Thanks to steadily increasing vaccination rates and rising temperatures, many families are eager to plan a summer trip. Offering a variety of attractions, activities and places to eat perfect for kids of any age, look no further than Carolina Beach for your next family-friendly vacation.
Read on for our guide on top things to do for families with kids of all ages before booking your next trip:
Toddlers & Preschoolers
Perfect for families with little ones, discover an ideal beach retreat at one of our full-service hotels. Relax by the outdoor pool or retreat to your private balcony to take in views of both the beach and the Boardwalk at the Courtyard Marriott Carolina Beach Oceanfront. Enjoy the outdoor pool (and tiki bar for parents) plus direct beach access at the Hampton Inn & Suites Carolina Beach Oceanfront, making it easy to corral young children and avoid the hassle of having to haul beach chairs, toys and more.
Family fun and sweet treats await at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk. Stop in to one of the colorful shops like The Fudgeboat, offering hand-made fudge and other chocolate goodies, or Britt’s Donut Shop, serving handmade glazed donuts loved by locals and visitors alike. Spend lunch time at Carolina Beach Lake Park, a great place for a picnic and enjoying time outside. Walk or bike along the paved path encircling the lake, or turn the kids loose on the playground. Or, venture to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher nearby on the island to explore outdoor play areas and visit the new “Otters on the Edge” exhibit, home to a family of Asian small-clawed otters.
Get a pizza from Fentoni’s Pizzeria delivered to a picnic location of your choosing. Kids will love the pizzeria’s classic options from mozzarella sticks and garlic knots to cheese pizza and more, while adults can opt for specialty choices like the BBQ Chicken or Meat Lover’s pizzas. Or, find something for everyone at SeaWitch Café & Tiki Bar. Try a signature dish like Firecracker Shrimp or the Steam Pot, and choose from one of the kid’s menu options like chicken nuggets or grilled cheese. Enjoy live music with your meal in one of the restaurant’s outdoor dining areas.
Get “squiggled” at Squigley’s Ice Cream & Treats, where you can blend fruits, candies and more into a custom ice cream flavor served in a cup or fresh homemade waffle cone. Let the kids’ imaginations run wild with their creation made from sweet treats like Oreos, peanut butter cups, Lucky Charms and more.
As the kids get older, families may need more room to spread out. For amenities that will keep the kids busy while giving you plenty of space, choose from one of our area hotels and motels. Stay in a seaside condo at Atlantic Towers, offering two-bedroom suites ideal for the whole family. Or, opt for a stay at Golden Sands Beach Resort to stroll along the private pier featuring sweeping shoreline views and enjoy spacious “split rooms” with two separate bedrooms and a kitchenette.
Keep even the most energetic kids engaged with a variety of active adventures and outdoor activities. Kids can embark on a tandem kayak tour with their parents at Carolina Beach State Park with Paddle NC, where you’ll escape the crowds and discover area wildlife. After your tour, explore the park on foot along a variety of hiking trails. Or, learn to surf with a lesson from Odysea Surf School or a week-long surf camp with Olympic Gold Medalist Tony Silvagni at Tony Silvagni Surf School.
Enjoy casual family-friendly meal options from pub favorites with peek-a-boo lake views to award-winning local seafood. The whole family will love the traditional favorites at Hang Ten Grill like nachos, burgers, wings, fries and more, as well as a separate children’s menu upon request. Try the World-Famous Clam Chowder and other seafood choices at Michael’s Seafood Restaurant. The kids’ menu features dishes like crispy chicken, kid’s shrimp and cheese pizza, and the restaurant has a variety of fun coloring and puzzle games to play while waiting on your meal. For a sweet treat, stop by Celtic Creamery for extra-velvety Irish ice cream and a variety of creative confections using tasty toppings, fresh doughnuts and cookies.
Tweens & Teens
For families with older kids, our vacation rentals offer all the conveniences of home while giving the kids some space of their own. Perfect for any size family or budget, choose from options including single-family beachfront homes and 1950s-era coastal cottages.
From unique ways to explore the island to activities kids can enjoy on their own, tweens and teens will find plenty to keep them entertained in Carolina Beach. Take on some friendly competition at Mike Chappell Park’s sand volleyball or basketball courts or bring your board to the 8,000-square-foot skate park complete with ramps, rails and bowls. Or, play a round of disc golf at Good Hops Brewing while the parents enjoy a Boardwalk Brown Ale or Flip Hop IPA in the beer garden.
Experience Carolina Beach’s artsy side with a self-guided tour of local murals. Snap a selfie in front of “Carolina Dreamin’” at Crush & Grind or visit Carolina Beach Mural Project’s newest installment, “Record Weekend,” at SeaWitch Café & Tiki Bar. Stroll along the Carolina Beach Boardwalk to enjoy seaside amusement rides and an arcade, along with live music during the summer and seasonal fireworks starting in July. If you’d rather explore by water, kids and teens ages 10 and up can certify as junior divers and partake in a shallow diving excursion with Carolina Beach Scuba or go on a half-day fishing charter.
Taste your way across Carolina Beach’s trendy eats and find some of the area’s most popular and delicious bites from family-focused barbecue to gourmet donuts and more. Specializing in real-pit barbecue, Carolina Smokehouse serves hardwood-smoked brisket, pork, ribs and chicken as well as burgers, sandwiches and fried shrimp. Savor unique specialties such as Conch Fritters and Baked Lobster Macaroni at Lazy Pirate Island Sports Grill while playing games like checkers, cornhole, beach volleyball and more. Perfect for snapping a photo, hang out on the pier at The Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar. Take in panoramic views while dining on seafood-focused sandwiches and tacos. To satisfy your sweet tooth, try a one-of-a-kind donut at Wake N Bake Donuts like Wake N Bacon, with bacon crumbles and a maple glaze, or Purple Rain, featuring lavender sprinkles.
With a variety of unique experiences, attractions and family-focused dining, every member of the family will find something to enjoy in Carolina Beach this summer.