15 Best Things to Do in Kure Beach, NC

Kure Beach, NC
Gary C. Tognoni / shutterstock.com

Located roughly 15 miles south of Wilmington, North Carolina, the town of Kure Beach is known for its rich maritime history, involving fishing and piers.

The town also got its name from a family of settlers, who also lent their names to a post office that has operated since 1942.

Likewise, the town also hosts one of the Atlantic Coast’s oldest piers, the Kure Beach Fishing Pier.

Construction on the pier began in 1923, and it has undergone numerous restorations and renovations due to wear and tear.

It’s an example of the rich history animating the culture of Kure Beach.

This small beach town offers guests a comfortable but entertaining vacation, miles away from the bustle of the big city.

Its calmness allows families to deepen their bonds through a pleasant retreat.

You can visit several attractions and historic sites to fill a weekend schedule.

Some examples of these attractions are the Ocean Front Park, the Fort Fisher State Historic Site, and the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

Do you want to know more about Kure Beach, NC?

Here’s a list of the best things to do in town:

Cast a Line off the Kure Beach Fishing Pier

Sunset at Kure Beach Fishing Pier
Nate Rosso / Shutterstock.com

The newly renovated Kure Beach Fishing Pier stretches to 711 feet, allowing visitors to cross its length or stop in the middle to fish.

If you’re in the mood to fish, you can also buy bait, rods, reels, and tackle at the nearby Bait Shop and Store.

Then, head to the closest concession stands to buy snacks when you hear your stomach grumbling.

Silhouette of Kure Beach Fishing Pier
tony740607 / Shutterstock.com

Keep in mind, though, that you can’t bring alcohol to the pier.

It’s a family-friendly space where your kids can freely roam around to see the coastline running for miles.

You also don’t need a fishing license to fish off the pier, though you need to pay a nominal fee.

Likewise, the pier is free to guests who are not fishing.

Far view of the Kure Beach Fishing Pier
Matthew Hodgkins / Shutterstock.com

Learn History at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site

The Fort Fisher State Historic Site is one of the historic sites you can visit at Kure Beach.

During the Civil War, this fort helped support the Confederate war effort by keeping the port of Wilmington open to runners supplying the troops fighting inland.

The fort also held on throughout the war, becoming the last supply route to Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

Fort Fisher fell to Union forces on January 15, 1865, sealing the Confederacy’s defeat.

Today, guests can tour the fort and see reconstructions of a 32lb seacoast gun mounted at Shepherd’s Battery.

Guests can also walk along the shaded, scenic trail, passing through enormous earthworks, ending up behind the fort.

Likewise, guides will give you important historical context.

Some exhibits also feature recovered items from sunken blockade runners.

Spend the Day at the Ocean Front Park and Pavilion

Located at 105 Atlantic Avenue, the Ocean Front Park is a major outdoor attraction at Kure Beach.

The park opened with a grand celebration, filled with live concerts, open-air markets, and other entertainment options.

During your visit, you can explore the park’s centerpiece, the massive open-air pavilion.

You can also rent the place for private celebrations.

For instance, you can tie the knot inside the pavilion, giving you a view of the pristine blue Atlantic Ocean.

Otherwise, you can hold birthday parties, anniversaries, and showers here.

Moreover, Ocean Front Park also allows you the chance to engrave a Corian Commemorative Bluefish into its Atlantic Avenue boardwalk.

Leave a lasting legacy at Kure Beach, and get a reason to come back again and again.

Enjoy the Marine Life at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

Fish inside a tank in North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher
imac-cheese / Shutterstock.com

Get up close and personal with the wonders of marine life on planet Earth at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

This aquarium is part of a network comprising the aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, Roanoke Island, and Jeanette’s Pier in Nags Head.

During your visit, you’ll see various marine life thriving in diverse habitats.

Moreover, the aquarium at Fort Fisher belongs to the 230 accredited members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

An aquarium in North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher
Sarr Cat, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The organization promotes the causes of animal welfare, conservation, science, and recreation.

Which animals can you see in this aquarium?

You can find a family of Asian small-clawed otters in the aquarium’s conservatory.

You can also see seahorses, sharks, eels, rays, sea turtles, and even a bald eagle.

Likewise, the aquarium offers guided tours, adventures, and free programs open every day.

Learn Marine History at the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Center

If you’ve already visited the Fort Fisher Museum and the State Recreation Area, you need to complete your historical tour at the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Center.

Just follow Fort Fisher Boulevard while you explore the southern part of the Cape Fear area.

During your visit, you’ll see an on-site museum, featuring a slate of exhibits on dive sites and Civil War-era history.

North Carolina’s waters are notorious for their hundreds of shipwrecks.

In 1967, the underwater archaeology center opened to search for, recover, and then preserve the artifacts hidden in these century-old wrecks.

You could also spot sample exhibits featuring current projects, such as Civil War-era U-boats that prowled the coastline.

Likewise, you can even check out Blackbeard’s famous ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge.

Explore the Outdoors at the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

Exterior of Fort Fisher State Recreation Area's visitor center
refrina / Shutterstock.com

The Fort Fisher State Recreation Area offers a diversity of terrain to excite outdoorsy guests.

You’ll walk roughly six miles of unspoiled beach and cross salt marshes at this park, situated between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean.

Likewise, the park also limits development to a visitor center and boardwalks for photographers and bird-watchers.

Sunny day at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area
Spencer Kent / Shutterstock.com

Make sure to look around the shoreline to spot loggerhead sea turtles, piping plovers, and many rare species.

What else can you do at this park?

You can try surf fishing or driving four-wheel-drive vehicles, though you need a permit to do the latter.

Likewise, you can find a paddling launch and a boating ramp.

A salt marsh in Fort Fisher State Recreation Area
User:Dincher, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Learn Military History at the North Carolina Military History Museum

The artifacts you’ll see inside the North Carolina Military History Museum come from the personal collection of one of the curators, Emmett Casciato.

During his time in Florida, he has hosted many showings of this collection.

He retired and moved to North Carolina, where he got the idea to establish a museum after a Memorial Day showing in 2016.

A year later, Casciato and Tom Bugala opened the museum.

When you visit, you’ll find hundreds of artifacts gathered from World War I until the War on Terror.

Their collection also continues to grow, thanks to donations from local veterans and their families.

Likewise, the museum’s design allows you to pass through each exhibit smoothly, letting you walk back in time from World War I.

If you’re passionate about military history, you need to visit this Kure Beach museum.

Explore Kure Beach Waters with Kayak Carolina

Water of Kure Beach
Gary C. Tognoni / Shutterstock.com

For 23 years, Kayak Carolina has allowed guests to explore the waters of the Carolinas, such as the Cape Fear River, Masonboro Island, and Zeke’s Island.

You’d want to hit them up if you want to start a marine adventure at Kure Beach.

They’d guide you to the hidden treasures of these waters, from islands to tributaries.

Likewise, the company offers an experience that everyone of all ages can enjoy, even complete beginners.

You can book them for family adventures, guided nature tours, kayaking instructions, self-guided rentals, and even days-long expeditions.

Grab Good Food at Freddie’s Italian Restaurant

In 1995, Fred Shambora and Barbara Gargan opened Freddie’s to the public as a true family restaurant.

After all, Barbara’s son, Rob Gargan, works as the restaurant’s general manager.

What makes Freddie’s a unique restaurant is its delicious Italian cuisine prepared and served in the setting of an Irish pub.

The restaurant also has a small bar that mixes the best martinis in Kure Beach.

Likewise, they also play songs from the world’s biggest crooners, Sinatra and Al Martino.

Besides pasta and salads, Freddie’s also serves the best pork chops in the Kure Beach area.

They also serve lasagna that truly melts in your mouth, with layers of pasta bathed in Bolognese tomato sauce and sprinkled with ricotta cheese.

A mat of melted mozzarella sits on top.

Likewise, Freddie’s special porkchop comes grilled to perfection and glazed with an original balsamic reduction.

Savor the meat with cherry peppers and ramekins of apple sauce and balsamic sauce.

Bring Your Kids to Joe Eakes Park

Located on the corner of K and 7th Avenue, the Joe Eakes Park is a nice relaxing spot for hanging out with family or playing with your kids.

Your kids should enjoy jumping around the playground while you prepare lunch at the picnic areas.

Meanwhile, you can also bring friends for a game of pickup basketball or a few innings of baseball.

Learn how to play bocce or disc golf, or just play tennis.

Likewise, you can bring your dogs to the Gurney Hood Barking Lot dog park and set them loose to make new friends.

The Joe Eakes Park is the only public space in Kure Beach that lets dogs play off-leash.

See the Natural Wonder at the Coquina Outcrop

Rocky Coquina Outcrop
Phil Andrews / Shutterstock.com

The only naturally occurring rock formation in all of North Carolina is at Kure Beach, called the Coquina Outcrop.

It also goes by the name the Rocky Outcrop, and this rare wonder has become a major attraction in Kure Beach, fascinating many guests over the years.

For instance, the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher hosts a touch tank that’s closely patterned after the Coquina Outcrop.

You need to wait for low tide to see the outcrop, though, so plan and consult tidal charts before visiting.

Likewise, pack a lot of sunscreen and bug spray to protect yourself from insects and the elements.

What makes this place unique is that you can find it through geocaching.

However, you can also find this place the usual way if you’re new to geocaching.

Unwind at the Bud & Joe’s Sandbar

All that walking around on beaches and inside museums can tire anyone out.

So, after spending the day outside, duck inside Bud & Joe’s Sandbar for a well-earned cold drink.

Bring your friends and unwind from the day over some ice-cold beers and delicious cocktails.

You can even play pool and pick some tunes at the jukebox.

Bud & Joe’s Sandbar has also become a Kure Beach institution since its opening in 1972.

It’s home to hundreds of unforgettable moments, including people getting engaged and married!

Add to this rich history when you stop by for a good time with your friends.

You’re never a stranger at Bud & Joe’s Sandbar.

Learn to Surf at the Kure Beach Surf Camp

With support from the Education Department of the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, the Kure Beach Surf Camp has taught beginning surfers the basics of surfing.

The camp’s vacation package lasts for three days, helping you build confidence and skills to take on the “Sport of Kings.”

Professional instructors handle the camp, each with thousands of hours in combined teaching experience with all types of learners.

Learn to surf while immersing yourself in Kure Beach’s emerald waters and its lily-white coastline.

Likewise, you’ll learn how to surf while staying mindful of the area’s ecology.

You can have fun while protecting the environment.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Check Out the Venus Flytraps at the Flytrap Trail

A Venus Flytrap at the Flytrap Trail
Mx._Granger, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Six minutes away from Kure Beach is the town of Carolina Beach, North Carolina.

You’ll want to visit this neighboring town, especially if you’re the outdoorsy type.

Why?

One compelling reason should be the Venus flytraps lining Carolina Beach’s Flytrap Trail.

You need to enter the Carolina Beach State Park to find this trail, spanning 761 acres.

The Venus flytrap is an important North Carolina plant, which the government even named the state’s official carnivorous plant.

You can only find this rare plant in this park near Wilmington, and there are only four species living there.

Likewise, these plants thrive in the region because of their optimal conditions and climate.

Admire the carnivorous plants along the easy half-mile Flytrap trail.

Don’t forget your cameras!

Enjoy the Outdoors at the Carolina Beach State Park

People walking along Carolina Beach State Park
Jed Whitley / Shutterstock.com

After enjoying the Flytrap trail inside the park, you should explore the entirety of the Carolina Beach State Park.

The park features a marina that gives you access to the best fishing spots in the state and a serene, secluded campground under imposing trees.

A trail in Carolina Beach State Park
Pytheas at the English-language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Likewise, you can follow the other trails that offer varying challenges.

These attractions have turned Carolina Beach State Park into a nationally renowned coastal recreation area.

If you want to know more about the area’s history, stop by the visitor’s center to check out the exhibits showcasing the park’s natural wonders.

Final Thoughts

Kure Beach is a perfect summer getaway for guests who want to avoid crowded beaches and rowdy parks.

The museums add a touch of history to the place, while the restaurants add to the town’s distinct flavor.

Reserve a weekend and book your Kure Beach trip today!