This fall, embrace the carpe diem spirit of Carolina Beach with a spontaneous trip of your own to this laid-back beach town. With these trip ideas, don’t worry about making reservations or planning things to do months in advance, just hit the road and enjoy autumn at the coast. 

Keep reading to discover activities to enjoy on an impromptu getaway to our free-spirited beach town:

Active Adventures

Take advantage of the mild fall temperatures and spend some time outside in Carolina Beach’s coastal setting. Lace up your walking or running shoes or grab a bike and get moving on the Island Greenway’s multi-use paved path through Carolina Beach.

Head over to Carolina Beach State Park to traverse a variety of distinct habitats on its nine miles of hiking trails. Sugarloaf Trail, a favorite of many park guests, winds through several diverse habitats on the way to the Sugarloaf Dune. Reaching 50-feet high, this sand dune was a landmark for seafarers searching for Wilmington as far back as the 1770s and was used by troops in the Civil War to defend the nearby port. The Flytrap Trail is another favorite thanks to the rare Venus flytraps that can be spotted along the path at certain times of year.


If you are still wanting to spend some time on the water, fortunately Pleasure Island Rentals has you covered. Surfboards, stand up paddleboards, bodyboards and kayaks? Rent any of them by the day – no advance booking needed – so you can relax and enjoy a fun day on the water.


Classic Island Color

While you’re out and about in Carolina Beach, look for each of the murals from the Carolina Beach Mural Project. This non-profit organization celebrates Carolina Beach’s rich history through public art. Each mural is created by a different artist, reflecting a variety of styles and themes. Find each one on this map.


One of the few remaining vintage boardwalks in the country, Carolina Beach Boardwalk offers beautiful year-round views of the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to two levels of gorgeous ocean views plus seafood and snacks from the bar and grill, stop into Hurricane Alley’s for local craft brews and micro brews in a charming tiki hut atmosphere. Or, indulge in some friendly competition at the Carolina Beach Arcade.


Happy Hour Bliss

Settle in for an evening of drinks with Carolina Beach’s eclectic bars and restaurants offering craft beers and cocktails. Located just across from Carolina Beach State Park, Good Hops Brewing’s taproom and beer garden offer fresh-brewed ales, wine, North Carolina cider, local gluten-free beer and fresh kombucha. Sip on a flagship beer or try to catch one of their limited availability brews on tap, like the Pleasure Island Pilsner. Plus, try your hand at disc golf on their free course.


Follow the Caribbean Breeze to Salt Fish Restaurant and Tiki Bar. Along with the award-winning chef’s Caribbean- and Polynesian-inspired fare, this restaurant and bar serves beer, wine and signature tiki cocktails. Escape to island paradise with a Mai Tai, Passion Fruit Mojito or a Pineapple Royal served in a whole pineapple.


Planning a vacation doesn’t have to be stressful when so many fun and unique activities in Carolina Beach don’t require advance planning or reservations. With these no-planning-required trip ideas, a relaxing getaway to the coast will be a breeze.