Autumn is a special time of year at Sandbridge Beach. Summer temperatures give way to cooler fall days and nights, crowds thin, and locals get excited about the prospect of putting on knitwear and, occasionally…socks. Fall is a time where locals can finally relax and enjoy all Sandbridge Beach has to offer without all of the summer chaos. We get to move at a slower pace, have wide open beaches, and enjoy some of our favorite activities. If you find yourself here for the fall season, then you will definitely want to join in on some of these activities! Here are 7 fall activities that Sandbridge locals love.
If you’re anything like me then your morning doesn’t start until you have a good cup of coffee. This doesn’t mean we have the same taste in coffee though. Often, this is the situation that happens when you have a large group of friends and family on vacation.
Catch the Sunrise
Sunrises on Sandbridge Beach are spectacular. The sun comes up early in the summer — just after 6 a.m., but this sunrise is worth getting up for. If you don’t want to set the alarm on vacation, sleep with your blinds open and get up as the sky begins to lighten. Grab your coffee and walk to the beach to watch the show.
Breakfast at Baja Coffee
Reward yourself for rising at the crack of dawn with a hearty (or light) breakfast from Baja Coffee. The shop is open from 6:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and is located just a short drive from the fishing pier.
Treat yourself to a freshly baked cinnamon roll or muffin, a breakfast wrap, yogurt and homemade granola, a fresh-fruit smoothie, or even a gluten-free quiche.
Baja’s coffee comes from Kill Devil Coffee Roasters in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The beans come from small independent farmers who are focused on sustainability and organic growing methods. This is the most delicious small-batch coffee you’ll find, so you may want to linger for a second cup.
False Cape Bike Tour
After breakfast, it’s time to get moving with a False Cape bike tour. The bike tour is a new activity for Surf & Adventure Co., and it’s sure to become one of the most popular.
Meet at Little Island Pier for a 10 a.m. start on one of two tours. You can either bike the semi-paved roads in False Cape State Park or rent a fat-tire sand bike and cruise the beach. Tour the interior roads, and you’ll pedal through high dunes and diverse ecosystems. Of the two tours, this is the least strenuous. Keep an eye out for critters such as deer, foxes, birds, and wild pigs.
The beach tour will take you east of the dunes across pristine, undeveloped beaches. You may see dolphin and seabirds starting their day too.
Lunch at Simply Steamed
If you’re ready for a break and a big glass of tea, head to Simply Steamed. Start with a jumbo shrimp cocktail, crab cake, She Crab soup, gazpacho, or a salad before diving into one of their famous sandwiches. Choose from local favorites such as the seafood wrap, shrimp taco, lobster salad, or crab-cake sandwich, or go for traditional entrees such as a BLT, Club, or fish sandwich. Take your lunch to the deck outside the seafood market and relax.
Before you leave, notice their one-pot take-out meals. Pots are custom made to order and can include corn on the cob, onions, red potatoes, and any combination of shrimp, clams, mussels, crabs, lobster, and crawfish. A small pot feeds two or three people, and the large pots can feed a large group or family. All you have to do is steam the contents of the pot in water, beer, or wine, and serve.
Shopping at Sandpiper Beach Shop
After lunch, it’s time for a little shopping at Sandpiper Beach Shop. This cute store is the best place to find the ultimate Sandbridge Beach souvenir. You’ll also find beach clothing for the whole family, sun hats, beach toys, sunblock, games, beach-themed home décor, and more.
Fishing and Swimming at Little Island Park
Go to an Oyster Roast
To seaside residents, oyster season is the unofficial beginning of holiday celebrations. This year’s oyster harvesting window is late, beginning on October 1 if the weather cooperates. As soon as it’s officially legal to gather oysters, the social season starts. Oyster roasts range from small impromptu backyard gatherings to large public fundraisers. Simply Steamed on Sandpiper Road offers build-your-own to-go steam pots as well.
Local restaurants usually have oyster roast nights throughout the fall where you can grab a bucket for around $10. Oysters are only a small part of what’s on the menu at an oyster roast. Hearty soups and stews, homemade bread, and plenty of desserts round out these traditional parties. If you’re invited to one, it’s traditional to bring a dish to share.
Practice Your Photography Skills
Diffused sunlight in fall makes this time of year a photographer’s dream. Not only are you more likely to get a shot of a deserted beach or forest trail, but wildlife tends to be more active as well. One of the best scenic places for photographers is the beach at sunrise or sunset. You may spy passing dolphins near shore, but you’re sure to capture a peaceful tableau — especially the morning after a storm.
Back Bay Wildlife Refuge is another photographer’s paradise. You’re likely to spot photogenic birds such as osprey, songbirds, gannets, and terns — especially in the mornings. Keep an eye out for the tundra swan, a beloved visitor who overwinters in the refuge. It’s worth the hike to venture into the pine forests with your camera. These “wet forests” are home to herds of deer, owls, unusual birds, and even bobcats.
With cooler temperatures and less competition, fall is prime time to go fishing at Sandbridge Beach. Local fisherfolk will tell you that you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to have fun and catch fish, especially if you’re just headed to the beach or the pier.
For beach or pier fishing, you’ll need a long rod known as a “heaver.” These rods are 11 to 12 feet in length and can handle heavy bait and 8 ounces of lead weight (known here as “8 and bait”). In the fall, you can also use a smaller rod for casting lures and jigs. Wherever you plan to fish, be sure to get a fishing license and make note of size and catch regulations.
Bike or Hike to False Cape State Park
Whether you crave ocean-fresh seafood or authentic Mexican cuisine, Sandbridge Beach has world-class food to tantalize your taste buds. Here are 6 of the best restaurants in the Sandbridge Beach area for you to try during your next visit. Go ahead… eat like a local!
Want your seafood Asian-style? Boardwok serves up well-priced Asian and American cuisine for lunch, dinner, or takeout. The menu has classic favorites such as teriyaki, tempura, and noodle dishes. But if you’re looking for a real treat, try one of the wok dishes which are the owner’s specialty.
Have folks in your crew that aren’t into Asian? There is also a sprinkling of classic American entrees such as chef’s salad, deli sandwiches, and crispy chicken tenders. You’ll find Boardwok at 1993 Sandbridge Road. Don’t feel like going out? You can also order online for delivery in the Sandbridge area.
Baja is one of Sandbridge Beach’s most beloved restaurants. This local hangout at the south end of Sandbridge Beach has a happy beach vibe, an impressive menu, and a lively list of activities and entertainment all through the summer.
Are you a coffee connoisseur? Don’t miss out on this restaurant’s famous local blend, Baja Coffee. Heading out for some fishing? Want a quiet place to gently wakeup and welcome the new day? This unique blend of java is served Tuesday through Sunday mornings. Pick up a cup of joe and a pastry from 6:30 a.m. until noon. Dinner is served from 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Seafood lovers can choose from steamed oysters, shrimp, crab, and local fish dishes. Baja also offers burgers, chicken, salads, soups, steaks, and pizza.
Sandbridge Island Restaurant
Located next to the Seaside Market, Sandbridge Island Restaurant, Raw Bar & Pizza has a great view, and regularly wins awards including “Best of the Beach,” “Best Kept Secret,” “Best Local’s Hangout,” “Best Pizza,” and “Best Outdoor Dining.”
Not only well-renowned for their food, Sandbridge Island Restaurant also has plenty of fun activities. Lay down your fork and pick up a mic for Karaoke on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Rather be outdoors? You’ll love the weekly Deck Party on Saturdays and Sundays.
Their menu will tempt you with raw bar options such as shrimp, crab legs, oysters, clams, and more. Their Surf & Turf combos include so many items that you may need to order an appetizer while you decide. Choose from crab cakes, fried oysters, fish prepared any way you like it, and more, and then add a steak or barbecued ribs to round out the meal. Sandbridge Island also has traditional sandwiches and burgers, a great kids’ menu, and a creative pizza menu.
Not all restaurants are found in buildings. When you want a quick (but completely awesome) meal, get your lunch or dinner on wheels. Bandidos Taco Stand is a popular food truck that serves delicious tacos and burritos made from fresh ingredients.
Open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day (except Saturday, when they open at 7 a.m.), visitors and locals alike are proud to say they eat here once a day, every day. The service is friendly, the fish tacos are unlike anything you’ve ever had before, and the prices are unbeatable. Tacos range from $3 to $5, and drinks are just $1. Look for their flag on your way to Little Island Beach, then pull up at one of the picnic tables under the trees to eat.
Crab boils are one of heaven’s simple pleasures especially when you’re at the beach. When you do them yourself, however, they can be rather messy. The local’s secret? Get it to go!
Simply Steamed is a Seafood takeout market with daily lunch specials, fresh seafood, soups, salads, and more. However, this market is most famous for their steam pots — disposable pots packed with your choice of seafood, veggies, and a special spice blend. Just pick up your pot, take it home, and pop it on the stove or grill. If you’ve got a crowd to feed, try their “Party in a Can” for $7 per person.
Margie & Ray’s
No review of Sandbridge Beach restaurants would be complete without Margie & Ray’s. Who would have thought that – what was once a country store and tackle shop – is now a proper restaurant with a cult following that reaches far and wide.
Margie & Ray’s is one of the only places where you can get a full breakfast in Sandbridge Beach. Open all day, they offer a hearty lunch menu of seafood dishes, sandwiches, and salads, as well as a whopping dinner menu that includes their famous buffet-style seafood platters. Note: you’d better come hungry!
Find the restaurant at 1240 Sandbridge Road between Ashville Bridge Creek and Hell Point Creek, next to Indian Cove Resort.
Whether you’re on the way to the beach or looking for a relaxing dinner, there’s no shortage of Sandbridge Beach restaurants serving up delicious food, grand views, and friendly service.
Sandbridge Island Restaurant
This relaxing, family-friendly restaurant is right on the beach, and locals take advantage of the proximity to pop in for a bite in between sunbathing and skimboarding. Enjoy pizza, seafood, sandwiches, and cocktails with a great view of the ocean. Favorites are the half-pound steamed shrimp appetizers, creamy She Crab soup, and award-winning pizza. Sandbridge Island Restaurant also has a budget-friendly happy hour, a menu just for kids, and daily raw bar specials. Their giant TV screens make it a great place to watch Sunday football, but you can also have your meal delivered or get it to go.
Located on Sandpiper Road, this quaint restaurant is a long-time local favorite for brunch, surf ‘n’ turf, and happy hour. Baja serves dinner Wednesday through Saturday and brunch Sundays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Visit in the summer and you’ll enjoy live music with dinner, or Karaoke on Thursdays. Be sure to stop by on Tuesdays for their weekly dodge ball tournaments — competition is friendly but fierce! Baja’s peaceful patio is also great place to just unwind and enjoy the sunshine.
Margie & Ray’s Crabhouse
Locals say there are only two places to eat: Home or Margie & Ray’s. This rustic local favorite is located on Sandbridge Road and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast platters are inexpensive and hearty, so they’re a perfect start to the day. Lunch is seafood, seafood, and more seafood, prepared any way you like it — or a choice of sandwiches including burgers. If you’re headed for dinner at Margie & Ray’s — come hungry. It hardly seems possible, but the seafood choices only expand on the dinner menu and are accompanied with traditional Southern sides.
Every vacation town has a restaurant that locals like to keep to themselves. In Sandbridge Beach, it’s Blue Pete’s. Owned by twin brothers who grew up in the area, this special restaurant is nestled next to a creek in a five-acre wood near the Back Bay National Wildlife Sanctuary. Owners Nicholas and Aristotle Cleanthes not only offer fresh takes on seafood, they also put a great deal of time and effort into the experience of dining at Blue Pete’s. To the brothers, all visitors are locals, and they love nothing more than to see vacationers return year after year.
Lago Mar Pizza
Also on Sandbridge Road, Lago Mar Pizza is where locals converge for their Italian food fix. Lago Mar offers unique pizzas, subs, gyros, wraps, Stromboli, calzones, pasta, and seafood. Their tidy, charming patio is a great place to spend a long lunch or dinner, but they also offer delivery and takeout. Note that on Thursdays they offer Family Night specials of a large pizza and salad for $20 — plus free ice cream for the kids.
La Bella Italia
If you’re up for even more Italian food, La Bella Italia has it. This trattoria, café, bakery, and deli has an upscale menu and a refined ambiance that is perfect for a special dinner out. Vegans love their expansive vegan menu, and foodies appreciate their well-curated wine list. This is a true Italian restaurant with specials such as stuffed eggplant, prosciutto with Parmesan and peppers and fresh bruschetta. The best way to enjoy La Bella Italia is relaxing at one of their charming tables, but if you have a beachfront rental you might want to get your dinner to go and enjoy your sauce with the sunset.
Kabuki Steak House and Sushi