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10 Ways to Have a Fun Memorial Day Weekend

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🇺🇸 Memorial Day Weekend is right around the corner!  What better way to kick off summer than at North Carolina’s southern coast in Onslow County?  Embark on an outdoor adventure in our coastal towns of Swansboro, Sneads Ferry, North Topsail Beach, Richlands, or Jacksonville, home to US Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune!  Here are 10 ways for you to enjoy a great Memorial Day weekend, #OnlyinOnslow!

Chillax at North Topsail Beach

Unwind into a leisurely weekend and a couple of beach chairs at North Topsail Beach! Grab a cooler, and your beach gear and enjoy the quieter family-friendly vibe. Kids of all ages enjoy searching for shark teeth and sea glass along the sand. If you’ve got a 4×4 vehicle, drive right on the beach with a daily pass. See more information about parking at North Topsail Beach on our InspiredbyOnslow blog.

Tour Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, NC

Head to downtown Jacksonville, NC to Lejeune Memorial Gardens and Freedom Fountain.  Both of these points of interest in Jacksonville, NC are awe-inspiring places to reflect and honor our American military servicemen and women.

Additional Events in Jacksonville, NC include…

Friday Night, 5/28 @ 8pm.  The public is invited to a  Candlelight Vigil at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, hosted by Rolling Thunder.

Saturday and Sunday, 5/28 and 5/29. The Freedom Ride with Rolling Thunder Chapter XXXIV will be making its way to Jacksonville, NC. This national motorcycle run event is open to Rolling Thunder members. Members of the public can enjoy vendors and entertainment throughout the weekend at the American Legion, 146 Broadhurst Rd in Jacksonville. The group will participate in rides Saturday and Sunday with a motorcycle ride escorted by law enforcement Sunday.

Monday, 5/30 @ 11am. The public is invited to participate in a live Memorial Day Observance being held at the future site of the Carolina Museum of the Marine, 100 Montford Landing Road, on Monday, May 30 at 11:00 am. This event is hosted by the Military Order of the Purple Heart Beirut Memorial Chapter # 642.

Freedom Fountain – Photo: Onslow County Government

Go Shelling, Birdwatching & Hop Aboard A Sunset Cruise 

Adventure over to Bear Island at Hammocks Beach State Park to explore three miles of unspoiled island beachfront, with all the seashells, sand dollars, and shark teeth you might find!  Get there via the ferry directly from the park, or charter your own adventure with one of our specialty cruise operators. Marsh Cruises offers sunset, shelling, and night excursions along Bogue and Bear Inlets. Hop aboard a sunset birding cruise with Lady Swan Boat Tours.  Do some paddling on a guided kayak eco-tour with Pogie’s Fishing & Kayaking Center, Swansboro Paddle Boarding & Kayaking, and Paddle NC.

Photo:  Facebook @ Lady Swan Boat Tours

Savor Local Flavors

The perfect getaway calls for an exploration of the best local cuisine, and what better place than at the coast?  Sample traditional mouthwatering southern delicacies, fresh local seafood,  indulge a pasta craving or some good authentic Mexican, or your favorite sushi. Endless options are available and we’re sure your taste buds will be satisfied.  See all of our local restaurants on our website.

Photo:  Facebook @Marrakesh Jacksonville

Photo:  Facebook @ Yo Bre’z Frozen Dessert Bar

Discover our Local Boutiques & Unique Shops

Enjoy some leisurely shopping just for the fun of it. You’ll find what you’re looking for with Onslow’s mix of name-brand and locally owned businesses. We’ve got a number of upscale boutiques offering the latest fashions in addition to many veteran-owned businesses sprinkled throughout the area. See a list of shops on our website.

Photo: @VisitSwansboroNC

Explore Kayaking & Paddle Boarding

Whether you are an expert or a beginner, enjoy kayaking and paddling along the Intracoastal Waterway in Swansboro, at Hammocks Beach State Park, in Jacksonville on the New River, or at North Topsail Beach. Check out our local paddling outfitters, Pogie’s Fishing & Kayaking Center, Swansboro Paddle Boarding & Kayaking, and Paddle NC for rentals and gear as well as joining guided tours!

Photo:  Facebook @ Swansboro Paddleboarding & Kayaking

Cast a Line in our Waters

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! List of all fishing outlets.

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 angler’s 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.   Those that have larger boats can fish for cobia, Mahi (dolphin), king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, grey trout, flounder, black sea bass, various groupers, and more.  Unless you are fishing from a pier, head boat, or charter, you must have the appropriate license to fish saltwater.

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, largemouth bass, sunfish, and white catfish.

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

Catch Some Live Music in our Coastal Towns

Most of our live music is scheduled outdoors and at local restaurants. Here is our music lineup for Memorial Day Weekend. Be sure to check out their Facebook Pages to confirm dates and times. Arrive a little early to shop in downtown Swansboro or spend the day at North Topsail Beach!

MAY 27

Dicky & The Lost Seaman – Willy Nilly Warehouse, Swansboro
Justin Castellano – The Boro Restaurant & Bar, Swansboro
Steel County – Saltwater Grill, Swansboro

MAY 28

Stephen Poole – Willy Nilly Warehouse, Swansboro
Justin Castellano – The Boro Restaurant & Bar, Swansboro
Dirty Blondes – Saltwater Grill, Swansboro

MAY 29

Big Sam – Willy Nilly Warehouse, Swansboro
Cayle Fall Live – Surf City Line, Surf City
Ashley LaRue Band – Swanfest, Swansboro

MAY 31

Music & Bingo Night, Dini’s Martinis & Desserts, Swansboro (call for reservations)

Pick Fresh Strawberries & Shop the NC Products Barn at Mike’s Farm

Strawberries are in season!  Take home a bucket full available for purchase at Mike’s Farm. The NC Products Barn 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!

Photo:  Facebook / @ Mike’s Farm

Get Outdoors at our Local Parks

Being outdoors is a way of life for us and we hope you enjoy our parks as much as we do!  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. See a list of our parks here.

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The charming historic coastal town of Swansboro was selected as “One of the Coolest Towns in America to Visit in 2021.” Get the inside scoop on some of our favorite local coffee hangouts!  Check out “12 Great Spots to Grab a Coffee.”

Click on the Map to Explore our Coastal Communities