Travel in North Carolina: A look at Carolina Beach, N.C.

In North Carolina, we are blessed to have many wonderful beaches to choose to visit on any given day. And honestly, if you talk to different people from various parts of North Carolina, you will get lots of favorite beach towns simply based on where people live in the state.

Carolina Beach Waterway:  A vacation Guide to Carolina Beach in North Carolina

As we gear up for beach season, we'll look at some of the highlights of Carolina Beach, N.C. This beach town boasts a state park, a historic fort, an aquarium, a fresh lake, a fishing pier and a boardwalk. It is reminiscent of beaches from yesteryear.  Hotels are more limited on the island, but condo and home rentals are bountiful at affordable prices.

Extended families usually take beach vacations together, and Carolina Beach is a good spot to appeal to all ages.

Courtyard by Marriott at Carolina Beach

Where to stay:

Carolina Beach offers a variety of rental homes that are well suited for large groups. Choose from the amenities that are most important to your crew – including oceanfront, pet-friendly, on-site pool, nearby public beach access and more. Bryant Real EstateIntracoastal Vacation Rentals, and Network Real Estate are all good places to start, but if you want more options, there are nearly 150 Airbnb properties in the area that sleep five or more people.

If you are there for a long weekend and want more of a resort vacation with multiple rooms then the Courtyard by Marriott (Oceanfront rates begin at $313 for Marriott Members and does not include breakfast) or the Hampton Inn and Suites Oceanfront Resort (Oceanfront rates begin around $339 and includes breakfast.) I've not personally stayed in either hotel so I can only recommend based on the brand and not on personal Carolina Beach experiences.

Carolina Beach is filled with those family-run inns with the vacancy or no-vacancy signs. It's the epitome of hotel travel of generations before us. They are basic, affordable and can provide a traveler a weekend getaway without paying over $1,000 in a hotel for three nights. Visit Wilmington beaches for a complete list of properties. 

Time to bond

For those days when you want to find one activity for everyone to enjoy, consider coordinating a kayak or paddleboard group tour from Paddle NC at Carolina State Park. Looking for something more fast-paced? Take a group surf lesson from Tony Silvagni Surf School, which is owned by professional surfer and Olympic Gold Medalist Tony Silvagni himself. For those who prefer land, a self-guided bike tour lets you go at your own pace while learning about important Civil War and other historic sites at Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Fort Fisher. Wheel Fun Rentals offers single and double surrey bikes, as well as tandem bikes and kids trailers. Customize a group excursion through one of 20 available fishing charters or explore Carolina Beach’s waterways with one of several cruise offerings from Winner Party Boats, including moonlight dance cruises, narrated sunset tours and educational tours.

Fun at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk

Families reign supreme

When it comes to a family reunion or other family getaways, it’s important to consider everyone from the smallest tots to grandma and grandpa. A “tot lot” playground at Ocean Front Park in neighboring Kure Beach is specially designed for children ages 3 to 6. Adventure Reef, an outdoor interactive play area and fossil dig at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, is also ideal for younger travelers. The seaside swings and benches at Ocean Front Park are popular picks for older travelers, as are Fort Fisher State Historic Site and Museum – the second most visited tourist attraction in North Carolina – and the North Carolina Military History Museum. And lest we forget about those hard-to-please teens and tweens, the Carolina Beach Boardwalk has more than enough donuts, ice cream, fudge, amusement rides and live music to keep them occupied during the summer months.

Out and about town

The Tiki Bar at Carolina Beach

Groove to live music with friends at one of Carolina Beach’s live music venues like The Fat Pelican ranked as one of the top “Diviest Dive Bars in America” by, or The Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar, named one of “America’s Best Beach Bars” by There are plenty of great nightlife options at Carolina Beach, all possessing that low-key beach charm that makes everyone want to loosen up and stay awhile.

Craft Beer. In the mood to try out a delicious selection of craft beers? Head over to Carolina Beach’s Good Hops Brewery. Stop in for a free tour and tasting at the ale-focused brewery with more than two dozen varieties of beers for distribution to local bars, restaurants, and hotels. Good Hops Brewery is also one of the stops on the Port City Brew Bus – a bus tour that travels to breweries in the Wilmington area educating riders about the craft beer scene.

Don’t sweat it

Like the familiar sound of beach music tunes that float along the ocean air, Carolina Beach has a laidback, casual vibe that encourages regulars and first-time visitors alike to relax and be carefree, just like the locals. Plan your next tribe vacation to the island where flip-flops, tank tops and board shorts are widely accepted almost anywhere, every hour of the day is happy hour, and travel via golf carts is widely seen about town.

Thanks to Wilmington Area Beaches for contributing to this #OutaboutNC Carolina Beach Guide 

Carolina Beach Courtyard by Marriott Resort

A North Carolina Travel Guide to Carolina Beach, NC off the Coast of Wilmington, N.C.

Book Carolina Beach Courtyard by Marriott

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