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HIDDEN GEM: On your way to the Crystal Coast (NC), try ‘Skylight,’ the BBQ spot that put NC on the map

When you are heading to the North Carolina coast, you have so many options. You can choose the Outer Banks, you can head south and choose one of the sleepy beach towns of Southern North Carolina, or you could go where the water is always the most blue, and choose the Crystal Coast.

The Crystal Coast is the name given to the stretch of islands located right in the middle of the NC Coast. It’s known for its blue waters and its natural beauty. Emerald Isle, Indian Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, Atlantic Beach, and Cape Lookout are the most popular destinations in this area.

If you’re coming from the North or the West, we advise taking the route that runs through Ayden, NC. That’s because Ayden is arguably the BBQ capital of the state, and while there are a few great options around the town, none is more widely known (or tastier) than Skylight Inn BBQ.

Pete Jones opened Skylight in 1947, when he was 17, and it’s been in the family ever since. Skylight is said to be the first place to serve pit BBQ to the public in NC.

There’s nothing fancy about this place, but we stop here whenever we are heading to the Crystal Coast. The chopped eastern BBQ is AMAZING. It has these little bits of skin in there that give it a unique texture and a slight crunch to every bite. The cornbread is unlike anything I’ve ever had. It looks like a sponge, but don’t be alarmed, it’s freaking tasty! And the property is spacious, with great covered outdoor seating, a big field for the kids to run around, and even some goats to check out from the farm next door.

Here are some shots from our latest trip!

Food images from Skylight Inn BBQ’s Instagram.