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Seas the day at Wilmington Beaches—Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville.
One of the best things about Raleigh is its proximity to the beach—just zip down I-40, and in a few short hours, you’ll be sitting with your toes in the sand, the sound of waves lapping in your ears and not a single worry in mind. Ahh… we can picture it now.
The Wilmington Beaches—Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach—are the shortest drive from the City of Oaks, and offer the perfect summer daytrip or weekend getaway when you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
It’s all about the good times and tan lines at the Wilmington Beaches, and there’s shorely plenty of that to be had.
Besides the beach—obviously—these coastal NC hot spots boast fun activities for the whole family. Take a surf lesson or stand-up paddleboard on the Intracoastal Waterway; visit the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher; nosh on fresh seafood with the ocean as your backdrop; or sip a local brew in the sunshine. There’s so much to do and so much to “sea,” you’ll need more than a couple of days to do it all. So book a week—and consider your plans covered.
Fort Fisher State Recreation Area
Hop from the beach to the salt marsh trails along the 6 miles of wildlife at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area. The protected shoreline is home to shells, starfish, sea urchins, loggerhead sea turtles and other species. Bonus: Four-wheel-drive vehicles are allowed seasonally with permits. ncparks.gov
35th Annual Carolina Beach Music Festival
Dance barefoot in the sand to live music from local bands, including Jim Quick & Coastline, Band of Oz and Blackwater Band, at the biggest beach music festival actually held on the beach. Coolers, beverages and food are allowed, so you can fuel the fun all day long. Aug. 14, wilmingtonandbeaches.com
Blockade Runner Surf to Sound Adventures
Outdoor lovers, this one’s for you. Spend the whole day out on the water with a plethora of water activities, including a sunset harbor cruise, Masonboro Island hopper cruise, seaside yoga and kayak rentals, in which you’ll paddle your way through the salt marshes, tidal creeks and protected waters of the Intracoastal Waterway. blockade-runner.com
Britts Donut Shop
You can’t go to Carolina Beach without standing in line on the Boardwalk for these famous homemade glazed doughnuts. Having amassed a cult following, Britts frequents top 10 “best doughnut shops in the country” lists (also crowned best doughnuts in NC, natch). So, a true hole in one. brittsdonutshop.com
This colorful beach shack just over the bridge from Wrightsville Beach serves up a delicious Panamanian menu inspired by owner Hunter Tiblier’s upbringing in Panama. Nourish your body with tapas, empanadas, seafood dishes and, of course, ceviches, all made with only the freshest of ingredients. wbceviche.com
Ida Thai Cuisine
This hidden gem at Carolina Beach serves up some of the best Thai food in the area—think chicken satay, spicy basil noodles, som tom (papaya salad) and a multitude of curries. The crowd-favorite coconut cake is heavenly—and a must-have dessert after any meal. idathairestaurant.com
No Sunday scaries here. By day, this South End WB cafe serves coffee, lattes, milkshakes, smoothies and acai bowls in rotating flavors. By night, come out for wine and local beer, plus grub from area food trucks. facebook.com/sundayswb
Waterman’s Brewing Company
Well-known NC brewmaster Bob High concocts a variety of easy-sipping beers that go down effortlessly after a day on the water. Choose from the Sea Love Sour made with locally harvested sea salt; Stoker’s Select, a passion fruit summer blonde ale; and more. Plus, enjoy daily specials like 75 cent wings on Wednesdays and half-price wine bottles on Thursdays. watermansbrewing.com
The Fat Pelican
Beach shack meets dive bar at Carolina Beach’s The Fat Pelican, a legendary locale where locals and visitors alike gather for beer, wine and live music out on the sandy picnic area. Grab a few beers for the beach from the walk-in cooler (350-plus on offer!). “I’ve got my toes in the water… cold beer in my hand.” thefatpelican.com
Blockade Runner Beach Resort
Eat, stay and play at this good vibes-only beachfront boutique resort in Wrightsville—the place to stay when visiting the coast. Enjoy Sunday jazz brunch at the go-to hotel’s uberpopular EAST Oceanfront Dining resto, poolside drinks, surf lessons and more all in a day’s work—er, vacay. blockade-runner.com
Carolina Beach Realty
Since 1963, Carolina Beach Realty has been pairing tourists with their dream vacation homes in Carolina and Kure Beach, whether that means a small oceanfront condo for a couples’ getaway or a large beachfront home for the whole fam. carolinabeachrealty.net
The Lighthouse Inn
The newly renovated The Lighthouse Kure Beach is “a little place for big moments”… what with its nine luxury apartment suites just steps away from the beach. The rooms are the perfect homebase for your next seaside vacay—each with a private balcony with ocean views, functional kitchenettes, and modern decor and amenities. kurelighthouseinn.com
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