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10 Safe Family Fun Things to Do at NC’s Southern Coast

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Is a safe family getaway to the beach sounding good about now?  Never was there a better time to enjoy being outdoors with friends and family at the central coast of North Carolina in Onslow County!

Check out our list of 10 safe and fun things to do that your family will love!   All of the attractions and businesses listed below have health safety measures in place to ensure your well-being and a good time for all!   Be sure to visit their Facebook pages and websites for more details.

Chillax at North Topsail Beach

If you like the idea of leaving the mainland behind, cross over the wide-span bridge and the Intracoastal Waterway, where you can quickly settle into vacation mode. On North Topsail Beach, you’ll find plenty of free parking at two public beach accesses as well as lots of wide-open beaches for sunbathing and fishing. On all of Onslow County’s relaxing family beaches, you can unwind into a leisurely day focused on the sound of the waves or chatting with your friends.  For longer stays, consider a beach cottage or multi-level oceanfront rental.  See all of the latest beach safety updates to help you be safe and have a fun time.

Embark on a Shelling Excursion to Bear Island 

For an even more isolated and a feels-like-you’re-the-only-one-here experience, head over to Bear Island, which is a part of Hammocks Beach State Park in Swansboro. There you’ll find over three miles of unspoiled island beachfront, with all the salty air, wave action, and large seashells that you want.

Although the ferries that typically run out of Hammocks Beach State Park taking beachgoers to Bear Island are temporarily not operational due to the current health and safety concerns, we’ve got a few great charters that can take you over to Bear Island directly from downtown Swansboro. Marsh Cruises offers sunset, shelling, and night excursions along Bogue and Bear Inlets. Charter a day or evening sunset cruise aboard Captain Darryl’s 23-foot Bay Rider Skiff and he’ll take you to the best spots for finding sand dollar seashells. Other shelling excursions to Bear Island include Lady Swan Boat Tours, Pogie’s Fishing Center, Swansboro Paddle Boarding, and Paddle NC.

Explore Swansboro by Sea

Nothing beats a sunset cruise aboard the Lady Swan, a 40’ Coast Guard inspected pontoon boat that cruises Swansboro’s surrounding waters. Known for its scenic sunset cruises, the Lady Swan features a fully shaded top, comfortably padded seats, and onboard restrooms. Yes, you and your guests will be cruisin’ the coast in style! Experience the Lady Swan’s popular historic and nature cruises, too. Both are a great way to discover Swansboro’s local history and distinctive coastal beauty.

Kayak & Paddle the Waterways

Enjoy paddling the waterways in Onslow County!  Whether you are an expert or a beginner looking to enjoy some easy recreation in Onslow’s Great Outdoors, we have many access points throughout Onslow County…along the Intercoastal Waterway in Swansboro, at Hammocks Beach State Park, or at North Topsail Beach. Check out our outfitters and outposts for gear and guided tours!

Bait A Hook!

Recreational, sport and commercial fishing have deep roots in our coastal communities of Onslow County.  If you’re interested in casting a line or two, you might catch your own dinner and enjoy seafood at its freshest!  Check out all of Onslow County’s fishing outlets here.

For the land-based angler, head over to Seaview Fishing Pier or enjoy walking along North Topsail Beach and fish the surf and the areas around the inlets. Be sure to obtain a permit and review the rules and regulations from the Town of North Topsail Beach.

Saltwater fishing from both land and boat is an anglers dream in Onslow.  You’ll find an abundance of speckled trout, flounder, red drum, bluefish, sea mullet(whiting), croaker, Spanish mackerel, and spot in our waters.  Here are some great local charters that will ensure an amazing experience!  Freshwater fishing opportunities are available along the New River in Jacksonville and the White Oak River in Swansboro.  Anglers enjoy catches of speckled trout, red drum, flounder as well as largemouth bass, sunfish, and white catfish.

Visit to obtain information about obtaining a fishing license in addition to rules, regulations, and related guidelines.

Enjoy Take Out, Waterfront and Outdoor Dining, or Dine-In Safely

Onslow County has a culinary delight for everyone’s tastes, from authentic North Carolina barbeque to local fresh-caught seafood at one of our renowned waterfront restaurants, where your dining experience can include the added ambiance of the beautiful coastal scenery.

The perfect getaway calls for an exploration of the best local cuisine.  Sample traditional mouthwatering southern delicacies, indulge a pasta craving, some good authentic Mexican, or your favorite sushi. Endless options are available and we’re sure your taste buds will be satisfied. For your convenience here is a list of restaurants that are participating in North Carolina’s #CountonMeNC public health and safety initiative to help ensure everyone’s safety.  See more information about this initiative and how you can get involved at

Explore the trails at Big Branch Bike Park in Jacksonville

Who knew you could go mountain biking at the coast. The Bike park includes several bike trails and walking trails over the span of 6.2 miles. There are trails for beginners as well as intermediate trails for advanced bikers and runners.


Tour Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville

As home to Camp Lejeune, one of the largest Marine Corps base on the eastern seaboard, we celebrate and serve the heroes of the world—everyday and extraordinary—including you. Receive your hero’s welcome from the minute you arrive.


Lejeune Memorial Gardens is a place to reflect and honor our American military servicemen and women in light of the sacrifices that they have made in defense of our country and our freedoms.  Located at the gateway to downtown Jacksonville, and nestled amidst North Carolina pines and a beautiful landscape,  it is a true place of beauty to pause and reflect on the awe of the American patriotic spirit.

Shop the NC Products Barn at Mike’s Farm

The NC Products Barn had its GRAND OPENING in September 2019 and is home to the largest variety of products that are all produced, manufactured, and crafted in our great state. From the Mountains, Piedmont, and the Coastal Plains they hope to have all 100 counties represented. From suspenders, pottery, and mismatched socks to specialty coffee, handcrafted foods and unique wines there truly is something for everyone!

Enjoy Onslow’s Great Outdoors at our Parks

Being outdoors and active is at the heart of Onslow County.  Visitors will find opportunities for a wide variety of recreation and family fun activities at our parks throughout the area including along our waterfront towns, at the beach, as well as throughout the City of Jacksonville and Richlands.

Paddle trails, bicycle routes, tennis, playgrounds, picnic areas, basketball courts, disc golf, splash pads – you name it!  We encourage you to visit Onslow County’s Parks & Recreation website as well as the Recreation & Parks – Jacksonville, NC Facebook Page for a whole slew of happenings and activities to enjoy throughout the year. You can also see a list of parks here on our website.

Thinking we might have some fun things to do?  That you can count on!  We would like to extend a SAFE and welcome invitation to you and yours for your summer vacay or weekend getaway!  Visit a list of hotels along with their safety and cleanliness protocol at your fingertips.  We hope to see you soon!