Dive Into Coastal Fun At Every Age
The NC Coast offers lots of chances for kids to get hands-on with their fun while teens can get a taste of the extreme.
Children 2 – 12
Roanoke Island Festival Park – Manteo
Embark on the Elizabeth II and experience what life was like onboard an English merchant vessel. Try out the straw and feather mattresses, play checkers with a sailor, search for surprises and help set the sails. In the American Indian Town, kids can explore the homes and farms on display or they can be adventurous and try their hands at constructing houses, making ropes, mending nets, building boats, weaving baskets and many more things that were once a part of daily life. Or they can play Elizabethan games, try on armor and watch a blacksmith at Settlement Site. A hands-on museum, live performances and other exhibits will keep your family busy and having fun.
Museum of Coastal Carolina – Ocean Isle
An abundance of interactive exhibits entice kids to become part of the action at this fun museum. A visit to Megabites will have kids digging for shark’s teeth, while touch tanks encourage kids to find out more about sea animals. Kids can look at insects under magnifiers and watch live snakes slither in natural habitats. Life-size models of whales, sharks and other large fish will dazzle. Toddlers can explore a puppet playhouse and play with puzzles.
Cape Fear Serpentarium – Wilmington
Venomous snakes, giant constrictors, lizards and crocodiles are some of the animals housed here to explore. The exhibits are large and are as close to the animal’s natural habitat as possible so that kids can get an inside peek at rarely observed reptile behavior.
Tregembo Animal Park – Wilmington
This small zoo is perfect for an afternoon of exploration. Over 15 species of animals, including zebras, bears, monkeys and lions, live here. Don’t forget to pick up a few bags of popcorn and peanuts at the large gift shop to feed to the animals.
Wilmington’s Children’s Museum – Wilmington
Shoot oranges out of the working cannon on a pirate ship. Dig for fossils. Climb a spider web. Shop for groceries downstairs and then send them upstairs to the diner where lunch is prepared and served. Put on a doctor’s coat and give a teddy bear a check up. With all of these activities and more, your child will be playing for hours. Toddlers have their own special area with books, puzzles, blocks and more. Older kids can sing karaoke on the Star Maker Sound Stage. Everyone can enjoy the art studio and science center.
Teens 13 – 18
Bald Head Conservancy – Bald Head Island
Watching tiny turtle hatchlings emerge from their nests might be one of the most memorable experiences of your summer. The Bald Head Conservancy sponsors nightly turtle walks. Biologists lead a 45-minute presentation before you hit the beach to await directions to nesting or hatching sites. Space is limited and walks begin at 9pm. The Conservancy also offers kayaking, crabbing and birding excursions as well as other eco-education programs.
The Golfin’ Dolphin – Cape Carteret
With something for everyone, this outdoor fun center will thrill every member of the family. Zoom around in go-karts, wage a nautical attack in bumper boats that are equipped with personal water cannons, or play Water Wars where teams man stations and shoot water balloons at each other with a giant launcher. A driving range, putting green, mini golf course and batting cages offer more fun options. If you are looking for 24 lanes of bowling and a huge arcade, you can find it next door at Mac Daddy’s.
Segs on the Beach – Corolla
If you want to see the coast in a different way, Back Country Outfitters and Guides has the perfect tour for you. They offer two Segway tours, one through historic Corolla Village and one that will appeal to teens– an excursion through a Spanish Mustang Reserve. After a short training session, teens can take a 4WD Segway out for a spin through 30 miles of beach and dunes. The tour ends with an off-road adventure through the Maritime forest in search of wild Spanish Mustangs. The trip lasts about four hours.
Jockey’s Ridge State Park – Nags Head
Outdoor adventure is around every corner at Jockey’s Ridge. Teens can take hang gliding lessons or try sandboarding – the beach’s answer to snowboarding. Kayaking, windsurfing and swimming are also allowed. If you perfer a slower pace, several self-guided trails invite you to explore. Kite flying conditions are perfect at the top of the ridge while the Roanoke Sound is a great, shallow place for playing in the water.
Surf Camp – Wrightsville Beach
Although known for their summer camps, Wrightsville Beach’s Surf Camp offers Surf School daily during the summer and is ideal for teens who want to learn to surf but only have few days to do so. With a variety of options, such as private surfing lessons, group surfing lessons or weekend clinics, it’s easy to find an option to match your interest and ability level. Group lessons are taught seven days a week and you must be at least eleven to attend. Board rentals are available. Advance registration is recommended since spots go fast.
added: June 28, 2010
updated: June 29, 2010
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