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Crystal Coast

Words by Jennifer Stein

The Crystal Coast – North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks
An Affordable Alternative

By: Jennifer Stein
 

If you are looking for luxury without the steep price tag and upscale yet down to earth charm, then North Carolina’s Outer Banks is the perfect place for you to say “I Do”.

The Crystal Coast is made up of a natural barrier island system – AtlanticBeach, Emerald Isle, Beaufort, Morehead City and Cape Lookout are all part of this delightful destination. Made up of 85 miles of pristine coastline, this area is also occupied by approximately 115 wild Spanish Mustangs. These gorgeous horses have inhabited the area known as Shackleford Banks for more than 300 years.

A wedding here would be like something out of a Nicolas Sparks novel. In fact, it happens to be the backdrop to many of his famed books such as “The Choice” and “A Walk to Remember.” Strolling through the small town streets of Beaufort, it becomes obvious how a writer would find a muse in the storybook atmosphere that abounds.

There are hundreds of “Sand Castles” (according to what the locals call these mini-mansions) lining the coast. Six and seven bedroom homes with direct beach access, private pools, multi-leveled decks and gourmet kitchens are renting for incredibly affordable rates. So affordable in fact, that when you do the math, it turns out to be less per person than staying in a hotel. Couples are then able to stay with family and friends under one roof sharing meals, rehearsal dinners and beach barbeques without leaving the comfort of their rented beach home.

The history and survival of this area is also quite remarkable. Homes, buildings and even cemeteries date back to the 1700’s having withstood years of hurricanes and storms. Their historic association has done an incredible job of restoring and preserving homes and landmarks in Beaufort. Little cobblestone streets and oceanfront bistros, boutiques and ice cream shops make a leisurely stroll downtown a “must do”. The cuisine here is also amazing. There are several restaurants in the area offering fresh fish and lobster, so if you are a seafood lover, this is just the place!

STAY:

Private Beach Homes: Rent a quaint beach cottage or a “sand castle” sleeping 20 people or more. They have sizes and price ranges to meet anyone’s specifications. Emerald Isle Realty: www.emeraldislerealty.com, Bluewater GMAC Real Estate: www.bluewatergmac.com/, Century 21 Coastal Properties: www.c21coastalproperties.com

EAT:

Chef’s 105: Order the Lobster Sandwich with Sweet Potato Fries and try the Bloody Mary Bar. Located in Morehead City.

Beaufort Grocery Co.: Order the Saganaki and a glass of Pinot Grigio, you won’t be disappointed.

Sharpies Grill & Bar: Anything you order you’ll love, especially the Lobster Risotto. Plus they can accommodate large groups. Located in Beaufort.

Sanitary Fish Market and Restaurant: Funny name, but serious food. Located in Morehead City.

PLAY:

Ocean Air Tour: Enjoy soaring through the air and over special landmarks such as the Cape Lookout Lighthouse and the famed Shackleford Banks where the wild mustangs reside. Crystal Coast Air Tours located at the airpark in Beaufort. 252-728-2323

Cape Lookout Cruise: Sail around the Southern Outer Banks with up to 42 passengers on a 45 foot catamaran. They offer several packages including a Sunset Cruise and also a private Moonlight Cruise. www.lookoutcruises.com 

Ocean Club Spa: Treat all your ladies to a day at the spa! Pamper your tootsies or just get a good old fashioned Swedish massage. The relaxing ambiance and old world charm will put your mind and body at ease. www.ocspanc.com

Ride an English Double-Decker Bus: As you tool around town on this 1960’s fire-engine red bus, you’ll learn the history of Beaufort and see some adorable storybook homes. Charters are available all year. www.beauforthistoricsite.org

 

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