Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in Carolina Beach, NC

  • Published 2023/03/29

Carolina Beach is a beautiful town in the southeastern part of North Carolina.

It is significantly known around the world for its beautiful beaches and the attractions that surround them.

From classic reserves to fantastic nightlife, Carolina Beach is a must-visit destination for those who love to travel.

Stunning state parks, restaurants serving freshly caught seafood, and a slew of water sports activities await you at this slice of paradise.

Whether you’re interested in relaxing on the beach, kayaking, or learning how to ride the waves on a surfboard, Carolina Beach is the destination for you.

Are you ready to start planning your tropical getaway?

These are the best things to do in Carolina Beach, North Carolina:

Go Fishing at One of Carolina Beach’s Famous Fishing Locations

Gorgeous sunset over Wrightsville beach

Ian McRainey /

A visit to a beach destination like Carolina Beach can’t be complete without going fishing.

As licenses are required at public fishing areas, visitors may opt to go to fishing piers that charge fees or avail of chartered fishing trips.

People walking along Kure Beach Pier

Teagan F /

The town is home to many famous fishing locations, including Carolina Beach State Park, Wrightsville Beach, Kure Beach, Johnny Mercer Pier, and Gulf Stream Fishing Cruise.

You can also try out different types of fishing techniques in the area.

Daytime view of John Mercer Pier

Chansak Joe /

Try Disc Golf at North Regional Park or Arrowhead Park

While golf is one of the most common vacation activities, disc golf is a different type of activity you can enjoy in the Carolina Beach area.

The place has four-disc golf courses where you can rent a golf disc at a surprisingly low rate of $10.

North Regional Park in Castle Hayne is the most famous place to enjoy this sport.

This course has 18 holes and is perfect for all your golfing adventures on a chilly day.

Another famous disc golf course is Arrowhead Park, which is surrounded by beautiful hills that result in a very picturesque landscape.

Experience the Best of Carolina Beach’s Nightlife Scene

A tropical vacation is not considered complete unless you enjoy a night out at the beach.

Carolina Beach is a place where you can easily pull an all-nighter without even realizing it, thanks to its many beautiful and fabulous bars.

The small town has a large number of beach bars that are ready to welcome and serve visitors all night long.

One such bar is the Fat Pelican, which serves excellent drinks and a rustic, eclectic vibe.

The crowd at this place is great, and you will definitely enjoy your stay.

Another such place is Crush and Grind, which is perfect for enjoying some craft beer and fantastic coffee to keep you up all night.

Some other places that you can check out at night are SeaWitch Cafe & Tiki Bar, The Last Resort, and Nollies Taco Joint.

Go Camping at Carolina Beach State Park

Nature trail at Carolina Beach State Park

Mx. Granger, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Carolina Beach State Park is one of the best destinations in the town where you can enjoy nature and its beautiful creatures.

The park is an ideal place to visit right before the sun sets, as it offers the best sunset views in the entire town.

It also has a fishing platform and a boat launchpad where you can enjoy boating in the Cape Fear River.

Two people strolling at Carolina Beach State Park

Jed Whitley /

You can also hike on the trails of the park.

What makes this park even more exciting is that it is home to a Venus flytrap, one of the most famous types of carnivorous plants.

You can also enjoy camping in this park, as it includes a shaded campsite.

The park is full of wonderful things, and you should definitely visit it when you’re in Carolina Beach.

Sandy trail beside the waters of Carolina Beach State Park

Gerry Dincher from Hope Mills, NC, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spend Time with the Whole Family at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk

Aerial view of the Carolina Beach Boardwalk

Kyle J Little /

The Carolina Beach Boardwalk is a central destination for enjoying various activities with family and friends.

The boardwalk is surrounded by many restaurants, amusement rides, and shopping stores that make the place ideal for a family visit.

It is neither too big nor too small and is located right on the oceanfront.

Daytime view of the Carolina Beach Boardwalk

refrina /

Live musical performances and firework displays are also organized at the boardwalk during the summer season, and those are just the real deal.

The Carolina Beach Boardwalk is also ideal for enjoying sunsets, thanks to its oceanfront location.

The place has a very chilled and comfortable energy and allows you to spend some quality time away from adventure and tiring activities.

View of the ferris wheel from Carolina Beach Boardwalk

Jay Yuan /

Bite into Delicious Glazed Donuts from Britts Donut Shop

Grabbing a bite at Britt’s Donut Shop is considered to be an important part of any trip to Carolina Beach.

Even if you are not a very big fan of donuts, you have to try the glazed donut sold at Britts Donut Shop.

While it’s most famous for its donuts, the place also sells coffee, soft drinks, and different flavors of milk.

It is so popular among locals and tourists that it is pretty common to find a long line outside the shop.

However, the line moves really quickly, and the wait is definitely worth it.

Treat Yourself to Fresh Oysters at Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar

For all those people who can’t get enough of seafood, Shuckin’ Shack is the place to visit.

This place is known as an oyster institution in Carolina Beach.

Famous for its delicious oysters, this restaurant is often heavily crowded.

The restaurant serves different types of oyster dishes and additional seafood dishes.

You can also find some refreshing beverages on their menu.

With their unique cooking styles and traditional recipes, Shuckin’ Shack is definitely going to organize a party for your taste buds.

Take a Yoga or Pilates Class Right on the Beach

Yoga in Carolina Beach

Heymo /

Most of us feel that it is difficult to maintain a healthy routine while on vacation.

With all the unhealthy eating and excessive calories, it’s important to arrange some refreshing and healthy activities for the body.

If you are someone who believes in this, Salty Dog is the perfect place for you.

It is a yoga studio that conducts yoga, pilates, and barre classes on a daily basis.

However, these classes are not organized indoors but on the beautiful beaches, parks, and other outdoor spaces.

In addition, the place also organizes amazing beach yoga workshops and retreats.

People from around the world visit Salty Dog in order to learn some yoga asanas and try them out on the beach.

Drive Your 4×4 Vehicle on the Sand at Freeman Park

Freeman Park

Charles Chadwick Talton /

Freeman Park is a different kind of beach attraction among residents and visitors of Carolina Beach.

This beach area is famous as one of those beaches that allow you to drive your 4×4 vehicles in the sandy areas.

The park is only accessible using vehicles and is ideal for activities like swimming, fishing, as well as camping.

You can also enjoy boating, crabbing, and casting.

The place is home to a large variety of local wildlife, sea grasses, and dunes, which also enables you to get a peek into the area’s natural setup.

Freeman Park is a perfect place to drive to when visiting Carolina Beach.

Rent a Surfboard and Learn How to Ride the Waves

A kid surfing in Carolina Beach

Billy Hathorn, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Carolina Beach and the entire North Carolina coast is considered to be a great place to enjoy activities like surfing.

The place is also great for people who are not experienced surfers and want to pick up this sport.

So if you are interested in learning how to surf, you should head to any of the beaches in the Carolina Beach area and rent your own surfboard.

You can start on your own or get an expert lesson as the tides can get really high sometimes, and it might not be safe to start surfing alone.

For renting surfboards and other equipment, you do not have to worry, as there are a lot of facilities that provide this rental equipment.

Tony Silvagni is one such service that provides rentals, surfing sessions, and surf camps.

Have a Satisfying Meal at Hang Ten Grill

If you miss regular fast food like burgers, Hang Ten Grill is a place you should definitely check out on Carolina Beach.

The place is famous for serving some of the best burgers, sandwiches, tacos, and seafood under one roof.

All these dishes are made using fresh beef, bread, and nachos and are completely inspired by local traditions.

The restaurant also serves special weekend breakfasts that include freshly-made waffles, pancakes, biscuits, and salads.

In addition to the food, the restaurant is also famous for its wide collection of drinks and spirits, such as their signature beverages made using unique methods.

The restaurant is set up overlooking Carolina Beach and is a perfect place for enjoying traditional and delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

A separate kids’ menu is also available on request and is yet another attraction of this restaurant.

Enjoy a Night of Beer and Disc Golf at Good Hops Brewery

Go to Good Hops Brewery to enjoy disc golf and some delicious craft beers at the same time.

It is one of the most famous places to enjoy your time during almost all seasons of the year.

The brewery is also very popular as it has both indoor and outdoor seating options.

This place has a great and extensive craft brew menu.

Good Hops Brewery is dog-friendly, which makes this place all the happier and more lively for customers.

Step Back in Time at Fort Fisher State Historic Site

Confederate monument of Fort Fisher State Historic Site

Jill Lang /

Explore the largest earthen fort in the south as you visit Fort Fisher State Historic Site.

Ten percent of this Civil War-era Confederate fort remains, along with a palisade barrier that has been repaired.

At Shepherd’s Battery, you may see a 32-pounder seacoast cannon that has been painstakingly rebuilt.

Welcome sign of Fort Fisher State Historic Site

Ruth McNeill Photography /

An audiovisual show tells the fort’s history at the tourist center before all excursions begin.

Take a stroll along a live oak-shrouded nature walk that includes educational displays.

Fort Fisher State Historic Site offers a family-friendly historical experience that people of all ages may enjoy.

Cycle around the Area with Sea Legs Pedal Pub

Many people are familiar with Pedal Pub tours, which allow you and your pals can embark on a beer tour while pedaling around town.

Sea Legs Pedal Pub takes this concept to a new level by bringing beer enthusiasts out on the sea in pedal-powered boats.

You may bike at your own speed while enjoying a beverage and conversing with fellow cyclists as you take in the sights of Carolina Beach.

Tours are 90 minutes long, and you will be accompanied by an expert guide.

A two-hour Fireworks Cruise is available on Thursday nights in case you’d like to add it to your itinerary.

If you are interested in bringing your own liquor, feel free to do so.

Explore Carolina Beach with a Rental Bike from Pleasure Island Rentals

Ride a beach cruiser on a sunny day, and you’ll never forget the experience.

Renting a bike is a great way to spend a day on the island of Carolina Beach.

Carolina Beach State Park and the Carolina Beach Boardwalk are connected by an excellent cycling route on Old Dow Road.

If you’re interested, pleasure Island Rentals has bicycles for hire in Carolina Beach.

To be clear, the bikes are not meant to be used on the sand; you’ll need a fat bike for that.

Enjoy Sweet Treats at The Fudgeboat

Building sign of The Fudgeboat

Tony Prato /

Fudge, dipped chocolates, candy corn, and even gift boxes of dipped pretzels and dipped strawberries are available at The Fudgeboat.

Red velvet fudge, a seasonal classic, is available throughout the year.

For more than a decade, the shop’s counter, constructed from a historic wooden boat hull and painstakingly refurbished, has delighted visitors and residents alike.

Even though the store is only open for a limited time each year, you may still place your orders.

Celebrate with the Locals during the Carolina Beach Music Festival

Let loose on the beach while listening to good music and dancing to the beats.

Check out the Carolina Beach Music Festival for a day of nonstop musical brilliance.

One of the country’s oldest and largest music festivals, this event takes place every Saturday in June along the North Carolina coast.

Sing, dance, party, and enjoy booze!

Visitors to the Carolina Beach Boardwalk may enjoy live music from the south’s most famous beach bands and dance the night away on the sand.

Spend a Day at Carolina Beach Lake Park

There are a lot of things to do at Carolina Beach Lake Park, especially if you’re traveling with a large group of family or friends.

Situated Lake Park Boulevard South, Carolina Beach Lake Park is a small inlet of water that’s extremely close to the ocean.

There’s a lot of things you can do around and in it—activities like paddleboarding and biking are common things done by locals here.

You can also enjoy the awesome views here thanks to a nicely built boardwalk.

If you’re going on the weekends, Carolina Beach Lake Park has a lively farmers market on Saturdays and offers free movie nights on Sundays.

Grab Breakfast at Granny’s Country Kitchen

Granny’s Country Kitchen is perhaps the best spot in Carolina Beach to have breakfast, found along Lake Park Boulevard South.

There’s something charming about having a homey meal to start the day, and both the food and ambiance of Granny’s Country Kitchen hits the spot.

From the smell of their coffee to the scrumptious biscuits and gravy, this is an awesome way to enjoy the coastal vibes of Carolina Beach.

Being that it’s affordable, don’t be afraid to order a lot of their classic American breakfast meals, such as hashbrowns, french toasts, and an assortment of savory pancakes.

One of the best places to start your day, Granny’s Country Kitchen won’t disappoint.

Have Barbecue by the Sea at Carolina Smokehouse

Found along Pavillion Avenue by the sea, Carolina Smokehouse is a scenic way to enjoy barbecue in Carolina Beach.

With a modern beachfront restaurant design, this is also a great place to hang out with friends and family over refreshing drinks and cocktails.

They have a big menu and everything’s good, but try getting started with their succulent chicken barbecue and their tender brisket plates.

Carolina Smokehouse also has other non-barbecue items on the menu, such as their bang bang shrimp with fries.

One of the best places to have lunch or dinner by the beach, don’t miss out on Carolina Smokehouse.

Have a Picturesque Lunch at Havana’s Restaurant

While Havana’s Restaurant isn’t located at the beach, this place makes up for it with its flavor-packed cuisine and beautiful interiors.

Located along North Lake Park Boulevard, Havana’s Restaurant is formerly a 1916 cottage, now converted into a restaurant specializing in seafood.

While Carolina Beach is filled with delicious eateries, Havana’s Restaurant is regarded as the top of the top, making it perhaps the most visited restaurant in the town.

Try their seafood dishes like the shrimp n’ grits, volcano shrimp, crab dip, and seafood lasagna.

If you’re feeling carnivorous, they’re famous for their bison burgers and sliders as well.

A culinary attraction in Carolina Beach, this is a must-visit for all foodies out there.

Cool Down at Fun Time Ice Cream

Nothing beats the feeling of enjoying a cold dessert while you’re by the beach—Fun Time Ice Cream is an expert at delivering this experience.

Located along Lake Park Boulevard South, this is a go-to stopover by thirsty tourists and locals who are craving for something cold and sweet.

They’re renowned for their shakes on top of their ice cream and soft serve, plus they even serve burgers and hotdogs if you’re feeling hungry.

Other nice additions to their menu include shaved ice and funnel cakes served fresh and hot.

A great stopover for dessert and snacks by the beach, Fun Time Ice Cream is a no-brainer for a nice cold treat.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Visit the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

Moon jelly fish in Fort Fisher aquarium

Gilbert S. Grant /

Located in the neighboring town of Kure Beach, the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is a place that kids and adults alike can enjoy.

This aquarium is a bit different from the others that you would find in the US.

It is dedicated to carrying out real research about the life of aquatic animals as well as marine ecology.

The aquarium has a large number of exhibitions and shows that are organized on a daily basis.

A small fish in North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

imac-cheese /

The place also has some aged animals.

One of them is a rare alligator, while the other is a rescued eagle named Maverick.

The place also operates a butterfly garden during the summer and spring seasons.

With a large number of aquatic animals and unique interiors, the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is definitely a must-visit attraction.

Tridacna clam at North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

Sarr Cat, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go Kayaking in Zeke’s Island Reserve

Located right next to the Fort Fisher Aquarium, Zeke’s Island Reserve is a famous and stunning island that is not very developed but is a renowned vacation destination among visitors.

The total area of the reserve is almost 1,635 acres, and it comprises a vast collection of islands.

The island is perfect for enjoying activities like birdwatching and learning about the local wildlife.

Another famous activity on this island is kayaking.

Zeke’s Island Reserve is considered to be the one place where you can enjoy kayaking or canoeing without any interruptions.

However, make sure that you take proper safety gear with you in order to safely face the high tides.

Take a Boat Ride to Masonboro Island

The waters of Masonboro Island

Coastal Girl /

Masonboro Island is the largest site in the North Carolina Coastal Reserve and covers almost 5,600 acres of beautiful beaches, tidal flats, marshlands, and maritime forests.

The place is definitely a haven for birdwatchers and nature lovers.

It is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna on its 8.54-mile shoreline.

Royal terns at Masonboro Island

Coastal Girl /

The island is accessible only via boat.

Masonboro Island is also one of the state-protected lands, and the area is free from human interruption.

A large number of rental companies provide boats so that you can visit the island and enjoy a peaceful time here.

Camping at Masonboro Island

Coastal Girl /

Final Thoughts

As a tourist destination, Carolina Beach offers visitors the chance to enjoy a historic beachfront promenade with live music, miles of pristine beach, and some of the best fishing in the world.

Discover More of New Hanover County, NC

Things to Do in Wrightsville Beach, NC

Things to Do in Kure Beach, NC

© All rights reserved.