If you’re looking for a beach getaway that’s equal parts relaxing and exciting, the Crystal Coast of North Carolina offers the best of both worlds. With 86 miles of beautiful beaches, unique land and water activities, plus a history of pirates, the Crystal Coast is sure to keep your family busy.
A three hour drive from Raleigh, North Carolina, the Crystal Coast is a natural barrier island system that includes the communities of Emerald Isle, Pine Knoll Shores and Beaufort, among many others. Enjoy the easy going vibes of a beach community, while having a natural playground at your fingertips in this coastal wonderland.
If you only do one thing during your visit to the Crystal Coast, go see the wild horses! A group of about 100 horses roam free on the shores of Shackleford Banks, living entirely off the small island. This area is only accessible by boat or ferry and the land is protected to let the wild horse population thrive.
Pro tip: Be sure to bring shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. You’ll get off the boat in very shallow water, then take an easy hike to get a peek at the horses. The ground is a little muddy and the shrubs are a little prickly, so flip flops are a no-go. The banks themselves are very flat and easy to navigate, so even little ones will be able to see the horses.