Summer is on the horizon, and there is no better place to get out of the house for a fun-filled family vacation than at Carolina Beach. Whether you’re looking to splash in the waves, explore nature or indulge in delicious coastal fare, Carolina Beach is open for whatever brings you and yours happiness, joy and fun in the sun. 

Water Activities 

It’s no surprise that most people come to Carolina Beach to enjoy our waves and sandy saltwater shoreline. With three nearby bodies of water – the Atlantic Ocean, Intracoastal Waterway and Cape Fear River – there are plenty of places for families to partake in water experiences and explore.  

Sign up for a private kayak tour with Paddle NC and paddle out on an excursion to experience the nature and history of the waterways surrounding Carolina Beach State Park. Or, test your balance with a stand-up paddleboard rental and wander the waters that played a major role in the golden age of piracy, the American Revolution and the Civil War.


Adventure seekers will enjoy a private surf lesson with Tony Silvagni Surf School or Odysea Surf School. With free gear drop-off and pickup anywhere on the island, you’ll be catching a wave in no time!


For the fisherman – or woman – of the family, cast a line from land or sea to bring home the catch of the day. Set out on a private charter to discover some of the island’s best offshore fishing spots. 

Explore Nature 

Go beyond the beach to explore nature like you’ve never seen before. From rare carnivorous plants and colorful birds to hiking trails with waterfront views, there are plenty of ways to reconnect with nature in Carolina Beach. 

Spend a day exploring Carolina Beach State Park, where you’ll discover miles of hiking trails shaded by towering trees. Flytrap Trail offers the unique chance to catch a glimpse of the rare Venus flytraps that bloom in the park. Families enjoy an easy walk along Sugarloaf Trail. This three-mile trail begins at the marina, journeys through a coastal evergreen forest, tidal swamp and longleaf pine savanna on the way to Sugarloaf Dune, a 50-foot sand dune near the bank of the Cape Fear River.

Sugar Loaf Trail Carolina Beach State Park

Carolina Beach State Park - Sugarloaf Trail

There’s something for the whole family to enjoy at Freeman Park. Located at the north end of Carolina Beach, purchase a permit to drive along the shore in a four-wheel-drive vehicle. You can stop to go fishing from the shore, boating, swimming, crabbing or casting for minnows at the secluded park. 

Bring your four-legged friends along for an afternoon at Carolina Beach Lake Park. Located just two blocks from the ocean, take a relaxing stroll or bike ride around the lake path. 

Freeman Park

Satisfy Your Hunger 

Indulge in local, coastal flavors the whole family will enjoy as you order takeout or dine alfresco at one of Carolina Beach’s unique eateries. Look out across the Atlantic Ocean as you sip on a tropical cocktail and sample the fish tacos or a juicy burger at Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar

Pickup curbside or dine on the spacious outdoor deck or under the gigantic tiki bar at Lazy Pirate Island Sports Grill, where you can savor specialties like Conch Fritters and Baked Lobster Macaroni. Or, take a break from the beach with a meal from Hang Ten Grill. Next to Carolina Beach Lake Park, enjoy your favorite pub fare from the upstairs deck. 

After dinner, treat the kids to a delicious dessert to make your vacation extra sweet. Head to the Carolina Beach Boardwalk for one of the famous, handmade donuts at Britt’s Donut Shop or a bite of delicious butter and cream fudge from The Fudgeboat. For the ice cream lovers, choose from more than 4,000 flavor combinations at Squigley’s Ice Cream & Treats or enjoy extra-velvety Irish ice cream at Celtic Creamery.


No matter the activities you choose, Carolina Beach is excited to welcome your family back for another season of summer fun!

Don’t have time for a full week of vacation?  Check out these Family Road Trip Ideas for a quick weekend getaway.