Pender County: Friendly Faces, Farmland, Family Festivals, and More
Just north of Wilmington, NC. and minutes from the Atlantic Ocean, Pender County is renowned for its natural beauty, welcoming Southern hospitality, and delightful small town festivals. From its coastal communities (Hampstead, Surf City, and Topsail Island) to the Rockwell-inspired town of Burgaw, to its rich farmlands, Pender County has a lot to offer. It is the fifth largest county in North Carolina, with a land area consisting of more than 850 miles.
Steeped in history (settlers established Rocky Point in 1663), the people of Pender were ardent patriots during the Revolution. It was here, at Moore's Creek National Battlefield, that they defeated the Scottish Highlanders. With its good bottom land and tidal river transportation, Pender County enjoyed commercial success which was followed by the construction of large plantations. Even George Washington visited Pender County! Today, evidence of those early years of prosperity can still be seen at Poplar Grove Plantation and in the award-winning agricultural products (blueberries, goat cheese, pork, and more) raised on the same land.
Like many Southeastern North Carolina communities, Pender County has experienced rapid growth over the past decade. It is no longer a sleepy collection of tobacco and blueberry farms, railroad stops, and fishing villages. People have discovered the waterways, maritime forests, and beautiful beaches of the region, more than doubling Pender County’s population. Despite this influx of new residents, Pender County is still largely rural, though now dotted with several golf course communities and clusters of shops, restaurants, and businesses along the Highway 17 corridor.
The recently completed I-140 / US 17 Bypass around Wilmington makes Pender County even more accessible to larger communities. Historic downtown Wilmington is now just 20 minutes away from the Hampstead area of Pender County.
Work and Travel in Pender County
Pender County is host to three industrial parks and two industrial corridors, which have seen substantial growth in recent years. With quick access to Interstate 40 and proximity to a major port, international airport, and regional medical center, Pender County is transitioning from an agricultural economy toward a light industrial economic base. Del Labs, Inc. (Baby Orajel), LL Building Products, American Greetings, Wieland, and Cardinal Metal Works are major employers.
Pender County is home to I-40. Primary roads include NC 11, 53, 210, US 17, US 117 and US 421. The Wallace Municipal Airport is located two miles south of Wallace and 14 miles north of Burgaw and services local industrial flights. The airport has a 4,000-foot lighted, paved runway which can accommodate any corporate jet. Wilmington International Airport and Jacksonville Airport are nearby for commercial air travel.
Education and Higher Learning in Pender County
In addition to public and charter schools for elementary education, Cape Fear Community College has a satellite center in Burgaw. Rocky Point is the home of Westview Bible College. In surrounding counties, you will find the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, satellite campuses for Shaw University and Mt. Olive College, Fayetteville State University, Campbell University, Methodist College, St. Andrews Presbyterian College and The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. James Sprunt Community College is nearby in neighboring Duplin County.
Medical Facilities in Pender County
Pender Memorial Hospital, an 86-bed community hospital, offers residents of Pender County and surrounding communities a convenient and friendly place to receive care and treatment. Pender Memorial Hospital is affiliated with New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, NC., just a short commute away. Physicians and staff at each hospital work closely together to coordinate services for their patients and reach the highest standards of care.
Many specialists on the New Hanover Regional Medical Center physician staff see patients in Burgaw and Rocky Point so patients don't need to travel the extra distance to Wilmington. PMH patients also benefit from the experience provided by the same groups of radiologists, pathologists and emergency physicians who care for and diagnose patients at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. Onslow Memorial Hospital is also an option for residents in certain parts the county.
Lifestyle and Leisure in Pender County
Because of its diversity, Pender County has options for every lifestyle such as fishing, kayaking, crabbing, and boating for water enthusiasts; horseback riding, blueberry picking, and camping for lovers of the outdoors.
You can tour a historic plantation, browse antique shops in downtown Burgaw, tee off on a scenic golf course, or visit the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center. Sample muscadine wine at Bannerman Vineyard or picnic under the famous Washington Oak (where George Washington once did the same).
Agritourism is abundant in Pender County. There are many farmers’ markets and produce farms open to the public for pick-your-own strawberries, blueberries, grapes and tomatoes. Twisted Oak Farm, for example, boasts cows, goats, hens, rabbits, and dogs. They sell eggs, homemade soaps, and even raw cashmere wool. Maple Hill, located in the eastern area of Pender County, is known for its delectable hams and turkeys. During warm weather, fishermen and shrimpers sell freshly caught seafood, particularly spot fish, from iced-down coolers along roadside stands throughout Pender County, NC.
Ecotourism is just as popular in Pender County as agritourism. There are three rivers in Pender County for recreational fun including boating, camping, canoeing, fishing, swimming and water skiing. Kayaking on the Black River reveals 2,000 year-old bald Cypress trees, river otters, rare birds and wildlife. Lea Island is one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the continent. Topsail Beach is the main island with 15 miles of pristine sandy beaches. Scenic cruises reveal dolphins, osprey, and breathtaking sunsets. Pender County also has many wonderful campgrounds including Holland's Shelter Creek and Game Land which consists of more than 30,000 acres of Carolina Bay and Pocosin Swamp habitat and vegetation open for hunting half the year and hiking and canoeing the other half.
Nothing says “small town family-friendly area” like local festivals. Pender County offers many events throughout the calendar year: the NC Blueberry Festival; the NC Spot Festival; the Topsail Offshore Fishing Club King Mackerel Tournament; the Dolphin Dip; the Sun Fest; the Halloween Festival at Poplar Grove Plantation; the Big Fall Festival; the Topsail Island Holiday Boat Flotilla and more.
Retirement in Pender County
Many residents in Pender County are retired and enjoy the rural quaintness for which the area is renowned. The temperate climate (average temperature is 62.3 degrees) and abundance of outdoor activities make it an ideal place to build a quiet retreat that is still convenient to the amenities of a larger city.
In recent years, North Carolina has consistently been named one of the best places to retire because of its reasonable cost of living, low taxes, quality health care, and opportunities for culture and recreation. Half-way between New York and Florida, North Carolina also has the advantage of being not too far away or too different from the northeast where many of the retirees move from.
Real Estate and Housing in Pender County
Real estate and housing in Pender County is as diverse as its communities. Those communities are: Atkinson, Burgaw, Currie, Hampstead, Maple Hill, Penderlea, Rocky Point, Scotts Hill, St. Helena, Surf City, Topsail Island, Watha, and Willard.
Because Pender County is less developed than New Hanover and Brunswick counties, housing is very affordable. It is also possible to purchase large plots (even acres!), if you so desire. The kinds of homes available (and their price ranges) mirror the diversity of the communities. You’ll find new and existing homes, single-family homes, townhomes, golf course communities, waterfront homes, and even charming tin-roofed “salt boxes.”
Intracoastal Realty is here to help you determine which area of Pender County will best suit your lifestyle. Whether you’re seeking a home suitable for rearing children; a hideaway vacation retreat immersed in nature; or beachfront property, please contact us today. We’ll work with you find a piece of Pender County that you can call home.