- Travel and Places
North Carolina Coast A Must See
North Carolina's Atlantic Coast is lined with sandy beaches and many other sight seeing opportunities. From Top Sail Beach to Beaufort and Wilmington you will find any number of opportunities to relax and unwind. The area's heavy military influence mixed with a good dose of southern charm make for friendly locals ready to give a hand with directions to your next destination.
The Albert J. Ellis Airport is smaller, but provides a quick Delta connection from Atlanta to the Jacksonville North Carolina area. Several major rental car agencies provide kiosks not far from the arrival gate. Although vehicle selection is limited: the customer service more than compensates for the lack of selection.
Lodging is abundant in Jacksonville with most major hotel chains represented. Depending on the season and your budget, a reasonable accommodation can be had without breaking the bank. Jacksonville itself provides a full compliment of family entertainment including top of the line movie theaters, restaurants and full scale malls with all of the amenities.
The main gate for Camp Lejune is a few minutes outside of Jacksonville on State Route 17. The military presence in the area is everywhere in Jacksonville, as well as along the North Carolina coast. Personnel carriers rolling up Route 17 are so common that flashing lights warn motorists when military exercises are underway. Ospreys and F-16s are a common sight in the skies over Jacksonville most days of the week.
Adjacent to Camp Lejune is a space set aside to remember the fallen from Vietnam, World War II, and Beirut. Part of a steal beam from the Twin Towers rests at the entrance in tribute those who lost their lives on that terrible day.
The Jacksonville/Onslow Chamber of Commerce is a wealth of information for first time visitors to the area. The friendly staff is generous with materials including their latest publications and maps, as well as insight on visiting and even relocating to the area. Their staff may be reached at 1099 Gum Branch Rd. in Jacksonville or online at www.onlyinonslow.com.
The North Carolina coast boasts some of the better beaches in this part of the world. Top Sail Beach is located about 25 miles from Jacksonville on State Route 17. Parking and public access is available in designated areas on a first come first serve basis. The pier and the beach can be accessed through the convenience store located at the Jolly Roger Inn. Fishing licenses can be purchased for $12.00 and a pier pass costs $1.00. Entrance to the beach itself is free. The beach itself spans as far as the eye can see and boasts plenty of room for swimming, fishing, or just looking out over the Atlantic for a few hours.
Wrightsville Beach can be found an hour up the road heading toward Wilmington. Parking is limited to three hours in the public safety center parking lot. The closer to the beach the more limited the parking. The local restaurants are clean and serve all variety of local cuisine from seafood to burgers and pizza. For those who don't like crowds, time your visit wisely.
Traveling down through Beaufort the Civil War comes into focus. Just off the main drag you will find the restored homes of Southern officers, spies and soldiers. Some are buried in the local cemetery behind the local church. The grave stones are weather warn and not very legible, but still stand as a reminder the history that once happened in this small port town. The Maritime Museum is home to a collection of artifacts belonging to the pirate Black Beard. The pirate is said to have had a house in Beaufort at one time before meeting his demise at the hands of the British Navy. The staff at the Maritime Museum and the Beaufort Visitors Center are friendly and helpful.
The coast of North Carolina has to much to see and do in one visit. The Outer Banks and Kitty Hawk will keep a visitor busy for a week. Then there's Charlotte, Raleigh, and the Appalachian Trail. The North Carolina mountains are said to be another state all to themselves.
The weather in North Carolina can be can change on a dime from hot and humid to thunder and lightning. Huricanes are always a possiblility after June 1: the official start of hurricane season in North Carolina. Local radio and television stations provide up to the minute weather forcasts and warings. A strong sunscreen is highly recomended when ever venturing into the Carolina sun.
The local housing market has rebounded nicely from the recession. There is plenty of home inventory on the market although the farther from Jacksonville, the more expensive. The communities of Holly Ridge and Surf City have seen a pickup in housing starts. Surf City being the larger of the two, has an excellent selection of brand name retailers all situated with a short walk or drive.
The people of coastal North Carolina are friendly and informative with visitors. The pace of life is a little faster these days, but the values these folks were raised with still shine through. Depending on the time of year and the particular area a quiet spot can still be found on the coast whether you are just visiting or come to stay a while.