Go Daytrippin’ and Enjoy Nature, Music, and Old-Fashioned Celebrations

Atlantic Beach

Let the feeling of the holidays inspire you this year with a visit to a state historic site, museum, state park or aquarium. The North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources offers holiday-themed history, nature and art experiences across the state. You can take a hike up Jockey’s Ridge, ride a Holiday Train at the North Carolina Transportation Museum, and more.

Throughout December. N.C. Maritime Museum at Southport. Winter Holiday To-Go Craft Bags. New holiday craft kits are now available at the N.C. Maritime Museum at Southport. Each kit includes four crafts with written instructions and a link to a video guide, as well as two storytimes. The kits are most appropriate for ages 4 – 12 (with the stories skewing toward the under-10 crowd). The winter holiday kits will be available until 3 p.m. on Dec. 31 or until sold out. Kits are $7 each if picked up at the museum, which is located at 204 E. Moore St. in downtown Southport, or $12 by mail to anywhere in the U.S. Kits may be purchased online at ncmaritimemuseumsouthport.com or by calling 910-477-5151.

Dec. 11, 18, 25, 10 a.m. Biological Wonderland Hike, Carolina Beach State Park. Join a Park Ranger at the Flytrap Trail for a hike along the trails. Learn about different habitats that exist within Carolina Beach State Park and how each habitat affects the plants and animals that call the park home. Meet at the Flytrap Trail Parking Lot at the end of Nature Trail Lane. Programs will be 25 people or less. Space is limited so please call, email, or simply stop by to register to reserve your spot at 910-458-8206 or Carolina.beach@ncparks.gov. Free.

Dec. 11. Gov. Charles B. Aycock Birthplace State Historic Site, Freemont. Christmas Open House. Learn about 19th-century Christmas traditions from costumed interpreters. See open-hearth cooking. Enjoy hot apple cider and cookies. Make a Christmas craft. The open house will run 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Free.

Dec. 11, N.C. Aquarium-Pine Knoll Shores. Santa by the Sea. Enjoy special treats and games in a seasonally decorated aquarium! Make holiday cards and an ornament, have a photo with Santa as part of admission for ages 12 and under. A new treat will be magic shows throughout the day. Fee.

Dec. 13, 2 – 3 p.m. Huggins Island History Tour, Hammocks Beach State Park. Join a park ranger on this boat ride to one of our historic island treasures, Huggins Island. Learn about the diverse history that has shaped this maritime island over the years. A great chance to see and explore one of the Atlantic coast’s better-preserved earthwork fortifications and how it played a role in the American Civil War. Dress for the weather. The tour is subject to cancellation due to the weather. Space is limited and registration is required by contacting the park office at 910-326-4881.

Dec. 17 – 19. N.C. Maritime Museum, Beaufort. 27th Annual John Costlow Christmas Train Show. The 27th annual John Costlow Christmas Train Show is moving to a new home this year. The N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort, in partnership with the Beaufort Lions Club, will host the annual show that features antique working model trains and model trains of all sizes. The train layouts will range from simple circles traditionally found around the Christmas tree to more elaborate systems. Each display has been carefully designed by the owner or operator to appeal to those just beginning this hobby, as well as others who have had a lifetime interest in model railroading. The show will be open to the public Dec. 17 from 4 – 8 p.m., Dec. 18 from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Dec. 19 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Free.

Dec. 24, 10 a.m. Holiday Dune Hike, Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Celebrate the holiday season outdoors. Join a ranger for an educational, easy-to-moderate 3/4-mile hike to the ridge. The hike will start at Shelter No. 3.

Dec. 26, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. Looking for Longleafs, Hammocks Beach State Park. Meet a few of our N.C. state trees at the park and learn why they have been so naturally and culturally important to the Tar Heel state. The program starts at the nearby former Simmons Camp and will involve road shoulder parking. Parking is limited. Contact the park office to sign up at 910-326-4881.

Dec. 29, 10 a.m. – noon. Bear Island Eco-Hike, Hammocks Beach State Park. Enjoy a ranger-guided boat ride to Bear Island and learn about one of North Carolina’s hidden treasures. Explore and learn about some of nature’s wonders in the winter and maybe even collect some beach souvenirs. Dress for the weather. The hike is subject to cancellation due to the weather. Space is limited and registration is required by contacting the park office at 910-326-4881.

Dec. 30, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Ghostly Tales and Soundside Campfire, Jockeys Ridge State Park. The breeze off the Roanoke River is calling you to join us for an evening of spooky stories from the Tar Heel state. The glow of the campfire will light up the beach, while a ranger reveals to you some of N.C.’s haunted happenings. Do not worry, the chill on your bones will be warmed with s’mores and hot chocolate (provided by Friends of Jockey’s Ridge). Registration is required. Call (252) 441-7132, email jockeys.ridge@ncparks.gov, or stop by the park in advance.

Dec. 31, 6 p.m. – midnight. Midnight Magic in Manteo, A New Year’s Eve Event, Roanoke Island Festival Park, Manteo. Roanoke Island Festival Park’s representative 16th-century ship, the Elizabeth II, is helping ring in the New Year in downtown Manteo. Festivities begin at 6 p.m. and run throughout the evening ending with the Elizabeth II illuminated with 2022 lights and a colorful fireworks display at midnight. Live music, kid’s zone with fun games and activities, and fireworks will bring cheer to the new year. This free, safe event will be great for the whole family and one you won’t want to miss!

For details visit ncdcr.gov/things-to-do/trips-travel-ideas/holidays.

Via NCDCR.gov