If you’re looking for great “unexpected” Onslow, then here are your best bets. From tasty tours like Walton’s to delicious dinners like those at Mike’s…these are worth a stop!
Lejeune Memorial Gardens
Lejeune Memorial Gardens encourages visitors to come and remember those who have fallen in the act of US Military Service. You’ll find a number of memorials, including Beirut Memorial, the Onslow Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Montford Point Marine Memorial, and the 9/11 Memorial Beam from the World Trade Center.
The first of the memorials to be erected was the Beirut Memorial. It’s the largest 100% privately-funded military memorial, and remembers the 273 Marines who lost their lives in the 1983 Beirut Bombing.
Above, the boys are sitting in front of a statue that is located at the entryway to the future Museum of the Marine. It is the largest Eagle, Globe and Anchor statue in the world!
I think the most touching part of the Memorial Gardens, for me, was the Montford Point Marine Memorial. From ’42- ’49, the first Black Marines, had to “fight for the right to fight” while serving in a segregated Marine base (now named Camp Johnson.)
While no official record exists of all the Marines who served during this time, the wall of more than 20,000 stars pays homage to those who fought.
There is also a statue of an African-American soldier, putting down his artillery box and picking up a rifle. The men of the 51st distinguished themselves as the finest artillery gunners in the Marine Corps, breaking almost every accuracy record in training.
In June 2012, a Congressional Gold Medal was awarded collectively to the Montford Point Marines in recognition of their personal sacrifice and service to their country during World War II. If you know a Montford Point Marine that has not been recognized, contact the National Secretary, Montford Point Marine Association, Inc
Visit Walton’s Distillery in Jacksonville, NC for a not-your-run-of-the-mill tour with not-your-run-of-the-mill spirits. We’ve been on a few distillery tours in our day and we’re always looking for that extra something that’s sets one establishment apart from another. With Walton’s, the distinction is clear.
It’s a fairly informal place, and we appreciated that. Just show up between 10 and 4:30 Monday through Saturday – the tours run every 30 minutes. They’ve got an interesting story. Located about 15 minutes west of downtown Jacksonville, an area in Onslow county that used to contain a number of stills during prohibition that weren’t quite as “public”, Walton’s Distillery seeks to combine current best practices with wisdom of distilling forefathers of old. Or as we like to call them, heroes.
When you taste the spirits that Walton’s produces you can taste this history, and the distinction that comes with it. Take Junior Walton’s Premium Select, for instance. Barrel-aged moonshine. I, for one, had never heard of such a thing. It was unique and delicious. They also have straight moonshine, as well as a number of flavored varieties from peach to salted caramel. Their spirits are all distilled five times which makes for a clean taste with no hangover. (To this I can attest)
On our tour they saved the best for last. Walton’s will soon release their very own bourbon, and we got to sample some. I’m a big fan of top-shelf bourbon, and Walton’s was right on the “Mark”. Is not available for sale quite yet, but look for it in the coming months. I predict a big winner in competition!
PS – we may have purchased a few bottles before leaving….that’s the rich glow coming from our glasses in the first photo. Pick up a bottle after your tour and enjoy it on the porch of Hook, Wine and Sinker.
Mike’s Farm draws people seasonally for hay rides, strawberry picking, and Santa festivities. You might also find yourself here during a spectacularly gorgeous barn wedding, or when on a petting farm field trip with the kids.
But the best part of a visit to Mike’s, if you ask me, is the restaurant. Thursday – Saturday, when the dinner bell rings, you’ll find the locals lining up for a table inside.
It’s all-you-can-muster good ole country cooking. The fried chicken is out of this world, plus biscuits, mac n cheese, creamed style corn, green beans and more. Oh, that mac and cheese! Eat your filling, but save a little room for dessert – it’s included, too.
Old Train Depot
This Old Train Depot was once used to bring Marines into the area. Today the train doesn’t move but the building and green space behind it are popular for Onlsow’s many festivals.
Environmental Education Center
The EEC houses an exhibit called “Discover Onslow.” It explores the ecology, geography, flora, and fauna of Onslow County. You’ll see a number of the native fauna, including a black bear, bobcat, and twelve foot alligator!!
Other sections teach about the rivers of Onslow, its plants and animals, culture, environment and ecology. Honestly, we just scooted in here a short second (it’s part of a Branch library near North Topsail Beach) but I loved it! Especially the alligator. And…it’s free!
Disclosure: Thank you to Onslow County for hosting us. Opinions here are all our own, as always!
After 18 years in software development, Lesli bailed on the corporate scene. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene, whiskey in hand.
Lesli has two kiddos -Cooper and Elliot- plus two bonus kids currently at UGA, and she’s happily married to her soul mate.
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