crystal coast, nc

North Carolina’s Crystal Coast offers 9 distinct Regions:

Atlantic Beach 


Morehead City 

Pine Knoll Shores 

Indian Beach 

Salter Path 

Emerald Isle 

Down East & Shackleford Banks 

               (Down East refers to communities east of Beaufort that begin at the     

               North River Bridge.  The portion of U.S. 70 that runs through Down East

               is designated as a NC Scenic Byway.)

Western Crystal Coast

              (Cape Carteret, Cedar Point, Stella, Pelletier and Newport)

With more than 85 miles of enticing coastline, North Carolina's Crystal Coast is an amazing place to vacation, visit, and live! 


When is the Best time to visit?

Any Month. Any Day. Any Time!

The Crystal Coast is a family friendly destination.  There are 12 months in a calendar year and 12 excellent months to be on the Crystal Coast!  If you don't live here, now is a great time to plan your next trip.  There is no bad time to visit.  


Family friendly events

The Crystal Coast Welcomes Families


Family Friendly Crystal Coast Happenings NOT To Miss! 

Penguin Plunge - January 1st Every Year
Chocolate Festival - 1st Weekend in February
Mardi Gras in Beaufort
St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Emerald Isle
Easter Egg Hunts - Several in the area to choose from 

Newport Pig Cooking Contest - April 

Strawberry Picking - seasonal at local farms 

Beaufort Wine & Food Weekend -      April
Cherry Point Air Show - May, every other year 

Wooden Boat Show - 1st Weekend in May 

Beaufort Music Festival - 3rd Weekend in May 

Crystal Coast Boat Show - 3rd Weekend in May 

Atlantic Beach Music Festival 

Mile of Hope - Typically occurs in May 

Military Appreciation Day 

Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament - June 

Bogue Banks Kiteboarding Festival - June 

Beaufort Old Homes & Garden Tour 

Alive at 5 - Fridays starting at 5 during peak months 

Morehead City Marlins Baseball Games - during summer months 

Races at the Carteret County Speedway 

Fort Macon Stargazing Events 

Free Outdoor Movies in AB and EI all summer 

Free indoor kids movies - on certain weekdays at local theaters during summer months 

FireWorks in Every Town Celebrating July 4th 

Take A Kid Fishing
NC Ducks Unlimited Billfish Tournament - July 

Beaufort Pirate Invasion - August each year 

Seafood Festival - 1st Weekend in October 

Carolina Kite Fest - October 

Garner’s Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch -seasonal 

Small Business Saturday - November 

Flotillas - These are boat parades! There are several flotillas in the area to choose from! 

Beaufort Candlelight Home Tour - December
Core Sound Decoy Carvers Guild, Harkers Island - December Veterans Day Parade
Christmas Parades 

New Years Eve Events! - CrabPot Drop in Morehead, Pig Drop in Newport, and Pirate Drop in Beaufort 

Carteret Partnership for Children Events

Check with the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce for more local news and events: 


What if it rains during our vacation?!

Have No Fear!

Sea & Play, the  NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, museums and more are here!

SEA and PLAY is a space where kids are encouraged to explore! The hands-on opportunities, geared toward a wide range of ages, promote and encourage interactive play for everyone. We are offering various activities and events throughout the summer, as well as customizable birthday parties to make that special day the best one yet! Come in and see us!!

The NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m daily, including most holidays. The Aquarium is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.


The Crystal Coast has 4 Museums: 

NC Maritime Museum
History Place
Fort Macon
Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center 

Also, keep in mind that Chick Filet and Dairy Queen in Morehead City have indoor playgrounds. Michaels and Lowes' offer kids' activities on some weekends.


MorE Kid-Friendly Outings



Bowling, Games, & Dining.

Golfin Dolphin

Driving Range, Batting Cages, Putt-Putt, & Go-Karts.

Salty Pirate WaterSlides

WaterSlides, Kiddie Area, & Games.

Beaufort Pirates' Revenge

An Interactive Voyage for all ages.

Lost Treasure

Putt-Putt (train ride up to both courses), Go-Karts, Bumper-Boats, and more.

AB Splashpad, Skate Park, & Putt-Putt

This town park has something for everyone!  If you don't skate, it's still fun to watch.  Putt-putt is free for ages 6 and under.  Only $5 for older kiddos and adults.  Restrooms and concessions available.

our favorite parks

Shevans Park


Shevans Park is a wooden castle-like park located in downtown Morehead just blocks from the water.  Tennis courts, bathrooms, and two covered picnic areas are available.   This playground is scheduled to be renovated soon.  If you have questions or want to provide input, contact the Morehead City Parks & Recreation Department.

Swinson Park


Swinson Park is considered an inclusion playground with easy access and play areas for children with physical challenges. It even has a swing designed to accommodate a wheelchair.

This park offers two playgrounds, adult and youth athletic fields, lighted tennis courts, basketball courts, a large covered picnic shelter and restrooms. 

Martin Luther King, Jr., City Park


Lovingly referred to by many local kids as the "Pirate Ship Park."  This park is located in downtown Morehead just blocks from the waterfront.  This magical park is complete with a working ship's wheel.  A covered gazebo, picnic tables, and restrooms available.  The Train Depot is also located here.

Fort Benjamin Park


This family-friendly park in Newport has something for kids and adults of all ages.  Tennis courts, soccer fields, restrooms, and scheduled activities are available in addition to the playground.

Mitchell Village


My favorite part about this park is that it is located on the water.  Bring your water shoes and explore!  Watch out for oyster shells.  This park also offers two covered bench swings, a covered picnic table, and two grills in addition to the playground.  The only drawback is that restrooms are not available.

Rotary Park


This park is located in Morehead City.  In addition to the playground, this park offers soccer fields, a walking track, grilling areas, and basketball courts.  Big Rock Stadium, home of the Morehead Marlins, is also located in this sports complex.

Ocean Oaks Park


Ocean Oaks Park on Coast Guard Road in Emerald Isle is currently being revamped thanks to help from the Starke Family Foundation and the Town of Emerald Isle. Follow their progress on Facebook by clicking below!

Keep Up With the Progress

Morehead City Recreation Center


Indoor – Art classroom, exercise classroom (aerobics, tai chi, yoga, zumba), fitness rooms (cardio & weight machines), gymnasium, and meeting rooms.

Outdoor – basketball court, football/multi-purpose field with lights, picnic shelter, fishing pier, and playground.

Sugarloaf Island


Natural park area accessible by kayak, paddle board, or boat.  Floating dock, restrooms, and a nature walk trail available.  Located directly across from the downtown Morehead City waterfront.

book your stay today!


Beaufort Realty

Beaufort Realty offers both vacation and long term rentals in addition to handling all of your real estate needs.

Atlantic Beach Realty

Emerald Isle Realty

BlueWater Real Estate

Spectrum Rental Properties

Missing the coast?


Buy or Download a Book

I put together a little book as both a learning resource and guide to family living on the Crystal Coast.  Readers are invited to dream, learn and play.  Come on.  Take a peak.  I know once you learn about the Crystal Coast, you won't be able to stay away.      

I’ve been invited to do a book reading at Sea & Play in July. Copies will be available for purchase there. I hope you can make it. It should be a fun family friendly event that will include a craft. Now to start my craft research on Pinterest!

To purchase your next copy, I encourage you to first check with your favorite local gift shops, but it is also available on Amazon. When you use Amazon, please consider using AmazonSmile! The easiest way to find this book on Amazon is by clicking the link below or by searching under my name, Kristin Ferree or just click here:  My Book.   I appreciate your interest in my book and most of all your interest in the Crystal Coast! 

I will do my best to ensure our two favorite local libraries:  Webb Library and the Bogue Banks Library Have updated copies.  Plus, a free downloadable version will always be available below!

Buy Your Copy Today, Like Right Now! Click Here.

Download a free PDf version

If you would like to preview the book before you buy it, click here to download a free PDF version!

Learning My ABC's and 123's on NC's Crystal Coast (pdf)


Remember the crystal coast