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? Or maybe you remember your overpriced hermit crab dying on the way home, despite taking care of it precisely as the salesman told you to. Or maybe that’s just my own first memories of the beach, I don’t know. Either way, Carolina Beach brings a lot of fond memories into my mind of my childhood. Even though I never went there as a child, so much about it reminds me of being just a little girl playing in the sand without a care in the world.

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. There’s also free events in 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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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.

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!

By far my favorite part of the 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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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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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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