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.
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.
Morehead City is surrounded by a centuries-deep maritime history, a wide array of unique coastal ecosystems, and a vibrant artistic culture, and as a result, it’s the perfect place to learn all about the Crystal Coast and beyond. From in-depth museums that are stocked with research materials to natural islands where the wild residents can be viewed up close and personal, every exploration seemingly contains a little education and a lot of fun in this wholly unique coastal town.
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.
Crystal Coast visitors who want an easy-going day on the seashore can head to one of the most convenient public beach accesses in the region, the Circle at Atlantic Beach. Known as the main “Town Beach” and located in the heart of the busy Atlantic Beach community, The Circle offers a myriad of ways to stay entertained, both on and off the sand.
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.
The Shackleford Banks is part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore, and is a barrier island system that is found just off the coast of Beaufort and Harkers Island, and which is a popular offshore beaching destination for summertime Crystal Coast visitors. Accessible only by a private ferry, water taxi, or personal vessel, the beaches are nevertheless popular with longtime Southern Outer Banks vacationers for their unspoiled beauty, exceptional fishing and shelling, and famed herd of wild ponies, known as the “Banker Horses” or “Banker Ponies.”
The waterfront world of Beaufort, Morehead City, the Shackleford Banks, and everything in between is at a mariner’s fingertips when they launch from the Newport River Pier and Ramp. Located directly on the water in between Morehead City and Beaufort, this sprawling launch site is a popular destination for visiting and local mariners alike.
While the Morehead City kayaking scene may be overshadowed by neighboring communities like Beaufort or Atlantic Beach, the town is nevertheless a great place to get out and explore, thanks to miles of water in every direction, and “hidden gem” destinations like Harlowe Creek or Sugarloaf Island. With lots of makeshift routes to explore, and conditions that can be conducive to newcomers and advanced paddlers alike, a Morehead City kayaking expedition can serve as a fine way to enjoy the local landscape from an entirely new perspective.
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.
Dive into a wealth of coastal artifacts, folklore, and legendary figures with a visit to the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort. Operating as one of three maritime museums along coastal NC, this distinctive site is known for its unique ship-worthy exterior, its vast collection of exhibits that span centuries, and its close ties with the Southern Outer Banks’ most famous resident, Blackbeard the Pirate.
Because Morehead City is one of the busiest towns along the Crystal Coast, it’s easy for visitors of all interests to find something to do when a bout of rain puts a damper on an otherwise sunny vacation. From incredible shopping opportunities to cool attractions that are barely off the beaten path, there’s tons of ways to while away a full morning or afternoon while having miles of fun.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Casa San Carlo is a traditional Italian cuisine venue, serving the best dishes and drinks from authentic Italian recipes. Located in Morehead City, and a short drive from both Beaufort and Atlantic Beach. Come enjoy an a uthentic Italian meal in the ambience of an Italian bistro. Since 1992 Chef Carlo is proud to be serving fine Italian dishes for more than 25 years!Our universally comforatable atmosphere welcomes everyone inside to enjoy an authentic Italian meal. Family owned and operated owner Chef Carlo Cappiello sees that every patron leaves the restaurant, both full and happy.
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.