With spring break just around the corner, look no further than Carolina Beach for a trip overflowing with fun for the whole family, even hard to please teens and tweens. Full of spectacular views, ocean adventures and unexpected dining options, there is something for everyone at this laid-back island destination. Get inspired with these trip ideas the whole family will love and make memories at a beach known for its good times and good vibes.
Adventurers with a pair of sea legs will find exciting, hands-on experiences on and around the beach. If you want to enhance your surfing skills, Tony Silvagni Surf School, led by Olympic gold medalist Tony Silvagni, is perfect for beginners of all ages looking to catch their first wave. Or, if you already know your way around a board, you can rent equipment and venture out on your own.
Paddle out on the Cape Fear River and explore both nature and history with a guided kayak tour from Paddle NC. Kids and parents looking to build their kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding skills can take lessons, and confident paddlers can rent equipment to embark on their own adventures.
Experience natural sea life and wildlife with Island Time Water Tours on a 23-foot pontoon boat for excursions lasting from two hours to a full day. The captains and skipper will keep the whole family entertained with area history while you try to spot dolphins, sea turtles and other local wildlife, or dock on an uninhabited island to search for seashells and other treasures. At dusk, relax on a family-friendly narrated Sunset Cruise down the Intracoastal Waterway on a double-decker catamaran with Island Cruises.
If relaxing beach days are more your speed, rent beach chairs and equipment from RentABeachChair. You can even schedule your equipment to be set up and waiting for you when you arrive on the beach each morning.
Adventure on land with activities and attractions for all ages and interests. Named one of the most awesome boardwalks in America by Budget Travel, the Carolina Beach Boardwalk features classic seaside family fun. Indulge in homemade ice cream and fudge, shop for unique memorabilia or play games in the arcade, a favorite of teens and tweens.
Take the family for a scenic hike at Carolina Beach State Park, filled with miles of trails and historical sites. In the spring, the rare carnivorous Venus flytrap, native only to southeast North Carolina, blooms along the Flytrap Trail. The park’s 761 acres are generally flat, making them accessible to nearly everyone, including most wheelchairs and strollers. After exploring the trails, bring a picnic of fresh fruits, veggies and house-made food from The Veggie Wagon to Carolina Beach Lake Park and enjoy the lake, walking path, playground, gazebo and picnic shelter.
Rent bikes from Pleasure Island Rentals and discover the island on two wheels along the 1.2-mile Island Greenway, a paved path that takes pedestrians and bikers safely through town with plenty of scenic spots to stop and snap a family picture.
There’s no better way to stay at Carolina Beach than oceanfront. Wake up to the sights and sounds of the sea with a room or suite at the Hampton Inn & Suites Carolina Beach Oceanfront. Kids, teens and adults alike will enjoy the oceanfront pool and Tiki Bar (mocktails only for the younger guests, of course) with a fire pit, as well as direct beach access.
The Courtyard Marriott Carolina Beach Oceanfront offers beautiful ocean views right from your room. Kick back on your private balcony or unwind by the outdoor resort-style pool or indoor pool with a drink or snack in hand from the bistro. Both hotels are conveniently located near the Carolina Beach Boardwalk for easy access to all your favorite restaurants and things to do.
If you’re looking for the comforts of home while you’re away, there are many vacation rental options on the island. Find the perfect space for your family, whether that’s a cozy beach cottage, a single-family home with sunrise views or a spacious vacation home where teens will thank you for the extra privacy, complete with private pool and beachfront access. Rentals include all the conveniences of your own home and more, from fully equipped kitchens to fresh linens, with some even offering beach chairs and toys. Discover all the vacation rentals Carolina Beach has to offer and even more top places to stay in the area.
Favorite Family Foods
If one thing’s for sure, it’s that there’s no shortage of good eats in and around Carolina Beach. Start your day off on the right foot at Kate’s Pancake House and pile your plate high with pancakes, biscuits and other classic breakfast choices, or check out Britt’s Donut Shop, opening for the season on April 2, for the best homemade glazed donuts around. It is frequently ranked as one of the top donut shops in the country, so make sure to taste one of their sweet treats for yourself!
Head to Havana’s for a casual lunch in one of their three outdoor seating areas or to the teen-approved Nollie’s Taco Joint for some quirky skateboard decor and nachos, tacos, burritos, quesadillas and salads. Familiar with Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives? Dine at the Carolina Beach location of The Fork n Cork to see what Guy Fieri loved so much about the restaurant’s southern cuisine. Butts n Such is new to the neighborhood and features comforting old-fashioned country cooking in a retro-casual setting.
Treat your family to a delicious dinner on the island. Carolina Smokehouse serves up amazing hardwood-smoked brisket, pork, ribs and chicken with homemade barbecue sauce that has been featured on PBS and the Food Network. Entertainment for the whole family awaits at Deck House Casual Dining, in addition to delicious fresh seafood and hand-cut steaks. The younger crowd will enjoy the arcade game room with a jukebox and pool table, while the adults can enjoy the full-service bar. Experience a traditional low country boil at your vacation rental with Cape Fear Boil Company’s to-go steamer pots.
More Fun Nearby
There’s even more fun just around the corner. Take a quick trip to nearby Kure Beach to spend an afternoon at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, recently ranked one of the “25 Best Aquariums of the U.S.” by VacationIdea.com. Explore stunning indoor exhibits of aquatic environments and wildlife and stroll through the aquarium’s outdoor garden. Also nearby in Wilmington is Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park, a water park featuring awesome waterslides for thrill-seeking teens, a wave pool, lazy river and huge Kiddie Splash area for the younger kids, as well as mini-golf, laser tag, go-karts and rock climbing.
Make this year’s spring break one to remember with Carolina Beach’s one-of-a-kind, family-friendly activities, attractions and accommodations. Fun-filled days in the sun await with entertainment for all, so plan your spring break today.