Art Stops on the Coast

Wilmington and Beaches CVBArt Stops on the Coast

Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington

Whether you’re looking to browse through galleries or experience live entertainment, the North Carolina coast has something for you. You can check out the charming art galleries and artists’ cooperatives any time of year and distinct coastal seasons offer festivals, concerts and others arts-related events ranging from outdoor dramas to jazz under the stars.

Outer Banks
Start your Outer Banks vacation with an evening performance of the outdoor drama The Lost Colony, the story of the first English settlers to the New World, which takes place at the Waterside Theatre in Manteo. You’ll also want to visit the Dare County Arts Council’s Art Gallery, housed in a historic courthouse in downtown Manteo. Next, drive less than 20 minutes to Kill Devil Hills and treat yourself to handcrafted jewelry, pottery, glass, mosaics, paintings and more from the KDH Cooperative Gallery and Studios featuring the work of 40 Outer Banks artists. Down on Hatteras Island in Frisco, head to the Indian Town Gallery.

During your visit to the quaint coastal town of Washington, tour the Inner Banks Artisans’ Center located on Main Street, which features 30 artist studios open to the public and is the home of Union Alley Coffee House, a performing space. Also downtown is RiverWalk Gallery and Art Center, one of downtown Washington’s oldest galleries and an artist cooperative. Then stop by the Beaufort County Arts Council’s Lane Gift Shop, which showcases work from regional artists, ranging from fine art paintings to wooden toys.

Crystal Coast
The Crystal Coast shines with a variety of arts options. Galleries, like Carteret Contemporary Art, Handscapes Gallery and Vision Gallery, abound in Morehead City, Beaufort and out on Atlantic Beach, respectively. Along with the great galleries, festivals of all sorts – like May’s Beaufort Music Festival and December’s Core Sound Decoy Festival – make the Crystal Coast a year-round arts and entertainment destination.

Topsail Island
A part of Onslow County and Pender County, Topsail Island is a popular beach – and arts and entertainment – destination. Thurston Art Gallery in Sneads Ferry, Hampstead’s ArtExposure, and Surf City’s Topsail Art Gallery are three great gallery bets, while Sneads Ferry Community Theatre has varied entertainment options.

Wilmington Area
While in the Wilmington area, you’ll definitely want to head to the Cameron Art Museum, the largest art museum in southeastern North Carolina. The museum itself is a piece of art. The 40,000-square-foot facility was designed in 2002 by the renowned New York architectural firm of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates. You’ll also want to visit one of Wilmington’s premier art and craft galleries, New Elements, located in historic downtown. New Elements carries national and regional artists’ works, including paintings, prints, sculpture, contemporary craft and jewelry. Many more galleries are part of Fourth Friday Gallery Nights, when downtown galleries, studios and other art spaces stay open into the evening.

Brunswick Islands
The coastline of Brunswick County features quaint towns and islands with many artsy destinations. For instance, in walkable Southport, lots of local galleries participate in the First Friday Gallery Walk, with free admission and wine and appetizers on the first Friday of the month from March to December. On the way to and over on Oak Island, there are many galleries, plus the late-summer Oak Island Art Guild’s Arts & Crafts Festival is a great way to get a jump on holiday shopping and more. In addition, Sunset River Marketplace in Calabash features works by regional artists in many genres. Over on Bald Head Island, All About Art is a working studio and gallery that also offers art classes to adults and children.

The North Carolina Arts Council is a great resource for art stops on the coast and across the state.

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