Travel

If NC's beaches are the spot for you, try this

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. News & Observer file photo

If the beach beckons, North Carolina has got you covered. Here are some things to do as you comb the coast.

Visiting the Queen Anne’s Revenge and Blackbeard the Pirate exhibit at the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort this year will be like seeing it with no eye patch. The exhibit has 800 square feet of new artifacts and interpretive materials.

For a beach lover, the crashing of waves on the shore is the most soothing sound on earth. But after a day on the sand, visitors might enjoy another kind of music: Jazz at the Mansion. Performances are held on the second Thursday of each month at Bellamy Mansion, 503 Market Street in Wilmington. Admission is charged. Patrons bring blankets or chairs and their favorite snacks. A schedule of performers is here.

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Except for when a hurricane or storm is coming, North Carolina isn’t known for its big surf. But there is plenty of fun to be had with a paddle board, where the user decides how fast and how far to go. Boards are for rent at dozens of places along the coast, and paddlers can go with or without guides. The shallow, protected waters in the marsh off Hammocks Beach State Park, in Swansboro, are a good place to start. Children must be at least 12 and renters are encouraged to make reservations.

Tourism is the main industry on the North Carolina Outer Banks today, but when it was settled in the 1759s, Portsmouth Island was a transfer and storage site for goods passing through nearby Ocracoke Inlet. As the inlet became the main thoroughfare for import and exports— with some 1,400 ships passing through each year — the village grew to have more than 600 residents, with a customs office, school, hospital, stores, a post office, a lifesaving station and more than 65 homes. By the 1960s, shipping centers had moved and hurricanes had taken their toll, and the village had only three fulltime residents. Now part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore, Portsmouth Village is an island ghost town where visitors, who must come by boat, can visit two former homes and several other buildings, kept to look much as they did when the last residents left. A list of authorized ferry services is available here.. Take bug repellent, water, snacks and good walking shoes.

There is so much to do at the Outer Banks, you have to stay up late to fit it all in. One activity worth losing sleep over is the full moon climb of the 257 stairs in the Hatteras Lighthouse. This year’s full moon tours are June 28, July 27, Aug. 26 and Sept. 24.

Looking for more things along the coast to do?

Here are some good things to see and do and eat and drink in the Northeast corner of North Carolina, from a museum to a baseball player to ghost tours in a former mansion:

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And here is a selection of things along the Crystal Coast area, including a Shrimpburger you'll long remember and the quaint Oriental waterfront:

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If your travels take you to the Southeast coast, you'll want to seek out the Kindred Spirit Mailbox and the greenway in Burgaw that may look familiar from TV shows such as "Under the Dome":

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And don't miss these coastal food and drink options from The News & Observer's Good Eatin' and Best-Kept Secrets series:

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