Family Activities at Carolina Beach are Full of Good Old-Fashioned Fun with a Modern Twist 

Few things are as rewarding as a successful family vacation—especially when the kids are kept engaged and entertained with minimal effort. Thanks to kid-friendly finds like an award-winning boardwalk and seaside amusement rides in the summer, surfing and standup paddleboard lessons and free outdoor movies and fireworks, families keep coming back year after year. Even hard-to-impress tweens and teens will request a repeat visit!

Award-Winning Boardwalk and Seaside Amusement Rides

The kids probably won’t care that the Carolina Beach Boardwalk made Budget Travel’s list of America’s Most Awesome Boardwalks and has also been recognized by the likes of CNN, FOX News and USA Today. But they will notice the seaside amusement rides, classic miniature golf, and fireworks that take place weekly during the summer.

Classic Arcade Action

Take a break from the sand and sun at the Carolina Beach Arcade along the Boardwalk. Kids can play fun games and earn tickets to win prizes like stuffed animals, inflatables, candy and more. At Poppy’s Palace Arcade, family fun is encouraged, popcorn is hot and ready, and the ticket jackpot is waiting to be won. Compete with the family on connected racing games, cash in your tickets for prizes and enjoy the wholesome fun and retro environment.

School’s Out for Summer. Or is it Just Getting Started?

Ranked No. 1 on TripAdvisor.com’s list of most-recommended things to do at Carolina Beach, Tony Silvagni Surf School is one school that kids will actually get excited about. Tony’s surf camps run from April through September and feature an unheard of 2:1 student to teacher ratio. Campers receive hours of professional surf instruction, but also benefit from learning about water safety and surfing etiquette. Odysea Surf School offers a variety of surf and standup paddleboard lessons. Join a small group or request a private lesson. 

“P” is for Paddle

Kids can certainly take part in the growing sport of standup paddleboarding (SUP) at Carolina Beach. Local outfitters offer special trips geared towards the younger set and since tours and trips typically include personal flotation devices, even those who haven’t yet mastered the art of swimming can hop aboard. Rent a paddle board or kayak from Paddle NC within Carolina Beach State Park and embark on the calmer waters of the Cape Fear River. Kids will be in awe when they encounter a unique salt marsh ecosystem that is home to residents like bottlenose dolphins, jumping mullet, osprey and the elusive bald eagle.

Bikes, Boogie Boards and More

Find everything you need for hours of outdoor fun at one of the island's outdoor rental companies. Take the whole family for a ride and explore the island on a surrey bike that can accommodate up to eight riders from Wheel Run Rentals. History Buffs will love Wheel Fun Rental's bike tour that offers two hours of self-guided stops at the island's most important historic landmarks. Shore Break Bikes provide bike rentals year round. Hop on a comfy beach cruiser, fat tire bike or tandem bicycle. Or rent kid-sized bicycles or pull-behind kids trailers for the little ones. Rent a boogie board, surfboard or standup paddleboard to battle the waves from Pleasure Island Rentals, or cruise around Carolina Beach Lake Park in a paddle boat or kayak. The 11-acre Carolina Beach Lake Park is also home to a summer movie series that features free outdoor films and fireworks.

Drop in at the Park

Grab your skateboard for a roll around the Mike Chappell Skate Park in Carolina Beach. Ollie the ramps, skate the bowls and slide the rails in this 8,000 square foot skate park. Mike Chappel Park also includes tennis, basketball and volleyball courts and a large playground.

Getting to Know Nature  

Carolina Beach is a haven for eco-adventurers. Get outdoors with a hike led by a park ranger who will teach kids about the carnivorous plants that grow at Carolina Beach State Park, rent bikes or kayaks and explore the island as a family from a different perspective, and learn about area sea turtles and their nesting habitats with Turtle Talks from the Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project.

Fish Tales, Captains and Cruises

Children love to cast a line off the Carolina Beach Fishing Pier. The full-service pier houses a tackle shop for all your fishing needs as well as a small restaurant, perfect for when you need a break from the action. Let the little ones stretch (and grow) their sea legs aboard a Cape Fear cruise boat or a Gulf Stream fishing vessel. Nothing beats catching a bigger fish than dad on a deep-sea fishing excursion, and kids will dig the idea of bringing home a souvenir that will eventually become dinner. For the kids who are better suited for river rides, narrated Intracoastal Waterway cruises are a big hit and highlight the local wildlife and the island’s history in a fun and informative way.

Food with a Side of Fun

Vacation will be especially sweet for the kids who visit Squigley’s Ice Cream & Treats, which makes more than 4,000 flavors of homemade ice cream. A “squigley” consists of soft-serve style ice cream blended with a variety of mix-ins in a custom-built squigley machine. Britt’s Donuts has been a Carolina Beach favorite for generations and is no stranger to receiving national attention and topping lists featuring America’s best donuts. When coloring sheets alone won’t cut it, kids can be entertained with a variety of other distractions while dining at the Lazy Pirate Island Sports Grill at Carolina Beach. The restaurant’s popular fenced-in yard features plenty of space to play games like volleyball, cornhole and ladder golf. 

Beach Day Becomes Beach Play

With 20 lifeguard stands covering three miles of beautiful beach and lifeguard season running from Memorial Day through Labor Day, Carolina Beach is a great place for kids to play safely. Many of the beach access locations are suitable for strollers and offer convenient parking, concessions and public restrooms with showers.