Winter Seabreeze

When WRAL reports an ice-storm (Elsa is ‘letting it go with the snow’) and you power could go out with frigid temps – I go to Hotwire to find a deal and head to the beach.

Don’t get me wrong – I love snow…I lived in Montana for years – but ice is a slippery beast and the idea of no power from freezing rain struck a cold nerve. The last major ice storm I lived through in Raleigh (many years ago) – we didn’t have power for nearly 10 days and I’ve never been colder (except for the night I camped at Yellowstone Lake with the wrong gear).

My mom and I decided to take advantage of the low off-season beachfront rates at Wrightsville NC – we booked a deal at the historic Blockade Runner.

I’m a rare seagull that likes the beach in the winter. The is a peace and solitude of standing in the crisp chill of an ocean breeze in January. Plus I can afford to go to the beach in the winter – as NC beaches are expensive to visit in the summer if you are on a budget (same hotels over $300 a night in June).

So on a whim, we headed to Wrightsville for two nights. We checked into the Blockade Runner on Saturday evening. With COVID – my mom and I are very careful about interactions and I was grateful that The Blockade Runner staff ensured a safe and clean environment.

The staff at the Blockade Runner is super friendly and gracious. A bellhop readily helped load our luggage and take it to the room.

So often at hotels you’ll find disengaged staff that is just checking boxes. I get it – it’s a tough job – especially now – but when you have quality interactions that are mindful of COVID safety will meeting clients needs is AWESOME.

Celebrating fifty years of service, The Blockade Runner is a beloved beach institution. It’s surf to sound access with quirky beach décor welcomes all ages and demographics to take in the ocean view. The Blockade Runner offers guests more than a room – they have a wonderful outdoor pool (summer), award-winning restaurant, and sailing classes on site.


For over 100 years this beachfront locale has invited guests to soak in the sun. The Blockade Runner invites guests to learn more about the history of the site.

Wrightsville has been a popular tourist area for over a century – prior to the Blockade Runner the hotel site was home to two beautiful hotels: The Seashore Hotel and Ocean Terrace Hotel.

“The Seashore Hotel was built in 1897 with three stories and included 150 guest rooms with fireplaces. The hotel patio had 100 rocking chairs, which were always kept in a straight line. Tragically, Seashore Hotel burned down in 1918.

In 1922, another hotel was built and was also named Seashore Hotel, but was later changed to the Ocean Terrace Hotel. During its time on Wrightsville Beach, the hotel had a dance pavilion on the Soundside to cater to those visitors who liked to have a good time.

In 1954, Hurricane Hazel ravaged the coast and badly damaged the property on Wrightsville Beach.  The Ocean Terrace Hotel burned down a year later.

Both of these properties paved the way for the Blockade Runner Beach Resort and helped it achieve the success that it enjoys today. From the beginning, each of the establishments catered to the family vacationers, the passersby, businessmen, and anyone else who happened to wander into Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Their focus on relaxation, leisure, and spending that extra time doing whatever the soul desires steered us in the right direction! Both hospitality beacons put in the effort to provide an excellent dining experience and serene oceanfront sea breeze to all who blessed them with business, and now over 100 years later, the tradition still stands. (From Blockade Runner website)”

Sunday at The Blockade Runner was cold and gray with constant pounding of rain, but my mom and I still enjoyed social distancing fun in the relaxing hotel room. The rooms are decorated in vibrant beach colors with fun artwork. My only complaint is the desk and plug situation is not great if you need to work from the room. I used the bed as my desk with a random wall plug. Then again most people don’t come to the beach to sit on their computer.

I enjoyed using the time to work on writing and work projects. We also were able to watch virtual church service from the safety and comfort of the room. In non-COVID times I would attend the local Catholic parish – St. Therese, which is right on the ocean (how cool is that?)

The Blockade Runner has a great breakfast/brunch. I ordered a mix of home potatoes with bacon and maple syrup. My mom went for their signature Blockade Runner breakfast with eggs, potatoes, bacon and the works.

For dinner we ordered burgers (usually I’d get Seafood, but being gluten free the broiled catch wasn’t the best option for us that evening). The burger was so good – juicy and delicious. I really liked their balsamic vinaigrette dressing (homemade and yummy).

By Monday the clouds and rain were swept out to sea, leaving only stunning crystal blue skies with expansive ocean views. After loading our car (bell hop helped :)), my mom and enjoyed a forty minute walk on the beach.

The forty degree weather was blustery, yet invigorating. The soothing sound of the waves crashing in the ebb and flow of the sea relaxed my soul. The sea has a way of taking worries away – because it is so vast. If God can handle the tides of the oceans the sand on the shore – surely he can handle my problems with grace. The sea gives us perspective. It reminds us of the big picture and to take things in stride.

Outside of a few walkers – the only other souls on the beach were brave surfers donning wetsuits and trying to catch a wave. I admire them, but no way I’m getting in the cold water to be hammered by the surf – fun to watch though.

Hungry for lunch, we decided to treat ourselves to our favorite beachside restaurant – The Oceanic. The Oceanic boasts arguably the best views of any beachfront restaurant in the Carolinas. You literally can eat over the water on their pier.

What I love about The Oceanic is the quality of their fresh seafood. They have a good mix of home cooked comfort seafood (flounder, calabash style) – but also more artisan dishes. The menu is seasonal and always fresh.

With COVID I’ve been hesitant about eating out (Omicron) – but we decided we would sit outside on the pier (even in the chill) for safer dining.

My mom ordered their signature appetizer – crab dip and hushpuppies. We both ordered the broiled dish of the day – Blackened Mahi with rice and asparagus – so delicious.

This was a short trip – but well work the excursion. Ironically our power didn’t go out – but a beach trip (on a Hotwire deal) is always a good idea.

I’ll do a follow-up post on some fun things to in Wrightsville…funny enough my first blog entry was during a Wrightsville trip years ago. Ocean tides bring me back.

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