There’s a lot for kids to see and explore in Morehead City, which is known as the center of - or gateway to - the Crystal Coast region.
From hands-on museums to an eclectic collection of shops and eateries, the area’s youngest visitors can expect to enjoy miles of fun in every direction when Morehead City serves as a central launching point for a kid-friendly adventure.
The two-acre Shevans Park, which is located in the heart of the downtown Morehead City region, will impress the region’s youngest visitors with its extensive playground that towers over the local landscape. Filled with castles, slides, climbing areas, and much more, this “Sea of Dreams” was designed with kids’ imaginations in mind, and promises hours of free fun for any local or vacationing park patron. The expansive but nicely located park also features on-site restrooms, grills, and tennis courts that will appeal to parents and visitors of all ages who want to linger and enjoy the local sunshine. The park is located on 1501 Evans Street, just two blocks away from the waterfront.
For a little bit of competitive or active fun, family members of all ages can head to the Morehead City Sports Complex – one of the largest public destinations that’s managed by the local Morehead City Parks & Rec Department. This expansive site on the edge of the downtown area features three soccer fields, an exercise trail, picnic shelters, outdoor basketball courts, restrooms, and plenty of parking, making it a fun spot to visit during any season. In addition, the complex is home to the Big Rock Stadium, which is the home of the minor league baseball team the Morehead City Marlins. As such, visitors can easily catch a summertime big game – or have their own friendly competition – with a visit to this site. The Morehead City Sports Complex is located on 2200 Mayberry Loop Road, which is just north of the downtown Morehead City region.
The Morehead City Recreation Center has a little bit of everything for locals and visitors alike. The site is the home of a number of regular programs, like kids art classes, fitness classes, and special sporting and community events, but it also has a range of attractions to attract patrons throughout the year. Home to a basketball court, a football / soccer field with lights, a playground, and even a fishing pier on the edge of the Newport River, kids of all ages and interests will find a fun way to get active at this enticing community-oriented destination. Check out the local event calendars for classes or programs designed with kids in mind, or just stop by to play and explore this scenic site that’s located next to Calico Creek. The Morehead City Recreation Center is situated on 1600 Fisher Street, and is just a few minutes away from the heart of the downtown area.
The Webb Memorial Library and Civic Center, or just “The Webb” as it’s known in local circles, is an engaging (and free) stop for Morehead City’s youngest visitors. Home to an extensive collection of books and exhibits, this destination that features regular educational programs, a community center, and kid-friendly activities and classes is sure to delight residents and visitors of all ages. In addition to the extensive children’s library, The Webb also hosts a free story hour for kids twice a week on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, which makes it a fun destination for young visitors or new residents to dive into the local community and meet some new friends, while learning all about the joys of reading.
Pirates, seashells, heroes, and historic battles are all represented at the North Carolina Maritime Museum, which is why it’s a favorite Beaufort attraction for visitors of all ages. At this essential coastal museum, patrons will see up-close relics from Blackbeard the Pirate’s favorite ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, will be able to touch and admire boats from centuries ago, can admire seashells from more than 100 different countries, and will enjoy interactive displays and videos that bring the local maritime history to life. The all-encompassing museum has a diverse selection of fascinating exhibits, and also hosts regular programs for kids and adults alike – such as seasonal craft classes or kids’ expeditions about town. As a result, it’s always a fun and essential stop for area explorers who want to learn more about the Crystal Coast region, regardless of their age. The NC Maritime Museum is located in the heart of downtown Beaufort, roughly 10-15 minutes away from Morehead City.
While adults will marvel at the collection of structures from the 18th and 19th century that have been perfectly preserved to create the Beaufort Historic Site, kids will love taking a step back in time to Beaufort’s earliest roots where costumed interpreters tell the story of the town’s origins. With nine buildings that are connected within a two-acre site, kids can re-live the past through live demonstrations, hands-on activities, and a stroll through perfectly manicured Colonial gardens or hardscrabble medicinal gardens where local herbs and remedies are grown. Serving as an active representation of Coastal Carolina’s past, the Beaufort Historic Site is an engaging and educational destination for visitors of all ages, especially when coupled with an area-wide tour on board an open-air double decker English bus from the 1960s
One of the most fun and engaging destinations for kids - the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores - is located just a quick 15 drive away from Morehead City vacationers, and it’s an enticing attraction that will delight visitors of all ages. Home to more than 4,000 species of animals that are partitioned off into distinctive galleries that represent the varying ecosystems of North Carolina, (like the Mountain Gallery, the Piedmont Gallery, and the Coastal Gallery), this aquarium has a wealth of hands-on activities to keep little minds busy, such as a touch tank that’s filled with stingrays and shellfish, and daily diver feedings in the ominous shark tank. Special kids’ programs and outings may also be available, and the aquarium is also adjacent to the Theodore Roosevelt State Natural Area, which has two mile-long nature trails that cut through the soundside region, and which are perfectly conducive for active little feet that want to explore.
The neighboring town of Atlantic Beach, (which is located a 5 minute drive away from Morehead City), is home to several beach access points that will have kids splashing and laughing for hours. The Circle in the heart of Atlantic Beach is the closet beach access area, and features a boardwalk with neighboring restaurants and shops, an on-site playground, seasonal lifeguards, and other amenities that make this site perfect for families. For a less crowded experience, visitors can also head east from the Atlantic Beach town borders to the Fort Macon beach access sites, where there is ample parking, restrooms, and seasonal concessions in some locales. Either option is a great spot for a day at the beach, and is sure to add a dose of fun in the sun to any Morehead City vacation.
Budding naturalists who want to enjoy a coastal expedition will find a short but engaging exploration waiting at the Hoop Pole Creek Nature Trail, which is located in the nearby town of Atlantic Beach, and is just a quick 5-10 minute drive away. This roughly ½ mile and well-tended nature trail veers through a varying array of local habitats, including maritime forest, marshlands, and open sound waters, which makes it an ecological adventure that visitors of all ages will love. Along the way, expect to see a myriad of local and migrating birds, jumping mullet and other species of fish, local crabs, and many more critters and vegetation that will make everyone appreciate the soundside terrain of the Crystal Coast. Information pamphlets that point our species of interest are found at the trailhead, and the nature trail is located next to the Atlantic Shopping Center in the heart of Atlantic Beach.
One of the best ways to experience the local waterscape is via a boat tour or cruise, and there are a myriad of family-friendly expeditions available for Morehead City vacationers. Several dolphin watching or wild horse tour options are available along the Morehead City waterfront, and visitors can also head over to the adjacent town of Beaufort for the widest selection of on-the-water adventures. The cruises here include pirate-themed expeditions, all-compassing eco tours, and many more distinctive options, which makes both Morehead City and neighboring Beaufort ideal destinations for on-the-water fun. Potential tour-goers will can research options and book ahead of time online, or can simply take a stroll along Evans Street in Morehead City, and / or Front Street in downtown Beaufort, for a full and in-person introduction to all the different kid-friendly tours or ferries that are available.
Visitors who want to spend a rainy afternoon catching a flick will find several options that are nicely close to Morehead City. A movie theater is located in the town of Atlantic Beach, roughly 5-10 minutes away, as well as in the inland town of Havelock, roughly 20-30 minutes away, which ensures that movie-goers have plenty of options. Both theatres have matinees for the younger crowds, as well as kid-friendly extras like concessions stands, arcade games, and other perks, to ensure that a movie outing can turn into a full afternoon or evening of fun. In addition, many local vacation rentals have flat screen TVs, DVD players, or even premium cable channels / movie subscriptions, which allows visitors to enjoy a family movie night without ever leaving home.
Kayaks and Paddle Boarding
There are a number of launch sites along Morehead City where kayakers can take to the water and enjoy an easy paddle through the neighboring waters. And considering that the ensuing terrain is nicely shallow or calm, (or both), its fine training grounds for beginners, which includes young kayakers who are just getting their feet wet. Launch from one of the local sites along the downtown waterfront to make an easy 1/10th mile trek to Sugarloaf Island, or head to neighboring Beaufort where a number of local watersports or kayaking companies offer guided tours. Kayaking and paddle boarding are both easy-to-learn sports, and both activities can be readily enjoyed by all visitors – regardless of age- on the Crystal Coast.
Anglers often develop a love of fishing early, and families can introduce the next generation of anglers to the sport with ease in Morehead City. Head to the 575’ ft. long fishing pier at Radio Island for a little fishing fun, or cast a line from one of the many public docks, boardwalks, and short piers that are found all along the Downtown Morehead City waterfront. In addition to the local fishing piers and on-land destinations, there are also a number of fishing charters – including and especially local head boats –where dropping a line for big catches is a breeze. Regardless of whether a family heads at a local pier or public park, or embarks on an adventure to the miles of nearshore or even offshore waters that surround Morehead City, the love of fishing is simply contagious in this coastal community.
Morehead City is one of the largest communities along the Crystal Coast, and as such, it also has one of the most diverse blends of shops to entice visitors of all ages. Visitors can head to major chain stores which are often in bustling shopping centers along the western portions of Highway 70 / Arendell Street, or can check out the local boutiques and gift shops that are clustered in the heart of the downtown are. (Morehead City also has a family friendly farmer’s market in the warm weather months that is concentrated in the downtown area as well.) Regardless of where you land, expect to spot a number of souvenir shops, sporting goods stores, department stores, and other establishments that will have kids smiling and eager to spend their allowance.
Dining (And Sweets!)
Morehead City also has one of the largest and most varied dining regions, thanks to dozens of restaurants that can cater to all tastes, For parents, this means that it’s easy to find a familiar fast food restaurant or two with a drive along Highway 70 / Arendell Street, as well as local pizza parlors, taco stands, chain restaurants, causal burger joints, elevated seafood restaurants, and everything in between. From elevated palates that crave fresh seafood to young appetites who want a beach-worthy burger and fries, you can find it in Morehead City. Just be sure and save room for dessert – there are a number of fast food joints, ice cream shops, and drive-ins that specialize in frozen delights.
Regardless of your age, Morehead City earns its reputation as the most popular and populated community of the Crystal Coast thanks to a seemingly unending array of things to do.
From hands-on museums and attractions to fun shopping and dining expeditions that can span for miles, there’s always something to grab a visitor’s attention in Morehead City, regardless of interest, or of age.