Fall is one of the best times of the year to visit North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. With six expansive beaches on five islands, mild temperatures, countless fun events and much more, the Brunswick Islands are the place to be this autumn!

Check out these five reasons why you should make the Brunswick Islands your next fall getaway:

1. Watch the sunrise and sunset over the ocean

Sunrises and sunsets are a staple of any beach vacation, but a fall getaway to the Brunswick Islands means being able to witness the sunrise and sunset over the Atlantic Ocean without ever moving your beach chair! This is due to the fact that the islands run east to west with uniquely south facing beaches. So from the late fall to early spring you are able to see the sun rise and set directly over the ocean. There is no wonder why this incredible phenomena has been called one of the “10 Incredible Phenomena You Have to See in Fall” by Weather.com.

Sunset over the Atlantic Ocean on Ocean Isle Beach

2. Enjoy events for every member of the family

From the Southport Wooden Boat Show to the North Carolina Festival by the Sea to the US Open King Mackerel Tournament to the 39th Annual North Carolina Oyster Festival, the Brunswick Islands are in no short supply of fun, family-friendly events to attend this fall! Whether you are looking for a place to munch down, get your groove on or shop till you drop, NC’s Brunswick Islands has an event for you. Check out www.ncbrunswick.com/events for a complete list of events happening in the Brunswick Islands this fall.

Southport Wooden Boat Show

3. Have the beaches seemingly to yourself

Fall temperatures in the Brunswick Islands stay in the 70s through October and the upper 60s in November. The area’s islands, waterways, and marshes provide the perfect scenic backdrop and climate for going on a kayaking or paddleboarding adventure, grabbing a bite to eat at one of many waterfront restaurants, hitting the fairways on one of more than 30 golf courses, casting a line and reeling in that day’s catch or just sitting and relaxing on the beach. You’ll also find that with schools back in session, you’ll have our already-spacious and uncrowded beaches even more to yourself!

Fall beach getaway

4. Bring your four-legged companions

Treat your furry friends to their own beach vacation in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands! The off season is one of the best times of the year to bring your dog to the beach. Pet rules and regulations vary from beach to beach, but leashed dogs are allowed on Brunswick Islands beaches all day in the fall. And if you want to give your dog some off-leash time, head to Caswell BeachOak Island or Bald Head Island where your best buddies can have some fetching fun! Just be sure to check out www.ncbrunswick.com/activity/pets-on-the-beach for the exact times you can let your dog off-leash. From rolling in the sand to splashing in the waves, your puppy pals will love their beach getaway!

Pet Friendly beach

5. Relax and rejuvenate

After getting the kids back to school and before the hustle and bustle of the holidays begin, take a well deserved, relaxing beach getaway to the Brunswick Islands! Take a scenic walk on Bird Island out to the Kindred Spirit Mailbox, where hopeful travelers venture to divulge their thoughts and feelings into the journals tucked away inside this landmark. After you cleanse your spirit, rejuvenate your body at one of the many day spas found in the Brunswick Islands. And there is certainly no better way to relax and rejuvenate then by spending time on one of the calming beaches of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

fall

Summer isn’t the only time of year to take a beach getaway! North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is the year round vacation destination fit for the whole family. For more information on the Brunswick Islands, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

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.

10 Scrumptious Shrimp Dishes to Enjoy on National Shrimp Day

National Shrimp Day

Known for its rich shrimping and fishing heritage and abundance of seafood restaurants, there is no better place to celebrate National Shrimp Day than in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands! On National Shrimp Day – or any other day – be sure to try some of these delicious, fresh seafood dishes for yourself.

Check out some of our favorite local shrimp dishes below!

1. Shrimp & Grits – Cape Fear Seafood Company (Leland)

Shrimp and grits is a staple offering at any Southern seafood restaurant and the Cape Fear Seafood Company in Leland takes this classic coastal dish to a new level. With fresh caught Carolina shrimp, applewood bacon, tomatoes, scallions and mushrooms in a low country cream sauce over cheesy grits, Cape Fear’s shrimp and grits is a perfect choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner on National Shrimp Day!

2. Shrimp Burger – Provision Company (Holden Beach)

If you’re looking for a true culinary experience to try on National Shrimp Day, check out the shrimp burger at Provision Company on Holden Beach. This delectable dish puts a spin on your standard burger with a patty made with grilled shrimp and topped with lettuce, tomato, onions and a creole remoulade sauce on the side.

3. Coconut Shrimp – Fishy Fishy Café (Southport)

Take the boat over to Southport and pull up right at the docks of Fishy Fishy Café where you can enjoy some tasty coconut shrimp, lightly battered and fried and topped with an orange Dijon glaze. Fishy Fishy Café offers tasty seafood with an unbeatable view and lively atmosphere that perfectly encompasses the personality of the Brunswick Islands.

4. Stateline Scampi – The Oyster Rock (Calabash)

If pasta is more your speed, head to The Oyster Rock in Calabash for their Stateline Scampi. This tasty shrimp scampi dish features large Carolina white shrimp sautéed in butter with fresh garlic, local diced tomatoes, white wine and fresh lemon tossed in bucatini pasta and comes with garlic bread and grated parmesan cheese. For a perfect mix of Italian cuisine and delicious Carolina seafood, The Oyster Rock is the spot for you.

5. Sweet & Sour Shrimp – The Fish House Restaurant (Oak Island)

For a creative take on classic fried shrimp recipes, head to The Fish House Restaurant in Oak Island and try their sweet & sour shrimp served with a fresh vegetable medley and your choice of starch. These flavorful morsels are deep fried before being tossed with pineapple and sweet and sour sauce, giving them a tangy, citrusy twist.

National Shrimp Day

6. Firecracker Shrimp – The Boundary House (Calabash)

Add some spice to your National Shrimp Day celebration and help yourself to a heaping portion of firecracker shrimp at The Boundary House restaurant in Calabash. These little guys have a bit of bite as they’re lightly fried and coated in a spicy chili sauce.

7. Stuffed Shrimp – Crabby Oddwaters (Sunset Beach)

Let your taste buds run wild this National Shrimp Day with delicious stuffed Shrimp at Crabby Oddwaters on Sunset Beach. These jumbo shrimp are packed with flavor and flaky crab meat and are baked to perfection, making for a great dish to celebrate this holiday.

8. Cheesy Shrimp and Lobster Artichoke Dip – Wing and Fish Company (Shallotte)

What better way to celebrate National Shrimp Day than with cheesy shrimp and lobster artichoke dip found at the Wing and Fish Company in Shallotte. This tasty dish is loaded with delicious shrimp and lobster folded into a blend of cream and parmesan cheese, spinach and artichoke hearts, and served with fresh baked tortilla chips.

9. Shrimp Étouffée – Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille (Ocean Isle Beach)

Indulge in Shrimp Étouffée this National Shrimp Day, a can’t miss treat found at Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille on Ocean Isle Beach. Enjoy locally caught shrimp simmered in spicy country ham and tomato broth topped with pickled red onion and served with buttered rice and scallions.

10. Traditional Calabash Shrimp (Calabash)

You can’t find a better place to celebrate National Shrimp Day than the Brunswick Islands, home of Calabash, North Carolina, the “Seafood Capital of the World.” Calabash’s title was earned thanks to its namesake cooking technique of lightly battering and frying shrimp, giving it a perfectly crispy outer shell while leaving the inside juicy and buttery. Other places can try to imitate it, but nothing beats the original for this tasty dish. There can be no list of must try shrimp dishes that doesn’t include Calabash-style fried shrimp. To find dishes featuring Calabash-style fried shrimp head to any of the delicious seafood restaurants in town for an authentic Calabash dining experience.  As an added bonus, several of the town’s seafood restaurants feature outdoor, waterfront dining.

National Shrimp Day

These are just a sampling of the many great seafood dishes and restaurants found in the Brunswick Islands. For more information on dinning options, visit www.ncbrunswick.com.