100 free things to do

Free things to do on the Crystal Coast

Spend your vacation on the Crystal Coast and explore the entire area without spending a dime! Bluewater Vacation Rental’s list of free things to do on the Crystal Coast will keep everyone in the family entertained without breaking the budget. You will find the one and only Free Things to Do List right here – so glad some ideas for your Crystal Coast vacation!

From Emerald Isle to Beaufort, North Carolina there are tons of attractions, activities and events that your family can enjoy and make memories that will last a lifetime.

fort macon cannon
sand mermaid
shells
sunset
drink
maritime museum
old burial grounds

Ready to start having fun? Then get your vacation started with these 100 Free things to do on the Crystal Coast

  1. Watch the wild horses run on Shackleford Banks and Carrot Island
  2. Search for the largest shark tooth
  3. Fly a kite on the cool ocean breeze
  4. Watch the dolphins play in the surf
  5. Build a sand castle
  6. Explore historic Fort Macon in Atlantic Beach
  7. Look for the biggest sea shell at low tide
  8. Walk down the scenic Beaufort waterfront and window shop
  9. Gaze at the fireworks on the 4th of July in Historic Beaufort, Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle, Morehead City Waterfront and the Circle at Atlantic Beach.
  10. Soak up the sun on the white sandy beaches
  11. Start your own body surfing competition and put your skills to the test
  12. Have a free taste of Ice Cream or one free piece of Salt Water Taffy at The Sweet Spot in Emerald Isle
  13. Watch the boats weigh their catch at the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament
  14. Walk through the NC Maritime Museum in Beaufort
  15. Pack a lunch and have a picnic at Fort Macon State Park
  16. Wander through the Carteret County Curb Market in Morehead City
  17. Watch the 4th of July parade and feast at the Community Picnic in Beaufort
  18. Listen to the Summer Concert series at Fort Macon
  19. Watch the OWLS Sand Sculpting contest at Pine Knoll Shores
  20. Take a trip and explore the Cape Lookout National Seashore and see the Lighthouse
  21. In the mood for ghost stories? Visit Blackbeard’s House in Beaufort to hear some spooky tales
  22. Watch the surfers at the Buddy Pelletier Long board Competition in July
  23. Create your own sand dollar picture frame to remember your wonderful vacation
  24. Learn about Down East culture and traditions at Community Night with Rodney Kemp at the Core Sound Water Fowl museum
  25. Take part in the traditional cannon firing at Fort Macon State Park
  26. Burn some extra vacation calories riding your bike on the Emerald Isle Bike Trail
  27. Try a free sample of homemade fudge at The General Store in Beaufort
  28. Watch the fishing charters unload the daily catch on the Morehead City waterfront.
  29. Attend the Free Friday flick in Emerald Isle
  30. Watch the craftsmanship of the local boat builders create masterpieces at the Water Craft Center in Beaufort
  31. Explore the heritage of Down East at the Core Sound Museum in Harkers Island
  32. Dance the night away at the Beach Jive After Five in Emerald Isle
  33. Need an idea for good pictures? Walk to the end of the Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier for a wonderful view
  34. Attend the Emerald Isle Christmas Parade for some holiday cheer
  35. Witness the baby sea turtles hatch and make a run for the ocean in the early summer evenings
  36. Enjoy the sights and Gaelic sounds of the Annual St. Patrick’s Festival in Emerald Isle
  37. Surf Fish off the beach and see what you can catch (make sure you have your fishing license)
  38. Bask in the sun at Hammocks Beach State Park
  39. Play corn hole and dance the evening away at the Sheraton Pier every Thursday during the Summer
  40. Take a step back in history on a tour of the Beaufort Historical Site
  41. Play a game of beach Ultimate Frisbee
  42. Visit the Morehead Summer Concert series
  43. Hunt for sea glass along the shore, blue and purple are rare finds
  44. Stroll down the docks at the Morehead City waterfront
  45. Interact with the Marine life in tidal pools along the coast
  46. Search for sand dollars in the surf
  47. Watch the Fighter Planes fly down the coast
  48. Take a walk through the shops in historic downtown Swansboro
  49. Feed the turtles behind Rucker Johns
  50. Go whale watching at Cape Lookout
  51. Walk out on the Point in Emerald Isle
  52. Check out the local catch on the Bogue Inlet Pier
  53. Go bird watching in Emerald Woods
  54. Visit the 3rd Thursday Free music concert in at the Beaufort city waterfront
  55. Spark the romance with a walk on the beach at sunset
  56. Launch your kayak at the Emerald Isle boat ramp and explore the sound
  57. Start a game of beach football
  58. Find what gets washed up on shore after a big storm
  59. Take a sequence of photos of the sun rises and sun sets
  60. Watch the big ships dock at the State Port in Morehead City
  61. Chase Ghost Crabs along the shore after dark, they’re pretty fast and tricky!
  62. Play volleyball at the Atlantic Beach Circle or the Emerald Isle Beach Access
  63. Chase seagulls as they float on the ocean breeze
  64. Spend the day exploring the many islands along the Crystal Coast
  65. Launch your boat for a day of fun on the water at the Emerald Isle Boat Ramp
  66. Unwind from an exciting day to a good book outside on the porch with a cold drink
  67. Write messages in the sand and let the waves wash them away
  68. Sit and daydream about never leaving the Crystal Coast
  69. Take pictures of the ocean so you will never forget its beauty. How many shades of blue and green can you find?
  70. Scavenger hunt for different colored shells
  71. Count the seconds between waves breaking on the beach, you will notice a pattern
  72. Look for shapes in the clouds as they blow in the breeze
  73. Watch the windsurfers battle the ocean’s current
  74. Throw the baseball with family at Western Park in Cedar Point
  75. Play a game of Bocce Ball with those around you
  76. Dig a hole and bury someone to their waist
  77. Walk under the Bogue Inlet Pier and take a family picture
  78. Bury your toes in the warm sand
  79. Take a trip to Shark Tooth Island
  80. Take a walk with the Emerald Isle walking club
  81. Play a game of Horseshoes on the beach
  82. Catch Sandfiddler crabs in the surf, before they can burry back into the sand
  83. Throw a cast net into the sound to see what you catch
  84. Walk the path through Emerald Isle and visit the shops along the way
  85. Look for starfish in the surf
  86. Put a bottle on the tree on Bottle Island
  87. Artists on Arendell will occur every Friday in August-“till the weather turns cold” watch for amazing demonstrations from local artists
  88. Create your very own treasure adventure – dig buried treasures for your friends and family to find
  89. Make your own unique seashell jewelry
  90. Don’t forget kids under 5 years old get in free at the North Carolina Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores
  91. In October enjoy the Carolina Kite Festival in Atlantic Beach and watch kites from all over the world paint the beach coast during the day and at night
  92. Visit the birthplace of Pepsi in downtown New Bern
  93. Enjoy the outdoors by bike on Swansboro’s 25 mile bike trail along the water and through the Croatan National Forest.
  94. Learn about the coastal region’s history by taking a visit to the History Place in downtown Morehead City
  95. Enjoy a walking nature tour and even a boat cruise on Taylor’s Creek ending at Carrot Island boardwalk during the spring and summer months through The Rachel Carson National Estuarine Research office.
  96. Try your skills at the Morehead City Seafood Festival Flounder Fling. Participants try and fling a large flounder in to a frying pan on Saturday and Sunday of the festival
  97. Not much for Flounder Flinging? Stroll the streets downtown to live music and find the perfect seat for the Seafood Festival Fireworks Show
  98. Ever wonder what real pirate invasions were like back in the day? Visit Beaufort waterfront for their annual Pirate Invasion in August, couldn’t get any more real than this authentic show
  99. Need a relaxing night outdoors? Atlantic Beach holds outdoor movies every Wednesday night starting at dusk in the Circle
  100. Plan your next vacation

*Bonus Ideas*

  • See local craftsmanship at the Swansboro Mullet Festival
  • Watch the experts slow cook a feast at the Newport Pig Pickin’
  • Don’t blink! You might miss the fast boat racing in the Crystal Coast Grand Prix in September