Our Top Holden Beach Recommendations
Here are our favorite things to see and do on Holden Beach and the Brunswick Islands of North Carolina.
Have a look around as we have included photos, videos, information and links. I know it says Top 10, but I couldn’t stop there. There are so many wonderful things to see and do in our area ! I stopped at 14, but there’s so much more ! Maybe I’ll work some more of them into a blog for you!
These are in no particular order.
1. Relax On Our Quiet Beaches
Holden Beach….It’s known for the laid-back lifestyle. If you’re looking for high-rises or neon signs, you won’t find them here. Instead, you will find yourself relaxing, and enjoying some of life’s more simple pleasures.
Whether you’re putting those bikes, boards, boats and beach games to use, or you’re slowing down your pace to simply soak in some time with one another, Holden Beach, with its distinction as one of the best family beaches in the country by National Geographic Traveler, is the obvious choice. Holden Beach offers small-town charm and unspoiled beauty, which is perhaps why families return year after year to relive old memories and make new ones … like chasing ghost crabs with a flashlight during an evening stroll, or grabbing a bike and pedaling to the far eastern tip of the island to Lockwood Folly Inlet.
2. Treat Your Tastebuds to Sunset Slush
The finest and most flavorful Italian Ice arrived via Sunset Slush – Classic Italian Ice® in Brunswick County, North Carolina in January 2003. Sunset Slush® is known for its unique flavor and texture; there is nothing quite like it – it has been called “designer ice.” It is smooth, nutritious, thirst-quenching, dairy-free, low in calories, cholesterol free, gluten free and refreshing.
Our grandchildren won’t let us visit Holden Beach without at least one trip to Sunset Slush. There’s no seating inside, but there are rocking chairs, picnic tables, and benches outside, along with outside games. Go on a Sunday night, and enjoy listening to the Summer Concert Series, just a beat away, across the parking lot. If you think you’ll be a frequent visitor, purchase a koozie…refill scoops are discounted.
Take along a cooler with ice packs and ask for your favorite flavor packed to go. We’ve served Raspberry with a little Godiva Chocolate Liqueur splashed atop. It makes a wonderful light desert. Other good combinations are Lemon with a champagne splash. Or choose your favorite flavors and share them as is ! If you are in Holden beach then Sunset Slush is a must! I don’t care how old you are, this is quality Italian ice. Tons of flavors and combinations.
3. Witness A Turtle Hatching
Few family vacation spots exist in the world where you can wile away the days on the golf course, on the beach, or strolling through quaint shops, then in the evening watch the miracles of life unfold before your eyes. Here on Holden Beach, that’s exactly what you’ll have a chance do to. Our beaches are home to loggerhead sea turtles, spectacular creatures that have made their way to our shores for centuries to lay their eggs and continue the circle of life. Watching a hatchling, no bigger than a walnut, inch its way to the ocean for the first time might be one of the greatest sights you’ll ever see. And we take our turtles very seriously. Many conservation groups offer free seminars, tours and information about protecting this mysterious and glorious endangered species. In Chinese mythology, the sea turtle represents wisdom. Maybe that’s why so many mother turtles come to Brunswick Island beaches to nest. They know a good place to visit when they see it.
4. Dance To Concerts On The Coast
Our grandchildren love to dance in the street at these concerts ! I’ll forever cherish the times we’ve done so, especially with our 7 and 11 year old grandsons. In a couple more years, my friends tell me they won’t dare be seen cutting loose with Gaga and Papa in the middle of the crowd ! Maybe we’ll video ourselves next time, just so we can play it at their wedding rehearsal dinner….when we’ll hopefully once again get to enjoy the pleasure of a dance.
Bring a blanket or lawn chair and enjoy the best Holden Beach has to offer: cool breezes and great entertainment. All Sunday night concerts are from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and are held at the Holden Beach Pavilion under the bridge. All concerts are free of charge, Kicking off Memorial Day Weekend, and culminating Labor Day Weekend. Music ranges from beach music, to jazz, to oldies, and some good old rock and roll thrown in!
Concerts are Sponsored by the Town of Holden Beach
5. Kayak Holden Beach and Brunswick County's Waterways
The Brunswick Islands of North Carolina may be most famous for their beautiful beaches, but there are some great activities available that make it easy to enjoy the natural beauty of the inland waterways and creeks as well. Kayaking is an excellent way to learn more about nature and the wildlife that inhabit our area.
Many will launch a kayak right off the beach in front of our home. Some prefer to explore the waterways and creeks. See launch sites below.
6. Aerial Adventures and Zipline In A 300 Year Old Swamp
Explore the inland natural beauty of the upland wooded environment to the pristine world of the swamp waters at The Shallotte River Swamp Park, a nature oriented eco park featuring swamp boat tours, a zipline canopy course, a tree-top aerial challenge course, a self-guided educational nature trail, and a guided swamp buggy tour traversing the entire property offering an educational experience while showcasing the plant and animal life of the park
7. Take A Reprieve From The Sun At Planet Fun
Planet Fun is Brunswick County’s largest family entertainment center made for families by families! Located 20 minutes away in Shallotte, they offer 32 lanes of bowling, a 2-story laser tag arena, a bumper car arena, a redemption arcade, billiards, bounce house, bowling pro shop, and the unique Starz Grille family restaurant.
Want some shade time of a more sedate nature ? Nearby you’ll also find Frank Theaters, Coastal Cinema 10.
8. Explore Brunswick Island's Lighthouses
There’s something downright magical about lighthouses, and our Brunswick Island lighthouses are no exception. The Brunswick Islands are home to some of the oldest and the newest lighthouses in North Carolina, and each one is steeped in rich history and mystery. For centuries, lighthouses have stood guard over these islands, comforting the residents and shining a light on the path to home for pirates, fishermen, sailors and soldiers. The oldest, known as Old Baldy, sits on Bald Head Island at the confluence of the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean. Since 1817, Old Baldy has withstood hurricanes, wars and excited children alike, beckoning visitors to the very top, up the 108 steps of the ship’s ladder to a breathtaking observation deck.
Oak Island Lighthouse is the youngster in these parts. She’s a spry 54 years old and is, by all rights, a technological marvel as far as lighthouses go. Climbing Oak Island lighthouse isn’t for the faint of heart since she is equipped with only a series of ship’s ladders to get to the top of this 15-story majesty.
The truly best way to see all that our islands have to offer is atop a Brunswick Island lighthouse, so hop on the Bald Head Ferry and climb your way to a 360-degree view of our spectacular islands.
9. Golf Our Beautiful Courses
Vacation means play time. Our long-time visitors find that great beaches plus great golf makes the whole family happier. At NC’s Brunswick Islands, more than 30 championship courses await just a short pitch from where you’re staying. You’ll find courses to suit every level of play from novice to professional. If golf is your vacation focus, you’ll find superb experiences no matter the time of year . A mild four-season climate means the challenges of golf along our lush maritime forests and marshes await you year-round..
Golf Courses located in the Brunswick Islands are listed below. Many others are available just across the state line of South Carolina, just a short drive away.
10. Taste World Famous Calabash Seafood
Proudly titled the “Seafood Capital of the World”, Calabash, North Carolina is nationally known for it’s famous signature seafood preparation – Calabash style. Visit the quaint town of Calabash and discover why locals and visitors alike drive miles to taste the unique Calabash flavor.
11. Explore America's Happiest Seaside Town
Steeped in history and picturesque beauty, there is little wonder why Coastal Living Magazine named Southport “America’s Happiest Seaside Town.” A visit to this historic maritime town takes you back into a distant past of pirates and privateers, antebellum Southern belles and blockade runners. Seafarers have been frequenting this community since as far back as the early 1500s, and today, Southport is as popular as it has ever been.
Don’t miss your chance to stroll through the friendly streets and stop in the boutique shops and local art galleries, or wander around the docks and have a crab-cake sandwich or steamed shrimp at one of several restaurants featuring outdoor dining on the waterfront.
Southport is a charming coastal town where shopping, antiquing, dining, history, and just enjoying a waterfront breeze are all celebrated on a daily basis. And while it’s tempting to just find a shaded front porch, settle in, and admire the view – a popular local pastime – there’s miles of fun to be discovered in this lower Cape Fear vacation destination.
12. Visit Battleship North Carolina
Moored in quiet dignity and majesty the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA, across the river from downtown Wilmington, beckons visitors to walk her decks. Envision the daily life and fierce combat her crew faced in the Pacific Theatre during World War II.
From all across our Nation they came, young men who had grown up in the crucible of the Great Depression and now determined to serve their Country in its time of need. These are the men whose stories you will encounter through their oral histories, photographs, and mementos as you experience the Ship and the exhibits. This visit was even more fascinating when we took my Dad with us. He was reminded of and relayed his navy experiences on tour. A must-do for naval families.
Step back in time and let history come alive through the crews’ stories. Imagine yourself steering the ship, starting her engines or even firing the guns. JOIN THE CREW and be a part of Battleship history at the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA!
13. Tour The Boardwalk At Bustling Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach, a city and vacation resort on South Carolina’s Atlantic coast, is the hub of the Grand Strand, a 60-mile string of beaches. It’s also known for its celebrity-designed golf courses. Along its beachfront boardwalk are arcades, souvenir stands and restaurants, as well as the old-fashioned Family Kingdom amusement park and the SkyWheel, one of the country’s tallest Ferris wheels.
14. Stroll Historic Wilmington's Riverwalk
With both village charm and a cosmopolitan lifestyle, the Wilmington Historic River District offers great dining, unique shops and vibrant nightlife. Downtown, stop at a quaint café, take a garden stroll, tour local film sites or board Battleship North Carolina. Visit in April to see incredible color fill the streets during the North Carolina Azalea Festival. Stroll the scenic Riverwalk lined with shops, cafes and vibrant nightlife along the Cape Fear River.
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