Cherry Point’s Neighbors
Four hundred years ago, the New World was first explored by spirited men and women in search of adventure on the outer banks of North Carolina. In the tradition of the early explorers, there are new worlds to discover and endless adventures waiting for you on the inner and outer banks of North Carolina.
Craven County, midway along the state’s coastal fringe, is rich in history, architecture. Meandering creeks run clean and are excellent for power boating, sailing, swimming and fishing. The vast Croatan National Forest covers approximately 160,000 acres with 4,300 acres of lakes and 40 miles of streams – home to deer, bears, alligators and exotic plants. The county’s major cities are large enough to have all the conveniences of a big city, yet small enough to be free of problems that plague metropolitan areas.
Havelock, the gateway to Cherry Point, is the air station’s closest neighbor. U.S. Highway 70 and Carolina Highway 101 intersect in the center of town about 500 yards from the main gate. The city of approximately 25,000 has several shopping centers and offers a variety of community activities year round, one of which is an annual Chili Festival, usually held in October. Havelock is the home of a Harrier monument which stands adjacent to the City Park and is testimony to the close rapport enjoyed between the city and the air station. Havelock’s central location puts it within easy reach of the Neuse River, coastal beaches, championship golf courses and historic sites.
New Bern is North Carolina’s second oldest city and was the first colonial capital of the state. Nestled at the junction of the Neuse and the Trent Rivers, the city was settled in 1710 by Swiss and German colonists, and its name was derived from Bern, Switzerland, its sister city. Its long and colorful history is displayed along its tree-canopied streets in a variety of restored homes and churches, with the elegant Tryon Palace complex, once the home of Royal Governor William Tryon, serving as the manicured centerpiece. New Bern offers a number of museums, shopping areas, excellent dining, a range of cultural activities and wealth of historical attractions.
One of the top destinations on North Carolina’s “Crystal Coast” is the Outer Banks, a series of barrier islands that stretch from near Cherry Point to the southern border of Virginia. You can reach the Outer Banks by toll ferry from Cedar Island, the northeastern most point of the Carteret County mainland. Here, too, are modern accommodations, excellent seafood dining, gift shops and camping facilities. Hunting season here offers a variety of game, with guides and equipment available. Also accessible by ferry is Cape Lookout National Seashore, an expanse of sun, sand and sky. At its north end is Portsmouth Island, once a thriving seaport, now uninhabited. The southern end is the site of the famous Cape Lookout Lighthouse, which for over a hundred years has warned mariners of shipwrecks, the dangerous shoals and currents offshore. Carteret County is headquarters for some of the finest Gulf Stream big game fishing on the eastern seaboard.
Morehead City, the Crystal Coast’s largest city, hosts the annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament and is home to a large fleet of charter fishing boats for a half day or full day of fishing in the Gulf Stream. Morehead City is the site for the North Carolina State Port Terminal as well as being the area’s military traffic embarkation point. Also located in Morehead City is The History Place, a non-profit museum sponsored by the Carteret County historical society displaying area families and artifacts.
Nearby is Atlantic Beach with its sandy beaches. For history buffs, Carteret County is a lesson in history. You can explore the streets where Blackbeard and other famous sailors once roamed in the port city of Beaufort, the third oldest town in North Carolina. While in Beaufort, visit the beautifully restored 18th century homes which are open for tours. You can also visit the North Carolina Maritime Museum that serves as an information clearing-house for yachtsmen, crews, skippers and the general public. Witness a living history program at the southern stronghold of Fort Macon, where Civil War scenarios are re-enacted. Located on the east end of Bogue Banks, the 365-acre state park houses, within the fort, a museum commemorating Civil War battles. A public beach for swimming has bathhouse facilities and a lifeguard on duty during the summer months.
Five mile west of Atlantic Beach, you can dive into adventure at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Look a shark in the eye. Touch a stingray. Watch river otters play. Explore shipwrecks – without getting wet. Forty exhibits bring you face-to-face with more than 4,000 aquatic creatures from North Carolina’s mountains to the sea. Admission includes participation in hands-on live animal programs and other activities. Boat cruises and field trips are available also for a modest additional fee. A snack bar and a large gift shop are on site. The Aquarium is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. It is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. It is also open till 9 p.m. Thursdays in July for Family Nights. Admission: $8 adults, $7 ages 62 and over; $6 ages 6-17; no charge for ages 5 and under. Discounts available on tickets bought in advance through the air station’s ITT office. Phone 252-247-4003.
At the western entrance to Carteret County on U.S. 70 is the city of Newport. Located about 10 miles south of Cherry Point’s main gate, Newport has gained the reputation as a “city with old-fashioned courtesy.” The friendly, busy farming community hosts the annual Pig Cookin’ Contest, which includes pig roasts, music and a car show featuring local race cars.
LEARN MORE AT THESE HELPFUL WEBSITES:
The Aquarium: www.ncaquariums.com