The Azalea Coast
When deciding what to do with yourself during your island vacation, don’t discount nearby Wilmington for a daytrip. With an array of first-class museums and attractions, this break from lounging by the ocean may be exactly what you need. If you go, make sure you visit the Battleship North Carolina, Bellamy Mansion Museum, Cameron Art Museum, Children’s Museum of Wilmington and Fort Fisher.
Karen Beasley Turtle Hospital
After a grand opening in 2014, the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center welcomes guests through the summer at its new home, 302 Tortuga Lane in Surf City. Tours cost $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and active duty military and $3 for children 13 and under. Visitors can access the gift shop, talk with volunteers, and look through the windows for free.
Since its opening, the hospital has successfully rescued, rehabilitated and released more than 400 turtles, excluding any hatchlings that made their way through over the years. The hospital also runs the Topsail Turtle Project, a group of volunteers that walk the beaches during nesting season identifying turtle nests. To learn more about the facility, visit www.seaturtlehopsital.org.
Poplar Grove Plantation
Spend a morning or afternoon exploring on the oldest surviving peanut plantations in the state. Poplar Grove Plantation was in the Foy family for six generations, from 1795 to 1971. The homestead is preserved to illustrate the life of a successful farming family, along with the outbuildings and crafts typical of a 19th century working community. Aside from the Manor House, the plantation covers more than 15 acres that are maintained by the NC Coastal Land Trust. For a full schedule of events, visit poplargrove.org.
Missiles and More Museum
The Historical Society of Topsail supports the Missiles and More Museum, celebrating the extensive military history of the area. The building, constructed in 1946, was used by the government to assemble missiles for a secret missile operation being conducted on Topsail Island. These citizens began to examine ways to preserve the building and after several years of research, feasibility studies and meetings with state and local representatives, the building was purchased. The Assembly Building became the ideal place to house the Missiles and More Museum. For hours, or additional information, visit missilesandmoremuseum.org.
Moores Creek National Battlefield
Moores Creek is the site of the battle that ended British rule in the colony. On Feb. 27, 1776, Loyalists charged across a partially dismantled Moores Creek Bridge, only to be met by nearly 1,000 North Carolina patriots with cannons and muskets poised to fire.
Take a trip to Currie to take a walking trail documenting the victory. The park also has a visitor’s center with exhibits and audiovisual programs, a Colonial forest trail and a picnic area. Learn more about the park by visiting nps.gov/mocr.
Topsail Island Skating Rink
For a blast from the past, visit the Topsail Island Skating Rink. The rink is sure to illicit some feelings of nostalgia since not much has changed since it opened in 1964. The rink is owned by the formidable Doris Jenkins. Her husband built the post office with the upstairs skating rink in 1963. Jenkins worked in the post office during the day and at the skating rink at night. The rink is located at 714 S. Anderson Blvd., Topsail Beach. For hours and information, call 910-328-2381.