The Crystal Coast, North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks, features 85 miles of beautiful Atlantic Ocean shoreline, 11 unique communities, and a variety of outdoor adventures including hiking, sport fishing, boating, kayaking, and of course, swimming and sunbathing.
Cape Lookout Lighthouse—known as the Diamond Lady—is one of the signature local attractions. This 160-year-old landmark, which is part of Cape Lookout National Seashore, is only accessible by passenger ferry and was visited by 160,000 people in 2019.
Other popular sites include Fort Macon on Atlantic Beach, a Civil War-era structure with exhibits; the North Carolina Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores; and the NC Maritime Museum in Beaufort, which features artifacts from Blackbeard’s ship, found just offshore. The Crystal Coast is also famous for the more than 150 wild horses that inhabit the area, descendants of the Spanish Mustangs freed from shipwrecks in the 1500s.
For groups interested in festivals and special events, the Crystal Coast hosts more than 250 each year, including the North Carolina Seafood Festival, which attracts more than 150,000 visitors. The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament is a week-long event with prizes worth $2.5 million, and the area hosts three major music festivals, the Beaufort Wine and Food Festival, the Crystal Coast Triathlon, and several 10K and marathon running events.
Says Jim Browder of Crystal Coast Tourism Development Authority, “With more than 110 independent restaurants, 1,600 hotels, 5,000 vacation rentals, and a gorgeous setting that has inspired authors such as Nicholas Sparks and Kristin Woodson Harvey, the Crystal Coast is a perfect destination for your group.”
Top photo: Wild horses gallop along the Crystal Coast
Photo by Crystal Coast Tourism Development Authority
Support for Courier articles provided by:
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum
Peachtree City CVB
Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum
Virginia Beach Convention & Visitor Bureau