How to have the Most Fun at Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center


If you’re looking for a unique day-trip from Emerald Isle, consider visiting the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center on Harker’s Island. About an hour north of the Crystal Coast, this unique attraction is filled with fascinating history, ample educational opportunities, and breathtaking scenery. On a visit to the museum, you’ll learn about eastern North Carolina’s unique waterfowling heritage, the communities there were built upon it, and how the art of decoy making still lives on today.

You can find out more about all of the fun things to do in Emerald Isle, NC when you download our free Vacation Guide. It's full of the best recommendations for things to see and do like visiting the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center.

Enjoy the Drive

Before you ever step foot on the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center, you will experience one of the most scenic drives in the area. You’ll drive through the southern route of the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway. Along the way, keep your eyes wide open to the beautiful landscape around you. You’ll see isolated marshes, glittering inlets, and plenty of wildlife.

Learn the Local Heritage

The Core Sound in NC is first and foremost an educational facility. During the school year, it is a popular field trip destination. And year-round, visitors of all ages are encouraged to visit the sound and learn about the coastal communities of eastern North Carolina. When you visit the museum, you’ll find engaging exhibits that focus on regional culture, community, education, economy, and the environment.

One of the most identifying symbols of eastern North Carolina heritage are decoys. These wooden tools were essential to waterfowling in the region and today they are regarded as a form of art. When you visit the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center, you’ll learn more about these decoys and this unique heritage. You’ll also learn about the art of decoy carving and how these beautiful pieces are made.

Explore the Willow Pond Loop Trail

The Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center is conveniently located near the Cape Lookout National Seashore. When you visit, you’ll have the opportunity to explore this beautiful national park. The Willow Pond Loop Trail, a short, easy to navigate path, starts behind the Core Sound waterfowl museum. The trail winds around a freshwater pond and features stunning views of both wetlands and woodlands. When you visit the museum, be sure to include a walk on this trail, too!

Attend Waterfowl Weekend and the Decoy Festival

Each year on the first weekend in December, the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center hosts a fun Core Sound waterfowl weekend. Waterfowl Weekend is filled with unique events, delicious food, fun entertainment, and more. One of the highlights of the weekend is the Decoy Festival, which hosts decoy exhibits, retriever demonstrations, and duck calling, loon calling and head whittling competitions.

Visit the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center

Whether you attend Core Sound waterfowl festival or visit the Core Sound at another time of year, you won’t be disappointed. The Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center is open Monday - Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Sundays, the museum is open from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to the museum is free for museum members, students, and children. Adults are asked to contribute a suggested $5 donation to the museum when they visit.

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Photo credit: Getty Images / mj0007

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