Whether you’re interested in history or coastal Southern fare, or you’re just visiting to get your feet sandy at the beach, Carolina Beach offers adventures for all types of travelers. Read on for trip ideas to help you plan a Carolina Beach getaway tailored to your special interests.
The Beach Lover
Three miles of shoreline and endless warm waves make for a beach day of your dreams. Make it even easier by renting chairs and umbrellas from RentABeachChair, and your equipment will be set up and waiting for you when you arrive.
Beach lovers won’t want to pass up the opportunity to wake up to ocean views by staying at one of Carolina Beach’s two oceanfront hotels. Both the Courtyard Marriott Carolina Beach Oceanfront and the Hampton Inn & Suites Carolina Beach Oceanfront are ideally located just off of the iconic Carolina Beach Boardwalk with access to the beach. Or, if you’re in the market for more space to spread out with killer views, consider an oceanfront rental house.
Speaking of the Boardwalk, take a stroll to experience its nostalgic beach charm for yourself. Named to Budget Travel’s list of “America’s Most Awesome Boardwalks,” it features classic seaside family fun with shops, restaurants and an arcade. Sample mouthwatering glazed treats from Britt’s Donut Shop, a Carolina Beach staple open seasonally, or indulge in hand-made old-fashioned fudge at Fudgeboat. In the summer, watch fireworks light up the night sky on Thursdays during the weekly firework and concert series.
The Water Bug
If you’re eager to dive in, you’ll find plenty of watersports and activities. Learn to catch a wave with friendly and experienced instructors from Tony Silvagni Surf School or Odysea Surf School, offering surfing and stand-up paddleboard lessons.
Join Paddle NC for a guided kayak or paddleboard tour of Carolina Beach State Park and take in the view from a unique perspective. Or, rent equipment from Pleasure Island Rentals to explore the area on your own.
Spend a day on the water cruising on Island Time Water Tours’ 23-foot Avalon pontoon boat as you learn about the island’s history from an experienced captain and skipper. Kick back and enjoy the views, but keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, sea turtles and other local wildlife. Later on, climb aboard Island Cruises' double-decker catamaran for a family-friendly narrated sunset cruise, or opt for a moonlight dance cruise complete with lights and festive dance music.
The History Buff
Experience history with a side of natural beauty at Carolina Beach State Park, which offers 761 acres of hiking trails, a marina and views of the Cape Fear River. Hike the Sugarloaf Dune trail to see the 50-foot sand dune where more than 5,000 troops camped during the Civil War.
At Joseph Ryder Lewis Jr. Park, you can explore 150 yards of carefully restored Civil War earthworks. Stroll along the boardwalks and gravel walking trail, complete with historic wayfinding signs, of this 10-acre park and learn about the important role it played in history.
View exhibits and audio-visual presentations portraying various historical periods from the prehistoric era to WWII at Federal Point History Center. Make sure to check out the popular Boardwalk tours which are returning on Tuesdays this summer.
For a truly unique taste – literally – of Carolina Beach’s past, book a tour with Tasting History Tours. The Signature Tour takes your senses on a journey through Carolina Beach as you visit historical landmarks, hear the island’s history and taste the flavors from local restaurants. For the 21-and-up crowd, the History in a Glass Tour provides samples of a variety of adult beverages from spots around the island, all while enjoying a shot of history.
Experience coastal Southern cooking with local restaurants that will delight any foodie’s taste buds. Carolina Smokehouse serves up family recipes that have been featured on PBS and the Food Network. Enjoy hardwood-smoked brisket, pork, ribs and chicken with a homemade barbecue sauce from the indoor dining area, the boardwalk patio or on their second level deck with stunning ocean views.
Using the freshest possible ingredients, Soul Flavor Kitchen & Bar prepares everything in-house, and you can taste the difference. Choose from fresh catch dishes, brisket, black bean chili, homemade soups, sandwiches, signature dishes and more.
Discover eclectic dishes with influences from the Caribbean, Polynesia, Cuba and all ports in between at Salt Fish Restaurant and Tiki Bar. The comfortable, island-casual restaurant serves up flavorful dishes like Saigon-Style Noodles, a half pineapple stuffed with shrimp and fried rice, fresh-caught fish of the day and more. Plus, sip on beer, wine or a signature Tiki cocktail.
At Fork n Cork Carolina Beach, experience for yourself what Guy Fieri loved so much about the restaurant’s Southern comfort food on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Choose from intriguing burgers, tender brisket, gourmet pot pies and more from the everchanging menu as you dine inside or on their sidewalk patio, both conveniently located near the Boardwalk.
From conquering the waves and relaxing on the shore to traveling back in time or surprising your palate, discover it all in Carolina Beach.