Whether arriving by land or sea, Oriental, NC is an ideal daytrip into the heart of Eastern North Carolina. Complete with options to sail the Neuse River and hike the Croatan National Forest, or enjoy fishing, dining and cultural riches like community theater, Oriental offers a full menu to fill the hours of any day-cation. Families of all ages have discovered this small waterfront village but boaters have made it their home. That's why this boater's paradise for sailors often sees daytrippers motor into several of the town's marinas on an hourly basis. But no matter how you arrive, Oriental is sure to leave you wanting to come back for more.
A short drive or boat ride from just about any location in Eastern North Carolina, all you'll need to enjoy a day trip to Oriental is to pick a day and dress for the water.
Start your day with breakfast in one of several B&Bs or stroll to any of the full-service eateries or coffee shops nearby. For a glimpse of local life, grab a stool or table at The Bean on the Harbor, but come early! Regulars are there swapping yarns at 6:30 AM and laughter is the punctuation. If you have a yen for a half-day of deep sea or fly-fishing, sailing or golf, meet a guide or partner at the reserved time and leave the rest of your gang to rent bikes and tour the area. They'll stop at Oriental's History Museum to see the scale model of the freighter Oriental in the picture window and go in to get history and guidebooks for info and souvenirs.
You'll want to see craft items unique to the area in a gift shop or two while the kids pick out postcards and walk over to the post office for stamps and mailing. Bike to the park on the Neuse shore, then walk the long pier, looking for jellyfish and watching kids fish from the rocks or docks. For those tired of biking, kayak rental may be an option for exploring any of several wide creeks, watching for deer, otter, fox, seabirds and possibly a bear fishing for lunch. When hunger strikes, out comes the picnic or, forget the brown bag and go for sandwich or ice cream or a stew of fresh caught fish at the nearest of many one-of-a-kind restaurants. If an art show, festival, regatta or tournament is happening, great varieties of food and fun may be found along the rivershore and friendliness is the town's trademark. Everyone is warmly encouraged to participate in whatever is going on.
As the day winds down, a sit-down at the waterfront park, a quiet time to nap or read in the room at inn or hotel, a walk around the harbor to look at boats or an hourly boat rental with or without captain might be just the thing. Those with fewer years and greater energy might choose to sail or water ski on the wide Neuse or walk the public beach at Styrontown looking for shells or driftwood for future projects. Cocktail hour is pleasant in any of several outdoor settings or in a restaurant with a view and a collection of local art on display.
Dinner can be casual and light or decadent, near the theater or on the harbor. Evening entertainment can include music, legitimate theater or a concert, even a moonlight cruise with a private captain. Dancing is available, sometimes in the street, and a post prandial walk is appropriate anywhere in this village where everyone says hello to everyone else they meet.
The best thing about the last hour before bed is putting whatever there was no time for today in a plan for a great tomorrow in Oriental.