15 Best Things to Do in Swansboro, NC

Swansboro, NC

Welcome to my slice of heaven, Swansboro, North Carolina.

Right on the coast, this charming town, often referred to as the "Friendly City by the Sea," has stolen my heart over the years.

There's a certain charm that you can't help but fall in love with, from the serene water views to the historic downtown area.

But it's not just the aesthetic that draws you in; it's the spirit of the place.

The warm, welcoming nature of those who live here is what truly sets Swansboro apart.

Now, let me take you through the 15 best things to do in Swansboro, North Carolina!

About this article: This article was written by a local contributor based on their own experiences and those around them. While this list showcases some remarkable places, it's important to note that this is an opinion piece, and there are many other exceptional places to visit that are not featured here.
Our aim is not just to guide you to popular places but to encourage you to venture out and experience the city for yourself.

Discover Hidden Gems at Hammocks Beach State Park

Sunny day at Hammocks Beach State Park
Ryan McGurl / Shutterstock.com

Sometimes, the best places are the ones that require a bit of journey.

Hammocks Beach State Park, a serene island retreat with a seasonal ferry service, is one such place.

The first time I took that ferry, I had no idea I'd be stepping into a world reminiscent of the Outer Banks where I grew up.

This isn't your typical crowded, bustling tourist beach.

No, this park is an unblemished jewel with its maritime forest and phenomenal dunes, where beach-goers are only dots in the landscape.

Kayaking is my favorite thing to do here. I often rent one from Paddle NC, and paddle out to the beautiful Bear Island.

The southeast winds and a rising tide make it a bit of a challenge, but that's part of the fun.

The island is a paradise for bird watchers and fish enthusiasts like myself.

Revisit the Town's History at the Swansboro Area Heritage Center Museum

I still remember the first time I set foot in the Swansboro Area Heritage Center Museum.

It felt like stepping into a time machine, a thrilling journey back into our rich local history.

Every visit, the friendly faces of the museum staff greet me, their knowledge and deep understanding of our local history are just as fascinating as the exhibits themselves.

In each corner, artifacts whisper stories of our ancestors, the courage and resilience of the folks who once walked these streets are eloquently portrayed in every exhibit.

I've always been drawn to the tales from the past, but here at the Swansboro Area Heritage Center Museum, they're not just tales.

They're vivid, tangible snippets of our shared heritage, gracefully preserved and exhibited for us to explore and learn from.

Each visit is a new journey, a new discovery, a new chapter in the vibrant book of our local history.

Take a walk through history in your own backyard at the Swansboro Area Heritage Center Museum.

Wander Around Swansboro Municipal Park

From the moment I walk through the gates of the Swansboro Municipal Park, I know I'm in for a treat.

Be it the laughter of children or the jubilant barks from the dog park, this place has a way of making me feel alive.

I guess that's why I love spending time here.

I often take my kids to the playground - it's like a mini wonderland for them filled with different play areas and activities, perfect for both young and older children.

Their favorite is the cute little splash pad where they get to be carefree and enjoy themselves to the fullest.

I, on the other hand, have made a habit of utilizing the workout equipment.

It's a good way to keep myself fit while the kids have their share of fun.

What sets the Swansboro Municipal Park apart is how perfectly it caters to different interests.

You can play tennis, take a walk along the beautiful paths, or just lay out a towel and soak up some rays.

Yes, this park is also a paradise for sun-bathers like me!

Shop at Clyde Phillips Seafood Market

There's no place quite like Clyde Phillips Seafood MKT. The moment you step in, you know you're in for a treat.

The atmosphere is so welcoming and homely, and the smell of fresh seafood fills the air.

You see, freshness is a guarantee here.

The fish are caught right off the water, and they're cleaned and filleted right before your eyes.

It's an age-old art that's being kept alive in this little corner of the town.

What's more, they have the best of the best when it comes to seafood.

Their jumbo shrimp, especially, are worth writing home about.

And the prices? Let's just say you get more than your money's worth.

Have Fun at Candy Edventure

For nearly two decades, I've been living in this area, and it took a special family event for me to stumble upon the sweetest hidden gem, Candy Edventure.

Trust me, this quaint little candy store is not your everyday candy shop.

It's a place where you step in for jelly beans and sour belts, and find yourself immersed in a delightful universe of sweets and goodies.

You see, Candy Edventure is much more than a candy store.

It's an experience, a journey into the whimsical world of candies and chocolates.

The whole place is akin to a candy fair - towering candy dispensers filled with every imaginable candy, cool themed drinks, and freshly made chocolates that will make you salivate the moment you lay your eyes on them.

Oh, and they have a special section for dog treats, large stuffed animal candies, and my personal favorite, a display of freshly made in-house chocolates.

Want to know the best part? Everything is so clean, and the store is entirely wheelchair accessible.

Unwind at Bicentennial Park

I've got to tell you: there's nothing quite like a morning spent at Bicentennial Park.

Nestled right in the heart of Swansboro, this harborside gem offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

It's not just a park; it's a place where you feel a sense of camaraderie with people who share a love for the outdoors and a respect for history.

As you stroll through the park, the life-size statue of Captain Otway Burns stands as a proud reminder of our town's maritime heritage.

Spotting him is like a greeting from a familiar face.

And that's not all, Bicentennial Park is also a haven for fishing enthusiasts.

Whether you’re an experienced angler or a beginner like me, it’s always a delight to cast a line off the dock.

And let me tell you, there's nothing quite as exciting as seeing someone reel in a toadfish.

Experience the Serenity at Riverview Park

There's nothing quite like escaping the stress of daily life and immersing yourself in the pure tranquility that Riverview Park offers.

Located just a stone's throw away from my home, the park quickly became my sanctuary.

It's a paradise for dog owners like myself, with its expansive boardwalks and friendly atmosphere, my furry friend and I always look forward to our daily walks there.

Riverview Park is so much more than just a park. It's an experience.

The interpretive signage scattered around the park adds an educational slant to our visits, unveiling the rich natural heritage of the area.

The observation shelters are another great feature, providing a cozy space to observe the beauty of nature, be it watching the local bird population or just appreciating the stunning water views.

The picnic tables near the water have often been the setting for my family's weekend lunches.

Packing a picnic basket and heading to Riverview Park has become a cherished tradition.

Explore the Poor Man's Hole

Every now and then, I feel the need to escape the monotony of daily life.

That's when I stroll down to Poor Man's Hole, a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Swansboro.

When I walk in, it’s like stepping into a nautical wonderland, a treasure trove filled with rare and unique items that transport me to the sea.

It's not just a store; it's a place that narrates stories of the past through its antique collection.

I've found everything from model sailboats and vintage maps to unique shark teeth here.

The prices are always fair, and it's not uncommon for me to stumble upon great deals.

The family who owns the store is incredibly friendly and always brimming with knowledge about each piece.

Have a Tranquil Retreat at Ward Shore Park

There's a quiet serenity that greets me every time I make my way to Ward Shore Park.

Nestled on the banks of the Intracoastal Waterway, it's as though time slows down when I'm seated on the park benches, my gaze drifting off into the horizon.

The park might be small in size but what it lacks in grandeur, it makes up for in its quiet charm.

It's a peaceful refuge away from the hustle and bustle of town life.

I could spend hours just sitting on the shaded swings, watching as boaters make their way along the water.

It's a sight that never gets old, even though I have noticed one boat that seems to be permanently docked.

Not many people know this but there's a special corner of the park that holds a deep significance to our community.

A bench there is dedicated to the memory of a local resident who was a beacon of positivity and warmth.

It's a spot where visitors leave photos and quiet tributes in remembrance.

Spend a Day at Hubert By-Pass Park

Every now and then, I crave a bit of solitude and fresh air.

On such days, I find myself drawn toward the tranquility of Hubert By-Pass Park.

It's a little haven nestled within Onslow County that makes you forget about the daily grind.

The park's serene ambiance is one of its biggest attractions.

I recall one unusual night when I was there after hours. To my surprise, the local law enforcement officers didn’t impose.

That kind of freedom is rare these days.

The park at night, under the canopy of the star-studded sky, was an ethereal experience that I'll never forget.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Exploring the Scenic Beauty of The Point

Sunset at The Point
Vahurzpu, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I remember the first time I saw this exquisite peninsula, located at the end of Emerald Isle, North Carolina.

It felt like I had discovered a hidden gem, a secret kept only for a few privileged ones.

Nestled between the emerald waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the tranquil Bogue Sound, The Point is a haven for nature enthusiasts like me.

My most cherished mornings are those spent walking along the shoreline, painted with hues of sunrise.

The soft whispers of waves gently crashing against the shore is a melody that still resonates in my ears.

The calm, serene environment paints a picture of tranquility that is hard to come by in the bustling town life.

It's a place that brings me peace, a retreat from the ordinary.

I love to watch the playful dolphins in the distance, their silhouettes gliding against the setting sun.

The abundance of shorebirds, especially the elegant egrets and the fiery red cardinals, always add a vibrant touch to the panorama.

The stunning view from The Point during high tide is truly mesmerizing.

I remember once spotting a sea turtle during my solitary walks. It was a sight to behold!

The constant ebb and flow of the tide has shaped The Point into a beautiful landscape of soft dunes and flat beaches.

It's a favorite spot for locals to enjoy a quiet picnic or an intense game of beach volleyball.

Pay a Visit to Headys Beach

The serene rhythm of the waves, the rustling of seashells underfoot, and the distant call of seabirds make Headys Beach my sanctuary.

The beach's secluded nature guarantees that it never feels overcrowded - even during peak season.

Anywhere you look, there's a breathtaking view to behold.

Early morning walks along the shore are my favorite activity, the sunrise casting a golden glow on the water.

It's not just the sights, though; it's the life you can find here.

From interesting shells to playful crabs, and if you're lucky, even a spotting of dolphins in the distance.

Uncover the Raw Beauty of Bear Island

Marsh land in Bear Island
InsipredImagery / Shutterstock.com

Whether you’re an intrepid adventurer or a laid-back beachcomber, there’s something for everyone at Bear Island.

Now, let me tell you this: the wilderness of Bear Island is as unapologetic as it is beautiful.

Try booking Campsite 14 if you dare put your resilience to the test.

Here, the island’s creatures rule, from the massive spiders and ants to the tiny yellow bugs that don’t even spare your tents.

But once you conquer these challenges, the breathtaking view of the ocean makes everything worthwhile.

It's a roller-coaster ride that ends with a serene vista that will melt your heart.

But if you're looking for a more relaxed experience, the beach is an absolute sanctuary.

A short hike lands you on a pristine stretch of sand that feels like your own private paradise.

Remember your sunblock because the sun is as generous as the island’s collection of seashells.

Experience a Spooky Adventure at Fishstrong Fright Nights

Every Halloween season, I get excited to participate in the chilling festivities that my town has to offer.

And there's one place that never fails to deliver a spine-tingling experience - Fishstrong Fright Nights.

It's always a thrill to hop on their haunted hayride.

The scare actors do a fantastic job of making the entire ride a heart-pounding experience.

The screams and laughs intermingle in the air, creating a uniquely exhilarating atmosphere.

While the hayride can get quite loud at times, the energy from the crowd only adds to the fun.

After the hayride, your adventure doesn't end there.

A spooky trail awaits you, ready to send more shivers down your spine.

Final Thoughts

Swansboro, North Carolina, never falls short of offering delightful and memorable experiences.

Whether it's a calming day spent at The Point or an adrenaline-filled evening at Fishstrong Fright Nights, Swansboro offers the perfect blend of tranquility and thrill.

Truly, this beautiful town is a gem that continues to surprise and amaze me every day.

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