Ladies, it’s time to gather and get refreshed before the kids get out of school! Pack your big hats, your big shades, and your big girl pants! Dine, explore, and even sip a glass of vino or two as you and your best girlfriends travel North Carolina’s Crystal Coast.
Pack a picnic and take the ferry from Harkers Island to Cape Lookout National Seashore. Climb the iconic lighthouse for a great view, or lay around on the surrounding beaches for a few hours. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can camp overnight right there on the beach and see the Diamond Lady light up in the evening.
Go a little wild! Really, it’s kind of rugged. Don’t forget bug spray, rain boots, and binoculars for this excursion. Catch the ferry service to Shackleford Banks and keep your eyes peeled for beautiful wild creatures. Bring your own food for another beach picnic opportunity while you’re there.
Try a stand up paddle board tour through Rachel Carson Reserve in Beaufort, home of more wild horses, rare birds and other wildlife. You can take it nice and slow if you’re balance-challenged, or race past sailboats and yachts if you’re feeling daring. If you’re lucky, you might even paddle by dolphins in Taylor’s Creek!
If you’d rather let someone else steer you along the shore, board a large, comfortable cruise vessel in Beaufort and enjoy a 15-mile narrated tour of the coast. Trips range from sunset and scenic dinner cruises shelling adventures and a Wednesday Night Wine Tasting. Dolphin and wild horse sightings are common!
The saganaki appetizer has a reputation … for being awesome! Stop by this charming Beaufort eatery for a casual lunch or check it out at dinner when they break out the white tablecloths. You’re sure to be dining on fresh, local ingredients and be sure to save room for dessert.
6. City Kitchen
Charred grapefruit cocktail, sticky toffee pudding, duck bolognese, crab cakes, truffle chips, shrimp & grits, duck fat potatoes, roasted beet salad with goat cheese mousse … yeah, you need to eat here more than once.
Take a seat at the bar (shaped like the hull of a boat!) of this Morehead City establishment and sample the craft beer, boutique wine, and artisan meats and cheeses. Then, buy as much as you can carry to-go. This hopping spot is a favorite for visitors and locals, so you’ll quickly feel like one of the regulars.
Located in Salter Path, this place claims to be the home of the best shrimpburger on the Crystal Coast. Obviously, you’ll need to stop by and eat one if you’re in the neighborhood. Try it “all the way” (with coleslaw and ketchup).
Take the girls to this casual waterfront eatery in Morehead City for a some tasty seafood with a Cajun twist and some refreshing cocktails. Ask to sit outside so you can enjoy the view, especially if you get there in time for sunset.
10. The Village Market
This is the perfect place to grab breakfast with the gals (bacon cream cheese, cucumber bagel, Belgian waffles, and other vacation-worthy diet busters) on Emerald Isle. While you’re there, get some sandwiches and treats to-go for enjoying on the sand.
11. St. Patrick’s Festival on Emerald Isle
Celebrate St. Patricks Festival on Emerald Isle! This is an annual community event with arts, crafts, and plenty of food from local food vendors. Pack your green (you know you’re overpacking anyway … what’s another outfit?), and gather in the beer garden!
This is the way to take a trip! Visit during a wine and food festival so you’ll be sure to enjoy plenty of both—and then some. Beaufort’s big foodie weekend is getting bigger and better every year, so reserve your tickets early! The 2016 event takes place April 27-May 1.