Carolina Beach offers visitors more than your average beach vacation. Experience the Carolina Beach Boardwalk (ranked one of the most awesome boardwalks in the country by Budget Travel), Carolina Beach State Park, one-of-a-kind events, fresh-to-table dining, nightlife, live music, watersports, first-class fishing, and all kinds of people united by their love of a good time. The area is known for having great weather and fairly mild temperatures year-round. Carolina Beach is located within an easy 30-minute drive from Wilmington, which was named one of "The South's Best Cities" by Southern Living and previously named one of TripAdvisor’s “Top Destinations on the Rise,” and is home to more than 200 restaurants, shops and attractions in the downtown area alone.
There’s certainly no shortage of storylines here – please find a sample list below. Let us know if you need assistance with a story you don’t see listed.
Take a Quick Trip
Carolina Beach provides a wide array of enjoyable activities for families, couples and friends, perfect for a stress-free weekend road trip or short escape. The area is easily accessible for travelers from in-state or nearby states, making it the ideal destination for road trippers. Enjoy a long weekend filled with outdoor adventures and scenic beauty in our beach town brimming with vibrant local culture. Opt for a seaside stay in a full-service hotel or vacation rental. Spend time in nature at state and municipal parks and eco-trails. Find fresh flavors in our burgeoning foodie scene and sip on unique libations while taking in water views. Soak in laid-back beach vibes while exploring Carolina Beach on your next weekend getaway.
Music lovers flock to Carolina Beach to enjoy the sounds of local bands, traveling musicians and popular music festivals. Signature events include the Carolina Beach Music Festival — one of the country’s longest running music festivals and the biggest and only music festival held on the beach along the North Carolina coast — and the Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues and Jazz Festival.
Carolina Beach is the perfect destination for a family vacation. Plenty of things to see and do means both the kids and adults will be kept entertained. Thanks to kid-friendly finds like an award-winning boardwalk and seaside amusement rides in the summer, to surfing and stand up paddleboard lessons, to free outdoor movies and fireworks, families keep coming back year after year. Even hard-to-impress tweens and teens will request a repeat visit!
The waters surrounding Carolina Beach are home to some of the best offshore and inshore fishing in the area. For those in search of competition, Carolina Beach hosts numerous tournaments throughout the year like the annual Pleasure Island Surf Fishing Challenge in October. Great fishing can be found at Carolina Beach from May into December.
Many couples have selected Carolina Beach as the locale of choice for their destination wedding over the years for its romantic oceanfront backdrop and original seaside charm. Carolina Beach has numerous venues to choose from like ballrooms, tiki-bars, a seaside boardwalk and, of course, the oceanfront.
Bring your four-legged friend with you during your next trip to Carolina Beach. Beginning April 1, leashed dogs are allowed on the beach daily before 9:00 a.m. and after 5:00 p.m., even during peak season. During the off-season (Oct. 1 through March 31), dogs are allowed off-leash at Freeman Park. Another great place to take man’s best friend is Carolina Beach State Park, a dog-friendly secluded camping area with miles of hiking trails perfect for off-road adventures with your pooch.
The Carolina Beach Boardwalk features classic seaside family fun with shops, restaurants, a seaside amusement park in summer months and nightlife entertainment for the whole family. The Boardwalk is also home to special events like the Fireworks and Concert Series during the summer and Christmas by the Sea during the holiday season. And don’t forget about the famous Britt’s Donuts.
Cruises and Tours
Set out for a day on the open seas by embarking on a water adventure. Discover a new and exciting boating experience – and give your legs a workout – with Sea Legs Pedal Pub. A skilled, licensed captain steers while you and fellow boaters propel the vessel forward by pedaling through the scenic water surrounding Carolina Beach.
Become one with nature while you bike, run or walk the Island Greenway – a 1.2-mile paved path that takes pedestrians and bikers safely through town. Or, spend a day exploring the hiking trails at Carolina Beach State Park where you’ll find indigenous carnivorous plants like the rare Venus flytrap, pitcher plants, sundews, bladderworts and butterworts. For eco-water adventures, grab a kayak from Paddle NC to discover Carolina Beach’s waterways.
For a tour that is a little less nature and a little more indulgent, grab your walking shoes and embark on a Tasting History Tour. On this journey, you will learn about the rich history of the laid-back beach town while you feast on Carolina Beach fare. Or, learn about the history of one of the last remaining boardwalks on the east coast, the Carolina Beach Boardwalk, during the summer Boardwalk Tours.
Vintage Experiences for New Generations
The past and present collide happily at Carolina Beach. From the Carolina Beach Boardwalk to the Carolina Beach Music Festival to beach motels, several present-day attractions offer visitors a nod to the past. This coastal community is ideal for groups like multi-generational travelers — there’s plenty to please everyone from grandma and grandpa to the grandkids, and everyone in between.
Experience nightlife at Carolina Beach by visiting local favorites such as the Fat Pelican, voted as one of “The 32 Diviest Dive Bars in America” by impulcity.com, thanks to its legendary walk in cooler and a bar made out of a boat. You can also groove to the tunes from local and regional bands at The Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar — named one of “America’s Best Beach Bars” by Thrillist. com — and Seawitch Café & Tiki Bar, which features a regular lineup of live entertainment starting in the spring each year.
Millennial travelers seeking authentic experiences will want to plan a getaway to Carolina Beach. Enjoy coastal cuisine served at trendy, non-chain restaurants like Coast Craft Cocktails & Calabash and craft beer from local brewery Good Hops. Get an adventure fix on the water with activities including fishing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding or surfing. Groove to live music while making new friends at one of Carolina Beach’s live music venues.
Fit for a Foodie
Dining at Carolina Beach takes you beyond your typical beach fare. Carolina Smokehouse moved its family-owned location and Food Network-worthy BBQ recipes from Cashiers, NC, to Carolina Beach. Soul Flavor Kitchen & Bar brings to life the flavors of the South while Coast Craft Cocktails & Calabash delights taste buds with flavors from the sea. Salt Fish Restaurant and Tiki Bar serves up meals with Caribbean and Polynesian influences all made using fresh, local ingredients.
Travel with your Tribe
When it comes to group getaways, variety is the name of the game. From watersports and a state park, to live music and landmark attractions, to special events, trendy culture and fantastic shopping in nearby Wilmington, even the most difficult-to-please traveler will be hard pressed to not find something that tickles their fancy in Carolina Beach. Whether your tribe is made up of extended family or close friends, Carolina Beach offers a variety of rental homes that are well suited for large groups.
Give back during your next trip to Carolina Beach with opportunities ranging from leading hikes to interpreting astronomy to sharing your bird expertise at Carolina Beach State Park, or leave a negative carbon footprint after attending Whomporama, an annual event where volunteers walk up and down the beach collecting trash before the body surfing competitions begin. Ocean Cure helps make the beach 100% accessible for a fun-filled day in the surf, sun and sand. Volunteer opportunities range from helping on land to assisting in the water.
Annual events and festivals at Carolina Beach include the Carolina Beach Music Festival (June); Boardwalk Film and Fireworks Series (June through August); Carolina Beach Dragon Boat Regatta and Festival (September); and Island of Lights Festival (Thanksgiving through New Year’s).
Outdoor and Eco-Adventures
Try your hand at kayaking or stand up paddleboarding, fishing in the surf or catching waves atop a surfboard. Olympic gold medalist Tony Silvagni offers rentals and lessons for all your watersport adventures. Explore natural wonders at Carolina Beach State Park, home to 13 different habitats amongst its 761 acres. While hiking along the trails there, you’ll find carnivorous plants like Venus flytraps, which are rarely found growing natively in the United States. Visitors also flock to the area in the fall as the Loggerhead sea turtle nets scattered along the shoreline begin to hatch.
Escape the stress and traffic that often comes along with the holiday season and spend time experiencing the nostalgic charm of Carolina Beach. The Island of Lights Festival, a month-long celebration, kicks off the day after Thanksgiving with the Light Up The Lake ceremony and culminates with the New Year’s Eve Countdown. Other events include the annual Holiday Flotilla on the Intracoastal Waterway and Christmas by the Sea at the Boardwalk.