Tag Archives: Wilmington Beaches

Wilmington Beaches: Spotlight on Carolina Beach

Carolina Beach NC

Location and General Info

Located to the North of Wilmington, Carolina Beach is a family-friendly beach town that has something for everyone. With a historical beachside boardwalk, a state park, miles of white sandy beaches, world-class fishing, and tons of events; Carolina Beach is a tourist attraction with fun activities for the whole family.

To get there from Wilmington: take Carolina Beach road, (also known as Highway 421). It will take you about 20 minutes from the downtown area.

The Beach

The white sands of Carolina Beach are perfect for a leisurely day of soaking up the sun. The ocean is inviting, especially at low tide where there are numerous tide pools to relax in. There are also a many water based activities for you to try out, such as kayaking and paddle boarding.  Surfing is also popular in Carolina Beach when the conditions are right. Fishermen can cast into the surf from the beach or hangout at the local pier and toss a line into the water.

The Town

After a day of fun on the beach, enjoy a stroll around the town center and boardwalk. Check out numerous jewelry, local art, and clothing shops; then walk out on the pier to watch the fisherman or catch live music. Numerous restaurants and bars line the streets and several attractions including a historical boardwalk (listed below) can be found in the town.

Dining

  • Britt’s Donuts– This bakery is known for its fresh, homemade, hot donuts on the Boardwalk. They’ve been written up by newspapers and magazines all over the state and a lot of the nation.  You will likely see a line outside this little establishment when its open but there is certainly a reason why. This is a local favorite and shouldn’t be missed; make sure to eat one while it is still hot!
  • The Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar– If you are looking for fresh steamed seafood and a few beers, this is the place to go. A casual, laidback oyster bar; Shuckin’ Shack serves oysters, shrimp, crab, clams and features daily specials (like 50 cent oyster Monday). Towards nighttime it turns into more of a bar atmosphere with several televisions for sporting events. Nothing fancy, just a fun place to hang-out and eat delicious seafood. Keep in mind this is a small dive-style bar and not appropriate for children.

Attractions/Activities

  • Carolina Beach Boardwalk– The bustling historic boardwalk is lined with pizza, donut and ice cream stands, and numerous entertainments for the entire family. Choose from miniature golf, batting cages, an arcade, and an amusement park. This is one of the last remaining beach boardwalks on the East Coast. Get your fill of donuts, ice cream, and fudge, play in the arcade, watch an outdoor movie, see the ocean from the Ferris wheel, dance to live music, and end your day with a display of fireworks.
  • Carolina Beach State ParkConsists of over 760 acres of unspoiled natural wilderness. With over 6 miles of trails, you can enjoy a walk while taking in the scenery. Packed with birds and other wildlife, the park consists of several coastal ecosystems including dunes, swamps, so the variety of inhabitants is quite varied. You can even find a Venus Fly Trap growing in its natural habitat. The park also has a marina providing access to some of North Carolina’s best fishing spots and a camping ground.
  • Fishing, boat, kayak, surfboard and bicycle rentals are also available in the town center

Events

  • Carolina Beach Farmer’s MarketSupport local farmers, bakers, and craftsmen at this Farmer’s Market held every Saturday from 8:00am – 1:00pm, May through September.  Shop an abundance of fresh and local fruits and vegetables, dairy products, wines, meats, baked goods and natural soaps while listening to live music; a great way to get outside and spend a Saturday morning.
  • Beach Music FestivalThrown annually for almost 30 years, the Carolina Beach Music Festival is one of the top beach music festivals in the United States. The event is held on the beach every year in June and promises a full day of live outdoor entertainment from the best beach music bands in the South. The whole family is welcome at this Festival and you may want to bring a cooler along with beverages and food. Tickets are $15 in advance. Children 12 and under are free.
  • Fireworks By the Sea and Boardwalk Blast MusicEnjoy free fireworks on the beach near the Carolina Beach Boardwalk at sunset every Thursday night during the Summer Months. The fireworks will begin at 9:00 pm. There is also live music on the boardwalk these nights from 6:30-9:30pm. The fireworks and music entertainment are free and open to all.
  • Movies at Carolina Beach LakeThe town has a free movie showing throughout the summer on Sunday nights at Carolina Beach Lake Park. Bring your chairs or blanket and find a spot on the lawn where the whole family can enjoy a newly released movie. Typical move refreshments such as soda, popcorn, and candy are for sale but you are also welcome to bring your own food and beverages. Movies start at dusk.=

For more information about Carolina Beach on the Visit Carolina Beach website.

Wilmington Beaches: Spotlight on Kure Beach

Kure Beach North Carolina

Where it’s Located

Just past Carolina Beach on the southern-most tip of Pleasure Island; Kure Beach is a small, quiet and relaxed beach town. Surrounded by natural beauty and home to some major American history, it is a great place to spend the day.

To get there from Wilmington: take Carolina Beach road, (also known as Highway 421). It will take you about 30 minutes from the downtown area.

The Beach

If you are looking for a quiet and open beach just a short drive from all the city action then Kure Beach is for you. The natural surroundings of this white sandy beach will appeal to those wishing to experience the beach away from the crowds. Oak trees, tidal creeks, and marches are scattered about with the several areas boasting incredible views of the ocean and river. A large part of this land remains undeveloped, exhibiting the wonders of a natural coastal environment. You may see parts of the beach roped off as Kure is a nesting area for loggerhead sea turtles and other rare species.

The Town

At the small town center, you’ll find the Kure Beach Pier, several restaurants, a convenience store and amusements for the kids. You can walk to town or bike on a bike path.

The Kure Beach Pier is a public fishing pier.  They sell fishing tackle, bait, rod and reel combos on site. There is also a concession stand, arcade and large souvenir area. It is open April-November.

Dining

  • Freddie’s Restaurant is a friendly, family-owned establishment serving up authentic Italian cuisine. The small restaurant is located right by the pier and is a local favorite. The atmosphere is cozy and casual. Freddie’s menu has various Italian staples such as lasagna, ravioli and spaghetti; however, they are best known for their “special” pork-chops. If you have a larger party, be sure to call ahead for reservations.
  • Jack Mackerel’s Island Grill is a Caribbean-feel restaurant and bar located just steps away from the pier. The restaurant features island inspired seafood dishes and tropical drinks. Inside you will find a colorful island atmosphere or you may dine upstairs on the outdoor deck seating area that has views of the ocean. There is also a full bar with 10 wide screen TV’s throughout the bar area.

Attractions

  • Fort Fisher State Historic Site, the “Last Major Stronghold of the Confederacy,” is North Carolina’s most visited historic site and the scene of the two largest naval bombardments of the Civil War. The official website states that “Ft. Fisher kept Wilmington’s port open to blockade runners supplying necessary goods to Confederate armies inland… this was the last remaining supply route open to Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. When Ft. Fisher fell after a massive Federal assault on January 15, 1865, its defeat helped seal the fate of the Confederacy.” Today, the Fort Fisher visitor center boasts an exhibit hall detailing the battles and presents the history of the fort. A half-mile outdoor tour trail circles the remains of the western bastion of the fort. Visitors may enjoy the scenic views of both the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean as they explore the site. Admission is free. 
  • North Carolina Aquarium. This beachfront aquarium is a must-see for anyone visiting Kure Beach. Recently expanded and remodeled the aquarium showcases both fresh water and salt water aquatic life. Tanks inside display a large assortment of sea life including: moray eels, stingrays, sharks, jellyfish, sea horses, octopus, sting rays, and various types of fish. There is also a rare albino alligator on the premises, named Luna. Watch as divers feed sharks and fish or head over to the “Coastal Waters Gallery” to get some hands-on action. Here you can actually touch sea urchins, horseshoe crabs and other sea critters. Admission is $8 for ages 13 to 61, $7 for ages 62 and older, and $6 for children ages 3 to 12.

Events

Dig the blues? Want to sample some tasty, locally caught seafood? The Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues & Jazz Festival is a two-day festival held annually in October. Set between the ocean and the Cape Fear River at the Fort Fisher Military Recreation Area in Kure Beach, there is music on two stages and two days filled with great music, delicious local seafood, and much more. Check out their website for tickets and dates.