By Lynn Seldon
Carolina Beach is great any time of year, but my wife and I truly love it in the fall—especially when it’s just the two of us. Renowned as an ideal family-friendly summer destination, come fall, Carolina Beach is a perfect getaway for couples without kids and empty nesters, young professionals or just a couple of friends in search of some less-crowded time at the ocean. Carolina Beach in the fall means no shoes, no kids and no problem for people like us.
The Perfect Time of Year
Our reasons for heading to Carolina Beach post-Labor Day are many:
- Cooler daytime and evening temperatures, but it’s still warm enough for beach activities;
- Kids are back in school so the beach, restaurants, bars and elsewhere are typically less crowded; and
- Prices are generally lower for accommodations, packages and some of our fave activities.
As we walk down the wide beach hand in hand, we nod at other couples and strolling friends who have obviously found that fall is something special at Carolina Beach. The cooler temperatures and empty beaches lend themselves to beachside sunrises, lingering afternoons in the surf and quiet evening strolls along the shore. When it’s time to leave, we feel a bit closer—the beach in the fall can do that to you.
Here are our top 10 reasons to head to Carolina Beach come fall:
Bring Your Four-Legged Friend
- It’s not just that the beach is less crowded. Fall also allows beachgoers to bring their four-legged friends, since dogs are allowed on the beach as long as they are on a leash from October 1 through March 31 (they can even run unleashed at Freeman Park, at the northern end of Carolina Beach).
- Hotel rates in the fall drop like the temperatures, as do minimum stay requirements. You can book a room starting at $69 in September and even less in October and November. Varied rates and accommodations options, plus lots of value-packed packages, make fall particularly appealing.
Dinner and Drinks
- During the fall, we rarely need reservations at restaurants. Pre-dinner cocktails or late-night bar stops are much more intimate affairs, too. Some of our favorite places to eat, drink and be entertained include:
- When the sun rises, many of the activities we love to pursue at Carolina Beach are also less booked and sometimes even lower-priced. That means we might take another class or camp with Tony Silvagni Surf School or a standup paddleboard (SUP) or kayak tour with Paddle NC, where it’s just us and the guide or maybe just one or two other like-minded couples or sets of friends.
- We also enjoy heading to Carolina Beach State Park, thanks to various educational programs and even several guided hikes we can’t resist. If the weather isn’t ideal, one of our favorite indoor pursuits is browsing the stunning works of local and national artisans at Artful Living Group.
- There are lots of fish biting in Carolina Beach waters come fall. Whether it’s on the beach, in inland waterways, at the Carolina Beach Fishing Pier or on an uncrowded fishing boat, fall also means fishing for us. In addition, lots of popular tourneys take place in the fall, including the Carolina Beach Inshore Challenge, Carolina Fall Flatfish Tournament, Carolina Fall King Challenge and Pleasure Island Surf Fishing Challenge, when more than 300 anglers take part in the largest surf-fishing contest on the Southeast coast.
Fall Events Lure us to the Beach
- Boogie in the Park offers up live music on Sunday evenings through late September at nearby Kure Beach’s Ocean Front Park and Pavilion.
- Also in September is the Carolina Beach Dragon Boat Regatta and Festival, with traditional dragon boating featuring 20 paddlers and a drummer racing for the finish line, plus lots of other entertainment.
- The famed Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues & Jazz Festival in October features two days of non-stop music paired with fresh local seafood. This year’s event (taking place on the island at Kure Beach) will be headlined by the Robert Cray Band and Delbert McClinton.
- Carolina Beach’s proximity to more seaside attractions will make you want to book an extra night or two. Explore the waters of the Cape Fear region at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, which recently added a magical Butterfly Bungalow and was named one of the top aquariums in the U.S. by Trip Advisor’s Travelers’ Choice awards. Nearby, Fort Fisher State Historic Site gives visitors a glimpse into the area’s critical involvement in the Civil War (Jan. 17-18, 2015, will mark the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Fisher). Just a bit further down the road, the frequent Fort Fisher/Southport Ferry makes the 35-minute trip to and from the historic seaport town of Southport. And, of course, we can’t resist the easy drive into quaint Wilmington, where there are many historic and modern attractions, shopping, 200+ restaurants and fewer visitors in the fall.
Back at Carolina Beach, we can kick off our shoes, relax and plan the next day’s adventures doing whatever it is we feel like doing. When it’s no shoes and no kids, we have no problem come fall at Carolina Beach.
Find special deals and get the Carolina Beach activities guide to start planning your fall getaway today.