Having moved to the Wilmington, NC area in September of 2011, we had yet to visit the Crystal Coast (Emerald Isle, Atlantic Beach), Swansboro, and Morehead City. Last year we visited NC Aquarium down at Fort Fisher on MLK Day. We had also visited that aquarium a few years prior. We discovered that all three of NC's Aquariums have free admission on MLK Day (as well as Veteran's Day?). This year we decided to have an overnight getaway to the Crystal Coast area to see a new area, and to take advantage of the Pine Knoll Shores (on the island, in between Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle) aquarium's free admission.
Since it was winter time, I figured it would be a good idea to find a hotel with an indoor pool because of the cold weather and since the sun sets early and we can't see much after dark anyway. Our young kids LOVE to swim, and we don't have a pool yet.
In my research, I could only find two hotels, not including Jacksonville or New Bern, with indoor pools. Unfortunately, the Sheraton in Atlantic Beach has been closed since Hurricane Irene. That left the only option, Holiday Inn Express in Havelock. It is a little out of the way of the area where we were focusing on, but it was worth the extra 20-30 minute drive in the end for the indoor pool during winter. The hotel was probably $20 a night more than others in the same class. If it were not for the indoor pool, we probably would have chosen Hampton Inn in Morehead City. But this hotel is relatively new, and the decor was modern, but not overly garish modern. I'll leave descriptions up to the other reviewers I have read here.
Another situation that made the little extra drive worth it was the Newport Flea Market, just off of 70, between Morehead City and Havelock. We had two big flea markets where we relocated from, and this flea market has been the biggest one we've seen and the closest since moving. Jacksonville does not have one that we know of, and Wilmington's Starway flea market was a bit disappointing.
As other reviewers noted, the Havelock Tourist and Event Center right behind this hotel is worth spending a few minutes looking at the aircraft on display outside. The building though was not open though on MLK Day.
On our trip we also visited the Riverview and Bicentennial Park in Swansboro. The Riverview Park has a pretty big boardwalk with free binoculars and wildlife information signs overlooking the Hampton Bay salt water marsh. This would be a great little park to view the spring's fiddler crabs. About a block away there is a tiny park beside a pizza parlor (limited parking) called Bicentennial Park. There are bathrooms there as well as memorials and a gazebo. This park is beside the causeway bridge linking Swansboro to Morehead City. This might be a great location to see the Swansboro Christmas Flotilla? Swansboro's waterfront is small, a couple shops and restaurants with no public walks beside the water.
We also visited Jaycee Park (waterfront and city boat docks) in Morehead City, which has a nice walk beside the docks and the water, where there are also a few restaurants and a couple of shops. On MLK Day we went to the Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium, and on the way back home, we had a lot of fun at Mac Daddy's in Cape Carteret, a bowling alley/grill/bar/arcade. In the same complex in-season they have go-carts, golf, and batting cages.
We were thinking about visiting Beaufort, but did not have enough time. It was a good place to cut off for this trip. By the looks of Beaufort from my previous virtual Google Street view drive, Beaufort is worth a stay on its own, during warmer months, as tours depart from their shop and restaurant filled waterfront to Shackleford Banks (wild horse island) and I think the Cape Lookout lighthouse.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Holiday Inn Express Havelock boasts 95 single, double, and executive style suites. Kitchenettes, jet bathtubs, and glass showers are among the upgraded amenities. All hotel rooms are equipped with a microwave, refrigerator, flat screen TV, free Wi-Fi, daily newspaper, coffee maker, iron and ironing board. We offer a Complimentary hot breakfast each morning consisting of fruit, hot/cold cereal, assorted bakery items, eggs, pancakes, biscuits, gravy sausage and our famous cinnamon rolls. For your convenience we offer complimentary use of our business center, fitness room, and indoor pool. The Holiday Inn Express is centrally located near various restaurants, MCAS Cherry Point, Coastal Carolina Regional Airport, Atlantic Beach and is only fifteen minutes from downtown New Bern. We look forward to making your stay a relaxing and enjoyable one!** If you have trouble finding our location on a GPS please use the address 201 Tourist Center Dr. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Havelock Hotel Havelock
- Holiday Inn Express And Suites Havelock