Fort Fisher Recreation Area - Kure Beach
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.
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.
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
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
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