Enjoy Southeastern North Carolina’s Nature at No Charge

By Judy Royal

Anyone sitting on the sand at any of our beach strands would likely agree that many of the best things in life are free. But other than the sea, what can you enjoy without a fee? Plenty! If you’re looking for a way to commune with nature without breaking the bank, you’re definitely in luck in this region.

John Nesbitt Loop

Hours: Always open
Contact: Causeway Drive, North Lumina Avenue and Salisbury Street, Wrightsville Beach, (910) 256-7925, www.towb.org

Why do you always see so many people out exercising in Wrightsville Beach? They’re taking advantage of the John Nesbitt Loop, known to locals simply as “The Loop,” a popular 2.45-mile stretch of sidewalk that circles the town’s heart. The route offers coastal views, scenic parks and gardens, water fountains, and pit stops for thirsty dogs. When the weather is nice, you’ll see plenty of locals and visitors – along with their four-legged friends – walking, biking, jogging, and skating.

Carolina Beach State Park

Hours: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. daily
Contact: 1010 State Park Road, Carolina Beach, (910) 458-8206, www.ncparks.gov/carolina-beach-state-park

You’ll find a marina, secluded camping area, cabins, visitors center, and walking trails that traverse various habitats at Carolina Beach State Park, home to the Venus’ flytrap, one of the world’s most carnivorous plants and a native of Southeastern North Carolina. Have fun and learn at the same time, as rangers hold regularly scheduled educational and interpretive programs about the park. It’s also a great place for a picnic along the bank of Snow’s Cut, with tables, grills, and plenty of shade from large oak trees.

Summer Rest Trail

Hours: 8 a.m.-sunset daily
Contact: 1981 Eastwood Road, Wilmington, and 423 Summer Rest Road, Wilmington, (910) 798-7629, www.parks.nhcgov.com

Explore one of the area’s hidden gems by taking a stroll or bike ride along Summer Rest Trail, a 0.7-mile asphalt path that begins at Port City Chop House on Eastwood Road and winds through a wooded route to Summer Rest Road, which overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway near Wrightsville Beach. It’s the perfect place for a short run, quiet walk, or scenic getaway from your regular surroundings.

Oakdale Cemetery

Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
Contact: 520 N. 15th St., Wilmington, (910) 762-5682, www.oakdalecemetery.org

Part outdoor museum and part arboretum, Oakdale Cemetery boasts 100 acres and is North Carolina’s oldest rural cemetery. Its native vegetation is punctuated with blooming plants all year long but especially so in the spring, so it’s a great spot for a self-guided tour to stroll through the beauty and history.

Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

Hours: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily; the pedestrian beach is always open
Contact: 1000 Loggerhead Road, Kure Beach, (910) 458-5798, www.ncparks.gov/fort-fisher-state-recreation-area

Enjoy 6 miles of unspoiled beaches and trails at the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, located at the southernmost part of Pleasure Island. Explore the salt marsh and its wildlife, including loggerhead sea turtles, piping plovers, and other rare species. Enjoy surf fishing as well as a boat ramp and padding launch.

New Hanover County Arboretum

Hours: Open daily during daylight hours
Contact: 6206 Oleander Drive, Wilmington, (910) 798-7660, www.arboretum.nhcgov.com

Explore 7 acres of plants that grow in the coastal area as well as emerging trends in plant material, proper horticultural techniques, aesthetic design, environmental stewardship, and research at the New Hanover County Arboretum, which bills itself as “where nature and knowledge grow.” During your visit, enjoy numerous gardens, a plant clinic, a picnic area, a gift shop, a children’s area, and an interactive chalk wall.

Brunswick Nature Park

Hours: 8 a.m.-dusk daily
Contact: 2601 River Road (N.C. Highway 133), Winnabow, (910) 253-2670, bcparks.recdesk.com

Brunswick Nature Park offers 911 acres of undeveloped wilderness featuring a dynamic mix of vegetation, wildlife, ecosystems, vistas, wetlands, and waterways for exploration. Enjoy a kayak/canoe launch site and a large picnic pavilion as well as walking, biking, and horse trails. Take a ride out to the country to please your senses with the primitive and unspoiled views and serene atmosphere.

Airlie Gardens

Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
Contact: 300 Airlie Road, Wilmington, (910) 798-7700, www.airliegardens.org
*Admission charge typically applies, with exceptions noted below.

*If you live in New Hanover County and have a valid ID to prove it, you get in free on the first Sunday of each month. Experience 67 acres of formal gardens, wildlife, historic structures, walking trails, sculptures, views of Bradley Creek, 10 acres of freshwater lakes, more than 100,000 azaleas, and the grandeur of the 472-year-old Airlie Oak at Airlie Gardens. While you’re there, meet Reilly, a rescued border collie that was “hired” to help manage Canada geese on the property, or explore the 2,700-square-foot butterfly house, which is home to 11 native species of butterflies and open May 15-October 15.

Cape Fear Museum

Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday
Contact: 814 Market St., Wilmington, (910) 798-4370, www.capefearmuseum.com
*Admission charge typically applies, with exceptions noted below.

*If you live in New Hanover County and have a valid ID to prove it, you get in free on the first Sunday of each month. Cape Fear Museum, the oldest history museum in North Carolina, offers various exhibits and programs focusing on the area’s history and science. It draws on a collection of more than 52,000 items to help visitors explore a wide range of topics related to the Lower Cape Fear region.

N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher

Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
Contact: 900 Loggerhead Road, Kure Beach, (910) 772-0500, www.ncaquariums.com/fort-fisher
*Admission charge typically applies, with exceptions noted below.

*Admission is free on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January and Veterans Day in November. The N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher offers a variety of exhibits for all ages that have everything from an albino alligator and a rescued bald eagle to sharks and loggerhead turtles as well as an interactive touch tank. Visitors journey down the Cape Fear River – from freshwater streams and swamps to coastline habitats, reefs, and the open ocean – discovering unique habitats and wildlife.

 

Are you ready to take advantage of all Southeastern North Carolina has to offer? Intracoastal Realty is here to meet your Wilmington NC real estate needs, whether you want to stay for a weekend or a lifetime. We are a full-service real estate brokerage operating since 1976, and we currently have 12 offices with over 400 agents and staff to serve Southeastern North Carolina, including the areas of Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Southport, Oak Island, Ocean Isle Beach, Leland, Hampstead, and Topsail Island.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>