Carolina Beach is a nearby destination that offers the opportunity to relax and enjoy plenty of activities and open spaces. Whether your family is in search of a weekend getaway, your group of friends or significant other is planning a trip or you’re contemplating a solo excursion, Carolina Beach is the perfect place to dip your toes in the water – literally and figuratively.
It’s easy to get here whether you’re already in-state, or you’re planning a trip from a neighboring state. Thanks to convenient access via numerous interstates, we’re only a quick car ride away for road trippers or anyone looking for an active staycation.
Read on for our guide to 48 hours in Carolina Beach.
Check in to Relaxation
Even if it’s only for a short time, find your home away from home at one of Carolina Beach’s lodging options.
Both of the island’s full-service hotels are located oceanfront and just steps from the famous Carolina Beach Boardwalk. The Hampton Inn & Suites Carolina Beach Oceanfront offers guest rooms and suites with scenic views of the ocean, an oceanfront pool and an outdoor tiki bar serving specialty drinks. The Courtyard Marriott Carolina Beach Oceanfront features spacious guest rooms, private balconies, seaside views of Carolina Beach, an outdoor, resort-style pool and an indoor pool.
If you’re looking for something quieter and more intimate, Beacon House Inn Bed & Breakfast is housed in a vintage 1950’s boarding house. There are also three cozy cottages available for guests traveling with pets or children.
Families wanting more space and privacy may want to reserve one of Carolina Beach’s vacation rentals, many of which feature amenities like direct beach access, decks with sunrise views, private pools, on-site grills and more.
Spend the Morning Waterside
Build the perfect breakfast sandwich at the grab-and-go Southerly Biscuit & Pie (currently open on Saturday and Sunday mornings). Then decompress by spending the next few hours on or by the water – it’s better than therapy!
- Enjoy some beach time! Carolina Beach’s three miles of coastline features lifeguards from Memorial Day through Labor Day
- Explore Carolina Beach Lake Park via kayak, or take a jog or stroll around the paved path that encircles the lake
- Rent a standup paddleboard or kayak from Paddle NC or walk or hike one of the trails at Carolina Beach State Park
- Cast a line on an inshore, nearshore, offshore or even deep-sea fishing charter
Afternoon on the Go
Grab lunch and a drink with seating and a view on the outdoor patio or tiki bar at The Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar. Or, pick up a picnic lunch from The Veggie Wagon, then find the perfect spot to enjoy the afternoon. The Veggie Wagon offers fresh fruits, vegetables and other homemade products from some of the best local farms and small-batch producers.
- Explore Fort Fisher State Recreation Area and Fort Fisher State Historic Site nearby on the island, both of which have plenty of space to explore outdoors including hiking and walking trails, oceanfront gazebos, a shaded picnic area and six miles of protected shoreline
- Bike the Island Greenway
- Head to the outdoor beer garden at the family-friendly Good Hops Brewing, where you can also enjoy disc golf and other games
Al Fresco Dinner and Drinks
End the day the way it started: enjoying the salty beach air:
- Order takeout or dine al fresco at Carolina Smokehouse (known for its hardwood-smoked brisket, pork, ribs and chicken), The Fork N Cork (The Food Network's Guy Fieri fell in love with their Confit Duck Wings and Beef Wellington when he was in town filming Diners, Drive-ins and Dives) or Nollie’s Taco Joint (known for having the “Best Tacos and Burritos at the Beach” and shaded decks)
- Or, pick up a seafood pot-on-the-go from Cape Fear Broil Company to prepare a Low Country Boil from the comfort of your vacation rental
Brunch with a Side of Adventure
Enjoy a lazy brunch at Havana’s or Seawitch Café & Tiki Bar, both of which offer outdoor dining. Then get in a bit of outdoor adventure before heading home:
- Take a surf or SUP lesson from Odysea Surf School or Tony Silvagni Surf School – private or group classes are available
- Explore under the sea with a dive excursion with Carolina Beach Scuba or dive The Condor shipwreck on your own
- Pack a picnic and explore Freeman Park or nearby Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, head out in your four-wheel-drive vehicle to explore the secluded shoreline
If a quick getaway or active staycation sounds like the perfect therapy, Carolina Beach has you covered.