Camping at Carolina Beach State Park, North Carolina, is a welcome end to the summer. Nearby Kure Beach has emptied, the crowds have dissipated off the Carolina Beach Boardwalk, and the Atlantic coastal waters remain bathtub warm.
Carolina Beach State Park
34.0471, -77.9072

Fort Fisher Recreation Area - Kure Beach

Photo of four sisters sitting in the surf on a gorgeous sunny day under a blue October Sky on Kure Beach, North Carolinal
Image of girl on blue boogie board while three sisters swim in the ocean under a cerulean blue October sky on Kure Beach, North Carolina

A leisurely departure, from as far west as Raleigh, Charlotte, or Columbia, will get you to the visitor center at Fort Fisher Recreation Area in time for a picnic lunch at any of the twenty-three tables available. Colorful monarch butterflies in the middle of their 3,000-mile migration from Canada to Mexico are frequent luncheon guests.

After a stop at the convenient bathrooms and changing rooms, all that stands between you and the Atlantic is a short stroll on the boardwalk through the dunes. The breaking waves are the perfect frequency for book reading, boogie boarding, or body surfing.

  • Lifeguard service: Memorial Day through Labor Day in designated ocean swimming area.
  • No swimming under red warning flag.
  • Address: 1000 Loggerhead Road, Kure Beach, NC 28449

Carolina Beach State Park Campground

You can enjoy all this knowing that Carolina Beach State Park campground and a warm shower are just 7.5 miles down the road where 83 campsites are tucked under a shaded coastal longleaf pine forest. Already have reservations? Head past the visitor center and proceed directly to the check-in at the marina along the Cape Fear River.

Night camping under the stars at Carolina Beach State Park Campground, North Carolina

Autumn also brings welcoming nighttime temperatures in the 50's and the resident mosquito population drops dramatically. After a long day at the shore, you'll welcome an early fall sunset but not before enjoying a gentle campfire, a round or two of hot chocolate, and requisite s'mores!

Carolina Beach State Park : Trails and Programs

Knowledgable park rangers (ours had 25 years at Carolina Beach State Park) offer programs even in October (all year-round actually!). We highly recommend the carnivorous plant hike where you'll track down three species of protein-loving plants, all native to North Carolina. Look for the exotic Venus flytrap, which is found only within a 70-mile radius of the park anywhere in the world. 

Photo of teenage girl wearing a backpack and photographing the Cape Fear River as she stands in the stand near the grassy edge of Carolina Beach State Park, North Carolina

For an interesting hike, combine the Flytrap Trail, Swamp Trail, and Sugarloaf Trail at Carolina Beach State Park. Over the course of four miles, you'll experience three different coastal forest environments – coastal fringe sandhill forest, pocosin wetlands, and longleaf pine and wiregrass savannas. Throw in tidal cypress-gum swamps and the brackish marsh that runs along the Cape Fear River, and you'll have experienced much of the biodiversity that the North Carolina coast has to offer.

Cape Fear Astronomy Night Program

And if that isn't enough, once a month, Cape Fear Astronomy Society offers a free night sky program with viewing telescopes at the Carolina Beach State Park visitor center. Check for times and dates on the park website.

Nearby Attractions to Carolina Beach State Park: 

North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher near Carolina Beach State Park

If the weather takes a turn, you are just a quarter-mile from the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. The exhibits teach about North Carolina coastal and inland ecologies. In addition, the aquarium features a seasonal outside dinosaur walk with life-sized animatronic beasts.

Battleship North Carolina Memorial

Battleship USS North Carolina Memorial main deck in Wilmington, North Carolina

Only 30 minutes to downtown Wilmington from Carolina Beach State Park, plan a stop at the Battleship North Carolina Memorial, an authentically restored World War II battleship. Investigate all nine levels of this ship – engine room, mess deck, berthing areas, and so much more. Leave yourself a couple of hours to explore the battleship and  read the signage. The quotes from the servicemen about their positions bring life to the history of this battleship.

  • Very little roped off and lots of ladders.
  • No air conditioning.
  • Pack a picnic lunch and sit under the shelter that overlooks the Cape Fear River waterfront.

Carolina Beach Boardwalk

Another short drive from Carolina Beach State Park brings you to the family-friendly Carolina Beach Boardwalk. A colorful array of shops line the vintage boardwalk, not to mention the numerous eateries that should satisfy both the sweet and savory lovers in your party. Easy access to the Carolina Beach with its spectacular views.

  • Open year round, but some amenities are seasonal - check with individual listings.
  • Lifeguard season:  Memorial Day to Labor Day
  • Public restrooms, outdoor showers and foot-rinse stations are available

Britt's Donut Shop

Britt’s Donut Shop opened its doors in 1939 and has since become an iconic landmark on the Carolina Beach Boardwalk. Tourists from near and far come to consume this nationally acclaimed yeast confection. Best eaten fresh from its white paper bag --- hot, dripping with glaze. They only come in one flavor so your only decision will be how many!

  • Cash only
  • Seasonal hours: typically April through September
  • Address: 11 Carolina Beach Ave N, Carolina Beach, NC 28428

Max Ppl/Cars
Visitors Ctr
# Sites
Open All Year
1010 State Park Road
Carolina Beach
Jan 15, 2019

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