4 Reasons To Visit Oak Island In The Fall

Oak Island is the perfect destination for your fall family getaway. Not only could the drive down provide you with some of the best fall foliage views, but arriving in an oceanfront town during the off season certainly has its perks.

Fewer Crowds

Fall Sunsets By The BeachWith students heading back to school, the number of vacationers heading to Oak Island decreases as does the hustle and bustle. Property owners who tend to spend their summers by the shore venture back inland to their primary homes. For locals who spend their entire year in the area, autumn is simply their “waiting to exhale” moment where they can relax and get back to the daily routine of enjoying all that the area offers.

What does this mean for you? For an already small area, the exodus of travelers provides a very unique situation. How does having Caswell Beach all to yourself sound? Heavenly. What about taking the kids to a restaurant without having to wait two hours to be seated? A God send.

It’s Not Quite As..Hot, Hot, Hot

In 2017, the average summer temperature for Oak Island fell between 82°F and 91°F whereas October and November’s average temperatures are expected to drop to 78°F and 71°F, respectively. Why should that matter? Oftentimes vacationers become overwhelmed with the pairing of heat and humidity that we experience during the late spring and summer seasons.

If you don’t like to sweat, autumn could prove the better option for your trip. The humidity dissipates leaving mild temperatures. In addition, the water remains fairly warm for those who still want to dip their toes in the waves as they enjoy a walk down the beach.

Save The Almighty Dollar

MRA Vacation Rentals Booking Specials PageAs we mentioned in our “When To Book” edition of our “Planning A Family-Friendly Beach Vacation” blog series, “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.”

After Labor Day, vacation rentals offer mid- or low-season rates. Moreover, property owners looking to fill their books drop rates further through seasonal specials and discounts. Dependent upon your situation, you may save enough cash on your fall vacation to allow a slightly longer stay than you would have been able to do in the summer.

Food, Fun & Festivals

Hayrides, apple orchards, oyster roasts and pumpkin…everything…are what the best autumns are made of, and Brunswick County, North Carolina has a bountiful harvest of all of them. Local schools open their campuses to the public for annual fall celebrations complete with carnival foods and bounce houses.

Brunswick County Pumpkin Patches AboundArea farms welcome guests for apple picking and hayrides to the ever-popular pumpkin patches. Halloween parties abound and offer family-friendly costume contests, bonfires, live music and outdoor movie viewings to get you in the spirit.

If arts and crafts are more your speed, you’ll find no shortage of area opportunities to buy, sell and trade. During the month of November, area church groups and local art guilds offer multiple outlets to appreciate and shop local, handmade goods.

An Island For All Seasons

While the timing may not be what you envisioned for your vacation, if you schedule it just right – you could find that the benefits of traveling during your kids’ first school break may be easier on you all the way around. When it comes to Oak Island, life continues once the “season” ends and it’s just as colorful as the autumn leaves.

Are you ready to book your fall stay in Oak Island or Southport? Check out Margaret Rudd & Associates’ wonderful selection of family-friendly beach rentals.

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Weathering The Storm

The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 through November 30. So far, the 2017 season has been an active one for the States. Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc despite multiple preparation efforts made by local governments, communities, and individual citizens.

The best time to prepare for hurricane season is prior to the season’s start. However, if the season is anything like the one we’re having – you and your family will find multiple opportunities to bolster your preparation plans.


Build An Emergency Preparedness Kit

Preparing a well-stocked kit will prove beneficial during any national disaster, an extended period without power, or in times of an emergency. Opinions vary on the timeframe for which you should prepare your kit but a good rule of thumb is to stock your kit with enough supplies to last anywhere from 3 to 5 days. You can find multiple suggestions on what to include in your kit or how to tailor it to your family needs here. Remember the power will likely be out so ATMs will not work and banks will be closed, you’ll want to carry cash with you (or have some on hand in your kit).

Unfortunately, life goes on while you’re being evacuated. You won’t know when you can return to your property. In severe situations, you may have to evacuate your home quickly while grabbing important items on the fly. For this reason, you may want to include a separate “kit” or binder for transporting important documents. In this binder, you can carry everything from extra house keys and bank account information to current bills, important pictures and/or birth certificates and social security information.

Create An Evacuation Strategy

Government agencies and local authorities often have to make the unfortunate decision to evacuate knowing what a “hot mess” it’s going to be with panicked travelers, canceled flights, outrageous gas prices and crowded gas stations, not to mention chaos on the highways. If you add flooded roads, heavy rain, and the possibility of tornadoes or heavy winds into the mix, the result becomes an all-out nightmare to get safely out of town.

Keep in mind that you really only need to get away from the evacuation area. Depending on the size of the storm, you may not need to travel hundreds of miles away. Fill up your cars’ gas tanks (possibly keeping an extra on hand). Research local evacuation instructions to make sure you are in line with ordinances. Many government entities already have evacuation routes, shelters and specific instructions on how to re-enter an evacuated area in place.

 

Include your pet in your plan. If you do not plan to take him or her with you, you’ll need to find a shelter that will accept pets or find somewhere along the route to board him or her. Build upon your local evacuation instructions to include a route farther away as well as a backup plan in case the main route is compromised. Communicate your plans to someone not in the storm’s path so that he or she will know where your family is headed and what way you are taking to get there.

Preparing Your Home

Maintenance and upkeep of your home and your land can significantly impact your property’s ability to withstand a storm. Keep your trees, bushes, and plants trimmed throughout the year making sure to remove any dead limbs or brush that could end up airborne in heavy winds. Investing in storm shutters or having the proper items on hand so you can board your windows and doors quickly could save time and money for when a hurricane actually hits.

Make an appointment to see your insurance agent a couple of times throughout the year to ensure your policies are up to date and provide you with adequate coverage. (Pro Tip: Regular homeowners insurance does not provide flood coverage. If you do not have a policy in place for flood coverage, get one. ) During your visit, ask for a copy of your insurance policy (which should include information on how to file a claim) and advice on any changes you can implement to prevent damage should a hurricane head your way.


The best advice we can offer: prepare for the unexpected. The NWS created a few handy checklists to give you an overview of what preparations to make. Even if you fare well this time, remember that hurricane season will faithfully return year after year. Treating every season as if the “100-year storm” will hit may seem a little paranoid. However, when it comes to weather events like a hurricane there is no real defense from Mother Nature. And, for those of us who live each summer into fall in the midst of hurricane alley, trust us when we say that you never know when it will come – but it is always worth it to be ready.

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Southport Prepares To Welcome The King…Mackerel

Bring On the Boats

Southport and Oak Island is abuzz in anticipation of the Granddad of all North Carolina King Mackerel fishing competitions, the US Open King Mackerel Tournament. Fishing enthusiasts flock to the marina by the thousands to watch the haul of mackerel coming in from off of our shores.

The flurry of boats along with the captains and adrenaline-fueled crews is enough to excite on-lookers long before the live entertainment begins. People of all ages enjoy fresh seafood plates and refreshments while dancing the night away in the Southport streets. On the final day of the tournament, kids take their turn at reeling in the “big one” from the Southport City Pier during Captain Charlie’s Kids Fishing Tournament.

The most lively moment of the whole weekend comes when the weigh-ins begin. Boat after boat lines up to parade their tournament-worthy catch in the hopes of taking home the guaranteed $25,000 cash prize while others simply regret the one that got away.

Record-Breaking King Mackerel Catches

The tournament record stands strong with the 53.25-pound catch of Kevin Norris on “Reel Blessed” in 2014. Each year since the winning catch has decreased in size. This year’s tourney attendees will be very interested to see if 1-a crew will be able to turn the results around by catching a fish larger than the 2016 winning fish of 40.20-pounds, and 2-a crew will bring in a fish to break the overall tournament record. With cash prizes of over $100,000 awarded to the top 55 largest catches, it’s sure to be a heart-pumping weigh-in.

Record Angler Location Weight Date
US Open King Mackerel Tournament Kevin Norris Sneads Ferry, NC 53.25 lbs 2014
NC State Record Holder James Winch Ocracoke, NC 82 lbs, 4 oz 1999
World Record Holder Steve Graulau San Juan, Puerto Rico 93 lbs 1999

 

The 2017 US Open King Mackerel Tournament Schedule

Thursday, October 5
– 10am: Registration & Packet Pickup
– 4pm: The Groove Pirates (Entertainment) & Refreshment Sales Begin
– 7pm: Captains’ Meeting

Friday, October 6
– 7am: Competition Begins
– 11am: Scales Open
– 3pm: Refreshment Sales Begin
– 5pm: Competition Ends for Day 1

Saturday, October 7
– 7am: Competition Begins
– 9am: Captain Charlie’s Kids Fishing Tournament
– 11am: Scales Open & Seafood Plate Sales Start
– 3pm: Refreshment Sales Begin
– 4pm: Competition Ends
– 4:30pm: Blindside (Entertainment)
– 7:30pm: Awards Ceremony

Tournament Accommodations

As a Patron Sponsor of the tournament, we would love to have you join us in Oak Island and Southport for the early fall weekend. If your crew still needs accommodations, Margaret Rudd & Associates can assist you in finding a convenient condo for the event.

With slightly cooler temperatures, an early fall getaway could be just what your family needs after settling into the work and school routine. Our reservation specialists are happy to help you in finding the perfect Oak Island vacation rental. Give us a call at 800.486.5441 to book your stay and we’ll be happy to suggest a local charter fishing operation to help scratch your itch to fish.

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Battling The Post-Oak Island Vacation Blues

Battling The Blues

You’ve spent a full week on Oak Island, life was slow and easy-going. No alarm clock wake-ups, no stressful “after-work” routines of homework, dinner, bath- and bedtime. For some, there were exciting adventure activities that involved being in nature and spending time with family and friends.

Today you re-enter the world of the concrete jungle. You woke up at the crack of dawn to sleepily get your kids to school (or fed before they start whining), you have mountains of laundry to wash, just looking at the house makes you cringe knowing that cleaning will come soon. And, now it’s time for you to push through traffic on your way to your 8-hour stint in a cubicle.

Post-Oak Island Vacation BluesFor many, post-vacation anxiety starts mid-vacation. The dread of returning to the daily routine and stress associated is often enough to discourage people from taking a vacation in the first place. According to Project: Time Off’s 2017 State of American Vacation Report, 43% of those surveyed named “returning to a mountain of work” as the main challenge to taking their vacation days.


A Case Of The Blues

The Blues rear their ugly head in a variety of different ways. There are people who say that Post-Vacation Blues or Post-Travel Depression is nothing more than the shock a person feels when they’re snapping out of vacation mode. In that, it’s not true depression or even a case of the Blues.

Others agree that symptoms such as the ones mentioned below are experienced by travelers during or just after their vacation, and are indicative of an issue.

  • Anxiety or excessive worry – The day before leaving Oak Island, you may begin to feel extremely anxious, nervous or worrisome about all of those emails just waiting for you to return.
  • Restlessness – As with the apprehension of going on vacation, the same goes for returning. You may stay up all night long agonizing over having to pack up the car and drive all that way home.
  • Irritability – We all seem to become a little “testy” when we’re stressed. Quick with our words and fast to act on our emotions.
  • Headaches – Some people may exhibit tension headaches that involve “dull pain, tightness, or pressure around your forehead or the back of your neck.”

Battling Post-Oak Island Vacation Blues Blog Header

How To Deal

We came up with a few suggestions on how to battle the Blues during or just after your Oak Island vacation.

  • Take a longer vacation. Oftentimes travelers cannot de-stress until they are truly settled meaning you lose the initial portion of your vacation. Anxiety may start a day or two before you step on the beach for the last day of your stay. Either way, taking a two-week vacation could possibly provide a full week’s time for actual relaxation.
  • Slowly re-enter daily life. Don’t schedule violin lessons or a big grocery shopping trip on your first day back home. If you’ll be back at work, don’t arrange any appointments or check any of your emails that day. Take baby steps back into your normal routine.
  • Practice breathing exercises or mindfulness. Google “breathing exercises to manage stress” or “mindfulness” to find out more on how to adjust your mind’s and body’s reaction to stressful situations.
  • Evaluate and incorporate. Take time to reflect on your Oak Island vacation. What made it so special and relaxing? Was it eating out whereas you normally cook every night? Was it zip lining through the swamp that was so exhilarating? Take inventory of what you truly enjoyed and incorporate the same or similar events into your normal routine. Eat out once a week with your family. Coordinate activities and outings like regular neighborhood walks, movie night, an outdoor concert, or even a trip to the museum.
  • Treat yourself to another Oak Island vacation. This one is a bit self-explanatory. Giving yourself something to plan and look forward to is always a good thing, but when you’re planning and looking forward to something you’ve already experienced and know to be fun and relaxing – it’s a great thing. It keeps your thoughts and anxiety at bay while you anticipate experiencing that all over again.

Suffering From Post-Oak Island Vacation Blues?No matter the severity of your Post-Oak Island vacation blues, Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc. can surely help you with at least two of the suggestions mentioned above. Our reservation specialists are available to help plan an extended vacation so you will have more than enough time to relax and unwind before re-entry. So, before you go worrying yourself about the next time you’ll be able to get away – give us a call to place your favorite vacation rental on hold for next year.

SOURCES:
“The State of American Vacation 2017.” Project: Time Off, 2017.
“Tension Headaches.” Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD, WebMD, 13 May 2016, www.webmd.com

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5 Reasons You Should Stay In An Oak Island Vacation Rental

Where Would You Rather Spend Your Oak Island Vacation

Vacation rentals are in high demand with the current popularity of sites like Airbnb. Visitors realize that staying in a vacation rental property provides benefits that they simply cannot get from booking a hotel.

I Need My Space

Space is an often sacrificed commodity when it comes to saving the almighty dollar. Unless you fork out the big bucks – your family is usually packed into a guest room. You eat, sleep and tip toe around one another. You may spread yourselves over two guest rooms, doing the same cramped dance while coordinating meals and sleeping arrangements between the two rooms.

When it comes to renting a vacation rental property, you get free run of the entire property (aside from the occasional off-limits storage area). Imagine the space your family can enjoy staying in a 4-bedroom, 2-bath home complete with ample parking and a covered oceanfront porch!

Home Away From Home

Vacation rentals are often secondary homes for property owners. They include all of the comforts of home (i.e., kitchen utensils and dishes, washers and dryers, full-sized dining areas and tables, etc.). They also offer much of the same amenities (i.e., WiFi, cable television, books, DVD libraries, etc.). Hotels with even the largest cable offerings and wireless internet cannot compete when you can have all of that plus a large game room.

“Family” Includes Fido

Golden Retriever At The Beach - Bring Your Dog to Oak IslandSimply put, pets are family members and they enjoy a getaway like the rest of us. Unfortunately, many hotels carry strict no-pet policies. Those fortunate enough to find a hotel within a convenient distance from their vacation destination still battle size restrictions and limitations on where the animal can actually roam. Oftentimes, vacationers are forced to pay to have them boarded.

 

While the same can be true for vacation rentals, an increasing number of property owners offer their properties as pet-friendly homes. Rather than leaving Fido at home, choosing a pet-friendly Oak Island vacation rental is as easy as a simple search. In these homes, Fido has full run of the home including enclosed yards and porches. He/she can enjoy the vacation right along with the family. Who says your four-legged family member can’t enjoy the beach, too?

Eat In Comfort

Staying in a hotel usually offers two options for dining. Guests spend additional money to dine at nearby eateries or in an on-site restaurant. Or, they order room service or outside food and eat it at a cramped “dining” table while struggling not to knock drinks off of the table.

Booking a vacation rental property offers guests full-size everything, from appliances to dining room tables and/or breakfast bars. Guests can still choose to dine or buy food from elsewhere but there is additional comfort in knowing they can come “home” and prepare a family meal. For our vacationers here on the coast – there’s nothing like grabbing a few pounds of fresh shrimp for the grill to really get the Oak Island vacation experience.

Share The Wealth

Share The Cost of Your Oak Island VacationVacation rentals catch a bad rap when it comes to price. People balk at the cost of a $2,000 per week rental home but rarely look at it in comparison to a hotel stay. Take the same 4-bedroom home mentioned above where 4 couples could comfortably stay for a 7-night vacation. If they split the rental cost equally among the 4 couples, it would essentially come to $500 per couple for an entire week or approximately $71.43 per person per night.

At Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc., we keep our guests in mind by offering a selection of properties where the fee-incurring “extras” like linens and departure cleaning are an option. Giving vacationers the flexibility of whether to include or exclude these items also allows us to keep our rental rates lower. (As an example, we currently give our guests the option of choosing a $35 non-refundable vacation damage plan in lieu of the traditional $400 refundable security deposit.)

Considering the benefits – even those not mentioned in our Top 5 – a vacation rental may be a more valuable option for your Oak Island vacation. Take time to enjoy the island, relaxing in your home away from home while hopefully saving a bit of money in the process.

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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.

Southport

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

Success!

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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