In Ocean Isle Beach, an occasional rainy or cloudy day never interrupts the fun, thanks in no small part to a bevy of local attractions which includes the nationally renowned Museum of Coastal Carolina. A favorite destination of frequent Ocean Isle Beach visitors, the museum is a sprawling interactive site which represents all aspects of coastal life, from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean to the evening skyline. From interactive touch tanks to skin-crawling (but perfectly safe) snake exhibits, this museum is sure to leave an impression on vacationers of all ages.
It's easy to find this coastal landmark, as the museum has a hard-to-miss location on East 2nd Street, close to the Ocean Isle Beach Causeway that leads visitors on and off the island. Within walking distance of a number of vacation home communities, inns or resorts, and local destinations like the Ocean Isle Beach Pier & Arcade, the museum can serve as a long, engaging stop on a self-guided walking tour through the heart of
In Ocean Isle Beach.
The museum itself is divided into six separate galleries, which focus on a particular region of the natural coastal landscape. The Changing Tides Gallery features a wave and tide machine which displays the wave action during high and low tides, as well as demonstrates how the positions of the sun, moon and the earth affect the height and severity of coastal tides. Favorite attractions within this gallery include a Megabites exhibit, which proudly displays giant shark's teeth found within the state of North Carolina, a giant fossilized skeleton of "Herman" the Sperm Whale, and an outdoor fossil pit where museum patrons, both young and old alike, can dig for their own ancient natural treasures.
The Waterways Gallery, popular with reptile fans, has an extensive diorama showcasing the typical animals and plants found in the Green Swamp of North Carolina, an insect collection with magnifiers for an up-close view, and even a collection of live but thankfully non-venomous snakes. There's also a display explaining the difference between venomous and non-venomous snakes that live in the state, making this gallery a very useful, albeit slightly creepy, museum addition.
The Sea Shore Gallery is a highlight of the museum for kids, with a touch tank featuring live sea animals that patrons can handle and examine at will. Featuring live starfish, hermit crabs, mollusks, and a variety of other local residents, young visitors often spend the bulk of their time touching and exploring these museum additions. Beachcombers will also appreciate the fossil collection, and the shell collection which features over 200 different kinds of seashells on display.
The Ocean Reef Gallery is home to a sprawling diorama which features life-sized models of the whales, sharks, sea turtles, and rays which can be commonly found 65 miles offshore, while the Coastal Plain Gallery turns its focus inland at the shorebirds, waterfowl, and native birds of all genres that call North Carolina home. The Coastal Plain Gallery also features an extensive collection of Native American tools, pottery, and dugout canoes, as well an exceptional antique bird egg collection, circa 1860.
The Barrier Island Gallery is another kid-friendly museum component, with a puppet playhouse and an assortment of sea-worthy puzzles. This gallery also features an extensive video and exhibit dedicated to Ocean Isle Beach's famed loggerhead turtles, who visit the beach briefly from the deep sea waters to lay their eggs every year, in addition to an assortment of navigation equipment and model ships that are typical along Brunswick County beaches.
The museum is open seasonally, with generally weekend hours of operation during the winter months, and more extended hours during the more populated summer season. Tickets for the museum run around $8.00 for adults, $6.00 for children ages 3-12, and $7.00 for senior over the age of 62. Tickets can be purchased on site for both the museum and its sister attraction, the Ingram Planetarium located just outside of Sunset Beach, and Visa and MasterCard credit cards are accepted.
The Museum of Coastal Carolina is also well known for a wide variety of events which are held almost daily throughout the year. Events can include special museum-related programs that are directed to kids and / or adults, like special puppet theater shows, educational programs on local lighthouses, southern North Carolina wildlife expeditions, or even sessions on the effects of human development on the shoreline. A complete list of family friendly programs at the museum can be found online.
In addition, a number of community events are held at the museum, including special wine tastings, non-profit galas and gatherings, and grand annual festivals, including portions of the famed North Carolina Oyster Festival at Ocean Isle Beach.
The museum also offers special discounts and / or guided tours for both school and community groups with advanced notice, and frequent visitors can also lend a hand and become sponsors or even volunteers. There are also multiple membership options for deep discounts and free admission for regular patrons. For more information on becoming a member, museum fans can review the detailed list of member benefits and levels online. There is also a gift shop locate at the museum as well, which features plenty of aquatic gear, such as stuffed toys, tees and apparel, games, books, and trinkets, to take home as a well-loved local souvenir.
The Museum of Coastal Carolina can easily turn a rainy day at Ocean Isle Beach into a sea-worthy adventure. With plenty of kid-friendly exhibits and displays, and enough activities and awe-inspiring attractions to keep all family members entertained, visitors will welcome a day off the beach, and the opportunity to discover this beloved Ocean Isle Beach destination.
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