I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
May 12, 2017
This post was written in partnership with Carolina Beach.
Headed to Carolina Beach, North Carolina and wondering what to do with your family while you’re there? Worry not. We recently vacationed in Carolina Beach and found plenty of awesome activities that kept us busy. Whether you’re looking for the best area restaurants, shopping, outdoor activities, or family-friendly fun, it’s all here in this handy list of our favorite things to do in and around Carolina Beach.
Chow down on the best donuts in the world at Britt’s Donut Shop in Carolina Beach. I don’t use the term ‘best’ lightly, people — Britt’s Donuts are literally the most delicious donuts I’ve ever tasted, and they are TOTALLY worth waiting in line for! Get a bagful for your family and don’t skimp — I guarantee every single one will be eaten.
Learn to surf. The North Carolina coast is known for its prime surfing conditions and surfing schools, camps, and classes abound here. Tony Silvagni’s Surfing School in Carolina Beach is one popular option — The former Olympian and pro surfer offers morning and afternoon camps in season, as well as group classes and private lessons.
Pet stingrays, view exotic marine life, and enjoy the nature trails at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. This thoroughly enjoyable aquarium is a great way to spend a couple of hours during your beach vacation. It’s edutainment at its finest, and ticket prices are very reasonable.
Discover the home of the Fort Fisher Hermit on the Basin Trail at Fort Fisher State Park. You’ll find this trail at the Fort Fisher Recreation Office, just before the 4×4 access point. A hermit lived in a World War II bunker here and at one time, visiting him was one of North Carolina’s most popular tourist attractions. You can learn more about the famous Fort Fisher Hermit on YouTube.
Savor the divine S’mores pancakes at Kate’s Pancake House. Once you taste these imaginative pancakes, you’ll understand why Kate’s is one of the top restaurants in Carolina Beach. They are to die for! High marks also go to the Croque Monsieur sandwich.
Make memories on the Carolina Beach Boardwalk. In the summer, the Boardwalk comes to life with concerts, weekly fireworks, free outdoor movies, and an outdoor amusement park. Bring your whole family along for a day– or night– to remember.
Dive deep to explore shipwrecks and search Megalodon teeth. SCUBA divers from around the world flock to the North Carolina coast to see some of the 2,000 shipwrecks in the waters here– some of them date back to the 16th century! Others dive for a different kind of treasure — Megalodon teeth, which are often found on underwater fossil ledges. Check out SCUBA-Now or another SCUBA charter service to see dive times and locations.
Grab a burger and onion rings at Carolina Beach’s Hang Ten Grill. This restaurant is always packed with locals, and when you taste their burgers, you’ll understand why. They are delicious — and the price is right. Hang Ten is a great choice for a casual lunch after a morning spent on the beach.
See a Venus flytrap in its natural habitat at Carolina Beach State Park. Did you know Venus flytraps are native only to Wilmington and the land within a sixty-mile radius of the city? The best place to see these carnivorous plants in the wild is Carolina Beach State Park, where rangers lead tours to see them. It’s definitely an unforgettable experience!
Choose your next beach read from the Island Book Shop in Carolina Beach. This charming new and used bookstore is small but carefully curated — Whether you enlist the help of the friendly and talkative owner or browse on your own, you’re sure to find the perfect book for your vacation.
Sample some of the most creative donuts you’ll ever eat at Wake n’ Bake Donuts in Carolina Beach. Whether you like your donuts infused with ghost pepper or stuffed with strawberry Pop-Tarts, you’ll find plenty of decadent, delicious, and highly creative options at Wake n’ Bake Donuts.
Got four-wheel-drive? Drive on the beach at Freeman Park. All it takes is a permit from Fort Fisher State Park’s Visitor’s Center and you’re welcome to drive along a portion of Carolina Beach. Just keep in mind that if your vehicle gets stuck, it’s up to you to get a tow!
Hire a chartered fishing boat and catch tonight’s dinner. The combination of the Cape Fear River, Intracoastal Waterway, and Atlantic Ocean makes for some of the best fishing on the eastern seaboard. This is truly a family affair — Deep sea fishing remains one of my favorite childhood memories.
Enjoy coffee (for you) and milkshakes (for the kids) at Magik Beanz in Carolina Beach. This quirky local coffee shop has free wi-fi and a children’s nook in back, two things that will surely tempt you to linger here for a while. The Jamaican Me Crazy latte is a big favorite here, and my kids both gave their milkshake two thumbs up.
Take a guided kayak tour to Shark’s Tooth Island. We booked a sunset tour with Mahanaim Adventures and found all kinds of prehistoric shark teeth as well as other fascinating marine fossils. It was our favorite activity of the entire trip and I have no doubt our kids will remember it forever.
Channel your inner Ariel at the Mermaid Castle. If you like mermaids, you’ll love this Carolina Beach boutique dedicated to the legendary sea sirens. From dolls to jewelry to art to clothing, if it’s mermaid-inspired, it’s probably here.
Stop for a lip-smacking lunch at the Shuckin’ Shack. This Carolina Beach staple is known for its oysters and its wings, and you can’t go wrong with either. If you’re here with the family, opt for lunch or an early dinner. After dark, it attracts a lively and colorful bar crowd.
Taste the unforgettable seafood chowder and Shrimp and Grits at Michael’s Seafood Restaurant in Carolina Beach. This top-rated restaurant is kid friendly and absolutely delicious — The seafood chowder has won multiple awards, and when you taste it, you’ll understand why! Michael’s never fries its seafood and I for one am grateful for that!
Learn about the largest land-sea battle of the Civil War at Fort Fisher. A museum and interpretive outdoor walk make this battle and its cast of characters come alive for visitors of all ages. Consider Fort Fisher a must-see if you’re visiting the area.
Choose a delicious dinner in at The Veggie Wagon. You’ll get excited about dining in after a visit to this charming roadside market in Carolina Beach, which offers local meats and produce, fresh breads, artisanal cheeses, and pre-prepared gourmet foods. For a great picnic spot, head south after you leave the Veggie Wagon and drive past the Fort Fisher Museum. On the left just after the museum, you’ll see a parking lot. Park there, walk across the street, and have dinner near the old cannon at sunset for an amazing view.
Learn to kiteboard. This extreme sport is gaining in popularity and adventure seekers can learn the ropes (or lines, if you want to get technical) from Carolina Beach’s finest at Odysea Surf and Kiteboard School.