EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WNCT) – With Memorial Day weekend ahead, visitors from across the state and country are traveling to the Crystal Coast to enjoy the beach.

Shops and restaurants in town are looking forward to the boom in business from this long holiday weekend, which marks the unofficial start of summer.

“This is my first time to the North Carolina beach and visiting Emerald Isle, and we’re already saying this needs to be a yearly event. We want to come back. This time of year just seems perfect,” said Deborah Lowther, who is visiting from El Paso, Texas.

She said this is her first time seeing the Atlantic Ocean and it’s lived up to her expectations.

“Hearing the waves, feeling the breeze, smelling the salt air, everyone that you meet is so friendly as you’re walking on the beach,” she said.

As more visitors trickle in for the holiday, businesses throughout town expect to pick up as well.

“It was an awfully slow winter here on the island,” said the owner of Brigg’s General Store and Bar, Evelyn Davis. “Memorial Day kicks off the summer. I know summer is a month away. But for the tourism season, this is the weekend.”

The holiday is expected to be a great boost to many of Atlantic Beach’s small shops and stores.

“It really helps the local economy when you shop, drink, and eat local,” added Davis.

Restaurants in the area say they are expecting to have every table, booth and barstool full this weekend.

“If it’s not a beautiful day outside, you can come inside to get something good to eat, get something to drink, and, you know, still make the most out of it,” said Julian Johns, manager at Rucker Johns.

They all hope to keep the tourists coming in for the rest of the summer.

“Rentals are booked up. The businesses are, you know, ready to do as much in the next three, four months as possible because this is our season,” Johns said.

Some of the hotels on the island say they’re full this weekend and plan to stay like that all summer long.