Overflowing with colorful characters, unique landmarks and good times, there’s only one Carolina Beach. Continue reading to discover 10 local favorites to explore while visiting this free-spirited, fun-loving destination.
1. Carolina Beach Mural Project – Since its first installation in 2020, the Carolina Beach Mural Project has transformed the town with eclectic artworks created by emerging North Carolina artists. Found on exterior walls throughout town, these murals illustrate Carolina Beach’s truly original history and culture. Take a self-guided tour using this map, or join a guided 90-minute Carolina Beach Mural Tour with Tasting History Tours, offered regularly during the summer and by request on weekends year-round. Check out the Carolina Beach Mural Project’s interactive Virtual Mural Tour for a sneak preview.
2. Carolina Beach State Park – In a setting complete with ecological wonders and steeped in history, Carolina Beach State Park offers 8.5 miles of hiking across nine different trails. Among these, the Sugarloaf Trail is a local favorite, offering a picturesque 3-mile loop known for its scenic journey through coastal forest and habitats to Sugarloaf Dune, a precolonial geological landmark.
3. Island Burgers & Bites – Tucked away inside the Island Kwik Mart, Island Burgers & Bites is a Carolina Beach classic known for serving juicy burgers and crispy bites. This hidden gem offers a menu ranging from loaded fries to candied bacon pimento burgers. Don’t just take our word for it: Island Burgers & Bites earned Yelp’s recognition as the "Top Cheeseburger for the State of North Carolina.”
4. The Veggie Wagon – The Veggie Wagon is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Look for the fresh market’s green exterior and stop by for delicious homemade food, including take-n-bake crab dip, pot pies and an assortment of handhelds. Gather at one of the spot’s picnic tables and savor your beach bites while enjoying an on-tap beer.
5. Fireworks by the Sea & Boardwalk Blast – During the summer, the vintage seaside Carolina Beach Boardwalk bustles with live music, amusement rides and fireworks celebrations, creating the perfect setting for timeless vacation fun. Held weekly on Thursdays and on Fridays during the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, the Fireworks by the Sea & Boardwalk Blast invites visitors to enjoy live music and family-friendly activities culminating in a fantastic fireworks display.
6. Britt’s Donut Shop – Less is more at Britt's Donut Shop! Since 1939, Britt’s has served hot, handmade donuts with a secret recipe that keeps locals and visitors coming back. Plan ahead to enjoy this time-honored Carolina Beach tradition, as Britt’s is cash-only, open seasonally and often draws a line down the Boardwalk.
7. The Fat Pelican – Greet the giant orange moose outside as you enter the ultimate beach dive bar, The Fat Pelican. This local hotspot is known for its no-frills service, quirky decor and a walk-in cooler stocked with hundreds of beers. For a truly laid-back experience, make your way to the back patio area, known as "Pelican Beach," where you can sip on your beverage, listen to music and sink your toes in the sand.
8. SeaWitch Café & Tiki Bar – Drink, dine and dance the night away at SeaWitch Café & Tiki Bar, a vibrant venue with year-round live music. Located between the Carolina Beach Marina and Carolina Beach Boardwalk, SeaWitch is perfectly situated to provide a lively atmosphere for both music lovers and beachgoers. This popular spot is also known for its flavorful dishes and cocktail creations.
9. Good Hops Brewing – Be sure to visit Good Hops Brewing, the only craft brewery on the island specializing in small-batch brews. This neighborhood watering hole is dog- and family-friendly, making it the perfect spot to sip on local beer in the taproom or outside beer garden. Don't miss Good Hops’ signature brews, like the Boardwalk Brown Ale or the Flip Flop IPA. Located behind the brewery, Trinity Disc Golf Course, a 9-hole, PDGA certified disc golf course, is open to the public.
10. Freeman Park Recreation Area – For an outdoor adventure, escape to Freeman Park on the north end of Carolina Beach. This stretch of undeveloped shoreline is popular for swimming, sunbathing, surfing and more. To access secluded spots for relaxing and surf fishing, purchase a daily access pass on-site and drive directly onto the beach from the public access point.