Day 1: There are alarms going off on several cell phones throughout our bedroom. An alarm on my work phone, on my personal phone, and on May’s phone, buzz with the annoying sounds that tell us it is time to wake up, and roll out of bed. On most day’s, that ear piercing sound is telling us it is time to go to work, but on a Saturday morning, it is usually giving us the sign that it is time to hit the road for a Super Trip. On this particular morning, as we swiped the cell phone screens to turn off the alarms, we were waking up to head out to the North Carolina coast for a two day road trip.
With most of the items packed the night before, and a hotel booked for one night as our base camp, we only had to throw a couple of bags into the Kia Soul, then head out on the highway. Over the years, we have managed to become pretty light with the luggage we take on our trips. We learned on an earlier road trip to Key West, that packing an abundant amount of clothes for a trip is not as necessary as previously believed. I personally found that a couple pair of shorts, and a few t shirts is all that is needed. In Key West particularly, A couple pair of swimming trunks, and a pack of white v-cut t shirts does the trick just fine for me. With everything packed, and the three of us in the Kia, we headed off on the short road trip to the North Carolina coast.
As we pulled into Emerald Isle, a 29-mile stretch of island on the lower Outer Banks, which is one of our favorite places along the NC coast, we planned to drive the entire stretch of the island to Fort Macon. The drive through Emerald Isle, Indian Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, and Atlantic Beach is a very enjoyable 15+ mile drive, with many public access beaches along the way to visit. Our previous trips to Emerald Isle have all been beach stops only, so we planned to visit Fort Macon, as well as the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.
For anyone visiting Emerald Isle, Fort Macon is a must stop attraction. Exploring the fort is an amazing trip through history, and the time commitment depends on how much you dive into the areas of the fort. We explored just about every square inch of the fort, as well as the many displays throughout, but still had time to visit the beach just over the dunes from the parking lot, before visiting the Aquarium, and another beach to end the first day. After climbing to the top of the Fort, we discovered a wonderful 360 degree view around the fort, including an overlook view of the beach and coast. With sunny blue sky’s, we captured many amazing photos from the top of the fort, before entering the interior to tour through the many informational displays and rooms available.
After finishing up our self tour of Fort Macon, we began our voyage back to Emerald Isle with a stop by the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Considering the size of the island, we did not anticipate a very large aquarium, and were not sure what to expect, but we were pleasantly surprised at this fantastic aquatic odyssey. With many sea life and reptile displays, as well as additional play areas for the kids, the aquarium has enough to fulfill your families water life entertainment needs. Little Minnows play area will keep the toddlers busy in between the exhibits, while Tree-Mendous Nature Play Area can entertain the entire family with slides, a climbing net, a tree house platform, and a swinging bridge.
After visiting the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, we spent the rest of the evening at one of the many public access beaches along the route back to Emerald Isle. Throughout the entire island, you will find beautiful, quiet beaches at every public access, as there is very little commercial development on the island.
With late evening coming upon us, we finished up our journey back to Emerald Isle, then crossed the bridge back to the inland, and began driving to the hotel, our base camp in Jacksonville. Since we were all hungry, we decided to make a food stop in Swansboro, and enjoy some casual dining at the Icehouse Waterfront Restaurant. With live entertainment near the front entrance, and a great picnic table overlooking the nearby waterway, the evening was perfect to relax and enjoy a laid back meal. We then finished the evening with a short stroll down Front Street to Church Street, eventually ending our evening at an awesome sweet store name Candy Edventure. This candy store is a treat for young and old alike, as it has tasty treats that would satisfy any preference.
The evening was getting late, and all storefronts were closing for the day, so we decided it was time to call it a successful day, and continue on to the hotel we had booked in Jacksonville. After getting settled into the hotel room for the night, we ended day one of our trip with our usual flipping through the many great photos we had captured.
Day 2: With an extremely packed day one completed, we decided not to let the alarm clocks wake us up. Instead, opting to have our six year old son Kaleb dictate when we would wake up for the second day of our adventure. After packing our bags, loading our car, and checking out, we grabbed a quick breakfast in the dining area at the front lobby, then headed out on the road to Surf City on Topsail Island. With a visit to the Surf City Ocean Pier, some beach hopping, and the occasional stop at the beach shops along the island, we spent the majority of the day exploring the island coastline.
After an afternoon of beach hopping along South Shore Drive, we headed back to Surf City to cross over to the main land, and find our way back to route 40 west. With another adventure of memories to add to our collection, we made our way back home, closed the chapter on this journey, and began laying out the plans for our next Super Trip.