Family Beaches With Fun Things to Do: Carolina Beach, NC

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If you are looking for a family beach that also has a lot of fun things to do, Carolina Beach in North Carolina is an excellent choice! KAG contributor Jennifer and her family checked out Carolina Beach at Pleasure Island and found it to be the perfect mix of family entertainment and beach fun.

Read all about what made this beach town a hit for her family and why your own may want to visit soon!

Things to do at Carolina Beach in North Carolina.

What makes Carolina Beach special?

My family recently headed up the North Carolina coast and discovered Carolina Beach. Located approximately five hours from the Upstate, Carolina Beach makes the perfect beach destination for summer vacations.

This popular NC beach is an excellent choice if you are looking for a family-friendly beach. How you choose to take a beach trip is a personal preference. Some families like to go to beaches like Myrtle Beach, with many entertainment options and crowds, whereas others prefer quieter beaches with fewer entertainment options.

This beach fits right in the middle of these categories. It has plenty of things to do with the whole family, such as the Boardwalk amusement park; however, it is not as crowded as other beach destinations. Plus, with tons of vacation rentals, you can choose to stay closer to the Boardwalk where the action happens, or you can stay further away from the crowds.

The Boardwalk at Carolina Beach, NC

The standout feature of Carolina Beach is the Boardwalk. It is one of the few true boardwalks on the East Coast. And I don’t mean just a simple pier. This is a true boardwalk with amusement park rides, a Ferris wheel, shops, restaurants, and entertainment. The boardwalk comes alive in the evenings, so be prepared to spend lots of time there after lounging on the beach daily.

The Boardwalk at Carolina Beach, North Carolina.

Carolina Beach Has A Family-Friendly Shoreline

Another big plus for Carolina Beach is its family-friendly shoreline. Unlike more isolated beaches, the beach has several lifeguard stands along its three miles of shoreline. With ever-changing currents and hesitant swimmers, I always feel safer knowing there are lifeguards nearby.

Additionally, Carolina Beach is wheelchair accessible. Directly off the Carolina Beach Boardwalk, there are accessible walkways making it accessible to those in wheelchairs or families with an extra set of wheels.

The shoreline of Carolina Beach, North Carolina.

Worthwhile Things to Do: Carolina Beach

On top of the fun standard beach attractions, such as mini golf, my family absolutely loved visiting the nearby North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Fort Fisher State Recreation Site is only ten minutes from Carolina Beach, and visiting the aquarium is a must! The North Carolina Aquarium has several hands-on exhibits, plenty of marine life to observe, and even a fantastic playground.

The playground at Carolina Beach in North Carolina.

But, that’s not all! The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher also has an amazing dinosaur exhibit. The animatronic dinosaurs are placed naturally throughout a shaded walkway making their appearance seem realistic. My kids loved seeing the dinos up close – especially the one dinosaur that sprayed them with water.

The entrance to the North Carolina Aquarium.

Outdoor Adventures

While you are visiting the aquarium at Fort Fisher, be sure to check out the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, where you can hike, explore the dunes, and maybe even see Loggerhead turtles nesting (from a distance, of course!)

You can also head south to the Fort Fisher State Historic Site at Kure Beach, a civil war site that makes a great educational lesson while you’re vacationing. There are guided tours to take, exhibits to view, and an impressive fort.

If you’re feeling up to an outdoor adventure during your beach trip, check out Carolina Beach State Park, where your family can hike, bike, and even camp if you’re up for it! Fun fact: the state park is home to the Venus Flytrap, so you can teach your kids about this near-carnivorous plant while you venture through the coastal park. There is also a 50-foot sand dune, Sugarloaf Dune, that will have them in awe.

If you’re wanting to stay close to town, the Carolina Beach Lake Park is a wonderful lake to spend an afternoon kayaking, have a picnic, or let your kids burn off some energy at the playground. There are also free outdoor movies on Sunday evenings, perfect after a long day on the beach.

Delicious Eats Near the Beach

Of course, we couldn’t spend time exploring Carolina Beach without sampling some of the most popular restaurants. We tried out Hang Ten Grill after hearing about its popularity. After eating there for lunch, we understood why so many people headed in that direction! Hang Ten Grill is a typical beach restaurant with surfboards decorating the walls – and even the ceilings.

The menu has plenty of seafood and grilled favorites. I had a shrimp burger, and it was delicious! But, it was the kid’s menu that sold it. My son had a hamburger, and my daughter had nachos – and each came with an ice cream sundae!

The restaurant regularly has live music, food and drink specials, and events like yoga and coffee. Check out the Hang Ten Grill Facebook page to see what events are happening while visiting the area.

Some additional restaurants you may like to check out with stellar reviews include SeaWitch Cafe and Tiki Bar for live music, Cape Fear Boil Company to satiate your seafood craving, and Kate’s Pancake House for a delicious breakfast! If you are into craft brews, Good Hops Brewery is a highly recommended local brewery that is located in the heart of this beach city!

The Hang Ten Grill in Carolina Beach, NC.

For those families looking for a beach that is quintessentially beachy, then head to Carolina Beach. With the lively boardwalk, the beautiful shoreline, and pastel-colored beach houses, it screams “Summertime Fun!”

Jennifer Curry
About the Author
Jennifer relocated to Spartanburg seven years ago, and now spends her days working from home and taking care of her two kids. She loves this area because we can go from rural areas to urban areas to the mountains within an hour. Her favorite things to do with her kids are using their imaginations and visiting Spartanburg County local libraries. Follow Jennifer at

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Hope Mayer
5 years ago

We just stayed in Carolina Beach this past week. I’m from NC, and in my opinion, those are the best beaches. We’ve been going to CB with our family for the 8th yr in a row, and can’t imagine any other beach we’d rather be. Our kids love it there, hands down. We always take the ferry at Fort Fisher over to Southport to have lunch at Provision Company every year. It’s tradition, and it’s just as popular of a place as Britts’ Donuts on the Carolina boardwalk (get in line) but totally worth the wait! I could keep going….I… Read more »