Calabash NC is a quaint waterfront town located on the Calabash River, the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. Shrimp boats and fishing charter boats are plentiful along the riverfront. Fresh seafood is unloaded daily to be served in the over forty restaurants in town.
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Oak tree lined avenues make up most of Calabash NC but the town features shops, restaurants, art galleries and much more. There are also over a dozen top golf courses in the town within ten miles making it one of the top golf destinations in the country.
Calabash NC was part of a 48,000-acre grant made in 1691 to Landgrave Thomas Smith. Prior to 1750, The Boundary House was built as a place of rendezvous for travelers. The Altson family owned most of present-day Calabash NC at Little River Neck during the late 1700s.
The area became known as Pea Landing in the late 1800s due to the cultivation of peanuts nearby that were shipped from here to Wilmington.
Somewhere around 1890, Samuel Thomas bought Hickory Hall Plantation. His descendants still live in Calabash NC to this day.
In the late 1940s Calabash NC became known for its seafood restaurants and, subsequently, as the “Seafood Capital of the World.” Calabash NC was incorporated in 1973.
According to the local folk lore, sometime in the 1930s fishermen brought in their catch and were met by the locals to make their purchases. Calabash NC quickly gained a reputation for its high quality of fresh fish and shrimp.
The fishing crews were fed beneath the oak trees, and when the local residents became aware of the delicious aroma of fresh fish cooking in the big pots they were prompted to buy any leftover cooked seafood.
Clinton Morse, a local businessman, invented “Calabash style” seafood when he began to serve up deep-fried seafood that had been dipped in a light seasoned batter, cooked to a golden brown and served very hot.
These open-air picnics were the beginning of the many original family seafood restaurants that are now run by descendants of the founders.
The rumor is that Jimmy Durante’s signature sign-off, “Good-night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are,” was aimed at the owner of a particular restaurant here after he visited and partook of these local culinary specialties.
Sitting on the banks of the Intracoastal Waterway, Calabash NC still retains much of its original small town fishing-village atmosphere. The restaurants are numerous, and deep-sea fishing boats are docked in town waiting to take visitors for the adventure of their lives.
There are many golf courses nearby and there are many small boutiques and art shops as well as one very large store full of souvenirs, Christmas decorations and much more. With 1,794 year-round residents, Calabash is abutted on the west by the town of Carolina Shores, a residential retirement community with a shopping center with a chain grocery store located on U.S. 17 South.
With its its location at the North Carolina/South Carolina border Calabash NC is only a short drive from all the shopping, dining and entertainment of Myrtle Beach, SC .