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Learn and Have Fun at These NC Historic Sites Near Ocean Isle Beach

Can you go on vacation and learn history all at the same time? Oh yes you can! Your Ocean Isle Beach vacation is not just all about the beach (unless you want it to be). There are plenty of opportunities to learn, explore, and discover the historical significance of this region of the North Carolina coast. Here are a few favorite historical sites and spots that are not far from your Ocean Isle Beach vacation rental. This is not an exhaustive list, but a few of the most popular. Visit one or visit them all—it’s up to you. Enjoy!

Historic Places of Interest Near Your Ocean Isle Beach Vacation Rental

Battleship North Carolina

Moored in quiet dignity and majesty the Battleship North Carolina, across the river from downtown Wilmington, beckons visitors to walk her decks. Step back in time and let history come alive through the crews’ stories. Imagine yourself steering the ship, starting her engines or even firing the guns. (Please note that at the writing of this blog, the mast is currently under repair so some areas may not be open to the public. Check their website for the latest updates and information.)

Brunswick Town /Fort Anderson

A major pre-Revolutionary port on North Carolina’s Cape Fear River, Brunswick was razed by British troops in 1776 and never rebuilt. During the Civil War, Fort Anderson was constructed atop the old village site, and served as part of the Cape Fear River defenses below Wilmington before the fall of the Confederacy. Colonial foundations dot the present-day tour trail, which crosses the earthworks of the Confederate fort.

Fort Fisher Civil War Museum

Until the last few months of the Civil War, Fort Fisher kept North Carolina’s port of Wilmington open to blockade-runners supplying necessary goods to Confederate armies inland. By 1865, the supply line through Wilmington was the last remaining supply route open to Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. When Ft. Fisher fell after a massive Federal amphibious assault on January 15, 1865, its defeat helped seal the fate of the Confederacy.

WilmingtonHistoric District

Explore the area’s historic roots on a self-guided or horse-drawn carriage ride of downtown’s National Register Historic District. One of the largest and most picturesque historic districts in the South, the 230-plus blocks hold their own alongside the likes of Charleston and Savannah. Visit some of the finest examples of historic Victorian-era architecture at the Bellamy Mansion, built on the eve of the Civil War; the Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens, the only structure in Wilmington from the colonial era open to the public; and Latimer House, which transports visitors back to the Victorian era to learn tales of the Latimer family.

Oak Island Lighthouse

The Oak Island Lighthouse, the last lighthouse to be built in NC, was completed in 1958. The lights are 169 feet above the water, as reported on nautical charts, and can be seen for 25 nautical miles. The actual structure is 153 feet tall, but it stands on a slight rise. There is no spiral staircase as found in most older lighthouses, but instead a series of ships ladders with a total of 131 steps to the gallery level. Tours to the top of the Lighthouse, up 131 steps to an outside balcony, are available all year by appointment for climbers 9 years of age or older. Top Tours must be made through the lighthouse website.

Old Baldy Lighthouse

The oldest lighthouse still standing in North Carolina is the beloved Bald Head Lighthouse, known affectionately as Old Baldy. Take the ferry from Southport and enjoy the day on Bald Head Island. Climb 108 stairs and 5 landings to reach the top of Old Baldy Lighthouse and its breathtaking view of the Cape Fear River estuary. Climbs of Old Baldy are self-guided, unscheduled during business hours, and at your own pace. Located inside the lighthouse’s foundation are other artifacts on exhibit.

What’s your favorite historic site to visit during your OIB vacaTion?

Share with us in the comments below!

Learn and Have Fun at These NC Historic Sites Near Ocean Isle Beach
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