Pender County offers experiences and adventure in the great outdoors

After weeks of Coronavirus stay-at-home orders, everyone is itching to get outside. You can – safely – right here in Pender County. As you will discover, there is plenty to do in the great outdoors in our county.

Let’s start with an adventure – a marine adventure for the entire family. Ecological Marine Adventures offers groups of all ages an opportunity to learn about the ocean, the critters in the water, and more. They have virtual tours, beach adventures, lessons in stand-up paddle boarding and more. It’s fun for the entire family. Call Ecological Marine Adventures today at 910-515-9751 or visit them online for a list of classes at www.ecologicalmarineadventures.com

Hiking
Pender County is crisscrossed by several hiking trails. The Mountains to Sea Trail traverses Pender County from the Bladen County line to the Onslow County line.  Pick a starting point. The trail follows the Osgood Canal in Burgaw, Holly Shelter Game Lands, through Surf City and up the beach to North Topsail Beach. Pick a segment on the MST website, https://mountainstoseatrail.org/, and take a hike!

The East Coast Greenway Trail, which runs 3,000 miles from Maine to Florida travels down Topsail Island to Surf City, along the Intracoastal Waterway to County Club Drive and southward along US Hwy. 17. For maps go to www.greenway.org.

The Abbey Nature Preserve Trail, located next door to Poplar Grove Plantation, is 67 acres of undeveloped land. There are two walking trails, a wooden walkway, and a 10-acre pond. It’s perfect for birdwatching. Visit www.poplargrove.or/nature_trail.

The Osgood Canal Greenway, a 2.2-mile loop of concrete and asphalt loops around the town of Burgaw. Some areas of the trail are wooded, and some are in historic downtown Burgaw.

The NC Birding Trail traverses along the North East Cape Fear River. There are two sites marked on the trail’s website, both in the Holly Shelter Game Lands – at the Greentree lot and the lot on NC Hwy 17 near the Baptist Church. Visit https://www.ncbirdingtrail.org/sites/ for details.

One of our favorite walks in the historic trail in Moores Creek National Battlefield. Most of the trail is paved. In less than a mile, hikers will view the only monument dedicated to women of the Revolutionary War, details of the battle, which is the first NC Patriots’ first victory over the Loyalist (also mentioned in the Outlander series), and the bridge over Moores Creek. It’s free. This trail is also a part of the Mountains to Sea Trail. For details go to https://www.nps.gov/mocr/index.htm.

Horseback riding
Desperado Horse Farm and Trail Rides is open seven days per week by appointment. They specialize in providing rides for all ages and all levels of experience. Walk, trot, or gallop on the 500 acres of trails. Call Desperado Horse Farm at 910-617-3563 or visit the website at www.desperadohorsefarm.com.

Shingleton Farms Equestrian offers group and family outings on more than 400 acres of riding trails. Call 910-619-7104 or visit them online at www.shingletonfarms.com.

Miniature Golf and Putt-Putt
Pender County is home to two family fun mini-golf courses – Shipwreck Point Golf and Patio Playground. Shipwreck, located at the corner of NC Hwy 50 and Charlie Medlin Drive, resembles a tropical pirate hide-out. For details call 910-329-4653 or visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ShipwreckPointMiniatureGolf.

Patio Playground, located in Topsail Beach, is the only putt-putt on the island. It is beautifully retro, a 1955 putt-putt which is family friendly. They sell ice cream; operate an arcade and they play oldies but goodies music. Their phone number is 910-616-2814 . Check them out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Patio-Playground.
 
Fishing
Regardless if you are inland Pender or on the shores of Topsail Island, there are plenty of fishing opportunities in our county.

First, let’s start with pier fishing. Surf City Ocean Pier and Jolly Roger Pier are perfect for folks who are serious about their catch and those who just want the experience of tossing in a line. Both owners of the piers are accessible and always happy to serve the newcomer. For information about Surf City Pier, call 910-328-3521 or visit www.surfcityoceanpier.com. Located in Topsail Beach, Jolly Roger Pier can be reached at 910-328-4616 and information can be found on the website at http://www.thejollyroger.com/.

If you are looking for a fishing charter, call Chris at East Coast Sports and Topsail Charter Fishing. He will tailor your adventure to your specific needs and age group, from the Gulfstream to the Intracoastal Waterway. Call 910-328-1887 or visit online at www.eastcoastsports.com.

A&B Saltwater Adventures, has more than 20 years on the water. They offer boating and fishing excursions. Call them at 910-915-5256 or see them online at www.absaltwateradventures.com.

Topsail Island Tours on the Queen Jean is a 70-ft. party boat that offers half day fishing trips for the entire family – an adventure that children love. Take an evening charter and enjoy a relaxing sunset cruise. There’s a galley onboard or bring your own refreshments. Cruise on Topsail Sound from the historic Assembly Building in Topsail Beach. Call 910-328-3474 or make a reservation online at www.fishtopsail.com/queenjean

You don’t need a charter to drop a line into the Northeast Cape Fear River, the Black River, or any number of our creeks. Shelter Creek Landing, located at 12380 Shaw Hwy and managed by the NC Wildlife, is a great spot for catfish, largemouth bass, and sunfish. Another fishing spot is Miller’s Pond, a Pender County Park, located at 12762 US Hwy 117 in Rocky Point. There’s also a kayak launch too.
 
Kayaking, Paddle boarding, and Surfing
The Intracoastal Waterway is perfect for kayaking and stand up paddle boarding (SUP). Pender County has several guides and rental companies who provides a fun experience on the ICW.

Herrings Outdoor Sports has a launch in its own backyard. They offer kayak tours where a paddler can see snowy egrets, crabs, fish, and the marshlands. Visit the website at https://www.herringsoutdoorsports.com/.

50 South, located on S. Topsail Dr. in Surf City, offers rentals of kayaks, surf boards, stand up paddle boards and bikes (as well as body boards, beach chairs and beach umbrellas for when you want a break on the beach). Their phone number is 910-328-7911 and the website is www.surf50south.com.

If you own a kayak and you want more peace and quiet, launch at Moores Creek National Battlefield and explore Moores Creek in Currie.

There’s a reason Surf City is named Surf City. Topsail Island is a good place to catch a wave (just don’t go near the piers).  Surf City Surf School offers lessons for beginners and beyond. Stressing safety, students feel comfortable and before you know it, they are stoked! Call 910-616-2280 or online at www.surfcitysurfschool.com.

Onshore Surf Shop offers lessons on paddle boarding and surfing.  Equipment rentals are also available. Call 910-328-2232 or visit them online at www.onshoresurfshop.com.
 
Boat Cruise and Tours
If you have no desire to fish or kayak, and you just want to sit back and relax while someone else takes the helm, there’s several companies who will grant your wish. Tuck’s Water Shuttle will provide tours and will shuttle you to Lea Island. Tate Tucker is a native and he points out interesting landmarks and wildlife. Call Tate at 910-616-7106 or message him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TucksWaterShuttle.

Tiki Tours offers cruises on two different boats – the Tiki Time or the Tiki Queen. Both are perfect for a relaxing family adventure. The guided tour along the Intracoastal Waterway highlights a variety of sea life (watch for dolphin!) and more. Call 910-650-3223 or check them out online at www.TikiToursNC.com.

For an afternoon and unique tour, jump on the Capt. J.N. Maffitt in downtown Wilmington for a ride up the Black River. This unspoiled region is brimming with wildlife – gators, bears, and more. Call Cape Fear River Boats at 910-343-1611 or book online at www.cfrboats.com.

Topsail Boat Rentals offers an island tour, but visitors may also rent a boat to explore the waterways, creeks and bays. Call them at 910-833-2273 or online at www.topsailboatrental.com.

If you want to take the helm, check out Aquaholics Boat Rentals in Surf City for half, full and multi-day rentals. Call 910-231-1738 or see the rentals at www.aquaholicsboatrentals.com. Surf City Boat Rentals offers adventures on the water with reasonably priced rentals. Call 910-352-2171 or go online to www.surfcityboatrentals.com.  

If a boat is too cumbersome, try the speed of a jet ski. Surf City Jet Ski Rentals offers rentals and guided tours. Call 910-899-8606 or book online at www.surfcityjetskirentals.com.
 
Down on the Farm
Perryman Farm & Seafood is Pender County’s only registered dairy farm. They offer milks, goat cheeses, feta, local honey, jams, and more. They are also commercial fishermen, farming the local, in-season, seafood. Call 910-270-3036 or visit online at www.facebook.com/perrymanfarmandsea.

Old River Farms, located 8711 Old River Rd., offers educational field trips on their working farm. They also offer a garden nursery and a venue for weddings and special events. Call 910-616-5884 or visit online at www.oldriverfarmsnc.com.

Ashton Farm Summer Day Camp is a historic plantation that has developed summer camps for children to learn and appreciate nature. Call them at 910-259-2412 .

Fowler’s Farm, located at 2118 Old Savannah Rd., offers visitors a family day on the farm to meet and feed the animals, take a fieldtrip, and more. Call them at 901-297-5214 . Check out their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FowlersFunnyFarm.

Humphrey Farms, Inc. is a renovated, 150-year old tobacco farm. They offer wagon rides, a live sawmill demonstration, see the cattle and shop in the Mill Branch Trading Post. Call 910-524-7455 or email humphreyfarmsinc.@gmail.com for details.

Bear Ridge Farms Inc is a local, family-owned operation offering fresh produce and more. Take the family to see where fresh is grown. Call 910-289-1722 or see their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BearRidgeFarm.

You can’t say “farm” in Pender County without thinking about blueberries. We’re one of the leading producers of blueberries, so visit one of these blueberry farms: Murray Blueberry Farm ( 910-259-4285 ), Newberry’s Blueberries ( 910-259-7436 ), Shaken Creek Farm ( 910-540-4611 ), Ivanhoe Blueberry Farms, Inc. ( 910-532-2880 ), and Carol Sue Blueberry Farm where visitors can enjoy U-Pick or pre-packaged ( 910-520-6629 ).
 
Golfing
Pender County is home to two excellent golf course – Olde Point Country Club and Castle Bay Country Club. Olde Point is a matured 18-hole championship course framed by woodlands, scenic lakes, and featuring 419 Bermuda fairways and bentgrass greens. Castle Bay is a challenging Scottish-links style 18-hole championship course. Both are affordable and both will test your skills. Visit online at www.oldepointgolf.com or www.castlebaycc.com.

If you just want to practice you drive, visit Grand Oaks Driving Range at 536 Pine Village Dr. They promise you will fall in love with golf after practicing your drive, short game, and putting. Call 910-673-3383 or visit online at www.golfingrockypoint.com
 
Bicycle the island
Herrings Outdoor Sports (https://www.herringsoutdoorsports.com/), OnShore Surf Shop (https://www.onshoresurfshop.com/), South End Outfitters (http://southendoutfitters.com/) and 50 South (https://www.surf50south.com/) rent bicycles to peddle the sandy beach. If you want to rent a bike with an electric kick call Lewis Realty’s Mutiny eBikes (https://www.facebook.com/mutinyebikes).