Just For Kids
Kids have so many things to try on Oak Island!
Got a skateboarder? Head over to the Kevin Bell Skatepark where anyone who wants to watch has a bleacher seat, and anyone who wants to try out tricks on the half pipes can have at it (just check into the office first to get membership entry). Grab a Blizzard at the Dairy Queen on your way over back, too!
Then go check out the Oak Island Lighthouse on Caswell Beach. If you make plans ahead of time, you can climb the stairs up to the top. It's a stunning view! Look across the mouth of the Cape Fear River to Smith Island where the Bald Head Island Lighthouse is located! You should make plans to go there, too. You will want to go through its five-foot wall opening to climb up all 112 of the wooden steps to the tippy top and take in the view far across the ocean.
Nature & Wildlife
Both on and off Oak Island, you have many opportunities to see wildlife, both day and night. Do your homework with the local Chambers of Commerce before you come and pick out some particular animals, birds, or places that you would like to see because there is too much to cover for any one visit. Do you want to look for wild alligators lurking in the backwater? One good way to find them is to take a canoe safari ride down a river or in a swamp. Do you want to feed the seagulls by the side of the ocean? All you need are some crackers when you take a ferry ride or stand out by the ocean because those gulls will come to find you in no time.
Other sights nearby in Southport include the Old Southport Cemetery, the Old Smithville Burying Ground, where you can see if you can find any pirate graves, then to the Old Southport Jail where at the turn of the 20th century wayward rascals (seamen, farmers, even pirates) spent long, lonely hours in a place that some called “horrid gloom,” sometimes for doing nothing at all.
Hang out with some lunch for a while on the boat dock, and then drive over to the port where the ferry leaves Southport to Kure Beach. Take the 30-minute ride (check for times off-season) across the Cape Fear River to Fort Fisher on Highway 421 where you can be part of history, one of the largest of the old Confederate forts. Seas are quite rough there where the Atlantic Ocean and the river meet, and this fort witnessed many battles during the Civil War. The channel is filled with sunken ships, so listen as the wind tells you about the ghosts who still live there. Do you feel the ghost of the former fort commander, General Whiting, who is said to walk the stockade? Do you see the legendary Confederate soldier said to be still standing watch in the pine grove north of the fort?
Nearby Fort Fisher Aquarium, check out the sea life at the North Carolina Aquarium where you can learn even more about the area. Many daily free programs and participation events will keep you coming back to this fascinating site. You can even have breakfast with the fishes! If you register ahead of time, you can come in before the Aquarium opens and see things that many others won’t ever see.
Children's Museum and Riverfront
After visiting the Aquarium, make several stops in and around the port city of Wilmington which has so many things to do including the Wilmington Children’s Museum at 116 Orange Street. There, kids from 0 to 11 receive hands-on opportunities to celebrate childhood and explore the magical, exciting world of themselves and their environment. Later, make your way to the Cape Fear Riverfront, explore Chandler’s Wharf with its many cobblestone streets and river views, and check out the old Cotton Annex. Up and down the streets, you might even see a movie in production! Did you know that Wilmington has the third largest movie-making industry after Los Angeles and New York? Across the water, you'll be able to spy the Battleship North Carolina and set out to see that by driving across the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.
Book Your Stay!
Of course, all of this activity is not for just one day or even just one week. Come back again sometime and see even more, and the more you see, the more you will want to see. Whether you are interested in learning more about nature or crave action adventures, Oak Island and its surrounding area have what you need for a great vacation with kids!