Visitors are often surprised at the number and variety of weekly vacation rentals throughout the area.. Vacation rentals are, in fact, an increasingly popular accommodation available to vacationers, and visitors will find that the sheer number of rentals available allows them to find an ideal retreat to fit their crew, from quiet condo complexes to brightly colored oceanfront sand castles.
With brilliant waterfront vistas, a collection of shops and restaurants, and enticing attractions, it can be hard to figure out what to discover first when vacationing in scenic Beaufort, NC. A small town with a lot of coastal charm, this waterfront destination is surprisingly packed with things to do that will appeal to visitors of all tastes, and all interests.
The Rachel Carson Reserve is a stunning stretch of barely-barrier island shoreline that’s found just off the coast of historic Downtown Beaufort. Covering 2,205 acres, this collection of three islands that are found along Taylor’s Creek at the mouth of the Newport River can be easily and scenically admired from veritably any waterfront vantage point from the heart of town, and are a stunning and undeveloped addition to the vast wildlife scene of the Crystal Coast.
The Cape Lookout National Seashore is a 56-mile long stretch of the Southern Outer Banks barrier island terrain that runs from Ocracoke Inlet to the northeast side of Beaufort Inlet. Comprised of three separate islands – the North Core Banks, the South Core Banks, and the Shackleford Banks – this wonderfully remote destination can only be accessed by a personal vessel, or a privately operated ferry or water taxi. As a result, it’s world-renowned for its miles of undeveloped and scenic beaches, its remarkable fishing, its exceptional shelling, and its abundant wildlife that thrives in the undisturbed and inherently wild environment.
One of the most sought-after attractions of the Shackleford Banks are the famed wild horses that call this deserted barrier island terrain home – the Shackleford Banks Wild Horses. Local residents for hundreds of years, these feral horses may be shy and only make occasional appearances when humans are around, but they are nonetheless one of the most unique and popular aspects of the 56-mile long Cape Lookout National Seashore. Every beach visitor hopes for an opportunity to spot one of these feral horses in their natural environment, and often, a chance to see one of these famed island residents is just a short water taxi or ferry ride away.
Though not as old as some as its neighbors - like the adjacent and more than 300-year-old town of Beaufort – Morehead City nevertheless has a unique history that’s evident around every waterfront corner. Envisioned by a governor, and eventually inhabited by residents fleeing a hurricane, the town of Morehead City stands out for its deliberate creation, as well as its slow but steady rise to fame as a maritime-oriented vacation destination.
Visitors who are heading to the Crystal Coast will find a scattering of hotels and motels throughout the shoreline and inland communities, but will soon discover that the primary type of accommodations available are vacation rentals. Located all along the Crystal Coast beaches from Atlantic Beach to the town of Emerald Isle, a vacation rental is the generally preferred accommodations option for vacationers thanks to ample space, exceptional locales close to the water, and plenty of homes and condos to choose from.
Many of the Inner Banks and Crystal Coast communities, like Beaufort and New Bern, are known for their scenic waterfronts, and downtown Morehead City is certainly no exception. Not to be outdone, in the 1980s, the town underwent an expansive renovation that turned its waterfront docks and downtown brick buildings just a block or so away into a revitalized area that is scenic, diverse, and can offer visitors a boatload of entertainment, both on and off the water.
Resembling a cross between a train depot and a mariner's port, The History Place is certainly an excellent first stop for anyone who wants to learn a little more about the fascinating inland and barrier island history that is found in abundance along the Crystal Coast.
Visitors to the central Crystal Coast region who want to embark on a wild island adventure without venturing too far away from the mainland can enjoy a relatively easy trek with a visit to Sugarloaf Island. Veritably hidden in plain sight, this unique little island is located just a shell’s throw away from Morehead City, and yet feels like it’s worlds away from the busy downtown area.
From the rustic barrier islands that are located offshore, to the mainland parks that resemble full scale resorts, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to camping in the Morehead City region. Best of all, because this coastal town is wonderfully close to local beaches, National Forests or National Refuges, hopping coastal towns, and everything in between, it’s easy to craft the camping adventure of a lifetime with a trip to this central Crystal Coast region.
There’s much more than meets the eye in Morehead City. Though the town is known in most beach-going circles as the place to shop and dine before hitting the sand, Morehead City also has a treasure trove of attractions and activities that will make visitors want to linger and explore. From exciting live theater shows to secretive deserted islands that are hidden in plain sight, visitors will want to make sure they check out these “must see” attractions and things to do that put Morehead City on the vacationer’s map.
Fort Macon State Park, located outside the eastern borders of Atlantic Beach, is one of the most visited and highly acclaimed destinations along the Crystal Coast, and for good reason. The expansive 389 acre park, which features gorgeous inlet views, fantastic beaches, and plenty of history in plain view around every sand dune, always tops the list of Crystal Coast attractions that can't be missed.
Set sail for a wild adventure that will thrill kids of all ages with an array of cruises and tours offered by Beaufort Pirates Revenge. Docked in the heart of waterfront Beaufort, and unmistakable for its towering pirate ship that haunts the harbor, this distinctive boat tour company is unique for its rare combination of local history, adventure, incredible waterfront excursions, and kid-friendly atmosphere where everyone can be a world famous swashbuckler.
Miss Crystal Coast Cruises is a cutome-made 49 passenger catamaran that can effortlessly provide a number of family-friendly expeditions to vacationers who want to enjoy this delicate chain of barrier islands and coastal territory to its fullest. Based out of Beaufort, the Miss Crystal Coast is specifically built for the purpose of sightseeing and dolphin watching. Visitors can enjoy exploring the beautiful downtown beaufort are, plus unbeatable perspectives of the region’s vast array of wildlife, shorelines, and on-the-water views. The Miss Crystal Coast is equipped with a restroom onboard.
Located along the oceanfront inside the Inn at Pine Knoll Shores, the Clamdigger Restaurant is a convenient and popular spot for Crystal Coast vacationers to enjoy a hearty breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The restaurant features an inviting wood-lined interior that has a rustic and nautical appeal. Breakfast patrons will find a wide selections of egg dishes, pancakes, waffles, french toast, biscuits and sandwiches, as well as an array of 3-egg omelets. Lunch patrons will enjoy a wealth of light appetizers, soups and salads, as well as a long list of sandwiches, and seafood dishes. Dinnertime guests can choose from beef entrées, seafood dishes, Italian fare, and southern classics, as well as lighter sandwiches and dishes for smaller appetites. The sheer variety of menu selections is where the Clamdigger Restaurant really shines, and patrons can pop in every day, and find something new to sample.
Visitors of all ages will have a blast at this destination that is designed for great times along the Crystal Coast shoreline. Professor Hacker's Lost Treasure Golf and Raceway is situated in the centrally located beach community of Salter Path, and is a favorite spot for families who want to have a little fun off the sand.
Dive into an adventure that’s teeming with local wildlife and exceptional beachcombing finds with a family-friendly adventure that’s provided by the Shackleford Wild Horse & Shelling Safari. As the name would readily suggest, this local Beaufort tour company takes passengers on a relaxed but thrilling adventure to the Shackleford Banks, where herds of wild horses and exceptional shelling can both be enjoyed.
Dive into an exploration of some of the Southern Outer Banks’ most remote shorelines with an excursion that’s led by Island Ferry Adventures. Featuring both transport to the outlying islands as well as guided tours of some of the region’s most wild spots, this tour company has a lot to offer for shell seekers, nature buffs, and everyday adventurers alike.
The Morehead City waterfront and downtown area go together hand in hand, in fact, with a number of marinas and docking spaces available for travelers who are arriving by boat. Several marinas, including the Morehead City Yacht Basin, the Portside Marina, and the Spooners Creek Marina, call this section of the Inner Banks home, and the town of Morehead City even has its own public docking facilities, newly completed, with deep water slips that are close to Arendell Street, one of the major streets that runs along Morehead City in the heart of the downtown region.
The mainland and waterfront boat slips are separated by a long boardwalk edging the water, which is ideal for a sunset or morning stroll. Visitors can work up an appetite as they admire the miles-wide views of the Bogue Sound and Money Island Bay, and can relax on strategically placed benches and wooden "deck swings" overlooking the scene. Other amenities include shaded gazebos and information kiosks that outline the history of the waterfront, and indicate local points of interest. New visitors should also be on the lookout for the giant and colorful statue of King Neptune, who stands guard over the local marinas and docks, and is located close to the hub of the downtown region.
Visitors to the waterfront will also be rewarded with a wide selection of galleries, boutiques, and acclaimed local restaurants, including the legendary Sanitary Fish Market and Restaurant, (located on the very edges of downtown), Jack's Waterfront Bar, Capt. Bill's Waterfront Restaurant and Mythos Waterfront Grill, an upscale Greek restaurant with local seafood specialties. As all of the names would suggest, these establishments, plus the half dozen or so additional eateries scattered throughout downtown, have phenomenal views of the open water, and are perfect destinations for a romantic dinner with a sunset-over-the-water backdrop.
In addition to the restaurants, shopping and boardwalks, vacationers will find ample avenues for having fun on the open water along Morehead City's waterfront. A dive center is located adjacent to the docks, as well as several charter fishing boats and tour services. Essentially, from the waterfront, visitors can embark on any number of adventures, including half day charter fishing trips for inshore sound species, full day charter fishing adventures in the Gulf Stream, island-hopping excursions to neighboring Sugarloaf Island or one of the many other nearby beaches, or a scenic tour along the busy and beautiful Bogue Sound.
Summer visitors can rent kayaks and canoes off the downtown docks as well for their own, self-guided adventures, and anglers are advised to look into the local charter fishing services available. Home to the annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, Morehead City is renowned for its charter fishing fleet, and fishermen who book a half-day or full-day trip will enjoy some of the best fishing on the East Coast, guided by some of eastern North Carolina's most experienced local captains and mates.
There are several hotels and inns located within walking distance of the downtown area, and most all of the local marinas offer exceptional, first-class services and amenities for travelers visiting by water. Electric hook-ups, wireless internet access, showers, restrooms, laundry facilities and small supply stores are all common attributes, with countless restaurants, shops and local attractions located just steps off the docks.
The waterfront is also home to the popular Jaycee Park, which is the venue of choice for a number of popular annual events, including Morehead City's Summer Concert Series, Double Decker bus tours, and community-wide parades and holiday celebrations.
Visitors to the Crystal Coast or the Inner Banks should reserve an afternoon or evening to explore everything that the scenic Morehead City waterfront has to offer. From ample docking space and marinas for travelers passing through along the Intracoastal Waterway, to an exceptional collection of restaurants that specialize in the best of North Carolina's seafood industry, everyone who visits this region will surely be charmed and fully entertained. Schedule a diving adventure, a full day of hard Gulf Stream fishing, or a lazy tour along the waterfront, and see first-hand why Morehead City is a rising star of the Coastal Carolina vacation scene.