Things To Do and Places To See: Coastal North Carolina Travel Guide
Coastal North Carolina
Coastal North Carolina is a beautiful and diverse region that stretches along the eastern coast of the state. Known for its pristine beaches, historic towns, and unique coastal culture, the area attracts millions of visitors each year. Here's what you need to know about exploring Coastal North Carolina.
Coastal North Carolina is located in the South-Eastern part of the state, stretching from the Outer Banks in the north to Wilmington in the south. The region is easily accessible by car, bus, or plane, with several airports located in the area. The climate of Coastal North Carolina is generally mild and humid, with temperatures averaging in the mid-80s during the summer months. The region is also known for its occasional tropical storms and hurricanes, which can impact travel plans during the late summer and early fall.
Things To Do
Coastal North Carolina offers a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages. Some of the top things to do in the region include:
Visit the Beaches
The coast of North Carolina is home to several beautiful beaches, including Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, and the Outer Banks. Visitors can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, surfing, and fishing at these popular destinations.
Explore Historic Towns
Coastal North Carolina is home to several historic towns, including Wilmington, New Bern, and Edenton. These towns are known for their charming colonial-era buildings, vibrant arts scenes, and rich cultural heritage.
Take a Boat Tour
Visitors to Coastal North Carolina can take boat tours to explore the area's waterways and wildlife. Some of the most popular tours include dolphin-watching tours, sunset cruises, and historical tours of the area's lighthouses and coastal landmarks.
Visit State Parks
Coastal North Carolina is home to several state parks, including Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, Jockey's Ridge State Park, and Hammocks Beach State Park. The parks offer opportunities for hiking, camping, and wildlife watching.
Coastal North Carolina is a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts, with opportunities to fish for both freshwater and saltwater species. Visitors can book guided fishing tours or rent boats and gear to explore the area's waterways on their own.
Visit Museums and Galleries
Coastal North Carolina is home to several museums and galleries, including the North Carolina Maritime Museum, the Battleship North Carolina, and the Cameron Art Museum.
Explore Wildlife Refuges
Coastal North Carolina is home to several wildlife refuges, including the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, and the Croatan National Forest. These areas offer opportunities for hiking, bird-watching, and wildlife viewing.
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Places To See
There are many wonderful places to visit in coastal North Carolina. Here are some of our suggestions:
Bald Head Island
Bald Head Island is a secluded island located off the coast of North Carolina. It's accessible only by ferry and is known for its natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere. Visitors can rent bikes or golf carts to explore the island, take a tour of the Old Baldy Lighthouse, or visit the Smith Island Museum of History.
Beaufort is a charming seaside town located on the Crystal Coast. It's known for its historic homes and buildings, including the Old Burying Ground and the Beaufort Historic Site. Visitors can take a boat tour of the Rachel Carson Reserve, visit the North Carolina Maritime Museum, or explore the nearby Cape Lookout National Seashore.
Cape Fear is a historic town located on the banks of the Cape Fear River. It's known for its charming downtown area, which is home to several historic homes and buildings, as well as the Cape Fear Riverwalk. Visitors can take a boat tour of the river, visit the Cape Fear Museum, or explore the nearby Carolina Beach State Park.
Carolina Beach is a popular beach town located just south of Wilmington. It's known for its boardwalk, which is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and attractions. Visitors can go fishing or crabbing off the pier, take a bike ride on the nearby Greenway Trail, or visit the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.
Fort Macon State Park
Fort Macon State Park is located on the eastern end of Bogue Banks, near Atlantic Beach. It's home to a historic fort that dates back to the 1800s, as well as several miles of hiking trails and a beautiful beach. Visitors can tour the fort, explore the dunes, or go swimming in the ocean.
Emerald Isle is a popular beach town located on the Crystal Coast, known for its wide, sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. Visitors can go fishing, surfing, or kayaking, or simply relax on the beach. The nearby Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier is a popular spot for fishing enthusiasts.
Kure Beach is a lovely coastal town in New Hanover County, North Carolina in the Wilmington area on Pleasure Island. People who are looking to relax and unwind seek this charming town because of its serene beaches and other breathtaking tourist attractions. There are also so many things to enjoy when you’re in Kure Beach.
Oak Island is a barrier island located about and hour from Myrtle Beach and 30 minutes south of Wilmington, North Carolina. The island, roughly a mile wide, is approximately 12 miles in length, consisting of two towns, Oak Island and Caswell Beach.
Imagine, sitting on an island with hundreds of naturally wild acres of untouched beauty and over 28 miles of stunning crystal blue coastline. Small town feel without lacking any needs or comforts to equip you with the best beach vacation. Oak Island, North Carolina is such a picturesque vacation destination.
Ocean Isle Beach
Ocean Isle Beach, one of the Brunswick Islands whose location offers access to both ocean, tidal rivers, and bays. Ocean Isle is one of the lesser-traveled barrier islands along coastal North Carolina. Start your mornings with breakfast at the Pier Grill and spend the day fishing, golfing, or exploring the eclectic treasures of this town. Venture to the arcades, museums, and the historic USS North Carolina Battleship. Moreover, wander around the unique boutiques, stores, as well as, the unforgettable restaurants.
Ocracoke Island is a secluded island located off the coast of North Carolina. It's accessible only by ferry and is known for its natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere. Visitors can explore the historic village, visit the Ocracoke Lighthouse, or go swimming in the ocean.
The Outer Banks is a long, narrow chain of barrier islands that stretches along the coast of North Carolina. It's known for its beautiful beaches, scenic drives, and historic lighthouses. Visitors can explore the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, climb the Bodie Island Lighthouse, or visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills.
Topsail Island has great weather making it an ideal location for most outdoor activities. The Topsail area has some of the most beautiful, uncrowded beaches the east coast offers. Fishing is abundant and each of the three communities of North Topsail, Surf City, and Topsail Beach has its own fishing pier with supplies. Fishing enthusiasts of all ages enjoy catching Spanish mackerel, tarpon, spots, mullet, king and more.
Activities available on Topsail Island include: the Historical Society and Missiles and More Museum; the Belle of Topsail, a replica of an 1880's turn of the century riverboat that cruises the scenic waters of the North Carolina, Intracoastal waterway and sounds, and charter services that offer island hopping, crabbing, clamming, tubing, shelling, fishing, and scenic cruises. With a diverse selection of shopping and dining choices, vacationers rarely leave the island once they've arrived.
Probably the most unique site to visit is The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. For more than ten years volunteers at the Center have helped injured sea turtles. In addition, residents of Topsail are organized to help in protecting the nests of endangered sea turtles. Guests always enjoy seeing the turtles and taking a tour of the facility.
Wilmington is a historic port city located on the Cape Fear River. It's known for its charming downtown area, which is lined with boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. Visitors can tour the historic homes and gardens, take a riverboat tour, or visit the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial.
Wrightsville Beach is a popular beach town located just east of Wilmington. It's known for its wide, sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, as well as its vibrant nightlife scene. Visitors can go surfing, kayaking, or paddleboarding, or simply relax on the beach and soak up the sun.
Map of Coastal North Carolina Area
Coastal North Carolina offers a wide range of accommodations for visitors, from luxurious oceanfront resorts to cozy bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals. Visitors can choose from many unique coastal north carolina vacation rentals, beachfront properties with stunning ocean views, historic homes with character and charm, or modern amenities and conveniences.
Coastal North Carolina has a variety of shopping options, from boutique shops to outlet malls. Here are some popular shopping destinations:
Located in Nags Head, Tanger Outlets is a popular destination for shoppers looking for brand-name bargains. The outlet mall features over 30 stores, including Nike, Adidas, and Kate Spade.
Mayfaire Town Center
Located in Wilmington, Mayfaire Town Center is a mixed- use development with over 80 stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues. You can find everything from high-end fashion boutiques to national chain stores.
This charming shopping center in Wrightsville Beach features a variety of specialty shops, restaurants, and a day spa. You can find unique gifts, home decor, and clothing items at Lumina Station.
The Cotton Exchange
Located in downtown Wilmington, The Cotton Exchange is a historic shopping and dining destination. The restored 19th-century buildings house over 30 specialty shops, galleries, and restaurants.
Surf City Pier
The Surf City Pier on Topsail Island is not just a great place for fishing and entertainment, it also has a gift shop that offers a variety of souvenirs, beachwear, and fishing gear.
Front Street in Beaufort
Front Street in Beaufort is lined with shops, galleries, and restaurants. You can find unique gifts, art, and local products in this charming waterfront town. Whether you're looking for high-end fashion, unique souvenirs, or local specialties, there's something for everyone in coastal North Carolina's shopping destinations.
Coastal North Carolina is easily accessible by car, bus, or plane. Visitors can take Interstate 40 from Raleigh or Charlotte, or take a bus or plane to one of the several airports located in the area. Once in the region, visitors can explore the area by car, bike, or foot.
Coastal North Carolina is a beautiful and diverse region that offers something for everyone. Whether you're interested in exploring historic towns, relaxing on the beach, or immersing yourself in the area's unique coastal culture, Coastal North Carolina is a must visit place.
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