Now that we’re able to start venturing out, Carolina Beach is a nearby destination that offers the opportunity to relax and enjoy plenty of activities and open spaces that allow you to feel comfortable while maintaining social distancing. Whether your family is in search of a weekend getaway, your group of friends or significant other is planning a trip or you’re contemplating a solo excursion, Carolina Beach is the perfect place to dip your toes back in the water – literally and figuratively.
It’s easy to get here whether you’re already in-state, or you’re planning a trip from a neighboring state. Thanks to convenient access via numerous interstates, we’re only a quick car ride away for road trippers or anyone looking for an active staycation. Plus, many of our lodging properties have adopted enhanced safety and cleaning protocols.
Read on for our guide to 48 hours in Carolina Beach.
Disclaimer: The below businesses are subject to changes in hours and open/closed status as a result of COVID-19. References to dine-in services are based on restaurants operating at limited capacity. Please visit our COVID-19 page for updated information and be sure to confirm individual businesses are open prior to making plans.
Check in to Relaxation
Even if it’s only for a short time, find your home away from home at one of Carolina Beach’s lodging options.
Both of the island’s full-service hotels are located oceanfront and just steps from the famous Carolina Beach Boardwalk. The Hampton Inn & Suites Carolina Beach Oceanfront has implemented new guest safety measures related to health and hygiene, and the rollout of Hilton CleanStay will begin at Hilton hotels worldwide in June. The Courtyard Marriott Carolina Beach Oceanfront has implemented a number of cleaning and safety solutions as well, all of which are being guided by the Marriott Cleanliness Council. Lodging properties will also have the opportunity to participate in a new statewide, evidence-based safety guidance program, Count on Me NC, that is designed to educate and train businesses on best practices for reopening.
If you’re looking for something quieter and more intimate, Beacon House Inn Bed & Breakfast is housed in a vintage 1950’s boarding house. There are also three cozy cottages available for guests traveling with pets or children.
Families wanting more space and privacy may want to reserve one of Carolina Beach’s vacation rentals, many of which feature amenities like direct beach access, decks with sunrise views, private pools, on-site grills and more.
Spend the Morning Waterside
Build the perfect breakfast sandwich at the grab-and-go Southerly Biscuit & Pie (currently open Friday through Sundays from 8 a.m. to noon). Then decompress by spending the next few hours on or by the water – it’s better than therapy!
- Enjoy some beach time! Carolina Beach’s three miles of coastline features lifeguards from Memorial Day through Labor Day
- Explore Carolina Beach Lake Park via kayak, or take a jog or stroll around the paved path that encircles the lake
- Rent a standup paddleboard or kayak from Paddle NC or walk or hike one of the trails at Carolina Beach State Park
- Drop a line from the Carolina Beach Fishing Pier or book a private fishing charter
Afternoon on the Go
Grab lunch and a drink with seating and a view on the outdoor patio or tiki bar at The Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar. Or, pick up a picnic lunch from The Veggie Wagon, then find the perfect spot to enjoy the afternoon. The Veggie Wagon offers fresh fruits, vegetables and other homemade products from some of the best local farms and small-batch producers.
- Explore Fort Fisher State Recreation Area and Fort Fisher State Historic Site nearby on the island, both of which have plenty of space to explore outdoors including hiking and walking trails, oceanfront gazebos, a shaded picnic area and six miles of protected shoreline
- Bike the Island Greenway
- Head to the outdoor beer garden at the family-friendly Good Hops Brewing, where you can also enjoy disc golf and other games
Al Fresco Dinner and Drinks
End the day the way it started: enjoying the salty beach air:
- Order takeout or dine al fresco at Carolina Smokehouse (known for its hardwood-smoked brisket, pork, ribs and chicken; currently open seven-day-a-week for takeout), The Fork N Cork (The Food Network's Guy Fieri fell in love with their Confit Duck Wings and Beef Wellington when he was in town filming Diners, Drive-ins and Dives) or Nollie’s Taco Joint (known for having the “Best Tacos and Burritos at the Beach” and shaded decks)
- Or, pick up a seafood pot-on-the-go from Cape Fear Broil Company to prepare a Low Country Boil from the comfort of your vacation rental
Brunch with a Side of Adventure
- Take a surf or SUP lesson from Odysea Surf School or Tony Silvagni Surf School – private or group classes are available
- Explore under the sea with a dive excursion with Carolina Beach Scuba or dive The Condor shipwreck on your own
- Pack a picnic and explore Freeman Park or nearby Fort Fisher State Recreation Area by renting a four-wheel-drive Jeep from SunFun Rentals
If a quick getaway or active staycation – while responsibly social distancing – sound like the perfect therapy, Carolina Beach has you covered.