An unspoiled gem among North Carolina's Brunswick Islands, Bald Head Island is the pawfect destination for inquisitive explorers. Getting to this mostly undeveloped, no-cars-allowed island is already an adventure in itself, for it can only be reached by ferry or private boat. There are no animal hospitals on Bald Head Island, and the nearest one is about an hour away by ferry and car in Southport.
Bald Head Island is an extremely pet-friendly village that welcomes dogs on its 14 miles of pristine beaches all year round. Fido can even go off-leash as long as you keep an eye on him, so get ready to run and play in the sand with your pup! The only time when dogs on the beach are required to be leashed is from sunset to sunrise during turtle season.
Aside from the beach, Bald Head Island is comprised of marsh and maritime forest. You and Fido can explore the latter at the Bald Head Woods Reserve, a Dedicated Nature Preserve spanning 191 acres. Easy to moderate trails that meander through the site will take you and your pooch among very old and large trees that form a beautiful canopy. You'll also encounter various wildlife such as gray squirrels, opossums, and raccoons.
A pawsome adventure awaits you and your pup on Bald Head Island!
Old Baldy is one of the first things you'll see when you and your pup arrive on Bald Head Island. A 5-minute walk from the ferry landing, Old Baldy is the oldest standing lighthouse in North Carolina, built circa 1817 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Today, this historic landmark is open to visitors, and those who climb to the top are rewarded with puptacular views of the surrounding waterways. From the lighthouse, you and Fido can walk to Fort Holmes, which served as an encampment site during the Civil War. Here, you'll find remnants of the past, including sand curtains and a magazine bunker.
Tucked away in the southeastern end of the island, the Common at Cape Fear Station is a hidden oasis where you and your pooch can relax and stretch your legs. This charming little park is nestled in a quiet residential community, with both being named after the lifesaving station that originally stood on the island's East Beach. Featuring a snifftastic grassy area with a shaded walking path winding through it, the Common is a furrific spot to go for a leashed stroll or picnic with your best pal, and offers a change of scenery if you need a break from the water.
This neighborhood in nearby Southport is home to a few spots where you and Fido can get some exercise and grab a bite to eat. One of these spots is the Waterfront Park, located right on the Cape Fear River. Enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and water views as you and your furry buddy take a leashed stroll around this 9-acre site. You can also go for a walk at the Franklin Square, a 1-acre, tree-studded park that frequently serves as a venue for community events. If all that walking leaves you hungry, stop in Port City Java or Ports of Call for some grub. Both eateries have pet-friendly outdoor tables that you can share with your pupper.
Treat your pup to some off-leash fun at the Salty Dog Park in nearby Southport! Located within the William S. “Bill” Smith Park, the Salty Dog Park features two separate areas for large and small pooches. Six-foot-high fences ensure that everyone stays inside, while shade trees keep the dogs from getting too hot. There is no water fountain or spigot on-site, so don't forget to bring your own water. If Fido doesn't feel like socializing, go for a leashed walk around the Bill Smith Park instead. Follow the walking trails around the park, and stop by the kayak launch to take in the view.
This neighborhood in nearby Southport has a couple of places that you can pop into for some food or drinks with Fido in tow. Conveniently located on the Southport-Supply Road, Bella Cucina is a relaxed eatery serving authentic Italian cuisine, including hand-tossed pizza. Grab a pet-friendly outdoor table and share a slice with your pooch! If you're a fan of craft beers, head over to the Check Six Brewing Company on the other side of the road. This brewery doesn't serve food, but offers several handcrafted beers that you can enjoy at an outdoor picnic table with your pup lounging at your feet.