4 ways to live like a local at the Crystal Coast
The Crystal Coast brings in millions of tourists every year -- when it's time to get away from the crowds, these local haunts provide adventure off the beaten path.Posted — Updated
Tourism in the Crystal Coast has an economic impact of nearly $325 million each year, which provides thousands of jobs to locals and brings in millions of visitors. For those who live in the area year-round, it's all about finding hidden gems off the beaten path that offer solace from the summertime crowds.
As Crystal Coast real estate agents and lifelong locals, siblings Wyatt and Kelinda Rike have been long-acquainted with the ins and outs of coastal living. Whether visiting, new to the area or in search of a new haunt, here are four ways to live like a local at the Crystal Coast, presented by a few of Carteret County's most established locals.
Find the Best Deals
Treating yourself to an upscale night out is much-needed every now and then, but for a local, it's all about the best weekly deals. Whether you're looking for fresh seafood, burgers or a frosty drink, there are a number of restaurants and bars around the Morehead City and Beaufort areas that offer can't-miss weekly deals — if you know where to find them.
"If you want to live like a local, you find the good deals," Kelinda laughed. "In Beaufort, the Royal James has dollar cheeseburgers. At Ioannis, they have food specials all week — like 75-cent wings on Wednesdays and dollar tacos on Taco Tuesdays."
For more great food and drinks, Wyatt recommends checking out the "secret local spot" around town, Mongolian Grill, or the popular watering hole, Amos Mosquito's. And for those who prefer a night in, away from the crowds, you can never go wrong with fresh, local seafood from the comfort of your home.
"I go right down to the boat and buy about 100 pounds of shrimp at a time, pop the heads off, and freeze them in bags with salt water so they're well-preserved," Wyatt said. "There's always something to do when you've got shrimp in the freezer."
Embrace the Community
For those who call the Crystal Coast home, the glass is always half full, an effect that living in such close proximity to beautiful waters often has. When in need of recommendations, most locals are more than willing to share their favorite spots.
"Everyone's here because they want to be here, not because they have to be," Wyatt said. "Don't be scared to make acquaintances — 80 percent of the people here are a friendly bunch, so there's a good chance whoever you walk by or stand in line next to won't mind having a conversation and giving you their personal recommendation."
To really blend in with the locals, however, you have to dress the part, and the area has its own unique definition of business casual, so throw out the suits and slacks and lean into beachfront chic.
"Don't be overly concerned about being underdressed, because most people usually are underdressed," Kelinda said. "If you're a local, you probably wear flip-flops around for most of the year."
Lean Into the Shoulder Seasons
While summer is typically the prime time for activity on the Crystal Coast, the slower seasons come with their own unique benefits — namely, mild weather and a lack of traffic. For locals, there's real value in embracing these moments of peace and quiet.
"I like the shoulder seasons best. In spring and fall, the temperature is not smoking hot and it's not freezing cold. This time of the year, it's usually 60 degrees here. It's quiet," Kelinda said.
Wyatt added, "If you show up in October, you can enjoy the peace and quiet, but the weather and the water is still warm. Tourist season has cooled off, but it's not dead. Everybody went back to school, so the younger crowd isn't around as much."
"Just Add Water to Your Lifestyle"
When you're on the coast, perhaps there's no better way to live like a local than by adhering to Linda Rike Real Estate's slogan: "Just Add Water to Your Lifestyle!"
Fishing, swimming, boating, surfing — the water is an integral part of life here. In fact, most locals have their own boats, making weekends filled with exploration from shore to shore.
"If you have a boat, you'll always end up at Shackleford Banks or Cape Lookout. There's a lighthouse, and it's a short, 20-minute boat ride to the lighthouse, depending on what type of boat you have, of course," Kelinda said. "For me, I like to go kayaking. I can throw my kayak and go across the water to a white sandy beach and have almost a private beach. I often meet my friends out there, and one of my friends has a small grill so we can cook something while we're there."
For Crystal Coast locals, it's all about finding those quiet moments of solitude, which are usually best enjoyed while lounging on the warm white sand with a drink of choice in hand.
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