CAROLINA BEACH, NC – Carolina Beach, NC, offers a one-of-a-kind, vintage beach experience with family-friendly activities geared for unmistakable fun. The island has a rich history that draws visitors back time and time again. From beloved businesses that have called Carolina Beach home for years – even decades – to new businesses that are taking advantage of this unique coastal lifestyle, Carolina Beach has a way of sticking with people.
All in the Family
Some families have created such a bond with Carolina Beach that they have started opening their own businesses to connect with visitors and help them create memories of their own. Carolina Smokehouse, the BBQ favorite that resided in Cashiers, NC, for 30 years, recently opened its doors to share the Williams family recipes that have been featured on Food Network and PBS with the beach they love. Visitors will find themselves drooling over signature dishes including hardwood-smoked brisket, pork, ribs and chicken, as well as a homemade tomato-based barbecue sauce. At its new home location, seafood options will also be on the menu, but no worries – the additions will stay true to its family roots.
Another family treasure is Poppy’s Arcade Palace. Jim and Jennifer Kitts opened the arcade to pay homage to Jim’s favorite summertime memories – playing arcade games at the beach with quarters from his late Grandfather Poppy. The family-friendly arcade offers 27 different games ranging from classics such as Skee-Ball and PacMan to new age favorites like Jurassic Park and Spongebob Squarepants. Visitors that remember the old boardwalk arcade now have a new spot to carry on this favorite Carolina Beach tradition.
A Storied Past
The history of some Carolina Beach businesses goes back decades, providing fuel for business owners to keep the history of the beach alive. Britt’s Donuts, the famous donut shop located at Carolina Beach’s iconic boardwalk, opened in 1939 and was an immediate hit with locals and visitors alike. When it was time for the Britt and Wright families to pass down the donut-making tradition, they sold the business and coveted secret recipe to long-time Britt’s employee Bobby Nivens, who has kept the business thriving since 1974. Over the years, Bobby has carried on the tradition by involving his own family in the business, from his wife all the way to his granddaughter.
Another spot for sweet indulgences with a long history, Squigley’s Ice Cream and Treats currently serves 4,050 flavors of homemade ice cream in an historical pre-war house that World War II soldiers called home during leave. Before serving its famous ice cream, Squigley’s prepared donuts for visitors and was even a beach boarding house. Upstairs, guests will find Squigley’s Gift Gallery – a set of gift shops selling unique gifts, home decor and jewelry. The 1930s home is a sweet destination in and of itself.
Finally, some Carolina Beach business owners have opted to share their personal passions with the island they hold so dear. Surf House Oyster Bar & Surf Camp opened its doors in 2009 as a surf shop and café. The café has evolved into a full-service restaurant that relies on small, local farm involvement and sustainable regional seafood to be the standard-bearer for dining in the region. Through a true farm-to-table approach, Surf House focuses on craft cooking, small batch spirits and beer. When not enjoying the restaurant, guests can join in the oceanic community through the surf camp – a nod to bygone fishing camps, which celebrated the culture and fish of its inhabitants.
A popular beer and bottle scene in nearby Wilmington is now taking Carolina Beach by storm at Crush and Grind. The brand new café-based wine and bottle shop serves hand crafted cold brew coffee from a “top secret” recipe, local beer, wine and eats. Owners Dominic DePierro, Nadine Antonelli, Brett Gurkin and Chris Myers opened the relaxed rustic cafe to provide their local community with a trendy spot even closer to home.
What better way to discover the rich history of Carolina Beach than by indulging in food and a history lesson at the same time? Tasting History Tours began as a way for longtime local residents Jeff and Brinsley Christner to share their love of Carolina Beach and nearby Kure Beach with others. On the tour, visitors learn about the island’s rich history that dates back to the Civil War, as well as visit local restaurants serving the best the island has to offer. Recently, the Christner’s have brought on John Moseley with Fort Fisher State Historic Site as their main tour guide, with a goal of sharing even more about the area’s rich history with tour participants. The tours appeal to both foodies and history buffs, and are tailored to the interests of the specific audience.
About Carolina Beach
Carolina Beach offers the best of a North Carolina beach experience from the past with a fun, family-friendly spin for today. Visitors can experience a vintage, nationally recognized boardwalk, Carolina Beach State Park, one-of-a-kind festivals and events, world-class fishing, miles of beautiful beach, and all kinds of people united by their love of good times that are unmistakably Carolina Beach. For more information, go to www.VisitCarolinaBeachNC.com or call (800) 641-7082. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CarolinaBeachNC and Twitter and Instagram, @CarolinaBeachNC.
Sara Beth Doherty
French West Vaughan