If you’ve followed Mom With A Map prior to our boating adventure, you’ll know that we love a good travel bucket list.
We’ve extensively explored our home state of North Carolina. (I even published my list that you can check out here: NC Bucket List For Families) We love the diversity of destinations our state offers!
However, for the last few years we’ve postponed some of our coastal stops.
With the dream of owning a boat, we decided to focus our travel to places other than the North Carolina Coast- assuming that one day, we’d be able to extensively explore by boat.
Well, “one day” finally came and I pulled out our Bucket List!
Although I had about 10 places I wanted to stop, I learned a quick reality of boating. Just because a place is coastal doesn’t automatically mean you can just take a boat there. Similarly, a few inches on a map can mean several days of boating.
In other words, not everything I thought would be possible from my bucket list worked to visit by boat.
But, we did manage to hit up 4 awesome North Carolina coastal Destinations:
1. New Bern
I have been a sucker for Nicholas Sparks novels since I read The Notebook in college. Naturally, his hometown of New Bern, North Carolina intrigued me. It’s the backdrop for several of his books and I wondered if it was as charming as he describes.
Now having been there, I can confidently say it’s the most perfect Southern coastal town!
There are many things that make it great- from its rich history to the delicious food. However, one of our favorite aspects was something relatively new to New Bern.
In response to Covid19 and official regulations, New Bern began closing their downtown streets at 5PM every night. This allows restaurants to expand into the streets and set up ample outdoor seating.
Most restaurants have gone above and beyond to make the ambiance special!
Although we’ve crossed New Bern off of our travel bucket list, we’ve certainly added it to our favorite places list.
We will look forward to many return visits in the future!
2. Wright Brothers National Memorial
Between our love for travel and in a quest to visit as many National Park sites as we can, we’ve looked forward to seeing the spot where aviation took flight.
The Wright Brothers National Memorial is located in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on the Outer Banks. While you can’t get much more coastal than that, we ended up having to rent a car to visit this destination.
But I’m so glad we prioritized this stop!
Our whole family loved climbing the hill and imagining the first moments of flight. And we particularly loved watching planes fly in and out of the area using the small landing strip.
3. Jockey’s Ridge State Park
Years ago a friend told me about this destination and it’s been on my radar ever since.
The park is located in Nags Head, North Carolina very close to The Wright Brother’s Memorial.
Its claim to fame is that Jockey’s Ridge is the tallest living sand dunes on the Atlantic Coast. Although we visited on a steamy 95-degree day, the view from the top was well worth the climb!
4. Dismal Swamp State Park
So here’s a fun fact about this destination- when I originally added it to my North Carolina bucket list, I had no idea what a big boating destination it would be for us.
In fact, while I pictured boating to the Outer Banks, I thought there would be no way to take a boat our size into The Dismal Swamp. But I was wrong!
We ended up having the opportunity to drive our boat straight through the State Park on the canal. And we actually docked our boat at the visitor center!
I will say, in complete honesty, that it wasn’t as great as I imagined. However, that was more the boating side of it. If you’re ever in the area, I do think it’s a neat stop to visit!
We are looking forward to many more bucket list stops along the route as we continue up the coast!
As always, thanks for following along on our adventures!
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