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Key to the City

A Local’s Perfectly Planned North Carolina Beach Trip

Key to the City BY courtney conway 06/08/2018


Savannah Watson didn’t just grow up going to the beach—as a coastal North Carolina native, she practically grew up on it. She left home for a bit to hone her jewelry-making skills, but since she moved back to Wilmington a few years ago, she hits the sand as often as she can (it’s also where she collects the shells, fish hooks, and stones that inspire the shapes of her delicate earrings and necklaces). She broke down her dream oceanside day for us—including the donuts to get for the ride and where to drink afterwards. Dive in!


Do Things 


“We typically drive down to Kure Beach for the smaller crowds and free parking. Our friends have a family beach house down there, so that's our meet-up spot. While my husband Tim surfs, I catch some zen time on the sand for a couple of hours taking swim breaks.”



“Ever since I was a kid, I loved going down to Fort Fisher, an old fort and battleground during the Civil War that's surrounded by water. It's a truly breathtaking place. The trees that line the oceanside look like something out of a Dr. Seuss story. Their narrow trunks squiggle and sway in such a surprising pattern. It's enchanting and eerie, especially when considering the history of one of the last and most decisive battles of the war. I always prefer the difficult route to the ocean, which is another beautiful scene: a wide row of large, stacked rocks that borders the sea's edge. There's also a proper beach access if you're not feeling adventurous. On the sound side, you can view Fort Fisher and what's left of the battleground—there's also a small museum and a network of trails worth checking out.”


Merewif silver tinyfishhookearrings 1
Silver Tiny Fish Hook Earrings
45 OF A KIND .




“These are the best glazed donuts I've ever had. Old-school donuts on the boardwalk since 1939 with the perfect crusty/soft/sweet ratio. This is one of the few places in Wilmington that will constantly have a line, but it's worth it. And I still order a cup of milk with them like I've done since childhood.”



“This produce stand and market is the ideal place to stop for snacks to bring to the beach. They have fresh fruit and veggies, great pre-made salads and sandwiches, and a well-rounded selection of beer to build your own six-pack. We never leave without some of their homemade pimento cheese and a fresh baguette. You can also create a custom ice cream sandwich with your choice of top cookie, bottom cookie, and ice cream—genius!”



“If we don’t go to The Veggie Wagon, we come here for fresh biscuits and stone-ground cheese grits. It’s right next to a bottle shop, Island Beverage, so you can stock up on refreshments while you’re there.”



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White Topaz BFF Necklaces
50 OF A KIND .



“This place is a true gem. Their beer selection is located in a huge walk-in cooler, which is always an interesting jolt after being at the beach all day. Walking through the bar to get to the backyard "beach," you'll notice that no square inch has been left undecorated with local relics and beachcomber oddities. I think the photos will tell the rest of the story on this particular spot.”



“A great last stop as the sun is going down, this restaurant has a bar on the beachfront dock that extends over the ocean. Grab a beer and some fish tacos or crab dip with a full view of the ocean.  If you are lucky enough to end your day here on a Thursday night, you can catch some of the best local and national musical acts performing live on the pier. This is also accompanied by Thursday night fireworks courtesy of the Town of Carolina Beach.”

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