Saturday, August 23, 2014

Make Sunset Beach Bliss Yours Year-Round!

Sunset Beach Bliss is For Sale!  After many years of welcoming our guests to the Bliss that is Sunset Beach, we have decided to move on to other adventures. So we are putting our beloved beach condo on the market. Our family has put a lot of time and love into making Sunset Beach Bliss a beautiful and comfortable beach retreat. With all the upgrades and good quality furnishings we've added the past few years, it's an excellent buy.

So if you are thinking of getting a vacation home (or know someone who is), here's an excellent opportunity to acquire a good one, a home away from home to which you can retreat whenever the great golfing, fresh seasfood, and sun and surf call you back!

For all the details, visit our site: www.sunsetbeachbliss.com

Thursday, July 17, 2014

See Sunset Beach From A New Perspective: Above

Looking for something spectacular to do while you're at the beach? How about viewing the area from a new angle, and from an altitude of 750ft!  We did just that, and the experience was well worth the effort. 

The office and hangars for Executive Helicopters Inc, are located at a small airport close to Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach; so it was just a short drive there from Sunset Beach Bliss (about a half-hour). The staff was friendly, and very good at making sure were were feeling safe and comfortable.

Tours range from $20 to over $100. The lowest priced choice is the introduction flight, which is very short - basically, you take off, make a short loop, and then land back where you started. But the more expensive tours cover a distance of about 40 miles. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

2014 Sunset Beach Concerts

The Summer of 2014 in Sunset Beach is living up to its usual high standards for beach music, great food and fun!  This year, you owe it to yourself to show up at the "coolest venue in Sunset Beach" and take in the melodious sounds of the best beach, blues, rock, pop, bluegrass and country music.  Concerts are on Wednesday evenings 6:30 to 8:30, conveniently located on the mainland  at the gazebo in the Village Park on Queen Anne Street in Sunset Beach, NC.  Visit the Sunset Beach Concerts website or Facebook page, to check their schedule and learn more about all that awaits you there!

Le Catalan: The Best Taste of France on the River Walk!

The top of my family's "to do" list whenever we spend a day in Wilmington, NC, is lunch at Le Catalan. The restaurant is located right on the River Walk, with both indoor and outdoor seating, and a great view of the Cape Fear. It is quite simply the best place to go for exquisite food and an extensive selection of great wines.  This place is great for those situations when no one in your group can agree on lunch plans or when you just want to take a break and have a light snack, because the menu at Le Catalan always offers a good selection of both hot meals and lighter fare. And everything on it is of very high quality.  In fact, my family is in the thrall of several of their delicacies, whose memory lures us back time and time again (And their Chocolate Mousse is to die for!).

On 224 South Water Street, Wilmington, NC

Waterfront dining at Le Catalan

Sunday, May 25, 2014

La Belle Amie: Some Great Grand Strand Vintages

A mere 20 minutes' drive (12 miles) from Sunset Beach Bliss, La Belle Amie is an excellent place to tickle one's palate - as well as gratify your eyes and ears, since visitors also are frequently treated to live music and lovely surroundings to enjoy. It's an excellent setting for long conversations with good friends, so bring them along and plan for a longish visit, because you'll want to stay awhile.

The wines at Belle Amie are a wide-ranging combination of old world varietals (from “the old grapevines” of the type originally grown by the owner's French ancestors), plus the familiar muscadine wines preferred by many native Southerners. The charge for sampling six different wines from their large menu is a mere $5, and you take your La Belle Amie wineglass home as a keepsake. (The local word to the wise is to visit La Belle Amie on a Wednesdays, when the tastings are half-price all-day!) The staff at the bar are very friendly, and very good at welcoming in folks and encouraging a fun and casual atmosphere during tastings.

Surrounding the tasting bar, there is an extensive gift shop with beautiful artwork, tasty gourmet treats, and humourous gift ideas. And the decor and surrounding grounds are a feast for the eyes, with lots of comfortable shady places to sit and sip, often while listening to some high quality live music. In fact the vineyard is a frequent location for concerts and local festivals; so be sure to check out their events schedule before you go.  

An added bonus: your journey back to Sunset Beach Bliss passes right by one of our favourite restaurants, Snooky's in Little River; where you should plan on enjoying an excellent meal on your way back to Sunset Beach Bliss.

Characteristic of the type of humor to be found at the
giftshop, Emily grins in approval at their policy towards
wayward children.

The Old Swing Bridge at Sunset Beach: Open Once More . . . As a Museum!

As of May 24th, 2014, the Old Bridge Museum at Sunset Beach, NC, is OPEN! Nearly 4 years ago, what we thought was our final farewell to the Old Swing Bridge has become a happy reunion, thanks to the clever planning and hard work of the dedicated volunteers of The Old Bridge Preservation Society. Now, the Bridge Tender's house portion of the old swing bridge offers visitors a guided glimpse into the past role of this important local artery to this unique area of coastal North Carolina.  Donations of artifacts from the local Archealogical Society and other locals pull visitors in for a closer look at Sunset Beach's history, drawing our attentions back as far as the Civil War, with information about the blockade runner, the Vesta.

You can find the final resting place for the retired Old Bridge in Sunset Beach, at 109 Shoreline Drive West, right next door to the new town park, a pleasant cluster of live oaks through which meandering walkways lead you to the water's edge.

Apart from frequent special events held there on most weekends, the museum's regular hours are currently5:00-8:00 p.m. on Tuesdays & Thursdays, and 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. on Wednesdays. For more information, visit the museum website at www.oldbridgepreservationsociety.org or call (910) 363-6585.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Bigger and Better: Walkway and New Gazebo at Sunset Beach Nearing Completion

New gazebo at Sunset Beach,  just waiting for
the crowning touch of roof tiles.
Our family took advantage of a little open space on the Sunset Beach Bliss calendar to escape the decidely un-Spring-like weather at our mountain home. We had heard that the improvements made by the Town to the public beach access point were continuing, so made sure to take along a camera to record the progress.

Despite a couple of freak ice storms and a generally unusually cold winter season, the good folks who serve the Town of Sunset Beach have nearly completed the brand new larger gazebo and expanded walkway to the sand.  And they are beautiful!  Now visitors to Sunset Beach who want to enjoy the sea breezes but get a little break from the sun have a lot more elbow room in the shade of an extra large gazebo.  And the introduction of an expanded walkway, with choice of steps or ramp onto the sandy beach, makes beach access easier and safer for more folks than ever.
Addition of a ramp to the walkway is good news for anyone
to whom steps present a problem.


The underside of the gazebo roof is a pretty pattern,
and this well-built structure should hold
its own when the winds get rough.
As always, the view from the walkway along this
superb, unspoiled Sunset Beach, NC, is lovely.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Spring Bliss With Strawberries

So we've heard that the strawberries are ripening at one of our favourite coastal haunts: Indigo Farms!

On our next chance to get down to Sunset Beach, we will be making a beeline to the produce market to get some of that scarlette scrumptiousness! And since there's no more perfect weather than a warm spring in Sunset Beach, complete with cooling coastal breezes, we'll probably go out in those fields and do some "pick your own." That way, we'll enjoy the treasure hunt for the prettiest, sweetest berries, plus soak up a little sunny warms and vitamin D to purge away the last of the winter blues from our systems!  Good stuff!

Time to get out those time-honored recipes for Strawberry ice cream, Strawberry pie, Strawberry pudding . . . Hmmmmm.  And just plain strawberries and strawberries and strawberries!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

You Know It's Spring When the Azaleas Bloom! : 67th NC Azalea Festival


With such an easy drive to Wilmington, Sunset Beach Bliss is a great homebase from which to attend the North Carolina Azalea Festival. This year, it runs from April 9th through the 13th; and it's their 67th one.  So it's been going on for quite awhile.  Each year, the number of great concerts, special tours, and fantastic spectacles is bigger than ever; so the organizers have come up with the Festival's own App!  You can download the North Carolina Azalea Festival App, and it will provide you with interactive maps, event details and ticket prices, as well as a plethora of useful tips and other categories of helpful information.

Visit the Festival online for further details on the 67th North Carolina Azalea Festival, April 9-13, 2014.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Museum of Coastal Carolina: It's Time for Family Day!

Every year, our beloved Museum of Coastal Carolina in nearby Ocean Isle, NC, holds "Family Day;" and as Spring returns this year, it is time to celebrate again with fascinating ocean-related artifacts and exhibits, plus lots of hands-on activities for the younger ones in your group (Touching is a very important part of learning, of course!)

Family Day 2014 will be on Saturday, April 19th at the Museum and last from 10:00am to 2:00pm! Outside, visitors will find a great number of both free and low-cost activities, such as nature-themed crafts and games. A booth from Castaway Grill restaurant will be on the scene supplying fresh popcorn, Sunset Slushes, hot dogs and chicken.  All proceeds will benefit the Museum and Planetarium. And, on this day, admission to the Museum is free to the whole family!

Learn more about this year's Family Day at the Museum of Coastal Carolina site.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Getting Up Close and Personal With Waterbirds at Brookgreen Gardens

A Black-Crowned Night Heron poses
obligingly on his informational plaque.
Ah, Brookgreen Gardens!  It's one of my family's favourite day trips, while we're staying at Sunset Beach Bliss.  Barely an hour's drive from the condo, it's a delightful destination for a peaceful ramble among both natural and man made beauties.  While it offers an impressive cornucopia of gardens, history, and local wildlife, which will amply fill more than a day of touring, its Aviary is special enough to warrant a separate mention. 

Far from the largest available, the Aviary at Brookgreen Gardens instead allows visitors a brilliant opportunity to get very, very close to a wide variety of local water birds. And I mean close!!  From the moment you walk into the enclosure, you have a generous number of exotic-looking birds perched or casually strolling about, all within arms reach . . . all around you. It's almost eerie how it takes you a moment to notice they are there - and how they don't seem to care how close you come to them (as long as you are quiet and don't try for a snuggle). For shutterbugs and artists who love your birds, it's a treat to get such a close look at the plumage on a living subject.

Here are just a few snaps of some handsome residents, which I was able to take effortlessly with just an iPhone. I invite you to visit the Brookgreen Gardens Aviary yourself and learn their names!






Friday, March 7, 2014

Indigo Farms Produce Shop and Bakery Now Open!

The Welcoming Oak at Indigo Farms
Good News!  After a long winter, there is once again lots more good stuff growing at Indigo Farms.  We have just heard that they have re-opened for the season. Their bakery offers a wide variety of homemade pies and desserts.  And this year, they have added some new items: Raspberry Squares and Magic Cookies!  I'm looking forward to the next time we visit to go sample!

It's still very early, and the weather has been colder than usual in Feburary, so their Produce Market still mainly carries greens and cool season crops for the next few weeks. But, there are always preserves and other treats, and more fresh farm produce will be coming soon as the weather improves.

Indigo Farms is always a pleasure to visit for the excellent folks who work there; their hillariously spunky cat, Indie, who lurkes in the jungley depths of their garden center; the always interesting farm yard residents out back; AND the always yummy treats at the bakery. 

For additional details, visit the Indigo Farm website

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Getting Ready for Spring: the New Town Park and the Old Swing Bridge Museum

Future Location of the New Town Park
The first phase of the town park is due to be completed by early April. The park is located on a beautiful 5-and-a-half-acre plot on the mainland, a picturesque spot with graceful live oaks and a view of the water. Adjacent to the new fishing dock added last year, work continues apace on the walking trails and parking.

The Bridge Tender House in its New Location
And just down the street from the town park, the newly relocated Old Bridge Tender House serves as the Old Swing Bridge Museum and Giftshop. Volunteers continue to work and raise money to fully restore this historic old building, with a wonderful array of handcrafted items and memorabilia for sale. My favourite items are the keepsakes made of scrap wood rescued from segments of the old swing bridge, cleverly fashioned by Gerry Strickland, a local with a talent for woodworking and a family connection to the old bridge.

A Sampling of Old Swing Bridge Memoribilia
Available at the Museum Giftshop.

Sunset Beach Streetscape Completed, Brand New Gazebo to Follow

On our last visit to our delightful second home, Sunset Beach, NC, we discovered that the ambitious upgrades to Sunset Boulevard have been completed. There are now generous bicycle lanes on both sides of the street, and a sidewalk for pedestians and elegant lighting all along the greatly expanded public parking. Also (although they are hard to see in this photo at present) we are looking forward to this Summer Season, when the newly-transplanted palms along the thoroughfare will have spread out their elegant fronds.

At the time this photo was taken, we also noticed the town has begun work on building a brand new gazebo at the public beach access point, right by the new outdoor showers. The old one was a very pleasant, breezy spot to relax in the shade; and the newer one looks like it will be quite a bit larger, with space for even more beach lovers than before.  Once it's done, check this spot for all the details on the finished masterpiece.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Sweet Solitude of a Winter Beach

My family and I often take a little respite from our busy routines at our home in the mountains and escape to Sunset Beach Bliss in the wintertime. One of my favourite things to do during this season is to steal away every couple of days and walk the beach on my own. There is something magical about a stroll along the shore, during which you encounter not one other soul. To be sure, a great advantage of Sunset Beach is how spread-out it is, so that even during the height of summer, you don't feel crowded. So, at the opposite end of the calendar year, the slow seasons of January and February, it is very frequently possible to experience the sweet solitude of the beach all to yourself.

Now, those who are sensitive to the drag on ones mood that a long dark winter can effect, know that heading south for sunnier weather is a great idea. Many of our our off-season guests travel from up North, just to get an early dose of "light and airy" at Sunset Beach Bliss. The special quality of the light during winter on the beach seems to draw out the subtler colours and textures that we may not always notice during our Summer visits, when we don sunglasses and close our eyes while baking on the sand. In winter, the light is softer, with a gentle grey cast. And so the "shyer" pastels that stripe an otherwise unremarkable clamshell, or the sparkel of mother-of-pearl in a humble fragment of oyster, catch your eye more readily.

The subtler colors step forward
in the sunshine of a winter beach.

An ordinary fragment of snail shell leaps out like a flame
against the grey sands.

The normally-ignored indigos are more noticeable now.

A grey lump contains a pearly shimmer
when the light hits it just so.

When you are able to enjoy the sweet solitude of a Winter beach, take your time. Open your eyes and notice the tiny fragments of beauty just by your feet. Then raise your eyes and take in the vastness that surrounds you, the impossibly glamorous sparkle of the winter sunlight as it breaks through the low lumbering clouds (reminded to "move along" by the ever-present breeze) and strikes the surface of a wind-ruffled sea. 

Goodbye, winter blues!!




Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sunset Beach Streetscape Enjoys Further Improvements

So pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers will all be delighted to find a lot more "elbow room" as they approach Sunset Beach in the Spring of 2014.  The Town has been hard at work widening Sunset Boulevard, the main thorougfare leading to our public beach access.  Along with approximately 46 additional parking spaces, plans include space for a 4' bike path and new sidewalks on both sides of the road.

The town's past improvements over the past couple of years, including the permanent bathroom facilities and outdoor showers, plus the recent expansion of the boardwalk connecting public parking with the beach, have been accompanied by high quality landscaping and excellent design that have held up well under years of use and weather. And we expect these improvements that are currently underway to continue the same trend towards increasing the aesthetic as well as practical attractions of Sunset Beach.

Sunset Beach: Quiet and Relaxing, But Never Boring

Recently Adopted New Logo Shared by the Museum of Coastal Carolina and
the Ingram Planetarium, symbolizes what both facilities offer visitors:
everything "from stars to sea stars."
One of the great perks of Sunset Beach is its sleepy small town atmosphere, which makes it a welcome respite from the nearby excitement and traffic of Myrtle Beach. 

But the other wonderful way this beach community is uniquely blessed are the institutions in its very midst that also offer great entertainment at a level not usually available in other small towns. Whenever our family stays at Sunset Beach Bliss, there are usually several interesting events and special exhibits to explore at the Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach, and at the Museum of Coastal Carolina "next door" in Ocean Isle. A quick visit to the websites for each reveal a busy schedule of lectures, constantly changing exhibits, and visiting artists, even during the winter months, when one would expect a beach community to go into hibernation until the Summer crowds return.

A visit to the Ingram Planetarium website reveals a January calendar liberally sprinkled with events, including a presentation and discussion on the Science of Flying, and a whole slew of new films (including many gear towards children) and lazer shows to be shown in the state-of-the-art SciDome Sky Theater. Plus, every day, visitors to the Planetarium can come and play with the new Augmented Reality (AR) exhibit currently occupying the The Paul Dennis Science Hall, which gives a hands-on experiences with advanced 3D and immersive technologies.

The Museum of Coastal Carolina also is far from quiet this January, offering a grand opening of the newly expanded "Shifting Tides" exhibit, visiting artist programs, special activities for families with children (incluing Puppets!), and refreshed and refurbished exhibits and the ever-popular-with-the-kids hands-on tide pool.