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Experience the Fall Majesty of the Crystal Coast


Parts of this trip were sponsored by the Crystal Coast Tourism Office and MMGY NJF Public Relations Firm. Thank you for such a wonderful opportunity! All thoughts are my own. 

Nestled along the North Carolina coast is about an 85-mile stretch of beautiful beaches, barrier islands, and unique communities known as the Southern Outer Banks, or the Crystal Coast. This beautiful area houses history, pirate lore, legends, and abundant wildlife along its many beaches, nature preserves, and islands. While most visit the area for fun in the sun, there is much to do in fall!

Having spent three fun and full days learning about the coast and her plentiful activities for families of all ages, I can certainly say that this is a part of North Carolina that is NOT to be missed. 

Why North Carolina coast in the fall? Isn't it cold? 

  • One, it's Fall on the Coast! For the rest of the state, fall began many weeks ago. For us along the coast, it's just kicking off. The humidity has lessened, the leaves are "just" changing colors, and there is a crispness in the air that doesn't exist during the summer. Even the wildlife is different. The migratory patterns of birds, fish, and sea life brings different creatures out and about. 

The weather does have it's ups and downs. Two weeks ago, I would've been freezing. This week, with sunny days in the 70's and 80's, I loved it! Yes, the fall weather can be hit or miss, but take advantage either way! Oh yea, its Hurricane Season til end of November, so always keep that in the back of your head too. Generally, the closer it gets to November, the less likely a major storm will hit. Usually August- early October are the high months. But these colors, they are so vibrant and vivid at sunset! 

Beaufort's Riverfront 

  •  Two, fall means that beaches, attractions, and restaurants are less crowded. Sure, one could argue that seasonal businesses aren't open, and while that's true, there are plenty of other ways to explore! 
  • Three, parking. I live in Wilmington, another coastal community, and the thing I hate about summers is the lack of parking. Everywhere. Seriously, it doesn't matter if its downtown or one of the beaches, circling around to find one space is annoying and with the heat + humidity, I'd rather stay home and not pay those fees. Yet, in the fall, many beach communities offer free parking to entice locals and tourists alike.
  • Four, locals. That's right, Fall is when the locals often go out. They disappear during those crazy summer months of high tourism season, often even leaving town and renting out their homes. Yet, just like birds, they migrate back to their homes and take advantages of the coast during these cooler months. There are just as many festivals and occasions to celebrate during these fall months as there are in the summer! Yet, the locals share their secrets with you when you are nice and friendly and ask the right questions! 
The Marsh off the Alice Hoffman Trail at the NC Aquarium of Pine Knoll Shores

Why visit the Crystal Coast? There are so many other coastal communities out there! 

Not only are there amazing, great beaches to visit, there is great history to learn! Legend, Lore, and the Truth entice you in and want you to dive into the deep rich history found along the Crystal Coast. Pirates, War, and the deep dark sea are all some things I learned about this week! From Blackbeard to the Coast Guard, there is always something to draw you in and connect you with the people of the past.

I think the Crystal Coast is easily accessible too. The Outer Banks are so far up that the drive takes forever, but I was told that a normal drive to Raleigh from Beaufort (by a local, who often travels there for various reasons) is less than 3 hours.  This is the perfect amount of time to pack the family up in the car for a long weekend adventure! 

I worked with the Crystal Coast Tourism Office and their PR reps to plan this trip and the itinerary did not disappoint. During my Crystal Coast Stay, I visited some interesting places that are open year round, but that I know your family will love! Oh- and often times, fall is one of the best times to get great meals too because the produce and harvesting (fish, etc.) differs according to season. 

Most of my time was spent exploring and admiring colorful sunsets in Beaufort, but I also roamed around Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle, and some of Carteret County, including the island of Cape Lookout. 

The Black Sheep Restaurant in Beaufort 

I am excited to share my delightful and thrilling adventures with you, which will include:

  • The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores 
  • The Beaufort Ghost Tour from Port City Tour Co & Escape Room
  • The Islands Express Ferry to Cape Lookout and UTV Rentals 

Sunset gazing along Beaufort's Riverfront Boardwalk

Of course, no vacation can be complete without some creative, flavorful mouth watering meals. Each restaurant and experience I had along the Crystal Coast did exactly that! I was able to visit:
  • The Blue Moon Bistro in Beaufort 
  • 4 Corners Café in Atlantic Beach
  • The Black Sheep in Beaufort
  • The Banks Grill in Morehead City
  • The Beaufort Grocery Company in Beaufort 
Nothing would be complete without wonderful accommodations to lay one's weary head after a hard day of the sunny life. The Beaufort Hotel, located just outside downtown Beaufort, is full of charm, class, and is definitely a hotel I'd recommend for your family to stay!

The Beaufort Hotel

I am so excited to share all the special features that the Crystal Coast has to offer you and your family, so I hope you will follow me along to learn about her majesty, her waters, her communities, and the best that she has to offer for your family's next vacation! 

I'll also share some of the free and non-sponsored touristy things that I think are of value and worth your time and money, as well as our sponsored attractions and restaurants listed above. To be perfectly honest, none of the places I visited outside the originally scheduled itinerary were planned, albeit a couple were recommended. Some things I found out about later through discussions and "moseying" around beautiful Beaufort!

Let's get to learning about the Crystal Coast and why this needs to be a destination that your family will want to experience! No matter whether you are planning for the spring, summer, or even next fall, your family will want to check out the coast! I daresay even in the middle of winter there might be wonderful attractions to entice and draw you in too! 

Check out all of our Crystal Coast recommendations and links in our 2023 Fall Travel Guide or search the travel feature found in our toolbar. 

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