I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream

Sweet Summertime Memories

Be honest, there was NOTHING in this world like hearing the sound of the ice cream truck coming down your neighborhood road. It was a marker for summertime and a bowl of excitement served right at the end of your driveway. To this day, seeing a group of kids crowded around that tiny window, waiting patiently for their turn to order brings a smile to my face.

As a child, I remember walking to the nearest ice cream shop, sitting at a picnic table, and enjoying a waffle cone – all while chocolate ice cream dripped down my hand over my wrist. It was just too hot to keep up with all of the melting. Even now, I chuckle standing behind fellow parents busily wiping away what they can, only to give up entirely. What’s a little cookies-and-cream on your tie-dye tee anyway?

With temperatures reaching 90-degrees (and heat indexes of over 100-degrees), people are searching high and low for ways to cool down. While Oak Island and Southport has a lot of great ways to stay cool, the area comes well-populated with ice cream and frozen yogurt shops sure to quench your craving.


Flava’s Ice Cream Shop | 310 W Bay Street | 910-457-5150
Flava’s is located right off of the waterfront in downtown Southport and offers flavors outside of the ordinary. Stop by this spot after dining on peel-and-eat shrimp at the ever popular Provision Company.

Spike’s Dairy Bar | 201 N Howe Street | 910-457-7611
With premium ingredients and homemade ice cream, Spike’s is the perfect location for local shakes, floats as well as hot dogs and more. Grab a quick milkshake while strolling down the streets of Southport and in between boutiques.

The Fuzzy Peach | 5130 Southport-Supply Road | 910-363-4180
If you’re someone who doesn’t like to wait in line for your fro-yo, look no further than The Fuzzy Peach. This self-serve shop offers the usual suspects as well as unique seasonal flavors along with a buffet of toppings. Enjoy your cup while sitting outside on the deck while the kids play corn hole. (Pro Tip: Try the vanilla with fresh strawberries, cheesecake bites, and granola crumbles! Yum!)

Oak Island

Frosty’s Ice Cream | 8600 E Oak Island Drive | 910-278-7787
Frosty’s Ice Cream Shop is a favorite for many guests each year. This local hang out offers traditional scoops as well as a variety of other items sure to touch your tourist-heart!

Sunset Slush Classic Italian Ice | 8316 E Oak Island Drive | 910-619-7724
If the cream is not your thing, how about some Italian ice to cool you down? Sunset Slush began as a pushcart operation serving folks in Brunswick County and has grown to a business of 16 locations across the country. You may be able to catch a pushcart going up and down the sand while you take in the heat, but can always stop by their retail store if you’ve come in from the shore.

Lil & John’s Sweetreat | 6324 E Oak Island Drive | 910-250-1836
This family-owned and operated shop handcrafts their ice cream on-site each day with help of local organic dairy farmers and the freshest fruits and ingredients available! If you’re into sharing or possess a stomach the size of a ship, try out their Titanic for Two and eat until your heart’s content!

Dairy Queen | 5701 E Oak Island Drive | 910-278-5371
As if we even need to describe this queen of cool… Dairy Queen has been in business for more than 70 years serving up delicious soft serve and craving-satisfying goodies. Locals claim it’s hard to pass up a chocolate-dipped cone even in the dead of winter!

Tropical Treats | 5811 E Oak Island Drive | 910-278-9311
Eat-in or have a seat at this colorful, tropical-inspired spot! Offering the normal options, Tropical Treats take their guest service a bit further by offering sugar-free ice cream, fudge and free “pup cups” for your four-legged family members.

OKI Scoop Shop | 4922 E Oak Island Drive
Stop by this cute ice cream shop for delectable flavors and homemade waffle cones. Reviews describe their ice cream as rich and flavorful with a silky smooth texture. Located right next to the BBQ House, it’s the perfect spot for a sweet treat after getting your fill of pulled pork and corn nuggets.

The next time you find yourself on the hunt for some frigid-goodness, stop by one of our local favorites. Share photos of you and your family enjoying your frosty treats during your Oak Island getaway with Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc. over on our Facebook page!

Here’s to sweet summertime memories!

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Things To Do When It Rains On Your Oak Island Vacation







Summer in coastal North Carolina ushers in more than just warm weather and vacationers. A bit of unsavory weather has been known to grace us complete with thunderstorms, heavy winds, and rain. Oak Island offers visitors much more than just sandy shorelines and gorgeous beaches, many activities of which could save an Oak Island vacation or two when the weather proves less than agreeable. Keep this list handy for those times when your crew has had enough of the sun and sand, or for when the rains fall and put a strain on your well-laid beach plans.

Retail Therapy

Oak Island and Southport offers everything from extravagant coastal décor and jewelry to repurposed antiques and the customary “Southport” or “Oak Island” novelty item. Spend a few hours (or an entire day) exploring all of the locally owned and operated shops while finding the perfect souvenir to remind you of your Oak Island getaway.

Eat Local

Nothing ruins a good time like a hangry (hungry + angry) person in your party; believe me, I should know because I’m one of those people who suffers from this debilitating funk when my stomach starts to growl and there’s not a morsel in sight. Save yourselves and your Oak Island vacation by visiting one of our fresh seafood markets for a locally caught meal you can prepare in the comfort of your rental home. (Try this simple recipe for Calabash Shrimp with Tartar Sauce for a quick and easy dinner.)

For those who really take a vacation from it all – including cooking – a rainy day provides the perfect opportunity to try out all the local eateries that Southport and Oak Island have to offer. No matter your tastes, this area brims with everything from mom-and-pop hamburger joints and southern-style barbecue smokehouses to elegant restaurants with intimate settings. From brunch to happy hour, we have your taste buds covered.

Explore Your Creative Side

With stunning sunrises and sunsets, charming waterfront scenery and sea life galore, the local beaches have surely inspired many an artist over the years. Why not become one of them and create a piece that memorializes the time you spent on Oak Island? Flex your creative muscles with a private paint party at Pescado Y Amor, a local studio and art gallery which also hosts art classes and summer camps.

If you’re a vacationer who prefers to window shop rather than mixing it up in your smock, numerous art galleries line the streets of downtown Southport for your shopping pleasure. Join others for the First Friday Gallery Walk to enjoy wine and appetizers before a stroll to view the works of featured artists.

Discover Your Destination

A rainy day presents an opportunity to learn more about your vacation destination. The Southport and Oak Island area offers a myriad of museums and sites rich with history. Visit the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport for a lesson in the maritime history of the lower Cape Fear River. Venture toward Wilmington to visit Brunswick Town and Fort Anderson, a pre-Revolutionary town that includes a Civil War-era fort and display of archaeological finds.

Not a history buff? No problem. Familiarize yourself with coastal Carolina aquatic life with a day trip to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher . Access the Aquarium by either a drive from Oak Island to Kure Beach or simply hop on the Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry. With fun and educational programs, families enjoy learning about marine environments while experiencing animals in an up-close-and-personal format with animal feedings and encounters. Adventurers may also head south along Highway 17 for an experience at the Museum of Coastal Carolina and Ingram Planetarium . The Museum and Planetarium offer hands-on exhibits as well as theater shows in an effort to broaden the public understanding of our planet and its natural resources, specifically as they pertain to the Carolinas.

Unwind & Unravel

Relaxation from the day-to-day doesn’t happen solely along the shores of Oak Island and Caswell Beach. While the sounds of the ocean and sunshine soothe the soul, one can certainly get a taste of that through other means. Spend a full day pampering yourself and those you love at one of the many Oak Island, Southport or Bald Head Island salons and spas. We guarantee that a facial combined with a manicure and pedicure and coastal-inspired massage will do wonders to refresh and rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit.

Hang Like A Local

One of the best ways to familiarize with Oak Island is to act like a local. Do what the locals do when it’s pouring cats and dogs. Catch an afternoon movie at Surf Cinema Movie Theater . This local gem offers various show times for the latest releases as well as special showings for kids and their families. (Not to mention, MRA includes a complete list of kids’ showings in our vacation rental guest bags that are given to each of our Oak Island visitors during prime season.)

With kids in tow, head over to one of Brunswick County’s local public libraries for an afternoon perfect for your avid readers. With two locations to serve our area, you can find everything from books, magazines, and DVDs and attend a reading or local author events for all ages. Be sure to call ahead as some branches have limited hours during weekends.

Ride Out The Storm

Locals know the art of “riding out a storm” all too well. Luckily, there are plenty of fun-filled activities that you and your fellow family members may enjoy in the comfort of your Oak Island vacation rental home . Check out this list of entertaining ideas for keeping everyone occupied while the rain falls:

  • Go the traditional route and build an old-fashioned fort with cushions, pillows, suitcases, etc.
  • Whip things up in the kitchen. Recruit little hands to make homemade pizza or a delicious, after-dinner dessert.
  • Play board games, cards or have fun with puzzles.
  • Read a book or reflect in a “travel journal”.
  • Practice yoga or mindful meditation from the comfort of your home overlooking the Atlantic.

Let’s be honest, the best vacations derive from memories made while just spending time..together. Many of Margaret Rudd & Associates’ Oak Island vacation homes offer the perfect setting for such a purpose. Some feature large game rooms others come stocked with games, puzzles, books and DVD libraries. Contact us for more information on Oak Island vacation rentals, or for suggestions on fun things to do in Oak Island rain or shine!

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The Top 10 ‘Must-Dos’ During Your Southport & Oak Island Vacation

1. Let Your Light Shine

Vacation Must-Dos: Oak Island LighthouseCompleted in 1958, the Oak Island Lighthouse is a major source of local and state pride in North Carolina. Known as one of the state’s “newest” lighthouses, it is located in the Caswell Beach area of the island and offers year-round tours to the top (131 steps) at no charge for guests 9 years and older with a reservation.

General, no reservation public tours to the second-level (12 steps up) are available during the summer months on Wednesdays and Saturdays for visitors 7 years and older. Lighthouse grounds are open year round from sunrise to sunset for viewing and picture-taking with a 30-minute limited parking area.

2. Shell Collecting & Turtle Season On Caswell

While you’re on the Caswell side of the island, head over to the beach by using either of two public beach accesses to collect the beautiful shells that find their way to the shore. Locals and visitors alike have found everything from beautiful sand dollars to historic Megalodon shark teeth.

Vacation Must-Dos: Sea Turtle HatchlingTake heed when walking around Caswell , our very own turtle sanctuary. Beginning May 1, the Turtle Watch Morning Patrol will search Caswell Beach for any tracks left by mothers laying their eggs for the season. Nests are then marked and assigned sequential numbers. Turtle sightings should be reported to Turtle Watch at 910-880-0994.

Due to an increase in the number of nests, you may be lucky enough to see one of these marked feats of nature – or even a more exciting hatching! General rules of thumb when witnessing a sea turtle laying her eggs or during a hatching include: (a) avoid disturbing the turtle, (b) do not crowd her or shine lights including flash photography, (c) do not disturb her or a nest and maintain your distance, and (d) from late July to late October – turn off all exterior ocean facing lights.

3. The Point

Vacation Must-Dos: The PointIf you’re looking for a more secluded place on the island where you can take the little ones and still get some “beach time” in for yourself – look no farther than the west end of Oak Island known as The Point. Locals love this not-so-secret area of the island where the Atlantic meets the Waterway at the Lockwood Folly Inlet.

The panoramic views alone qualify this as a “must do”, especially at sunrise or sunset. Waters tend to be calmer and at low tide, folks can cross the water to shoals where hermit crabs and other coastal life can be found. The Point is also a popular place for sand dollars, shore-fishing and jet skis.

4. Get Ferry’d Away

After a long car ride to the island, the last thing parents want to do is pack the kids back into the car on the way to someplace else. While we tend to agree, a ferry ride out of Southport to Fort Fisher is worth it and will most likely end in less frustration than you anticipate.

Located at 1650 Ferry Road in Southport, and just a 7-mile drive from our office in Oak Island, passengers board the Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry in their vehicles and enjoy a 35-minute ferry ride to Fort Fisher. Upon arrival, passengers may choose to visit the Fort Fisher Civil War Museum to learn about an important piece of local history or head to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher for an underwater immersion. A trip to Fort Fisher is perfect for a day trip or for those families needing activity on a rainy day at the beach.

5. ProCo

If you’re looking for a unique and worthwhile dining experience, take your grumbling tummies to Provision Company in Southport. This quaint waterfront restaurant was established in 1993 and serves up delicious seafood and American classic dishes like peel-and-eat shrimp, crab cake sandwiches (a personal fave) and juicy cheeseburgers with a side of piping hot French fries for lunch and dinner throughout the summer season. The process is simple and the establishment runs on the honor system with customers reporting their eats and drinks at the register and paying.

Vacation Must Dos: ProCo

It can tend to be a bit on the busy side during the prime rental season (especially after the location’s feature in Nicholas Sparks’ movie Safe Haven) but it is well worth the wait. And speaking of wait – if there is a long one, simply grab a beer or two at Old American Fish Co. just a few steps away in the meantime. You cannot beat the atmosphere or the gorgeous views of the Southport Yacht Basin, especially at sunset.

6. Shop ‘Til You Drop

Vacation Must-Dos: Southport Christmas HouseAntique-lovers and do-it-yourselfers rejoice when they visit Southport and Oak Island. The city streets are lined with antique shops, art galleries, high-fashion boutiques, artisan gift shops and quaint specialty shops full of repurposed items with coastal shabby chic flare.

Spend an afternoon at the Olde Southport Village Shoppes and then head into downtown Southport where stores like Bullfrog Corner and The Christmas House entertain your inner child. Live oak trees add to the southern charm of your shopping experience taking you to an era where life moved at a much slower pace.

7. Local Farmers & Artisans’ Markets

If you’re a sucker for local foods and crafts, then our local artisan and farmers markets are right up your alley. Patrons may visit the Southport Waterfront Market which occurs every Wednesday of each month from May 3 to September 6 along the Cape Fear River on the Fort Johnston Garrison Lawn, or the Oak Island Farmers & Artisans’ Market which occurs every Monday of each month from May 22 to September 4 on the soccer fields just behind Town Hall. Vendors offer local fresh produce, homemade jams, cakes and baked goods, jewelry, rugs among other handcrafted items. The breeze coming off of the water along with the occasional live music makes a trip to either market an enjoyable outing for the entire family.

8. Eat Local

Speaking of the entire family and local eats – why not try your hand at some of our local seafood? Two of the most popular seafood markets on the island are Clem’s Seafood and Haag & Sons. Offering fish like Grouper, Sea Bass, King Mackerel and Wahoo as well as Shrimp, Oysters, Mussels and Lobster – they carry exactly what you and the family need for that family shrimp boil or grilled fish dinner in the comfort of your rental home.

9. Day Trippin’

If #4 on this list appealed to you, then boy do we have the ferry ride and day trip to knock your socks off. This day trip is a bit pricier than the one to Fort Fisher but that extra cost is invaluable when it comes to the experience. Bald Head Island (BHI) is the southernmost barrier island off of North Carolina and accessible only by passenger ferry or private boat, with the ferry departing from Deep Point Marina in Southport.

The 2-mile island carries a “no vehicle” policy where transportation only occurs on foot, by bicycle or by way of golf cart. The island boasts “10,000 untouched acres of beach, marsh and maritime forest preserves” as well as Old Baldy, a 200-year old lighthouse that was commissioned by Thomas Jefferson, and The Bald Head Island Club golf course.

10. Sunset/Sunrise

Vacation Must Dos: Sunrise & SunsetWhen we asked our Facebook followers to name their own personal “must dos” when they vacation with us, the overwhelming response included watching the sunrise or sunset (most commonly with a cup of coffee), and we couldn’t agree more. There’s something about the view of the horizon as the day begins or ends solidifying the fact that you are on vacation. And we have to admit, the panoramic views from many of our oceanfront properties are second to none.

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Planning A Family-Friendly Beach Vacation: What To Pack


You’re in the homestretch of this thing called planning a family vacation. You’ve developed and stuck to your budget. You’ve decided where to go and booked your vacation rental. Now, you just have to deal with the dreaded packing for your trip before heading out.

If you’re anything like me, you tend to over pack. You end up packing enough clothing for an entire week for a simple, overnight stay. On the other hand, you may be the type of person who only packs your clothes and relies on area grocery and drug stores to get you through your vacation. (Let’s be honest, the locals HAVE to get their goods from SOMEWHERE. It’s not like you’re traveling to some remote location…or maybe you are which is why you really, really need this last post of our series.)

Items to Consider When Packing for Your Family Beach Vacation

1. What time of year are you traveling and where will you be staying? In North Carolina, we experience all of the seasons – sometimes it feels like we experience all of them in one week – so packing a swimsuit and a hoodie or coat may be your best bet.
2. How are you traveling? If your mode of transportation will be the family vehicle, you may be able to pack a bit more for your vacation home than if you were planning to fly.
3. Are you traveling with kids? If so, will you bring items to keep them occupied like toys, games, video games or other electronics. Would you rather they enjoy the simpler life by the beach and want to avoid packing all of the “extras”? If you’re traveling with babies, you may want to inquire whether the home has a high chair, pack-n-play, etc.
4. Will you be traveling with pets? If so, you’ll want to find out if your rental comes with items like food and water bowls or a crate.
5. Are you planning to bring your own linens or will you rent them? If you plan to participate in activities like biking or paddle boarding, do you plan to bring your own equipment or will you rent?

Other Tips for Packing for Your Family Beach Vacation

1. Download apps that your kids can play on your smartphone or a tablet you’ll be bringing. This will keep the kids occupied during the drive or right before bedtime while also eliminating the need to pack individual electronics.
2. Cross packing could be a lifesaver for air travel. With cross packing, you pack a set of clean clothes for each family member in each person’s suitcase. This way if a piece of luggage is lost, you’ll at least have one set of clothing for each person to get you through until you find your luggage or buy replacements.
3. Pack multi-purpose toys for children so that they can play with them in the home or on the beach. Limit your kids to packing one small bag of toys each. Items like blow-up balls work extremely well for packing purposes.
4. Pack Ziploc bags. You can use them for additional packing solutions, to pack snacks and sandwiches for your day at the beach, or even use them as souvenir collection cases for seashells.

If we’ve said it before, we’ll say it again – research the whereabouts of your vacation. From learning the weather patterns to finding out where the local grocery store is, the information on your vacation spot can be an invaluable item for your home away from home. If all else fails, simply give your rental agent a call. If they’re a valuable agent, like Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc., they should put you in the right direction for anything you need.

What amazing packing tips have you collected over the years? Are there special products that make packing for your trip more efficient? We’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions so please share them in the comments section of this post.

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Planning A Family-Friendly Beach Vacation: When To Book

Timing The Perfect Family Vacation Can Be Tricky

Juggling multiple schedules, considering the household budget and analyzing seasonal weather conditions all have to be taken into account. In our first piece for this series, we discussed creating a vacation budget. A large portion of that budget relies on the timing of your actual vacation. Let’s look at the timing of a family beach vacation in our area by pointing out specifics, as well as generalizations to consider no matter where you plan your stay.

When To Book ImageYour budget is set and there’s enough saved to make your deposit or pay for your accommodations in full. You decide on taking the kids to the beach but you can’t decide when to book your stay. Oceanfront vacation rentals usually start booking in January and February for Prime Season (typically between Memorial Day and Labor Day) stays. However, many repeat renters book as far out as a year in advance so it’s never too early to get that dream house on the books.

Flexibility with dates (and flexibility in your rental) can be essential to some vacationers. If your family can travel outside of Prime Season dates, you can often score significantly discounted rates with smaller crowds and lower traffic counts while the weather and water is still warm. If your rental allows nightly rentals, your family can take a modified vacation from Thursday to Sunday to save on time missed from school/work as well as money. If you possess some flexibility, it may be worth a bit of research or a call into your rental agent to find out (1) when Prime Season is and (2) if there are any flexible rental options with specific homes.

NC 4th of July FestivalWhile on the phone with your agent, ask questions about local events. They should alert you to any large festivals or annual celebrations which could significantly impact your vacation (both monetarily- and comfort-speaking). For example, Southport is home to the NC 4th of July Festival. With the celebration, the area sees an influx of an additional 50,000 people – most of which are renters. The excitement and crowds may be right up your alley; however, your family may decide to steer clear of the traffic and limited availability.

Items to Consider When Booking Your Beach Rental

1. When do you want to take your vacation? Are you restricted to taking your vacation when the kids are out of school or when your work is slower?
2. Do you have any flexibility in the timing/dates of your vacation? How many nights can you stay?
3. Are any events or festivities going on in the area during your stay?
4. Are there stipulations on booking? Does the home rent nightly or weekly?
5. Do you have time to save for your vacation by the time you plan to take the actual vacation?

Tips On When To Book

1. Research the area. Visit travel sites like TripAdvisor, review sites like Yelp and Google, and browse social media sites like Facebook for suggestions or reviews during certain time frames (Prime Season versus Off-Season).
2. Contact your rental agent. Ask for suggestions on timing, if there are any events going on when you plan to travel and how to accommodate traveling at that time.
3. Find out if the rental you choose does nightly or weekly rentals. Staying nightly could save money and time for your family. Staying for a shorter time period may allow your family to take multiple mini-vacations.
4. Book early, or as soon as your budget allows. You may benefit from an early booking discount.
5. Sign up for email communications from your local rental agent. You’ll receive area news, current specials and discounts, as well as other pertinent local information.

Newsletter Sign UpBecome a part of the Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc. family by signing up for our newsletter. You’ll find information on Oak Island-area happenings, periodic company updates, as well as specials and discounts conveniently delivered to your inbox.

When does your family usually vacation? What are some things that restrict your timing, i.e., school or work schedules? Do you take multiple mini-vacations or one longer trip? Let us know in the comments.

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Planning A Family-Friendly Beach Vacation: Location, Location, Location


Where To Take Your Family Vacation

You’ve developed your family budget and – for the purpose of this series – decided to spend your vacation along the North Carolina coast. (By the way, great decision on vacationing at the beach! It’s not like we’re biased or anything.)

Researching the specific area where you’ll be staying is of utmost importance, not only due to budgetary concerns but also to accommodate your family needs (i.e., crowd-wise versus secluded) and wishes (amenities).

Our agency is in Oak Island, North Carolina and although the island itself is only 14 miles long, it has 3 distinct beaches each with very different characteristics. If you’ve never been to a particular beach, you’ll first need to know where it is on a map. With regard to Oak Island, if your family prefers a quiet beach get-away in a more secluded area then you’d probably want to stay on one end of our island. On the other hand, if your family wishes to people-watch in the mix of dining and shopping options then you’d probably prefer the opposite end of the island.

Moreover, even within our own county the beaches vary greatly. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina which is approximately an hour away is strikingly different. All have their great qualities but finding the perfect option suitable to YOUR family’s needs requires research as well as honesty as far as what you want and like.

Consider These When Determining Location

  1. How far is it from the grocery and/or drug store?
  2. How many restaurants are nearby, within driving distance, etc.?
  3. What will traffic and parking be like?
  4. Is the area family-friendly?
  5. How far is it from your home? Will your travel budget be affected?
  6. What will the weather be like during your stay?

Finding Your Family’s Restful {Vacation} Nest

The flip-side of the “Location, Location, Location” coin requires you to be honest with yourself about what you deem a deal-breaker when it comes to choosing a rental property. Do you have members of your family who cannot walk up a flight of stairs? Aside from the standard number of bedrooms and bathrooms, do you find that you’ll need coastal decór to feel truly on vacation? Are you traveling with more than one family, and both require a master bedroom? Are you bringing your four-legged family member?

Many oceanfront homes are great; however, some haven’t changed in decades. Will an older couch and knotty pine walls suffice so long as you can get into an oceanfront property? Would you be happier in a 2nd row home with hardwood floors and granite countertops? Perhaps you’d be fine either way, but it is a good decision to know your deal-breakers going into making your selection.

Items To Consider When Selecting The Type of Rental

  1. How many bedrooms (and number of beds) and bathrooms will you need? Will you need separate master bedrooms or a den where the children can have their own play space?
  2. Do you need oceanfront? Will a 2nd row home be sufficient?
  3. How far is the nearest beach access? Does the home have a private access?
  4. What appliances come in the home? Washer/dryer, dishwasher, coffee maker, etc.
  5. What is the parking situation? Is it covered, is it on-street?
  6. Is departure cleaning included? Are linens and towels provided or will you need to bring your own?
  7. What does “dog-friendly” mean? Is there a fenced-in yard?
  8. Is there a BBQ grill, picnic table and/or other outside seating?
  9. Is the home handicap accessible?

Tips On Deciding Where To Stay & Choosing A Rental Property

  1. Research the area. Call your rental agent to ask specifics on the area and if there are any differences in the specific areas of the location.
  2. Find out how many different modes of transportation are involved in getting to your rental property. For example, one in our area is only accessible by ferry and does not allow cars on the island. Getting around requires driving a golf cart.
  3. Rainy days and bad weather happen. Consider what those days will look like in your plan and incorporate off-the-beach activities (i.e., movie theaters, museums, aquariums, etc.).
  4. Visit an agency website and search by Category to narrow down your selection so that your decision-making doesn’t seem too overwhelming.

Deal Breaker ImageWhat are your deal-breakers when it comes to choosing a rental property? Let us know in the comments, and be on the lookout for our next installment which will cover When To Book Your Family Beach Vacation.

In the meantime, head over to our website and start narrowing down your list of favorites by location and features.


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Vacation Planning 101: Planning A Family-Friendly Beach Vacation

We know; the family planner suggests that we’re emerging from the throes of winter but all you have on the brain is making it to spring break or summer vacation. For some, planning their next family vacation is stressful and overwhelming – especially when one has to manage doing it on top of all of the other daily tasks.

Vacation Planning 101

Don’t worry. We’re here to help in every aspect of the word. In this series, we’ll discuss pre-planning items like setting a budget, the best time to book your vacation and other need-to-know suggestions on where to book and what to pack. While there may not be an exact science to vacation planning, we hope this series will take some of the madness out of the process for you and your family.

Setting A Vacation Budget

Circumstance and finances play a large role in where we actually vacation as a family. Despite your bucket list of places to visit, when it comes to running a household with children families choose locations offering gorgeous scenery, relaxation and activities suited for each member of the household rather than breaking the bank by visiting a luxury destination and having to add-on all of the amenities. The key: set your budget, then plan your vacation. Doing the opposite often means a sacrifice of good financial intentions for spur of the moment vacation daydreams.

Questions To Ask When Developing Your Vacation Budget

  1. How much can we afford? After monthly expenses are paid, what can we put toward a vacation fund without inconveniencing the family?
  2. How much time do we have to save? Create a realistic calendar of saving for your family situation.
  3. What will be included in the price of our accommodations? Will there be separate charges for taxes, a deposit, cleaning fees, trip insurance, etc.?
  4. After accommodations, how much will we need per person per day for food, activities, gratuity and/or souvenirs?
  5. What activities are on our “must do” list? How much will these cost? Should we prioritize the list so we can eliminate a few?
  6. Are certain amenities included if we rent weekly as opposed to nightly?

Things To Consider For Your Budget

  1. Search your membership benefits with organizations like AARP, AAA or even Costco. You may find discounts on rental cars or airfare.
  2. A standard vacation budget is equivalent to about one month’s income.
  3. Whatever your budget total, add 15% to it for unexpected expenditures or emergency situations.
  4. Do not charge your entire vacation.
  5. Jump start your vacation fund by skipping specialty coffee or by avoiding meals out.
  6. If you have flexibility with your dates, explore last minute deals. If a vacation rental isn’t rented for a particular week then an owner may be inclined to discount the weekly rate by several hundred dollars or offer extra nights as a booking special.
  7. Renting a vacation home can provide a little wiggle room in your vacation budget. Families tend to save on items like meals and other amenities when booking a vacation rental rather than a hotel or motel.

Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc. offers a wonderful selection of vacation rentals in the Southport-Oak Island area of Brunswick County, North Carolina. Ranging from small bungalows and coastal condominiums to expansive beach homes, we surely have something to fit your family’s individual needs (budgetary and otherwise).

What are your tried and true methPiggy Bank Iconods for developing and adhering to your family vacation budget? Share your tips and tricks on how your family sticks to your budget before and during your vacation in the comments. Stay tuned for tips and tricks on Where To Take Your Family Vacation.


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Big Family, Big Fun! Oak Island Vacation Deal

Book any 5-8 bedroom vacation rental (reservation must be made between April 27th and May 11th) and receive a $150 Vacation Voucher that can be used to boost your vacation fun!

Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc. has partnered with great local businesses that are offering ADDITIONAL DISCOUNTS to voucher holders so that you are able to stretch your vacation dollar even further!

Please note that Vacation Vouchers are only accepted at the participating businesses for selected services or activities listed below.

PAMPERING oak island vacation

If pampering is your idea of vacation fun (and who doesn’t deserve a little of that?!), you can use your $150 Vacation Voucher towards a day of relaxation and “me” time! Whether you want to get your pedi flip-flop ready or indulge in a deep tissue massage, these participating businesses have you covered!

Palm & Sol Nail Boutique
| (910) 833-2086 | Oak Island, NC

  • 10% DISCOUNT on any service they offer! – Palm & Sol Nail Boutique offers a salon experience that takes your manicure and pedicure to the next level in a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere and the latest in nail design and technology.

oak island vacationMellow Moods Massage & Wellness | (910) 294-0779 | Southport, NC
Mellow Moods is offering additional discounts on the following services: 

  • 90-Minute Deep Tissue Massage followed by a Deluxe Customized Facial (Only $150, Regularly $215)
  • Two 90-Minute Swedish Massages (Only $150, Regularly $210)
  • Two 90-Minute Deep Tissue Massages (Only $150, Regularly $230)

Please schedule your appointments by calling them directly in advance of your vacation! These are popular places for good reason!! At time of payment, present your Vacation Voucher (works like a gift certificate). 

oak island vacationADVENTURE

If you prefer adventure, you can use your $150 towards great family friendly options such as kayak and boat tours, aerial challenge courses and zip lining tours, and much more! The businesses listed below are offering additional discounts to voucher holders so you can amp up that adrenaline rush even further!

Lighthouse Watersports  | (910) 808-1713 | Oak Island, NC
Lighthouse Watersports is offering a 10% DISCOUNT on anything they offer! 

  • 1.5-Hour Scenic Boat Tours – Your captain/guide will take you to remote shallow
    water marshes in a custom built 20 passenger USCG inspected boat specifically designed to experience nature, history and wildlife as closely as possible.
  • 2-Hour Sunset Cruise – End your day enjoying the sights and sounds as the world settles in. Birds flying to roost, fishing boats returning from offshore; these evening cruises go a little longer, but are much like our scenic boat tour.
  • 2-Hour Blackwater Cypress Kayak Swamp Tour – You will paddle through a remote old growth maritime forest, float under canopies of ancient cypress
    trees draped with Spanish moss, all while learning about the local wildlife and history.
  • 7-Day Kayak & Stand-Up Paddle Board Rentals – the newest, premium kayak and stand up paddle board rental equipment and safest brand name gear in the water sports industry. We deliver and pick up to your vacation rental home.

Shallotte River Swamp Parkoak island vacation | (910) 687-6100 | Ocean Isle Beach, NC
Shallotte River Swamp Park is offering a 10% DISCOUNT on anything they offer!

  • 10-Line Zip Line Tour – Our zipline tour lasts approximately 2-2 ½ hours and includes 10 zipline stations, three bridges and more than 1.25 miles of cable nestled high above 100-year old cypress trees and great wildlife watching!
  • Aerial Adventure Park – 2-Hours of fun with 53 different challenge elements and three levels of difficulty our aerial challenge course has something for everyone—from four-year-olds to folks looking for a military-level challenge.
  • Swamp Boat Eco Tours – 50-minute tour on the pristine Shallotte River Swamp where you get up close and personal with the natural environment. There’s plenty of history in the swamp—including a landmark possibly used by George Washington himself back in 1791!

It is very important that you make your reservations for activities well in advance of your trip. To utilize your $150 Vacation Voucher for Shallotte River Swamp Park or Lighthouse Watersports, you must book and pay (out-of-pocket) online at their website or by calling them directly (we’ll give you a discount code so that the 10% is applied at time of booking). Your $150 Vacation Voucher will be applied as a credit to your MRA account balance – just let us know about your adventure reservation! 

GOLF oak island vacation

Brunswick County has some of the most scenic and challenging golf courses in the world, so if hitting the links and playing 18-holes is your idea of vacation fun, then you are in luck! Each course listed below offers discounts to MRA guests, but tee times must be scheduled through our office! Just give us a call and we’ll get your set-up to play (be sure to let us know you’ll be using your $150 Vacation Voucher toward the total cost!).


  • Cape Fear National – Recently named the “#11 Best Course You Can Play in NC – 2014” by Golfweek, Cape Fear National is an absolute must-play for both the beginner and avid golfer.
  • Carolina National – Carolina National Golf Club is a 27-hole Fred Couples signature golf course, set along the Banks of the Lockwood Folly River.
  • Crow Creek – Located in the quaint fishing village of Calabash, NC, Crow Creek Golf Club is an 18 hole public course designed by architect, Rick Robbins.
  • Magnolia Greens – This outstanding, twenty-seven hole, public golf facility is recognized as one of the top public golf facilities in the southeast and has been the venue for several PGA Tour and USGA qualifying events.
  • Oak Island Golf Club – The 18-hole, 6,720 yard George Cobb design provides an exciting adventure, round after round and summer vacationers to Oak Island will enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and warm southern hospitality that are hallmarks of OIGC!
  • River’s Edge – Rivers Edge Golf Club is truly one of the Eastern United States sensational golf properties. An Arnold Golf Signature design, this course offers every golfer a round of challenge and fun.
  • The Lakes – The Lakes is the oldest golf course in Brunswick County. The 18 Hole Par 72 course offers four sets of tees where every skill level can be challenged in a beautiful setting.

Margaret Rudd & Associates is happy to schedule your tee time, simply call our office at 910-278-6523 and let us know when and where (and let us know you’ll be using your Vacation Voucher!). 

CONVENIENCEoak island vacation

Maybe you have the fun stuff covered, you just need more time to play! If the CONVENIENCE of having $150 worth of groceries picked-up and delivered to your vacation rental appeals to you, we are happy to make that happen! What could be better than NOT having to stop at the grocery store on your way into town?! We can’t think of many things better than that!


Just let MRA know this is how you prefer to use your Vacation Voucher and we’ll send you a grocery order form and details to get started. 




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MRA Fall Decor

We love the fall because it means we get to decorate the office for our annual BBQ. We’ll post some more photos of the event next week!

fall decor

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Free Things To Do In Southport / Oak Island NC

The Southport and Oak Island NC area has an abundant amount of fun things to do throughout the year – many of which are FREE! Of course, our favorite free thing to do is visit the 14 miles of beautiful area beaches – whether for a sunrise or sunset stroll, a family day at the beach building sandcastles and swimming or just to catch up on a favorite book and relax – the beach is open year-round! If you are looking to expand your horizons, we have compiled a list of our favorite free things to do in Southport / Oak Island NC below! Let us know what your favorites are too!

burygroundHistoric Southport Walking Tour
203 East Bay Street, Southport, NC 28461

Take a self-guided walking tour through the historic fishing village of Southport NC. Start your tour at the Southport Visitors Center at Ft. Johnston where you can pick up a walking tour map to guide you to the many fascinating places around town such as The Old Brunswick Jail, Old Smithville Burial Grounds and churches and homes dating back to the 1800’s. Continue reading

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