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Places To Visit: The Crystal Coast – A Little Piece of Carolina Paradise

Welcome to our Places To Visit series. We highlight some of the most fascinating places and share with you a few details as if you were experiencing it for yourself. If you have any questions about this property or would like more information, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Located in the Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina, the Crystal Coast possesses everything you’d want in a vacation. From endless miles of shoreline and wild horses roaming freely, this unknown gem is the perfect getaway and a piece of coastal Carolina paradise.

Credit: Crystal Coast Tourism Authority

I recently visited this destination and experienced the local charm, passion and tranquil sea breezes. The string of barrier islands along the southern outer banks include Emerald Isle, Atlantic Beach, Morehead City, Beaufort, Cape Lookout and Harker’s Island. I was overwhelmed with excitement driving through the beachfront properties in Emerald Isle arriving to a beautiful home known as Grand Finale. A three-story, eight bedroom, oceanfront mansion that was my new home for the next three days all thanks to Bluewater Real Estate. With an amazing view of the ocean, fully equipped kitchen, entertainment room, and swimming pool this house was the start to a great Crystal Coast getaway.

Credit: Crystal Coast Tourism Authority

Amos Mosquito’s Restaurant & Bar was our first stop on the trip. With an array of menu selections including fresh seafood, sushi, soups, salads, chicken, steak as well as a great atmosphere and karaoke bar (we just happened to be there on Thursday night – prime time to karaoke). With a heritage focused on serving fresh seasonal seafood – a community based on the Carteret Catch Program – the Crystal Coast and 85 locally owned restaurants take pride in serving “fresh from the docks” local sea fare.

The next morning, we started the day exploring favorite attractions including the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores with more than 3,000 species of aquatic life. From the stingray touch tank to the sharks swimming amongst enormous sea turtles, the Aquarium is a vibrant place to wander.

In Tank Diver. Credit: Crystal Coast Tourism Authority

Harkers Island. Credit: Crystal Coast Tourism Authority

From here we visited Fort Macon National State Park and then drove to Harker’s Island to catch the Local Yokel Ferry over to Shackleford Banks and Cape Lookout. The entire trip was a one-of-kind adventure, but the highlight was getting an up close and personal view of the wild horses roaming freely along Shackleford Banks. Said to be 400-year-old descendants of Spanish galleon shipwrecks, the “banker ponies” are in every way majestic and beautiful.

From there we headed to Cape Lookout National Seashore where we enjoyed a beach picnic lunch and climbed the 188 steps of the infamous black and white diamond lighthouse to overlook the green waters and miles of untouched land. We headed back to Harker’s Island where we stopped in the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum – where history, heritage and tradition come to life with hundreds of replicas and artifacts.

It was going to be hard to top the amazing meal and day I hard thus far, but Chef Shawn Pratt exceeded my expectations. Chef Shawn, owner and private chef of his own company Gatherings, immersed us in local Carolina fare with a six-course meal paired with perfect wine pairings from Emerald Isle Wine Market.

The next morning, we embarked on a kayaking adventure around the shoals of Emerald Isle with the best tour guides in the area – barrier island kayaks. We then headed back to the beach houses to bike ride along the trails and lay beachside under the bright North Carolina sun.

Credit: Kevin Childress Photography /

Our day ended in Beaufort, named “America’s Coolest Small Town” in 2012 by Budget Travel Magazine. From the double-decker tour bus tour and the Old Burying Grounds to the Apothecary and dinner at the Beaufort Food and Wine event “Beers, Bubbles & BBQ,” Beaufort was a charming quaint town with lots of local charisma.

Before I knew it my Crystal Coast adventure was coming to an end. Even though this was my first trip to the Southern Outer Banks, I know it will not be my last. I’m already in the works planning my next vacation to the beachside towns that dot the coastline along the Crystal Coast.

Where to Stay

  • Bluewater Real Estate –
  • Emerald Isle Realty –

Where to Eat

  • Amos Mosquito’s –
  • Emerald Isle Wine Market –
  • Gathering with Chef Shawn Pratt –

What to Do

  • North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores –
  • Fort Macon State Park –
  • Shackleford Banks –
  • Cape Lookout National Seashore –
  • Core Sound Waterfowl Museum –
  • Barrier Island Kayaks –
  • Beaufort Historic Site –
  • Maritime Museum –

Today’s Places To Visit post is brought to us by Briant. Thanks Briant for sharing your adventure with us!


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