Crystal Coast Vacation Rentals

Tour NC Coastal Towns Made Famous by Nicholas Sparks Novels

Famed author Nicholas Sparks has often used the Crystal Coast as the perfect romantic settings for his beloved novels. He has lived in the area for years, and uses the local charm and natural beauty as inspiration for the books that so many have come to know and love. If you happen to be a Nicholas Sparks fan, you can easily visit these real-life places when you book your Crystal Coast vacation rental.

Plenty of well known literary creations were based on the author’s knowledge of a place. Like Stephen King’s creation of a fictional world in Northern Maine or Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird based in the Deep South, Nicholas Sparks’ writing is equally rooted in an area he is familiar with. His stories take place predominantly in quaint North Carolina coastal towns.

Sparks’ tragic love story, Message in a Bottle, was set in Wilmington, while Nights in Rodanthe used the same backdrop to tell its forlorn fable of sacrificial love. Sparks’ bibliography is more than inspired by North Carolina – the windy, coastal landscape is woven through every story.

Make oceanfront Atlantic Beach condos your home-base as you take daytrips to the various Sparks-inspired attractions in Edenton, Wilmington, New Burn, and the other seaside cities and towns from Sparks’ novels. Use this day tripping guide to the book lover’s must-see places!

Maybe you’ll be inspired to settle here for a few days or a few weeks to immerse yourself in the sites that inspired Sparks to create his masterpieces.

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New Bern

Sparks lives in New Bern, North Carolina Bern (about a 60-minute drive from Atlantic Beach) and has for several years, so naturally it is the setting for several of his novels. Visit New to see the Alfred Cunningham Bridge, an important site in the plot for a reunion in The Notebook. A Bend in the Road also uses the romantic and quaint setting of Union Point Park.

For an overview of the historic city – and, of course, to discover the many places mentioned in The Notebook, The Wedding, and A Bend in the Road – join one of the Heritage Walking Tours. These include themed tours on the area’s churches, Civil War history and monuments, and African-American history.

With Sparks being one of the town’s most famous residents, you’re sure to get plenty of information about the various sites that have been incorporated into his novels.

Other attractions to visit in New Bern include the North Carolina History Center and adjacent Tryon Palace which was the state’s first permanent capitol and showcases many important items from the state’s history such as porcelain, decorative pieces, and several books.


Swansboro (35 minutes from Atlantic Beach) is another key area of influence for Nicholas Sparks. Commonly known as The Friendly City by the Sea, the town is filled with scenic pathways along the water and hikes through the coastal foliage. The town’s historic district represents quintessential North Carolina coastal living and shopping. The area was a major place of action for characters in The Guardian.

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Wilmington (about 2 hours from Atlantic Beach) is the destination for a myriad number of Nicholas Sparks novels – the town exudes his work at every street corner and every water view. It was also the place where the 2013 smash-hit movie adaptation, Safe Haven, was filmed.

You can stop by the Wilmington Convention Center to see the setting where the two characters spent time, or visit the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area to see the setting for a pivotal character development moment by the beach – don’t worry, no spoilers here.


Edenton (about 2.5 hours from Atlantic Beach) is one of the most personal coastal villages for Sparks. His story, The Rescue, wears Edenton on its sleeve, from the history of the main character’s family home to the iconic bridge into town.

Both the local Episcopal Church and the Town Library help center the story’s narrative. The 250-year-old Cupola House is a town landmark, offering an illuminating look into nostalgic Edenton and its historical significance. These pieces help add to the story of The Rescue.

Set the Stage For Your Own Romantic Story

This guide scratches the surface of possible Nicholas Sparks book tour towns, sites, and attractions. These North Carolina towns have inspired a single writer to share his love for romance, often both tragic and beautiful. You can witness the settings and landmarks that have acted as the catalyst for some of the most inspiring tales of our generation. But you can set your own romantic scene by booking the perfect Outer Banks coastal cottage rental.

This vacation, grab a copy of The Notebook, and take self-guided journey through the tear-jerking stories of Nicholas Sparks. If you need help getting started, feel free to call us at (252) 247-7610 for more on our oceanfront Atlantic beach condos that can serve as the perfect home base while you explore these book tour sites and many other local attractions.

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