Carolina Beach Guide: Quick Tips for First-time Visitors

Rich with vintage charm, Carolina Beach features an atmosphere where things move a little slower than other bustling North Carolina beach destinations. However, this laid-back lifestyle doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of fun things to do in Carolina Beach. Visitors enjoy welcoming locals, plenty of family-friendly beaches and good times. For those new to the area or looking to try a different beach destination, we rounded up a quick Carolina Beach guide. Here’s what to expect:

Carolina Beach Guide: 6 Must-knows Before Planning a Vacation

carolina beach guide weather travel

How’s the Weather?

With a coastal location between Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean, visitors can expect mild temperatures and seasonal showers. In the summer, plan for average temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s. Winters can be chilly with average lows in the mid-30s and highs around 55-60.

What to Pack

Anyone visiting a beach destination should pack lots of light-colored clothing, sunscreen, hats and sunglasses. This area welcomes casual dress, so don’t forget the flip-flops. Due to cooler evening and winter temperatures, also pack a jacket, jeans and comfortable walking shoes. In addition to sun protection, an umbrella or poncho is a good option in case a quick shower rolls into the area.

Getting Around

Carolina Beach is located 15 miles south of Wilmington on Pleasure Island. Dozens of cities are within 300-500 miles, which amounts to a six- to nine-hour drive depending on traffic. Those interested in flights to Carolina Beach will land in Wilmington and drive into the area. Once on the ground, guests may rent cars or call a taxi service from the airport. Those staying in the area may also rent bicycles from Wheel Fun, including tandem, adult trikes, kids’ bikes and adult bikes with or without child seats.

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Vacation Accommodation Options

Those vacationing in Carolina Beach have several accommodation options. The area houses beachfront hotels, hotel resorts, condo complexes, small hotels/motels and family-owned inns. Vacation rental options include oceanfront homes and condos, and others situated inland within a quick walking distance to the beach, Cape Fear River and area attractions.

Pets and Carolina Beach Rules

The area does allow dogs on the beach during certain months, however they must be leashed at all times. Dogs may enjoy the beach all day from October 1 to March 31, and before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. from April 1 to September 30. Owners must have proper plastic bags or containers for clean-up and waste disposal.

It is illegal to have alcohol and glass containers on the beach. Other limitations include no horses, fireworks, bonfires or disturbing sea turtles and nesting sites.

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Attractions Overview, Things to Do

Play at the Beach, Boardwalk

Carolina Beach Boardwalk ranks among the top 10 boardwalks in the U.S. by Food and Wine magazine. The boardwalk also ranks as a favorite attraction in Carolina Beach as it features amusement rides, shops, restaurants, nightlife, and weekly firework shows and festivals in the summer. If visiting during the holiday season, guests also enjoy light and boat festivals. Carolina Beach Boardwalk is a pedestrian-only area with nearby bike racks and parking. Frequent guests also suggest bringing cash in small bills to pay for parking and carnival rides.

Fish at the Pier

Sightseers and fishermen can’t miss a trip to the Carolina Beach Fishing Pier. Located at the northern edge of the beach, the pier offers endless views of the ocean with plenty of benches available. Carolina Beach Fishing Pier ranks as one of the last of its kind in the area, and houses a bait and tackle shop, rental equipment and friendly locals. The pier also provides a great place to watch the sunrise or sunset with someone special.

Don’t Miss the Events

Part of the fun of taking a vacation to Carolina Beach is meeting locals and participating in the free-spirited vibes. One way to do both is to attend a signature event, and the area hosts them year-round. From music fests to free movies and food competitions, Carolina Beach welcomes guests to experience it all. Top events include Carolina Beach Music Festival, Free Movies by the Lake, Cape Fear Kite Festival, free summer concerts, and dozens more on Pleasure Island and nearby Kure Beach. See the full Carolina Beach events calendar.

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