Turn back time with a retro retreat to this authentic, always-original destination. From colorful motels to classic coastal activities, Carolina Beach brims with laid-back, unpretentious beach experiences. Plan a throwback-style getaway defined by vintage vibes and good times.
Stylish Vintage Stays
Get groovy with a suite at The Starlite Inn, a boutique B&B that combines contemporary comfort and colorful, retro style. In addition to midcentury-inspired décor, the inn provides invisible service and an ideal location near the beach. The newly remodeled Dry Dock Inn offers rooms that can accommodate up to six people, an outdoor pool, retro renovations and proximity to all the action in Carolina Beach.
Recharge in the whimsical, family-owned Joy Lee Apartments, where your accommodations will include a private porch, living room and two bedrooms. This vacation spot stands out with a sunny yellow façade, beautiful arches, stylistic railings and winding steps. Crafted in 1945, the property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its unique art deco, prairie and mission design.
Brighten your getaway with an oceanfront stay at the SeaWitch Inn, where your tangerine-or teal-hued door will open to a comfortable, uniquely decorated room. Soak up some sun lying poolside on the patio or head to the beach through the inn’s private access, then clean up at the outdoor shower station. Known for its vibrant exterior, Drifter’s Reef Motel welcomes guests with its cozy environment, large outdoor pool area and pet-friendly rooms.
Good Times & Good Vibrations
A handful of vintage beach boardwalks remain on the East Coast, but there is only one Carolina Beach Boardwalk. Named among the “Best Boardwalks in America” by Fodor’s Travel, this original attraction blends past and present – and delights visitors with classic seaside fun and colorful sights and sounds. Find the Boardwalk’s Carolina Beach Arcade to relive the childhood thrills of family favorite games like skee-ball. Or, stroll down memory lane with the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society’s seasonal weekly Historic Boardwalk Tours and hear tales and stories from the Boardwalk’s heyday.
Cruise around the island in old-school style with beach bike rentals from iRide Carolina Beach, or add a modern twist with one of the electric bike options. Take your wheels on a self-guided tour of 14 eclectic Carolina Beach Mural Project public art displays dotting our lively streets. Inspired by a vintage postcard, the “Welcome to Carolina Beach” mural is a picture-perfect backdrop for documenting your vintage adventures.
Nothing inspires nostalgia and joy quite like a classic beach day. Whether you choose to fly colorful kites or construct the tallest sandcastle around, soak up the sun and down-to-earth fun with gear from Pleasure Island Rentals. The outfitter will deliver beach chairs, loungers and umbrellas directly to your chosen spot.
Carolina Beach’s surf craze rolled in around a century ago – and today’s wave-riders can follow in the sandy footsteps of an Olympic gold medalist and true surf pro through Tony Silvagni Surf School’s lessons. Aspiring surfers can also get stoked for private or small group instruction from Odysea Surf School, which provides all the gear and expertise required to hang ten.
At the 1950s-style Pop’s Diner, jam to old-school jukebox tunes and transport your taste buds to a simpler era with burgers, hotdogs and more. Another must-try burger, named North Carolina’s best by Yelp, can be found at the walk-up Island Burger & Bites. Or, stop by Nauti Dog for specialty hot dogs – you can’t miss its blue and white exterior!
Featuring a retro-Caribbean-inspired atmosphere, Salt Fish Restaurant and Bar serves garnished tiki cocktails and eclectic dishes made with fresh local ingredients. Dine at the vibrant Soul Flavor Kitchen & Bar for a menu focused on Southern flavors and inspired by the spirit of soul music.
Serving up simplicity since 1939, Britt’s Donut Shop is famous for hot, handmade glazed delights. Yelp even ranked the beloved Boardwalk spot among the “Top 100 U.S. Donut Shops.” Stop by the pink-painted Fudgeboat for handmade fudge and old-fashioned candies. Cool down with a cone from Squigley’s Ice Cream, which has been scooping more than 4,050 homemade flavors and specialty desserts since 1994.
Book your nostalgic stay and discover a time capsule of good vibes and authentic experiences in Carolina Beach – and create new vacation memories that will become your future "good old days."