10 Reasons Why You Should Visit the Crystal Coast in the Spring

Beaufort, North Carolina.
Beaufort, North Carolina. Susan Sharpless Smith
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Ready to skip out on the cold and enjoy a much-needed trip to the beach? On North Carolina’s stunning Crystal Coast, you can beat the crowds and enjoy an early summer excursion filled with sun and fun.

1. Spring Fling

The Crystal Coast of North Carolina is a great option for a spring getaway.
The Crystal Coast of North Carolina is a great option for a spring getaway. Vance Miller

Start your summer early and chase some waves along the Crystal Coast’s pristine 85 miles of shoreline. In the spring, the days are sunshine-filled and the water is warming up—so catch and wave and lose the winter blues.

2. Feel like a Castaway

A view of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse at Cape Lookout National Seashore.
A view of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse at Cape Lookout National Seashore. Susan Sharpless Smith

Explore the Crystal Coast’s pristine coastal landscape in virtual solitude before the summer visitors hit the sand. Wander the scattered, biodiversity-loaded islands of the Rachel Carson Reserve, with only wild ponies for company. Or head to Cape Lookout National Seashore and climb the protected area’s historic, 163-foot lighthouse before the crowds arrive for an insightful glimpse into the stretches of solitude involved in the life of a lighthouse keeper.

3. Wonderful Wildlife Watching

You'll find a wide variety of both native and migrating birds on the Crystal Coast in the spring.
You'll find a wide variety of both native and migrating birds on the Crystal Coast in the spring. Vance Miller

Track the abundance of birds passing through the Crystal Coast during the seasonal spring migration. Head to Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge, an 11,000-acre hub for wildlife, a haven for migratory birds, and a vital winter nesting habitat for an array of waterbirds. Keep your eyes on the skies at the Rachel Carson Reserve, strategically located along Atlantic Flyway, a virtual thoroughfare for northbound birds on their summer return trip. On the water, seek out the Crystal Coast’s local dolphins. Easily observed along the region’s coastline year-round, during the spring, resident dolphins return to the region’s calmer estuaries. This allows wildlife watchers the unique opportunity to watch the dolphin's congregate before the bustle of summer boat traffic begins.

4. Cool Spring Campsites

Enjoy the beach before the summer crowds arrive.
Enjoy the beach before the summer crowds arrive. Susan Sharpless Smith

Usher in the arrival of spring with a night under the stars at one of the Crystal Coast’s stunning campsites. Cape Lookout National Seashore is one of only a few places where visitors still have the option to camp right on the beach. Slightly further inland, just northwest of Morehead City, Oyster Point campground in the Croatan National Forest offers paddling access to the Intracoastal Waterway and serves at the trailhead for the Neusiok Trail, a 21-mile segment of North Carolina’s extensive, nearly 1,000-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

5. Discover New Outdoor Adventures

Test your skill kiteboarding on the Crystal Coast.
Test your skill kiteboarding on the Crystal Coast. C Watts

Still haven’t tried kiteboarding? Always wanted to take a scuba class? Take a hands-on course in the spring and hone your new skills before the summer crowds and boat traffic fill up the waterways—with vastly reduced class sizes, you are bound to have the instructor’s full attention while you learn.

6. Deals, Deals, Deals

Vacation rentals are available for groups of all sizes.
Vacation rentals are available for groups of all sizes. Vance Miller

The price is right along the Crystal Coast in spring—with an abundance of seasonal deals on a range of accommodations. From cozy bed and breakfasts to amenity-rich hotels and big, beachfront homes and condos, your dream vacation may be more affordable than you may think. Check out the Crystal Coast’s deals and specials on their website for an always-up-to-date list of spring offers.

7. Enriching Educational Experiences

Enjoying the sea life at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.
Enjoying the sea life at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. bobistraveling

Need to head indoors for a day? The Crystal Coast’s historical sites and museums have plenty to offer at any time of year. Get up close and personal with stingrays, sharks, and sea turtles at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, wander the trails at historic Fort Macon State Park—once the Beaufort Harbor’s last line of defense against ruthless pirates—or explore the Crystal Coast’s fascinating history at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort.

8. Savory Spring

Beaufort, North Carolina, is a good home base for a trip to the Crystal Coast.
Beaufort, North Carolina, is a good home base for a trip to the Crystal Coast. Susan Sharpless Smith

Savor spring flavors in the Crystal Coast’s inviting waterfront towns. Taste the bounty with fishery-to-fork dining at eateries like Aqua in Beaufort, specializing in artfully crafted tapas and small-plates. Or head to Amos Mosquito’s Restaurant and Bar, a funky sound-side joint in Atlantic Beach. Taste the farm-to-table driven menu at Circa 81 in Morehead City. Even better, plan a trip in late April to coincide with Beaufort Wine & Food Weekend, a must-attend event for foodies. Want to spend the day picking out your own ingredients and cooking up a tailor-made feast instead? Peruse the local-produce and artisanal treats at the Olde Beaufort Farmers Market.

9. Music Festival Fun

Take advantage of several music festivals on the Crystal Coast calendar in the spring. The 4th annual Atlantic Beach Music Festival returns in May. The free festival on the boardwalk will include performances by Coastline, Band of Oz, Fantastic Shakers, and Mighty Saints of Soul. The two-day Beaufort Music Festival takes place downtown and brings in a wide variety of bands to perform. The free festival also includes food trucks and an activity area for kids. The Crystal Coast Music Festival made its debut in 2016, and it will be back in Atlantic Beach this June with a full day of live music, food, and activities.

10. Idyllic Trail Weather

Exploring the Croatan National Forest.
Exploring the Croatan National Forest. bobistraveling

In the spring, not only do you beat the summer tourists to the trails, you also beat the bugs. Take to the Crystal Coast’s abundance of water trails—with options ideal for paddlers of all experience—from easy loops by kayak or SUP on Whitehurst Creek, Nelson Bay, or the North River Estuary. Find more challenging trips on the wilder waters of the Atlantic Ocean, at Cape Lookout National Seashore. Or take to the Crystal Coast’s land-based trails at Croatan State Forest, Fort Macon State Park, Emerald Isle Woods Park, or on the 11-mile, multi-use Emerald Path.

Originally written for Crystal Coast NC.

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