Imagine waking up to dolphins at breakfast, kayaking past wild horses at noon, and savoring local flavors while dancing to live music in the evening hours. This is just another day on the Crystal Coast.

Keep the kids at home lovers! It’s time for a spring romantic rendezvous guaranteed to make you feel young and starry eyed again.

After spending a memory-soaked weekend in Beaufort and Morehead City, we’re sharing how you can use the region’s fun festival calendar to create a couple’s escape filled with love, laughter, and unforgettable experiences.

Backstreet Pub Music

May is Alive with Festivals in the Crystal Coast

The flowers are now in full bloom and the festivals are too. May on the Crystal Coast is alive with a variety of exciting events catering to foodies, art enthusiasts, and nature lovers alike.

We have our eye on the following two May festivals (see full list of events here)

Waterfront at Moonrakers

The Crystal Coast region provides a naturally stunning backdrop filled with adventurous and flavorful activities to wrap around your festival fun.

Here is an itinerary outline so you can effortlessly incorporate festival fun and flavorful food with outdoor activities on your couple’s getaway to the Crystal Coast.

Inlet Inn from the waterStay: Inlet Inn

Nothing beats staying in the heart of a historic district that’s within easy walking distance of the main attractions, restaurants, and bars.

The Inlet Inn in Beaufort is a waterfront haven offering the perfect blend of comfort and charm with a history going back to 1850.

view from Inlet Inn

Suites are comfortably and stylishly decorated with king beds, a separate sitting area and fireplace, and waterfront balconies. The higher you go the more expansive the view.

Beaufort Home

Day 1: Beaufort Beginnings

Kickstart your adventure with a morning of leisure in the enchanting town of Beaufort, one of the oldest towns in North Carolina, affectionately dubbed “America’s Favorite Town,” by Travel and Leisure.

Meander through its charming streets, pop into eclectic shops, and immerse yourself in its rich history at the Maritime Museum and Old Burial Grounds, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Front Street View

Now that the stomach is grumbling, it’s time to indulge in a delicious coastal meal at Front Street Grill. Here you get front row views of Taylor’s Creek and Carrot Island where wild horses like to graze on the marsh grasses.

We recommend you graze on crispy (and slightly spicy) grouper bites and their signature chili-lime shrimp tacos. It’s never too early for a refreshing cocktail of the day - you are in Pirate Town after all.

Continue your exploration through the 300-year history of Beaufort aboard a vintage double-decker bus tour with the Beaufort Historic Site. A knowledgeable guide will stop at historical places along the way, entertaining you with tales of pirates, star-crossed lovers, and Confederate spies.

Morehead City

Don’t forget to plan for these experiences around the festival that you are attending. For us, we headed into Morehead City for a fun blind wine tasting event with Crystal Coast Corks & Forks at the Promise Land Market.

We tested our inner sommelier by tasting eight wines and doing our best to predict what kind of grape each wine was from a list of twelve options. This unique event came with hors d'oeuvre and a lively and friendly local atmosphere.

There’s no need to stop celebrating with your prize for guessing all the wines correctly (I wish) – Beaufort awaits with plenty of live music to enjoy.

We ended our evening on the hidden porch of the relatively new Tapping the Admiral Bar. Gather around the gas fire or the picnic tables beside the food truck to listen to live music, in our case, soulful rocker, Monika Jaymes.

For those who want a later live music experience, head to the Cru Wine Bar. They have an eclectic range of musicians and bands that play until around 11pm.

We were not afraid to do both.

Banks Grill

Day 2: Balancing Nature with Indulgent Flavors

Awaken to the scent of fresh coastal air and savor a hearty breakfast at The Banks Grill, a local favorite renowned for its XXL biscuits and cinnamon rolls. My delicious shrimp and pimento cheese omelet proved that the local’s vote for favorite breakfast spot on the Crystal Coast is valid!

Fort Macon Hike

It’s important to balance your indulgence with exercise, fresh coastal air, and beautiful views. You can do that with an easy hike on the 3.2-mile Elliott Coues Trail in the Fort Macon State Park. This popular trail loops through maritime forest, undulating sand dunes with expansive coastal views, and boardwalks stretching across the marshlands of the Intracoastal Waterways.

Fort Macon Fort

Stop at the brick fort along the way to learn more about its crucial role in protecting the strategic Beaufort Inlet and the surrounding region during times of conflict, including the Civil War and World War II.

Depending on what festival you are attending, you may need a bite to eat beforehand. We recharged with a delicious catch of the day (tuna) quinoa bowl and shrimp and crab potato at the laid-back waterfront, Sugarloaf Island Deli & Yellowfin Pub.

Bites and Blues

It was time for festival number two: the annual Bites & Blues Event on the streets of the waterfront district in Morehead City. The party atmosphere was high as festival goers sampled food from 18 local restaurants and vendors while local bands entertained with music ranging from the Doors to The Killers.

We headed back into Beaufort for pre-dinner craft cocktails at the Green Room at Black Sheep. A pick-me-up Espresso Martini was the perfect complement to the Rachel Carson Reserve Views.

Blue Moon Bistro

You cannot leave Beaufort without dining at the Blue Moon Bistro, whose intimate space inside a quaint historic home, attentive service, and outstanding food, will elevate the romance to your next level.

Chef Jayson's innovative creations will highlight the region's freshest seafood and produce, creating a taste sensation.

Blue Moon Dinner

Our meal at the Blue Moon Bistro consisting of filet mignon, elk striploin, classy pink peppercorn old fashioned, and velvety red wine was one of the best I’ve had in North Carolina, if not further.

You will need to work that meal off, so continue your romantic festivities at the nearby Backstreet Pub, where live music, nautical charm, and a fairy light covered beer garden create the perfect ambiance for a post-dinner dance.

Kayaking Horses

Day 3: Kayaking with Wild Horses

Sadly, all good couple’s getaways must end. The kids may be calling you home, but don’t rush. You still have time for one more adventure.

Fuel up with a sumptuous breakfast at 34 Degrees North Restaurant inside the Beaufort Inn located on Taylor’s Creek. You just may have dolphins swim by while you’re enjoying a hearty loaded skillet dripping with sausage gravy.

Kayaking

Now you’re ready to meet the wild horses up close on a unique kayaking excursion with Beaufort Paddle. Explore the scenic beauty of the Rachel Carson Reserve as you paddle along the crystal-clear waters, soaking in the serenity of nature's embrace.

Horse from the water

Our kayak trip involved a beach walk along the white sandy shores of Bird Shoal Island, walking along the horse-trodden trails of Carrot Island, and gazing upon the wild horses grazing in their hidden freshwater reserve. We saw a total of ten wild horses on our kayak trip.

This is Raleigh Cover

Now you can finish your couple’s getaway with a leisurely lunch at Moonrakers, a local favorite for their Sky Deck, which has the best views in Beaufort.

Enjoy the warmth of the sun as you watch boats coming in and out past Bird Shoal Island, Carrot Island, and along Taylor Creek. We missed the dolphins that swam by the day before, but horses were grazing along the Carrot Island marshes.

It was a final glimpse as to what makes this region of North Carolina so unique and beautiful and worthy of multiple romantic retreats.

Sitting at Moonrakers

We bid farewell to this coastal paradise with delicious modern cuisine at Moonrakers, a spread that consisted of fried chili calamari, a Moonraker burger with pimento cheese, rub wings with coconut and mango sauce, and seasonal flatbread.

Take your time and savor the coastal flavors.

Our festival-focused weekend getaway to the Crystal Coast was the perfect way to celebrate our anniversary, filled with outdoor adventures, culinary delights, and unforgettable experiences.  Let the magic of the Crystal Coast sweep you off your feet on this unforgettable couples getaway.