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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Top 3 Things To Do on a Rainy Day at the Crystal Coast

With historic storm Sandy making her presence known along the Eastern Seaboard, one can't help but think about rainand lots of it. We truly hope that no matter where you may be these next few days that you are safe, sound and dry.

As beautiful as most days are in Emerald Isle and on the shores of the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, there are times when a rainy day may come along and dampen your plans to soak up the sun, spread out in the sand, and frolic in the surf. 

Have no fear, you do have options.


Here are our top three things to do on a rainy day here at the Crystal Coast:


Photo Courtesy of the NC Aquarium at PKS
1. Take advantage of the indoor attractions. That's right, make the most of a rainy day by taking an excursion to one of the local maritime or historic treasures. The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is located right on Bogue Banks and is easily accessible from any of the area beaches. It's pretty much smack dab in the middle of Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle. Visitors can easily spend the day there with its exhibits and galleries, which will take you on an aquatic adventure from the mountains to the sea. The aquarium is open year-round from 9-5p.m. and is only closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's days. 

The North Carolina Maritime Museum is another great option. Located on Front Street in the waterfront town of Beaufort, it's just a quick drive from Bogue Banks. Learn about the local seafood industry, explore the lighthouse exhibits, and view artifacts from Blackbeard the Pirate's flagship, the Queen Anne's Revenge. These are just a few of the indoor adventures that await you.


Photo Courtesy of the MacDaddy's
2. Try your hand at some indoor sporting events. When is the last time you and your family went bowling? It is a lot of fun (even if you're not that good at it) and bowling really has come a long way. Bowling these days is more like an experience rather than just a past-time or sport. With 24 lanes and bowling options ranging from classic, to laser, to boutique (yes, there's such a thing as boutique bowling), you can find it all at MacDaddy's in Cape Carteret. Located on the mainland, it's not far from Emerald Isle. 

If bowling really isn't up your alley, then try your hand at one of the largest arcades in the area. There's over 4000-square-feet of arcade adventure to challenge you in both classic and modern gaming. There's a little something for everyone and definitely worth the visit.


Photo by Martha Gail Drehmann
3. Don't go anywhere or do anything. Most of our visitors come here for a vacation, but sometimes even vacations are exhausting. There's so much to see and do, and never enough time. Take advantage of the freedom a rainy day at the beach can provide you and your family. Don't make any plans and just relax. That's hard sometimes as we're often so used to being on-the-go constantly.

You are most likely staying in a beautiful beach house or a quaint soundside cottage, so take full advantage of it! Sit on the covered deck with a glass of wine and watch the waves crash while the rain pitter-patters. Find a nice cozy spot inside and pick up that book you've been wanting to read. Play a few rounds of cards with the kids. Take an afternoon nap. Spend some uninterrupted quality time together doing whatever pleases you most. And remember....a rainy day at the beach is better than a sunny day anywhere else!


Photo by Ann Marie Lokey
We've made our case for some reasons to look forward to a rainy day, even at the beach! We hope you get to experience at least some of these opportunities the next time you're here, rainy day or not.

Have you spent a rainy day on the Crystal Coast? What did you do? Tell us about it in our comment section. We always love hearing from our readers. Here's to making the most out of rainy days!

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Frightful Halloween Fun In and Around Emerald Isle & More

It's nearing the end of October already, and you know what that means... fall is in full swing and Halloween is quickly approaching. Not sure what's going on in and around Emerald Isle? We can help you with that. Here's what you need to know!

Halloween Events in Emerald Isle
  • Halloween Carnival October 26: From 6-8p.m. this Friday at the Emerald Isle Parks and Recreation gymnasium, bring the family out for the carnival that promises a little something for everyone. Activities include face painting, liver toss (eww), hanging donut eating contest (yum), and more. The Emerald Isle Police Department is on-hand with ID kits, too. Bring two bags of individually wrapped candy per each child you bring to the carnival; that's your admission fee. It's not a trick since you'll receive treats back for the kids at departure. Come early! The first 50 kids receive a trick-or-treat bag filled with goodies. Please make sure you bring a bag along to the carnival for your candy collection. If you need further information, contact the Emerald Isle Parks and Recreation Department at 252.354.6350.
  • Trick or Treat October 31: The town of Emerald Isle is officially observing Halloween on Wednesday the 31st from 6-8:30p.m. Safety is the primary focus for the children, so please visit the Halloween Trick-or-Treat safety tips page.
Halloween Events at the North Carolina Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores
    Photo Courtesy of NC Aquarium at PKS
  • Trick-or-Treat Under the Sea (TOTUS) October 24-25: Back by popular demand, the kids love this bewitching event. The galleries are decorated and the little ones can trick-or-treat among an aquatic wonderland. The best part is that parents can feel safe as kids are in a controlled setting for this frightful fun. Awards for creative and outstanding costumes are given by the roving judges. Don't miss Soundside Hall to experience "thrills and gills" and underwater pumpkin carving contests by the aquarium divers are a crowd-pleaser. Start the night off with a hayride from the parking area shuttle service. Come one or both nights. Ticket sales begin at 4:30p.m. and continue to 7:30p.m. at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased online. Admission is $8 per person, per night and only $6 for members. Children ages 2 and under receive free admission.
  •  North Carolina A-SCARE-ium October 27: Don't let the kids have all of the dress-up fun. This year, the NC Aquarium hosts a new event just for the big kids! The NC A-SCARE-ium is a costume party for the grown-ups and runs from 7-11p.m. this Saturday. Have no fear, prizes abound for the best disguises (costumes are mandatory for this event). In addition to frightening fun, breweries and wine are also available from some of the best. Complimentary food from the Crab's Claw as well as soda, music, dancing, games, giveaways and more are on the agenda. Don't miss out. Did we mention the haunted waters? This event promises to be a scream. The event tickets are $18 per person, $35 for two in advance by buying tickets online. Tickets are $20 per person at the door. Attendees must be at least 21 years old to enter. 
Other Crystal Coast Events 
  • Beaufort Fall Run Series October 26: Sponsored by the Carteret County Parks and Recreation Department, this event begins in front of the First Citizens Bank on Front Street in downtown Beaufort. Registration occurs from 5:15-6:10p.m. with a starting time of 6:15p.m. The fee is only $3 per person, per race. For more information, contact the Parks and Recreation Department.
  • Fall Forward Festival at The Friendly Market in Morehead City October 27: Bring friends and family out for a costume contest and annual photo contest in the pumpkin patch. Enjoy fall fun including pumpkin painting, face painting, scarecrow building, arts and crafts, and more! For further details contact The Friendly Market at 252.808.3647.
Photo by Phil Stith
Well, there's plenty of fun to go around in the coming week and weekend. Make your plans now and come on out and enjoy the beautiful autumn atmosphere on the Crystal Coast. It's a unique experience that won't soon be forgotten. It's a lovely time of year to be here and there is always a nice selection of beach vacation rentals and seasonal specials available.

Enjoy the rest of your week and soon-coming weekend! We hope it is bootiful, whatever you may do!


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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Swim, Bike, Run in Emerald Isle & More


Swim through the Atlantic waters, bike along Highway 58, and take a run along Ocean Drive in Emerald Isle. Sounds great, right? It is! How about scheduling these three things into your plans for this weekend? 

Photo Courtesy of Active.com
 We should also mention that as nice as these leisurely activities can be on any given day on the Crystal Coast, this weekend these events are all combined into one fun (and challenging) event—the Emerald Isle Triathlon. Sponsored by the Emerald Isle Business Association and Emerald Isle Parks and Recreation, the triathlon is in its 9th year and begins at 8a.m. this Saturday, October 20. It is a USA Triathlon sanctioned event.
Photo Courtesy of Active.com

Triathletes compete in a 750 meter swim, a 19.3k bike ride, and 5k run. Award categories include the top three male finishers and top three female finishers, as well as awards for the top three finishers in each of the various age divisions. There is one team category which requires three members, one for each leg of the race. The race is chip timed.
Photo Courtesy of Active.com
It's not too late to register (registration closes Wednesday), so if the athlete in you is longing to compete... go ahead and sign up! If not, it's still a great event to attend as an observer. The participants appreciate your support and encouragement, so get out there amidst all of the action and cheer them on. It's also a nice opportunity to get outside and take in the fall beauty of the Emerald Isle coastline. 

Also occurring this Saturday and coinciding with the triathon is the second annual Three Dog Memorial Walk-a-Thon. It's a chance to support the Carteret County Humane Society and its shelter programs. The walk is an off-road race and begins at 9a.m. The race starts and finishes at the Emerald Isle Community Center. It's also important to note that if you run the 5k portion of the triathlon, it qualifies for the memorial walk, too. It's the chance to run and raise money to support an important cause all at the same time.

Photo by Rosa Hsiung
Speaking of animals, we'd like to encourage you to bring your pets with you when you visit and vacation here with us. We are a pet-friendly town and many of our events allow your furry friends to be a part of the action. Emerald Isle loves to see your pets, and they seem pretty happy to be here. Pets need vacations, too, you know. Our pet-friendly accommodations are sure to please and are just another reason to vacation here often.

Photo Courtesy of Active.com
We are looking forward to the triathlon this weekend, and we hope to see you there participating or observing. While we're thinking about it, what's your favorite activity here on the coast: swimming, biking, or running? Tell us about it in our comment section. We love getting to know our readers and their interests. 

Best wishes to all those competing in this year's Emerald Isle Triathlon and Three Dog Memorial Walk-a-Thon. We echo Mary Lou Retton's thoughts: "A trophy carries dust. Memories last forever."

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Swansboro Hosts Its 58th Annual Mullet Festival This Weekend

You read correctly. We said mullet festival. The Swansboro Mullet Festival, the oldest festival on the Crystal Coast, celebrates its 58th year this weekend on Saturday, October 13 and Sunday, October 14. 
Photo by Sun-Surf Realty

If you're not from around here, let us clarify that this weekend centers around the fish (you can view a clip of mullet fish in action here), not the haircut (though that would be an interesting festival to attend).

Swansboro, North Carolina is known as The Friendly City by the Sea and is rich in maritime history and culture. You can read more about the town of Swansboro's history here. We're going to focus briefly on the Mullet Festival's history.

Mullet are a small, bony fish that show up as a bluish-purple tint here in our local waters. Back in the day, they were often caught by being hauled to shore with nets hooked to tractors on the beach. 

In 1954, mullet fed the workers building the new White Oak River bridge which became a vital link between Onslow and Carteret counties. When the bridge was completed, the Mullet Festival was conceived. It was a way to celebrate the arrival of the modern era in bridge form. 

At that time the festival was a bit different. It was more like a potluck with the town coming together and contributing to the celebration of this local historical event.

Today, the Swansboro Mullet Festival has expanded into a two-day festival that offers locals and visitors a glimpse into history combined with a modern celebration of all things mullet. The festival is free. Enjoy a parade, entertainment (featuring beach music and live bands), kids' activities, lots of food (fried mullet included), and more. If you get the chance, try some smoked mullet. Be sure to check the Swansboro Mullet Festival's schedule of events for full details including the entertainment lineup and times.


Photo by Sun-Surf Realty
Don't forget that fall is an ideal time for a Crystal Coast vacation. Stay right on the beach in Emerald Isle and then make the short coastal drive over the Cameron Langston Bridge to Swansboro to enjoy the festival and the town itself. 

Interested in trying your hand at mullet fishing, or any other kind of fishing? We have a lot of outdoorsman retreats that would be perfect for your stay. There are also off-season discounts and specials on vacation rentals this time of year, so it's a win-win!


We look forward to seeing you on our beaches and in our local coastal towns. If you've been to Swansboro or to the Swansboro Mullet Festival, tell us about your experience in our comment section. We love hearing from you!

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Three Reasons Why A (Crystal Coast) Vacation Is Good For You

Photo by Julie Arthur
We all have our own personal reasons for needing a vacation: time away, a change of scenery, an opportunity to relax, a need for adventure, a change of pace, a sense of sanity that needs to be reclaimed, and so on. We'd like to add a few more reasons to that list; ones we think are pretty important.

And while we're discussing this we'd like to mention that if you're going to take a vacation, we suggest a beach vacation... a beach vacation on the Crystal Coast, to be exact.

Here are three reasons why a vacation is good for you (and we'll add to that, a Crystal Coast vacation):
Photo by Greta Harrison

1. It's good for you! Science even says so. Evidence suggests that even a short break or minimal time away from work boosts productivity. In addition, longer more frequent vacations have been linked to longevity... and healthier, happier people overall, obviously. Vacations have also been linked to reduced stress levels, better sleep cycles, lower risk of heart attacks, and improved mental health. Need we say more? (We will. Read on.)

2. Vacation and travel can boost creativityGeneral health issues aside, time away is also good for you on other levels. It can require you to step out of your comfort zone. Try something new. Explore unknown territory. Learn a new skill or hobby. Expand your horizons. Immerse yourself in a new environment. Be challenged. Become inspired. A vacation forces you out of the day-to day and expands your mind to new ideas, new opportunities, and new experiences. 
Photo by Jessi Duncan Champion

3. Vacations can improve and strengthen family relationships. With a focus on play, laughter and fun, vacations are important for families. What better way to create lasting memories? Or to share new experiences together? Family bonding is necessary in our overscheduled world where everyone seems to be going in different directions on a daily basis. Take some time away from that to focus on the important things in life. Family time is precious and so is vacation time. Use them together to your advantage. 

There you have it. There are many compelling reasons to take a vacation. If you're a faithful reader of this blog, you've read about Emerald Isle, the Crystal Coast, and the Southern Outer Banks regions that we focus on here. We love it and know you will, too. Take some time to read about the adventures that can be had here, and please remember that a vacation is good for you. 
Photo by Sue Bell

We have great places to stay here on the coast (with seasonal discounts) and we have a lot of fun things to see and do. If you happen to be visiting with us this weekend, be sure to stop by the North Carolina Seafood Festival in downtown Morehead City. It runs from Friday, October 5 through Sunday, October 7. It's a local and visitor favorite as well as being the largest area festival. We look forward to seeing you! Happy vacationing!

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