By TMoM Team Member Felicity Lewis
Carolina Beach is the perfect distance for a weekend (or longer!) getaway from the Triad! As a UNCW graduate, Carolina Beach was the best place to find free parking when you wanted to do a quick trip to the beach. In the recent years though Carolina Beach has seen a big increase of tourists, which has led to some really cool things happening there (but eliminated some of the free parking).
One of the best parts of Carolina Beach is the walkability around town and there are so many rental house options for decent prices compared to lots of beaches. There is an adorable “downtown” that has a host of restaurants, cool shops, and even carnival rides. A very notable North Carolina treasure has been up and running since 1939 is Britt’s Donut Shop. These donuts are worth the line (which you will most definitely have) so put on some extra sunscreen and grab some cash because you will want to try these donuts. They have been featured in countless magazines across the country and they provide a fun time for kids to watch them being fried. If this style of donuts is not your thing, or you just want more donuts, don’t worry Wake-N-Bake donuts is another tasty treat on the island. These are fancy flavors that kids and adults of all ages will enjoy!
No matter where you stay on the island there is almost always easy access to the beach. There are not as many public restroom locations as some beaches, but again you are probably pretty close to your rental or hotel. I do love the fact that Carolina Beach has lifeguards and beach safety vehicles that are constantly checking the beach. They have flags up based on weather conditions which are extremely helpful! A great beach side restaurant and bar we love to visit is Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar. The food is great and the drinks are always cold! The tiki bar allows you to walk up from the beach and sit out over the waves. Or you can opt for a traditional dining experience, but will need to find your shoes and shirt to get in. They have an open deck, covered deck and inside seating. The Tiki bar is a great place to sit and relax if you want to get away from the sand for a little bit!
For pet lovers, during the off-season (who doesn’t love a brisk fall morning at the beach!?!) dogs can walk on the actual beach but remember to bring bags! Our dogs love this opportunity! They also have fun events at the lake throughout the summer. It is fun to bring the kids to the farmers market there and to see the crafts that are sold as well. The lake is also a great place for a walk and they have a few swings for kids to burn some energy as well!
After the day at the beach we have really enjoyed stopping in at The Fat Pelican (you’ll need to leave the kids at home for this stop). Maybe you have heard of this place, maybe you haven’t but either way the story of how it came to be is hilarious and will make you want to see it for yourself! A while back when delivering beer, the beer truck literally got stuck in the sand… instead of figuring out how to get the refrigerated truck out of the sand they decided to build a bar around it and have self service beer available. This is a one of a kind bar with a very eclectic vibe. So stop in and grab a beer from the truck while you relax on an old couch inside or outside on the deck. I am still wondering how a country song hasn’t been made about this place!
The Veggie Wagon is another Carolina Beach staple. While there are other grocery store options, this is a great small business with all kinds of tasty items. It was recently hit pretty hard by the hurricanes in 2018, but the town and tourists have come together to get it back up and running. Stop in for some coffee and treats! Fresh veggies and fruits are always available so if you are cooking while in town definitely utilize this local gem!
Carolina Beach also offers a different type of beach experience: it’s home to Carolina Beach State Park which has hiking trails and camping. If you love the outdoors but want to get off of the beach for a little while, taking a hike is a great alternative.
Other favorite places to eat…
Michael’s Seafood – A little fancier than your average seafood joint but very yummy!
Shuckin’ Shack – Steamed and Raw Oysters
Granny’s Country Kitchen – We almost always have breakfast here! A kid friendly place with very solid breakfast food!
Pop’s Diner – A fun kid friendly diner that has food for everyone’s tastes!