Morehead City on the Atlantic coast of North Carolina is one of the Tar Heel state's few deep-water ports. Morehead City is adjacent to both Atlantic Beach and Beaufort, on the Beaufort Inlet in Carteret County, and it is known for its sport fishing and its marine biology research facilities run by the University of North Carolina. Morehead City also has a few kid-friendly attractions.
A boat ride and a short hike are a pretty good itinerary for showing the youngsters a good time and wearing them out enough to be manageable in the evening. Sugarloaf Island is directly off shore, and the city purchased the island to preserve its natural environment. The island is administered by the North Carolina Coastal Federation, which gives guided walking tours over its 47 acres after meeting you and your family when the ferry lands. There is a beach and restrooms; swimming is not recommended because of dangerous currents. You can catch the ferry -- a 20-foot flat-bottom skiff operated by the Crystal Coast Ferry Service -- at the 6th Street dock. Tourists often spot dolphins swimming near the ferry.
If an outdoor stroll through town suits the kids, and you need a route that is not driven by retail concerns, there is a designated route called Fish Walk. The Fish Walk will take your family past an array of sculptures that are sponsored by the North Carolina Arts Council, the Carteret County Arts Council and local artists. The sculptures depict various species of aquatic life found in the ocean nearby, and they have been placed throughout Morehead City.
If real fish are more interesting to you and your kids, then check out one of the five fishing piers along the water in Morehead City. One is on the causeway, and the other piers are at the end of 7th, 9th, 10th and 11th Streets. Sea mullet, black drum, flounder, sheepshead, croakers, gray trout and bluefish will all hit bottom baits. You must have a valid North Carolina Coastal Recreation Fishing License, which can be purchased for 10 days, a year or a lifetime, with different prices for residents and nonresidents. Also check the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries website for seasons, size limits and catch limits. Kids younger than 16 are exempt from buying a license.
If nothing else is suitable for your youngsters, you will still hit the jackpot with them at Shevans Park in Morehead City. Shevans Park is a massive playground for kids, constructed to resemble a castle-cluttered fantasy land. Located at Evans Street and South 16th Street, Shevans Park has structures for running, sliding, climbing, hiding, swinging and balancing; the park features are interconnected by a system of “talking pipes,” which kids can call through to talk to you from one end of the park to another.
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