Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Calabash, NC

  • Published 2023/03/02

Incorporated in 1973, the town of Calabash began as a small fishing village that specialized in a handful of seafood dishes.

This fishing town is the seafood capital of the world, boasting over 30 seafood restaurants and Calabash cooking.

Developments in the old fishing outpost included homes, condo units, world-class golf courses, and more.

The town became one of the most popular tourist destinations in North Carolina.

Calabash may be small, but don’t let that fool you into thinking there isn’t much to do in the area.

Here are the best things to do while in Calabash, NC:

Share a Secret at the Kindred Spirit Mailbox

Daytime view of Kindred Spirit Mailbox

The Beehive Design Co /

Get a breath of fresh air and spill your innermost thoughts to the Kindred Spirit Mailbox.

Located on a secluded stretch of beach on Bird Island, the Kindred Spirit Mailbox is where tourists and locals express themselves by writing on a piece of paper.

The mailbox might be small, but it has held hundreds of wishes, thoughts, and dreams from travelers.

People sitting on Kindred Spirit Mailbox's bench


The Kindred Spirit Mailbox has become so popular that it even appeared in Nicholas Sparks’ best-selling novel Early Breath.

Go on a serene walk towards the mailbox and sit on the nearby bench.

Then, write your deepest secret on a piece of paper before sticking it inside the mailbox.

A quote on Kindred Spirit Mailbox's wooden bench


Book Tee Time at the Pearl Golf Course

On the banks of the Brunswick coastal marshland in the heart of Calabash is the scenic Pearl Golf Course.

In 1987, Dan Maples designed the course along Pearl Boulevard.

As you walk around the course, you’ll see the natural beauty of the woods and the spectacular 900-acre marsh surrounding the Calabash River.

Featuring 227 holes, the Pearl Golf Course creates three distinct 18-hole golfing experiences: the Pearl East, Pearl West, and Pearl North.

Take the north course to feel the vibe of a links-style golf course with wider fairways and larger greens.

If you’re looking to play in a parkland-style course that will put your accuracy to the test, go to the eastern route.

The course welcomes you to a scene of herons, egrets, eagles, deers, and the golf course’s resident gators.

After a tiring day, head to the Pearl’s bar and grill for a round of drinks and good food.

Explore the Wild at the Bird Island Coastal Reserve

The town of Calabash is one of the best places to visit if you’re looking to get away from busy city life.

At the Bird Island Coastal Reserve, get much-needed time off and immerse yourself in nature’s wonders.

The Bird Island Coastal Reserve is the only remaining undeveloped barrier island system in Brunswick County.

As one of the few remaining protected natural islands in the mid-Atlantic region, the reserve boasts more than 1,000 acres of salt marsh and meandering creeks.

Walk along the Bird Island beach strand and get up close and personal with over ten species of birds and exotic plants.

Take a look at habitats typical of a low-lying barrier island like dunes, salt marsh, maritime grasslands, shrub thickets, etc.

Dine at Beck’s Restaurant

You can’t possibly leave Calabash without indulging in world-class seafood dishes.

Beck’s Restaurant along River Road can help you satisfy your cravings.

Considered the home of proper Calabash cooking, Beck’s Restaurant opened in 1940.

One of the sisters who invented the “Calabash Style” of cooking seafood also founded Beck’s Restaurant.

“Calabash Style” refers to lightly breading and frying seafood in reduced fat and reduced-cholesterol vegetable oil.

Try a round of traditional Calabash seafood featuring shrimps, sea scallops, oysters, crabs, clams, and flounder fillets.

Spend a Relaxing Weekend at Kingfish Bay

Enjoy a relaxing weekend at Kingfish Bay and meet new friends in this gated community.

Explore over 60 acres of scenic hardwood forests, wetlands, and coastal bluffs.

Marvel at the panoramic view of the Calabash River as you sit back and relax in this peaceful neighborhood.

If you find yourself enchanted, you might even consider settling down in this scenic community.

Beat the Heat at the Calabash Creamery

It’s hard to enjoy your vacation when the heat ruins the mood.

Why not indulge in a scoop or two of homemade ice cream from the Calabash Creamery?

Greg and Kristi Hansen founded the creamery in 2003.

Today, Calabash Creamery offers the best ice cream in Brunswick County.

The Calabash Creamery undoubtedly provides the town with delectable treats to beat the heat.

They use fresh butterfat cream and only the finest ingredients available.

Grab a bite of the creamery’s Pluff Mudd flavor, a scoop of caramel ice cream with mini marshmallow chunks and fudge brownie bites.

You can also try one of Calabash Creamery’s featured flavors.

For example, you can grab Dirt Road, a fusion of butter pecan and peanut butter topped with pecans, chocolate chips, and peanut butter swirls.

If you’re looking for something with a kick, order a scoop of Big Daddy’s Delight and enjoy the bursting flavors of a piña colada with crushed pineapple and cherries.

Explore the Waterways with Calabash Fishing Fleet

Whether you’re looking to have a party on a boat or explore Calabash’s blue waterways, Calabash Fishing Fleet has what you need for a great time.

Embark on a Myrtle Beach area sportfishing charter trip aboard the Miss Calabash, or rent a boat for your private parties and events.

You can also book a dolphin adventure cruise and catch rare sightings of our deep-sea friends.

Starting in Myrtle Beach, you’ll board the Navigator and venture out into the sea for approximately two hours.

While waiting for the dolphins to pop up, enjoy the sight of a beautiful island and the Intercoastal Waterway before traversing the Little River inlet.

Don’t worry if you didn’t spot any dolphins on your trip.

Calabash Fishing Fleet guarantees that your next cruise will be free of charge.

Shop Local at Sunset River Marketplace

Let your creativity run wild as you explore Sunset River Marketplace along Beach Drive.

Sunset River Marketplace welcomed customers for the first time in 2002.

Since then, it has become a go-to place for shopping for contemporary art, artisan-designed jewelry, innovative pottery, and more.

Check out this gallery and discover unique finds to spruce up your home.

Art pieces in the gallery are also perfect for bringing home gifts and souvenirs.

Walk around the 10,000 square-foot galleries and feel the creative atmosphere with a display of clay art, watercolor paintings, mixed media, pastels and acrylics, and more.

You can also check out the pottery studio equipped with kilns and pottery wheels, a custom framing department, and art classrooms.

After your tour, enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee at the bistro tables.

Sit Back and Relax at Sacred Willow Spa

Even on vacation, you’ll feel worn out after walking and exploring.

So, why not swing by Sacred Willow Spa and spend a day of relaxation?

Situated along Beach Drive, Sacred Willow Spa has provided customers with organic, pure, and natural treatments since 2012.

Relax, unwind, and rejuvenate with various services, such as massage, energy therapy, waxing, tinting, etc.

Feel pampered with a Heaven Scent Massage and relax with the aroma of Young Living Essential Oils.

You can also get skin treatments like an express facial, a bioactive peel, or a European facial.

Find the Perfect Gift at Callahan’s of Calabash

Shop for home decor, gifts, apparel, and more at Callahan’s in Calabash.

Walk around the gift shop’s 35,000 square feet of space and find the perfect items to commemorate your trip to Calabash.

The gift shop has opened for over 40 years, selling products from local and well-known brands like Department 56, Jim Shore, Mark Roberts, and Christopher Radko.

You’ll also find a wide selection of nautical gifts perfect for those whose hearts are at sea.

Take your pick from museum-quality model ships, globes, telescopes, etc.

You’ll also find a great variety of seasonal decor that can take your Halloween, Christmas, and Easter decor to the next level.

Swing by Tropical Adventure Mini Golf

Are you looking to spend a day out with your family?

At Tropical Adventure Mini Golf along Beach Drive, everyone will have a good time.

Enjoy the tropical setting as you play a round of mini-golf with the Carolina breeze running through your hair.

Challenge your family to a friendly game of putt-putt and discover the course’s unique obstacles.

Feed Moby the big white koi and his other fish and turtle friends as you cross the bridge leading to the next challenge.

You can also try your luck on the 18th hole for a chance to win a free game.

Dine by the Calabash River at Oyster Rock

Are you looking for great food with a picturesque view of the Calabash River?

Yes, please!

The Oyster Rock on Nance Street offers guests an unforgettable dining experience with specialized seafood and raw bar items.

Likewise, these meals are made from only the freshest and finest ingredients.

You can also enjoy a flavorful variety of mouth-watering beef, pork, and chicken dishes that will surely make you want more.

Order a serving of half-shells, fresh shucked salty oysters, and clams with mignonette sauce, or a plate of Pit Roasted Oysters.

Try the traditional Calabash fried seafood, or indulge in a plate of Peel’ N Eat Shrimp.

Wrap up your meal with over 24 domestic and imported beers on tap, 30 wine selections, and a variety of cocktails.

Satisfy Your Cravings at Dockside Seafood House

Don’t strike the Dockside Seafood House from the list of the best Calabash seafood restaurants.

Enjoy a waterfront view while eating to your heart’s content in the restaurant serving all-time Calabash favorites since 1955.

Choose from a wide selection of dockside favorites like the Calabash scampi, lobster ravioli, stuffed flounder, steak, scallops, and more.

Indulge in your favorite meals while having a glass of imported or domestic beer or a glass of wine.

Find Unique Items at Calabash Art And Curios

Whether you’re looking forgoodquality products orgifts for special occasions, Calabash Art and Curios is the local shop to visit.

This family-owned and operated business is located on an old property along Beach Drive.

Check out their large selection of original paintings, woodwork, and pottery made by local craftsmen and artists; likewise, you can browse and grab books written by local authors.

They also have lines of stylish apparel and jewelry, along with lovely home decor.

Likewise, the shop has an extensive collection of domestic and foreign wines you can purchase by bottle.

You can also sip and enjoy their wine selections by the glass at their bar or outdoor deck.

If you want to capture memories on your visit, they also offer portraits on the beach and other nearby locations.

You’ll surely get good buys at Calabash Art And Curios.

Get Farm-Fresh Produce at Indigo Farms Market

Indigo Farms Market on Hickman Road Northwest is your best bet for fresh, locally-grown produce.

Their On-Farm Market is open all year round and guests are welcome to drop by on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

The farm and market have been around since the 1980s and are currently run by the second generation of the Bellamy family.

If you’re visiting around April or May, you can go strawberry-picking or join the Pumpkin Patch activities during the fall season.

Book for a hands-on farm tour or sign up for the Battle At The Border race for an exciting experience.

Likewise, check out other food items and ingredients at the shop like Elderberry syrup, jelly, syrup kits, tea blends, and coffee.

You can also purchase Marsh Hen Mill’s cornmeal and grits, and rice and pea varieties native to the area.

Choose from other flavorful items like pickles, spreads, fruit jams, honey, sorghum, molasses, and local honey; and why not try something unique like pineapple bacon salsa and candied peppers?

In case you want to grab some snacks, Indigo Farms Market also sells sodas, drinks, flavored kettle chips, cookies, cured pork and shelled pecans.

Try Tasty Servings by Bagel Dock Cafe

Bagel Dock Cafe is the perfect stop for great-tasting breakfast and lunch fares.

Drop byRiver Road and you’ll see why they’re the best Bagel Spot in North Carolina.

Choose from assorted bagel varieties, sandwiches, baked goodies, salads, and cream cheese freshly made every day.

Their Asiago Bagel is a must-try, along with the Bacon Cheddar which is also a bagel blockbuster.

Ever tried a cross between a roll and a bagel? Then, you should try the Bialys.

Order bestsellers like the apple or cherry-filled Turnovers, the Black Rusian blueberry bagel, along with the popular Times Square Turkey Melt and The Bravest Ragin Cajun.

Likewise, try some handmade baked goods like Linzer tarts, strudels, and blueberry scones.

They also have By the Pound salad servings, breakfast sandwiches and wraps, Three-Egg Omelettes, The Big Apple Lunch Sandwiches, and more.

Get all these delicious treats at Bagel Dock Cafe.

Spend Time at Calabash Community Park

Take the family for a relaxing day at the park.

Calabash Community Park is one of the community parks where you can unwind and enjoy outdoor activities.

This one-acre park lies on the corner of Persimmon Road and Traders Lane.

Pack your lunch and have a picnic at the large picnic shelter; better yet, bring burgers and hotdogs to grill.

Your little ones can also have a fun time on the slides and swings in the play area.

Bond with the kids and enjoy games like horseshoes and shuffleboard, or have a friendly bocce match.

Take a break with your family at Calabash Community Park.

Enjoy Good Food at the Annual Fish Fry

Want to enjoy delicious food while supporting a good cause?

Then, drop by at the Annual Fish Fry held at the Carter Drive on Southwest.

In support of the local Veterans, this event is hosted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Calabash Post #7288.

It runs from the last weeks of February to the first week of April.

Come by on a Friday night and enjoy freshly prepared fried Haddock served with baked potato and coleslaw; you can also grab meals for take-outs.

And of course, you definitely have to try the homemade New England Clam Chowder.

Aside from the meals, you’re most likely to meet some locals at the Annual Fish Fry.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Meet Your Sea Friends at Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach

People at Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach's shark cave

MusikAnimal, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

From penguins and stingrays to tropical rainforest critters and sandbar sharks, the Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach has it all.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is 34 minutes away from Calabash.

Get front row seats to the Penguin Playhouse and see how they go about their day, or get a kiss from a southern stingray.

You’ll receive guidance from an experienced Ripley’s diver.

Fish in Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach's dangerous reef

MusikAnimal, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Make your way to the Dangerous Reef exhibit and move along a 340-foot glide path.

Enter the acrylic tunnel and get up close and personal with snappers, grunts, tarpons, squirrelfish, green sea turtles, and sharks, among others.

You can also swing by the Tropical Rainforest exhibit, which recreates the lush ancient world of the Amazon Rainforest.

Get a good look at piranhas, redtail catfishes, arapaima, dart frogs, etc.

Sand tiger shark in Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach

MusikAnimal, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy Fine Wine at Silver Coast Winery

When it comes to world-class tasting wines, you can’t go wrong with Silver Coast Winery.

Find it at Ocean Isle Beach, about 14 minutes away from Calabash.

Silver Coast Winery opened in 2002 and uses premium grapes carefully selected from vineyards in the mountain regions of North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia.

What began as a half-acre lot has now turned into a vineyard that produces award-winning wines.

Enjoy a bottle of Stainless Chardonnay, Calabash White, Seyval Blanc, White Merlot, Bella Rose Dry Rose, and more.

You can also join a monthly sip and craft class.

Final Thoughts

Calabash is indeed a small town, but it’s filled with tons of activities that you won’t experience anywhere else.

Start planning your Calabash trip today!

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