There are so many great things to do in Myrtle Beach that it's impossible to do them all (although it would be fun trying). But if you and your crew or looking for something different to do, there's another world just 60 miles up the coast in Wilmington, NC.
Located on the banks of the Cape Fear River's approach to the Atlantic Ocean, this charming port city has more than 300 years of history and some of the most scenic settings on the Carolina coastline. A popular haven for Blackbeard and other famous pirates of the Colonial Era, the stretch of coastline between Myrtle Beach and Wilmington offers some other hidden treasures that you can reach in an hour's drive. Here are out top five things to do for a day trip to Wilmington and surrounding area:
Bald Head Island: If you are looking for a one-day island getaway, you can be there in about an hour. That's a 45-minute drive to Southport, NC, and a 15-minute ferry ride to “Old Baldy,” the famed lighthouse that steered ships safely into Cape Fear Harbor. A small village greets guests as they arrive off the boat, with nice shops and cafes lining the small harbor front. That's where you will want to rent a golf cart to carry you and your gear (beach towels, coolers, etc.) on a tour to the north end of the island. Vacation homes and a golf course make up much of the island, but there are undeveloped areas of breathtaking beauty, including the northernmost beach and its towering sand dunes. Just be sure to catch the last ferry back before dark.
Downtown Wilmington: Once one of the most thriving ports on the East Coast, Wilmington maintains its historic character alongside a modern, vibrant downtown district. The riverfront is lined with former cotton and tobacco warehouses that have been converted into upscale shopping and dining complexes. The Riverwalk gives visitors a scenic stroll and a place to catch a riverboat ride down the Cape Fear to see antebellum homes and swampy wetlands and woodlands. The Bellamy Mansion, Cape Fear Museum and several historic churches that pre-date the United States are popular touring spots, and the Cotton Exchange is a great place to shop and dine.
Golf: Myrtle Beach is famous for golf, but few realize that the golf scene extends even farther up the Carolina coast and across the state border. Sunset Beach, NC, is just over the state line and offers a number of golf options. The Big Cats family of courses features six championship designs, and nearby Oyster Bay is a jewel of a find. But the best course in the area is slightly farther north in Shallotte, NC. River’s Edge was built on the bluffs of the Shallotte River by legendary golfer Arnold Palmer and is rated one of the top courses in all the Carolinas. To book a tee time, talk to the Ocean Reef golf staff or visit www.myrtlebeachgolf.com.
Town of Calabash: If you are on the way back from Wilmington and want to grab a bite to eat, you will pass right through the middle of the “Seafood Capital of America.” This small fishing village is world famous for its namesake style of cooking seafood – lightly battered and deep-fried – but the key ingredient is freshness. Have some hushpuppies and a seafood platter at Ella’s for a real treat.
USS North Carolina: Stand in the footsteps of World War II heroes aboard the Battleship North Carolina. Permanently retired on the Cape Fear River, this massive Navy ship saw extensive action in the Pacific Theater before being decommissioned to serve as a living monument to those who served. See how they lived, ate and slept in tight quarters on the hip, and man the gun turrets to imagine what it must have been like to be a crewmember. The attraction also includes a spacious museum featuring all types of artifacts from the North Carolina's glory days.