A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

In downtown Swansboro, you can see the water from almost anywhere. As you drive into town, the sun reflects off of it like diamonds. As you eat lunch, kayakers glide

Madison County Championship Rodeo

In downtown Swansboro, you can see the water from almost anywhere. As you drive into town, the sun reflects off of it like diamonds. As you eat lunch, kayakers glide

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

In downtown Swansboro, you can see the water from almost anywhere. As you drive into town, the sun reflects off of it like diamonds. As you eat lunch, kayakers glide

Downtown: Swansboro

In downtown Swansboro, you can see the water from almost anywhere. As you drive into town, the sun reflects off of it like diamonds. As you eat lunch, kayakers glide by on their way to Hammocks Beach State Park. As you wander Front Street, it peeks out between red-brick buildings.

And in this historic port town, that’s the point. At the mouth of the White Oak River, located along the Intracoastal Waterway, and minutes from Atlantic Beach, Swansboro is, and always has been, sustained by the water. It was the site of an Algonquin Indian village long before it became a busy colonial port. Famed for shipbuilding in the 18th and 19th centuries, Swansboro was largely a fishing village by the 1900s. These days, Front Street bustles with more tourists than fishmongers and sailors. But, at every turn, the water beckons and beauty abounds, just as it always has.

photograph by Charles Harris

At Bake, Bottle & Brew, grab a cup of coffee or enjoy a cold drink waterside. If you’re lucky, you might spot a pod of dolphins.


photograph by Charles Harris

Just one block from the water, search for coastal antiques at Poor Man’s Hole.


photograph by Charles Harris

Then, check out Swansboro’s oldest building, The Olde Brick Store, built in 1839 on a lot once owned by legendary shipbuilder Capt. Otway Burns, who is memorialized in Bicentennial Park.


photograph by Charles Harris

Along the bridge that connects Swansboro to Bogue Sound and Emerald Isle stands a veritable legend on the Carolina coast: Clyde Phillips Seafood Market. Vacationing beachgoers and residents alike have been buying Phillips’s seafood since 1962, but at sunset, the view of the Captain Phillips shrimp boat docked outside the market on the White Oak River is nearly as impressive as the local shrimp themselves.

This story was published on May 28, 2018

Katie Schanze

Katie Schanze is an associate editor and digital content editor at Our State.