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.
While the beach towns of the Crystal Coast may get the lion’s share of attention from vacationers, Morehead City is a treasure trove of unique attractions in its own right, thanks to a vibrant scene where local history, arts, culture, and a love of the water all combine. From stunning views of the heart of the on-the-water action to historical sites or museums where centuries of artifacts are housed, there is truly a little something for every visitor in this unique coastal community.
Visitors who want to be close to everything the Crystal Coast has to offer – including charming downtowns, shopping complexes, hopping beaches, and everything in between – may want to set their vacation sights on the central town of Morehead City. This small town features easy access to area beaches, a great shopping and dining scene, and a cool waterfront downtown with miles of views. As a result of these combined factors, Morehead City is a fine destination for any Crystal Coast visitor who wants to experience it all.
The Crystal Coast's offshore waters are guarded by the US Coast Guard, and Emerald Isle is home to one of their flagship stations, encompassing a large section of the town's western edge, adjacent to the inlet, and marked by an unimposing station house that more closely resembles a classic beach cottage than a military outpost.
The Crystal Coast has more than 85 miles of coastline, which includes 56 miles of protected and unspoiled beaches that make up the Cape Lookout National Seashore. Because of this, folks will find plenty of stretches of sand where they can use their 4WD vehicle to cruise, explore, and find a remote beach spot to call their own.
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.
The Cape Lookout Lighthouse is one of the most distinctive lighthouses along the Outer Banks coastline, due to its black and white diamond-patterned exterior, as well as its remote location along the Cape Lookout National Seashore. Accessible only by boat or a small privately-run ferry, the structure is nonetheless a striking and rewarding site, thanks to its stature and its stunning locale surrounded by miles of desolate beaches.
The waterfront Cahooque Creek Recreation Site, located at the very corner where the Hancock and Cahoogue rivers meet up with the expansive Neuse River, is a water and boat lover's dream destination. With easy access to all three of these rivers, in addition to the Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean just miles away, vessels of all varieties, from kayaks to skiffs, will find ample watery terrain to explore.
The Bogue Island Fishing Pier is a legendary landmark for long time Emerald Isle vacationers. Built in the late 1950s, and operated by the same family for well over 40 years, the fishing pier is a paradise for anglers who want to take advantage of the fantastic fishing conditions that have lured in fishermen to this small coastal town for decades.
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.
Morehead City is a coastal community that revolves around fishing. From its early ties to the commercial fishing industry to its modern day reputation as home to one of the biggest fishing tournaments along the Eastern Seaboard, anglers will find that when it comes to great and diverse fishing grounds, Morehead City is hard to beat.
Morehead City was the brainchild of John Motley Morehead, governor of North Carolina from 1841 to 1845. Governor Morehead foresaw the commercial potential of Shepherd's Point,the promontory at the intersection of the Newport River and Beaufort Inlet, and envisioned "a great commercial city" there. Morehead and his associates acquired a large portion of the surrounding property and then made plans to extend the North Carolina Railroad from Goldsboro to Shepherd's Point.
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.
Visitors cruising along US Highway 70 in between the towns of Morehead City and Beaufort will briefly travel over a small parcel of land that makes a momentary appearance in between the two on-the-water bridges. This small slip of terrain is known as Radio Island, and it’s certainly more than meets the eye. Home to a yacht club, several marinas, a scenic beach, a fishing pier, and multiple boat or kayak launching areas, Radio Island offers visitors a surprisingly large number of things to do while being relatively “close to home” for Morehead City or Beaufort vacationers and locals. Definitely worth a second look, Radio Island is a unique component of the Crystal Coast landscape, and is worthy of exploration in more ways than one.
Featuring two locations along the Crystal Coast, and serving the region for nearly 50 years, J R Dunn Jewelers is a time-tested resource for a wealth of special occasions, gifts, and “just because” treasures for vacationers and Carteret County locals alike. With a fine selection of everything from men’s timepieces to wedding and engagement rings, shoppers can find just the delicate piece of jewelry they are looking for with a visit to this exquisite and elegant shop.
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 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.
Crystal Coast Lady Cruises features one of the largest fleets of cruise ships along the Crystal Coast, and as a result, 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, and easy to reach for any sightseer exploring the historic downtown area, visitors can enjoy unbeatable perspectives of the region’s vast array of wildlife, shorelines, and on-the-water views.
Based in the town of Beaufort, and offering departures from both Beaufort and nearby Harkers Island, Island Express Ferry Service serves as the link between the communities of the Crystal Coast and the spectacularly beautiful and isolated barrier islands of the Cape Lookout National Seashore. Accommodating passengers who want to explore the miles of pristine beaches, exceptional fishing and shelling, wild horses, and the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, Island Express Ferry Service serves as the gateway for one of the most unforgettable adventures along the North Carolina coast.
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.