Bustling with locals and visitors on the waterfront and downtown, Morehead City, NC, is the largest of the Crystal Coast cities with a population over 8,500. This 150-year-old city has kept its remarkably friendly atmosphere to all who come, whether for a short visit or for a lifetime. Come by boat and dock at the public pier or drive into town on Highway 70 which is the spine of this lovely city surrounded by water.
A wonderful park in downtown Morehead City that is a true find for parents with small children, kids who just need to run around, and for tennis players, and families or groups who need a picnic pavillion is Shevan Park on 16th Street and Evans Street. Built on the park is the “Sea of Dreams” - a huge wooden, hand-built playground that will keep your little (and big) kids busy for hours. Jaycee Park, a small area on the downtown waterfront, is a lovely place to watch the sun set and is often used for small presentations. Captain Hook was spotted there once during a performance of Peter Pan.
It’s no surprise with all the water that Morehead City is the home of the award-winning NC Seafood Festival - the largest of its kind east of Raleigh, NC. Stroll the booths and follow your nose to tasty fare from the ocean. Cooking with the Chefs is just one of the many entertaining and delicious choices you’ll find during this three-day family-friendly event the first weekend in October. Be sure to watch Miss North Carolina fling a flounder, join in the Toast to the Coast restaurant week, tap your toes to the live bands, stay late for the closing fireworks, and find out why over 180,000 people come back every year to this unforgettable festival.
Locals and visitors, alike, find the restaurants in Morehead City to be outstanding - from the newer ones on the block to those like Sanitary Fish Market which has celebrated its 75th year of serving baskets of piping hot hushpuppies and boat loads of fresh seafood. At another locals’ favorite overlooking Bogue Inlet - Ruddy Duck Tavern - taste their savory Black and Blue Burger or fish tacos made with the freshest ingredients. For a trip back to the 1960’s park your car under one of the spreading live oak trees at El’s Drive-In on Arendall Street near Carteret General Hospital and order a shrimp or oyster burger or any other tasty meal.
Much of Morehead’s growth is in the western area, toward Newport, a growing community known as “the town with old-fashioned courtesy.” Chartered in 1866, Newport was first supported by logging, farming and fishing. One of Newport’s more popular annual events is the Newport Pig Cooking Contest in April, the largest whole-pig cooking event of its kind.