Is Carolina Beach the best in North Carolina?

Ahhh the beach. Do you remember as a child going to the beach, doing cartwheels in the sand, eating ice cream, and complaining when your mom wouldn’t let you buy an exuberant amount of cheaply made souvenirs?

We all have memories from vacations we took as children and Carolina Beach is one of those places that people just can’t forget. The town leaves people with memories that will last a lifetime. It’s a town that you should definitely consider for a trip with your kids. The beach, the food, the surrounding areas, it’s all just too much fun.

Now, is it the best beach in North Carolina? Should it be your top pick for a beach to visit in N.C? Well, let’s take a look.

Carolina Beach in September

North Carolina is home to 300 miles of barrier island beaches. One of the most popular beaches in the state is Carolina Beach. I have been to a lot of beaches in the Tar Heel State; including Carolina Beach, several times. Something must keep me going back again and again. Right? There must be a reason that it’s one of the most popular beaches in the state, right? But, the question is, is it really the best in North Carolina? Let’s take a look.

Carolina Beach is just fifteen minutes from the popular city of Willmington. It’s also just ten minutes from Fort Fischer, which is a great side trip to go visit the Aquarium at Fort Fischer as well as the Fort Fischer State Historic Site. Carolina Beach is conveniently located not only to Wilmington and Fort Fischer but also Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach.

One of my favorite places to grab a bite to eat in Wrightsville Beach is at the Bluewater Grill! Delicious seafood and the servers are always wonderful with my kids!

Carolina beach has many advantages. There’s several frozen treat vendors, chair and umbrella rentals, easy beach access, and plenty of lifeguards.

Another restaurant that I like in Carolina Beach is the Ocean Grille & Tiki Bar. They has amazing fish tacos among other things. They actually have a fairly small menu, but they draw in a lot of customers because their location is so great. You can sit indoors, under the roofed porch, or right on the pier at an umbrella shaded table.

After you grab a meal at the tiki bar, head to one of the must visit sweet shops in Carolina Beach, The Fudge Boat. You can get a variety of home made fudges and ice creams there. As an avid traveler, I get asked a lot about the best things to do or the best places to eat in certain locations. When it comes to Carolina Beach, I always tell people to swing by The Fudge Boat. And I’m telling you the same thing now too. 🙂

I’ve included pics from The Fudge Boat and the Ocean Grille below just for your little wanderlust heart to indulge on.

mahi mahi tacos from the Ocean Grille and Tiki Bar
the view from the tiki bar
cookies & cream in a chocolate dipped sprinkle cone from the Fudge Boat
inside the Fudge Boat

There’s also free events in the town during the summer for people of all ages, as well as arcades, and equipment rentals.

Some great event options at Carolina Beach
-Rock the Beach
-Dragon Boat Regatta
-Beach Bacon and Beer
-Kite Festival
-Christmas by the Sea
-Free Movie Nights


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Carolina Beach in January
A busy Carolina Beach in July
Carolina Beach State Park

On top of its beauty, Carolina Beach is home to one of the top ten boardwalks ranked by Food and Wine Magazine. The boardwalk during the summer season is a poppin’ place with food stands and carnival rides. You can skate at the skate park, walk you dogs on the dog trails, camp, fish, ride ATV’s and hike.

You can also sit along the wooden walkway that runs along the beach. The walkway is elevated, you get to it by taking stairs from the boardwalk. There’s swings lining the walk way and you have quick and easy access to showers and water hoses to rinse off after the beach. You also have access to public bathrooms that are right off of this walkway on the boardwalk.

This makes Carolina Beach a really great options for mommas like me who travel with their kids, especially young kids who aren’t great at holding it in yet. When my girls were just potty trained, I always chose Carolina Beach if they were traveling with me because of all the amenities.

the wooded walkway just above the boardwalk next to the beach in September

Great Eats

Feeling hungry after a day of play? The city has a ton of restaurants to choose from. Sweet shops, grills, quick bites, seafood boils.. Carolina Beach has it all.

Squigley’s Ice Cream and Treats
They have over 4,000 flavors of ice cream!

Britt’s Donuts
This little donut shop has drawn national attention and has topped lists of Americas best donuts!

Lazy Pirate Island Sports Grill
This is a great place not only to eat but play as well. Their fenced in yard gives a space for visitors to play volleyball, cornhole, and other outside games.

Cape Fear Boil Company
They specialize in seafood boils that you can eat in house or take away for picnics or at home meals.

Carolina Smokehouse
PERFECT barbecue, salads, fried pickles, and more!

Carolina Beach in Febuary

One of the best parts about Carolina Beach is The Carolina Beach State Park. The park features a lake that once held the Guiness Book of World Records record for the closest freshwater lake to a body of saltwater. In the State Park there is a picnic are that’s next to a small beach with a great view of the water and passing boats. We hang a hammock, have lunch, and just enjoy the surroundings. 


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you can hang your hammock in the park and watch the boats go by
Carolina Beach State Park

Carolina Beach is an area of North Carolina that I have explored in depth. I’ve taken solo trips, trips with my little ones, with my husband, and with both sides of my family. (traveling with family is amazing right?) Now that my children are getting older they are starting to explore more and not be as afraid. Seeing them run toward the ocean waves with open arms both delights and terrifies my soul.

My oldest was running around us all to get to the water. Running between our legs and weaving from our arms held out to stop her. We only wanted her to wait so we could go with her. She’s so little and needs us there. She was just following her little hearts desires and it sent a wave of happiness through me to watch her chase after what she wanted. My little girls are taking after their momma, showing off their adventurous side, and learning so much right now. But, above all, I couldn’t be more proud of my girls.

If you are looking for a place to take pictures with a great view of the pier and ocean, head up to the northern most part of Carolina Beach (close to Wilmington.) At the corner of Salt Marsh Lane and Carolina Beach Avenue North is the perfect spot. The sand dunes are backed by large rocks before the sea and it makes for an incredible backdrop.


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the perfect spot to watch the sunset

So yeah, Carolina Beach is a great coastal city. But is it the best? In the northern most part of the state, is Corolla, (said “Cor-RAH-lah, not like the car) which is a very popular place in NC due to the herds of wild horses that live there.

There’s also the ever so popular Outerbanks which besides its beauty, has several lighthouses that draw in hundred of thousands of visitors, it’s also famous for being the location where the Wright Brothers first took flight. (hence why the NC license plates say “first in flight” on them) A downside to Carolina Beach is that it doesn’t have as much of a “high-end” feel as other NC beaches do.

In Conclusion

It’s really up to you. If you are looking to escape the crowds, Carolina Beach may not be for you. However, if you enjoy a lively beach town that’s close to other popular locations and full of opportunity then yes, Carolina Beach may just be the best beach in North Carolina.

Learn more about Carolina Beach, HERE.

Have y’all been this gorgeous coastal city? Am I missing out on something exciting in the area? Let me know below!

You can follow along on my travels on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest !


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