Oak Island NC History & Museums - Salt & Sand Realty and Vacation Rentals

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History & Museums

Our coastline has an intriguing storied past that has been written about time and time again! We invite you to uncover and explore the local Oak Island, NC history that dates back nearly 500 years during your next visit. From Civil War battlefields and historical sites to the USS North Carolina, you’ll find yourself in a history buff’s dream destination!


One of the favorite places to discover on the island is the Oak Island Lighthouse! It’s located on the most eastern tip of the island and stands 169 feet tall. Completed in 1958, It was one of the last lighthouses to be built in North Carolina and has a rich history to learn about. Old Baldy Lighthouse and Museum is a must-visit during your time here too! It’s located on Bald Head Island, a scenic ferry ride away, and is one of the oldest lighthouses still standing in North Carolina. It opened in 1817 with the purpose of marking the Cape Fear River entrance for maritime sailors and is now open to the public.

Fort of Caswell

We even have our own fort on the eastern tip of the island! Named after the first governor of North Carolina, Richard Caswell,  the fort’s original purpose was to protect the mouth of the Cape Fear River from pirates and any other intruders that may have come our way. Today, the 250-acre fort, owned and operated by the Baptist Assembly of North Carolina, is available for public drive-throughs. Before planning your visit, please keep in mind that this area is not open to the general public at all times. They ask for you to call ahead to see if a specific date and time is available. You can reach them by phone on (910) 278-9501. Open weekdays from 8am to 5pm.

Museums and Historical Sites near Oak Island, NC

When the history buff of your group is ready for exploration of the North Carolina coast, you’ll find numerous museums and tours to add into your Oak Island vacation itinerary! Learn about the area’s maritime history and hear tales of coastal expeditions at the NC Maritime Museum at Southport. Browse through exhibits, historical artifacts, and original documents at the Fort Johnston Southport Museum. And, head over to the Old Brunswick County Jail Museum for a guided tour of where the film “Crimes of the Heart” had scenes filmed.

The City of Southport has even partnered with the Southport Historical Society to offer a free mobile app for self-guided tours of Southport and the Cape Fear Region. It’s called PocketSights and can be downloaded on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Other Nearby Places to Explore

Bald Head Island Historical Tour

Explore Bald Head Island’s past with a two-hour long guided tour in a golf cart! You’ll travel around the entire island and learn about all of the history from a trained guide.
Distance from Oak Island: 20 minute ferry ride from Deep Point Marina in Southport
101 Lighthouse Wynd, Bald Head Island, NC 28461

Brunswick Town / Fort Anderson Site

Learn about the first town established in the Cape Fear region and stroll around the grounds!
Distance from Oak Island: about 30 minutes
8884 St Phillips Road SE, Winnabow, NC 28479

Battleship North Carolina

Step back in time and learn about the USS North Carolina!
Distance from Oak Island: about 40-50 minutes
1 Battleship Rd NE, Wilmington, NC 28401

Ingram Planetarium

Discover the universe on your next vacation! Enjoy laser light and music shows in the 85-seat SciDome Sky Theater, interactive exhibits, and more.
Distance from Oak Island: about 40-50 minutes
7625 High Market Street, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

Museum of Coastal Carolina

Browse through the Southeast’s largest “dry aquarium” with a massive collection of seashells and numerous interactive exhibits.
Distance from Oak Island: about 40-50 minutes
21 E Second Street, Ocean Isle Beach, NC 28469

Sunset Beach Swing Bridge & Museum

Head South on 17 to view the iconic Sunset Beach swing bridge and browse through exhibits in the Tender House.
Distance from Oak Island: about 40-50 minutes
109 Shoreline Drive W, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

Want to explore the nearby museums and all of the Oak Island NC history?

We’d love to help you plan your next stay! Our concierge team is here to help you plan every aspect of your upcoming vacation. Browse through all of our vacation rentals on the island or contact us.

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