Atlantic Beach is the gem of the North Carolina coastline, riddled among a host of city beaches that make up the Crystal Coast. The area's rich history, scenic beauty and authentic southern coastal charm create some of the most memorable family getaways. Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, in Carteret County, is 39 miles east of Jacksonville, North Carolina (center to center) and 130 miles southeast of Raleigh, North Carolina. Situated on the Bogue Banks, Atlantic Beach is within reach of activities, attractions and incredible wealth. Mostly referred to as the Crystal Coast makes it easy to conjure up images of its pristine sandy beaches, crystalline waters, rolling surfs and fragrances of refreshing salty ocean air. The area is peppered with boardwalk attractions and enveloped with attractions, restaurants and entertainment. The area is infused with just the right amount of activities that make for the most exciting family adventures! Among all the city beaches that make up the Crystal Coast, Atlantic Beach also offers plenty of golfing, world-class fishing, maritime history centers and landmarks, museums, shopping, nightlife and famous fresh seafood. The attractions and activities make discovery absolutely thrilling. There is so much to see and do for beach-lovers and outdoor enthusiast to history buffs and world-class golfers that you won’t even know where to start first. But you’ll be very happy with all the time you will have have and the premium location you’ll be given so you can explore all of this historical, cultural, coastal paradise as you want!
Beyond the beaches and plentiful water-sports activities, one of the most exciting family adventures is an unforgettable journey with the NC Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores. Using the theme, "From North Carolina's Mountains to the Sea," you’ll explore the Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal Plain, Tidal Waters and Ocean galleries, witnessing more than 3,000 animals on their aquatic journeys. A real show-stopper and family favorite is the 306,000-gallon Living Shipwreck of a 70-foot replica of a sunken World War II German submarine that sank off the Crystal Coast in 1942. You’ll get an eyeful through the 63-foot window, with the coral encrusted submarine that’s swarmed by live 8-foot-long tiger sharks, schools of rare and colorful fish, sea turtles, moray eels and other sea animals. Parents and kids have a great time chatting with the exhibit divers through underwater microphones. One of the most significant and exciting Crystal Coast highlights is Fort Macon State Park, an old Civil War fort that was deactivated in 1877, re-garrisoned in 1898 for the Spanish-American War and once again abandoned in 1903. In 1924, Congress gave the fort and surrounding land to the state of North Carolina, and in 1936, Fort Macon State Park became North Carolina's first functioning state park, with beautiful sandy beaches, designated swimming and fishing areas and easy access to the bath house facilities—not to mention fort tours. It’s a fantastic day trip for the whole family, ending with a cool family photo that the kids really love as they pose with an old cannon at the fort. The Cape Lookout National Seashore is also well known for its operational lighthouse, The Cape Lookout Lighthouse, with its black and white diamonds. It’s located near the southern tip of the South Core Banks. Made up of three unspoiled barrier islands—The North Core Banks, South Core Banks and Shackleford Banks make up the 56-mile national seashore stretches from Ocracoke Inlet to Beaufort Inlet. It’s only accessible by private boat or ferry and makes for another memorable family day trip. These islands are excellent for fishing, shelling and extremely primitive camping. Primitive being the key word: Be sure to bring all necessities, such as drinks, food, sun screen, insect repellent, clothing items and personal items. Private boats or concession ferries are also available to Portsmouth Island and Shackleford Banks, which is most famous for its wild ponies, as well as beautiful sandy beaches. The island is preserved as a National Historic Site with a few homes, churches and cemeteries still remaining. Originally called "Fish Towne," Beaufort is the third oldest town in North Carolina, and its history stretches from land to sea with stories of legends and lore, including the legendary pirate, Blackbeard. Incorporated in 1722, Beaufort history comes to life in the historical homes, buildings and churches that are centuries old. The Beaufort Historic Site offers a variety of tours that include stops at the 1829 Carteret County Jailhouse, the Apothecary Shop, the Doctors Office and the 1796 Carteret County Courthouse. Beaufort also has a thriving waterfront filled with charming shops frequented by visitors. Combined with its rich history and beaches, a trip to the Crystal Coast can be an exhilarating experience for everyone in the family!
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