Fish & history start 2015 off right at Fort Fisher
If you’d have told me beforehand I’d enjoy reliving a famous Civil War battle and come eye to eye with an albino alligator all within a couple of hours, I might not have believed you.
Nonetheless, in Fort Fisher, North Carolina that’s precisely what happened.
Fort Fisher at Kure Beach sits on a thin strip of land surrounded by the Atlantic on one side and the Cape Fear River on the other. While the area is a popular beach resort and vacation spot, Fort Fisher is known for more than sand and sun.
Here are two reasons, beside the waves, for a trip to Fort Fisher, North Carolina.
Stop #1 Fort Fisher – Civil War National Historic Landmark
In the final days of the Civil War, the port at Wilmington was the final supply line for General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia. On January 15, 1865, a pivotal battle took place at Fort Fisher which ushered in the beginning of the end of the Civil War.
The Union captured the fort effectively closing Lee’s final supply line sealing the fate for the Confederacy; three months later, the Civil War ended.
Today, the remains of the fort and a museum serve to recount the story of that fateful battle. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 to 5, the museum displays historic artifacts, multiple exhibits and a fiber-optic battle map. With over 600 thousand visitors annually, Fort Fisher is the state’s most visited historic site.
I was fortunate to visit for the 150th anniversary of the battle. The celebration, “Nor Shall Your Glory Be Forgot” commemorated the events that took place that January day when the Confederate fort fell to the Union forces.
A re-enactment of the battle, speakers, historians, authors, a living history display, lantern tours, music, kids activities, torpedo demonstrations all made possible by the non-profit, Friends of Fort Fisher, drew thousands of visitors to the 150th commemoration an outstanding event.
Fort Fisher Historic Site
1610 Ft. Fisher Blvd. South
Kure Beach, NC 28449
Stop #2 The NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher
Having been to larger aquariums, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. This gem on the North Carolina coast has much of what the big aquariums offer in a friendly setting.
The compact size of the aquarium makes it ideal for easy exploration. Exhibits are interactive and let younger guests enjoy a ‘hands-on’ experience.
There are specific areas dedicated to allowing little and big hands touch. Petting a shark, a sting ray, a horse shoe crab, a sea urchin is encouraged at this aquarium.
Their motto is, “Inspiring Appreciation and Conservation of North Carolina’s Aquatic Environments” and education is a priority here.
The NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher is a popular destination for school groups. Daily features include programs dedicated to teaching about the aquatic life of North Carolina and surrounding areas. The displays are what I call user friendly. It’s easy to get close and really study the sea life first-hand.
One of the favorites of a visit to the aquarium is the daily dive show.
Twice daily, volunteer divers take the plunge into the multi-story tank, a focal point of the aquarium, to spend time answering questions about the marine life swimming around them.
I highly recommend timing your visit to include the dive show which currently is scheduled for 10:30 am and 2:00 pm. The divers are enthusiastic about the subject matter and put on an engaging program where crowd participation is welcomed.
The NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher attracts up to 400K visitors annually. Their website lists a variety of special events such as a Valentine’s Day sleep over, Aqua Camps and an Autism Friendly Day.
Dedicated to educating and preserving North Carolina’s aquatic life, its a tourist attraction with a purpose.
January isn’t exactly the time of year most folks head to the beach but there’s still plenty happening at the beaches of North Carolina.
The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher
900 Loggerhead Road
Kure Beach, NC 28449