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Celebrate Valentine's Day along historic Crystal Coast in North Carolina

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As Valentine’s Day approaches, it’s time to think about a romantic getaway. One of the better destination for that getaway is the North Carolina's Crystal Coast from the historic streets of Beaufort to discovering wild Spanish mustangs on Shackleford Banks.

The Crystal Coast - North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks – has 85 miles of beaches framed by barrier islands and is home to a national seashore, a herd of wild Spanish mustangs, Blackbeardʼs sunken flagship, a towering lighthouse, world-class fishing, diving, boating, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and surfing, intriguing history, maritime heritage and some great dining.

For this Valentine’s weekend, the Crystal Coast (www.crystalcoastnc.org) features five-star restaurants preparing a special pre fixe menu, including Circa 81, Snapperz Grill, Steam Bar Surfari Restaurant and more. Additionally, the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores -- the largest saltwater aquarium in the state of North Carolina with more than 3,000 specimens -- is offering an evening for animal lovers to learn about underwater romance of the creatures of the sea, complete with dessert and gourmet coffee.

Along with a wide range of intimate activities, the Crystal Coast offers a variety of accommodations to suit every couples lifestyle and budget. From mammoth beach mansions - known locally as "sandcastles" - and B&B's to seaside cottages and comfortable condos, as well as campgrounds and cabins.

For example, the Seahawk Inn & Villas overlooking the Atlantic is offering a two-night Valentine's special at $129 plus tax -- with amenities such as, gourmet chocolate, champagne and compliment breakfast.

The Crystal Coast has long been a favorite destination of generations and represents one of the only remaining natural barrier island systems in the world. The Islands are strung together with 85 miles of coastline along the southern Outer Banks, 56 miles of which are in the protected Cape Lookout National Seashore.

Here’s a sampling of the Crystal Coast:

- Fort Macon, a five-sided fort that served
during the Civil War and World War II, as well as Blackbeard’s crew in the 1700s after they sunk and abandoned the legendary Queen Anne’s Revenge.

- Historic Beaufort, founded in 1709. The city is dotted with Victorian mansions from the 1700s including the haunted Hammock House, where ghostly activity has been seen from a young lady hung by Blackbeard from a live oak tree to three Civil War soldiers found buried under the porch.

- Mysterious wild Spanish Mustangs are the only permanent residents of Shackleford
Banks, a nine-mile long island where these survivors of Spanish galleon shipwrecks, have roamed for more than 400 years

- Cape Lookout Lighthouse, which warned passing ships of dangerous coastal waters where a hidden graveyard of more than 2,000 vessels made their final resting place at the bottom of the Atlantic.

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