Enjoy some fun in the sun and marvel at one of the most beautiful coastlines in the country
North Carolina is filled with world-class venues for an assortment of sports perfect for teams of all ages and experience levels. When they aren’t competing, teams and their families can enjoy one of the nation’s most gorgeous shorelines. These cities and beaches along the coast offer an abundance of family-friendly fun that will satisfy all ages.
THE OUTER BANKS: AN ICONIC EXPERIENCE
The Outer Banks stretches more than 175 miles north to south along North Carolina’s shore, featuring endless expanses of shoreline and protected natural land broken up by small villages.
A cruise down Highway 12 from Corolla to Hatteras allows you to see much of this area in a limited amount of time during your trip. In many parts of the Outer Banks, you can rent an off-road vehicle and drive it on the beach. Or, put that Jeep or SUV to the test and drive it right to the shore for a perfect day’s setup.
To squeeze in a history lesson before or after a big beach day, the Wright Brothers National Museum is a must-visit. Here, you can stand in the exact spot where the Wright brothers took flight in the first airplane. A few minutes away, Jockey’s Ridge State Park is a great place to set up for the day, where you can marvel at the East Coast’s largest natural sand dune.
Cape Hatteras is arguably the best place to surf in all of North Carolina, with near-perfect waves for both expert surfers and beginners. For younger children, Pamlico Sound, located a short walk away from the cape, is a safer destination without the rough waters.
Horseback riding along the shores is an experience that can be found in few places in America other than the Outer Banks. Equine Adventures, Buxton Stables, and Hatteras Island Horseback Riding are just a few locations that can take your group on guided rides.
THE CRYSTAL COAST: PARADISE ON THE EAST COAST
The Crystal Coast spans 85 miles along the central coast of North Carolina. One way to explore this area and come away feeling like a local is through the numerous guided tours offered across the region. Some of the most popular include Crystal Coast Aviation, Hungry Town Tours, Sandbar Safari Fishing & Eco Tours, and Lookout Adventures.
There are multiple experiences that define the uniqueness of this region, making it a must-visit. Kids will love Beaufort Pirates Revenge, a boat ride on a pirate ship with a fully costumed crew, who put on a spectacular show of sword fighting, water cannon battles, and treasure hunting. At Shackleford Banks, you can have some of the few remaining wild herds of horses. Bogue Sound offers up conditions perfect for kiteboarding novices: shallow, warm, and calm waters for miles. Visit Blown Kiteboarding or Teach’s Kiteboarding to set up a lesson or rent equipment.
WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH: A WATERSPORT HUB OF N.C.
The locals and tourists to Wrightsville Beach are known for being the active, outdoorsy type, so much so that the area is often referred to as the water sport hub of the nation.
There are multiple schools for surfing instruction at Wrightsville Beach for all ages and experience levels. These include Crystal South Surf Camp, Indo Jax Surf School, Sean’s Private Surf Instruction and WB Surf Camp. For those who would rather observe, these beaches are often filled with the state’s best surfers on days where conditions are right.
Scuba diving and snorkeling are popular activities off of Wrightsville Beach. About 40 miles off the coast, divers may find fossils of giant Megalodon teeth in their exploration of ancient reefs and ledges with Aquatic Safaris and WB Diving. To enjoy the entirety of the picturesque coastal city, take your group on the 10-mile River to Sea Bikeway. This path can be enjoyed by bikers of all ages and experience levels.
KURE BEACH: A QUAINT GETAWAY
To escape the bustling crowds and commercialism of an average beach town, Kure Beach is your ideal location.
Fort Fisher State Recreation Area is the best stretch of beach to make a set-up for the day. This beach is relatively quiet and is kept pristine. The abundance of wildlife that visitors can see at this beach attracts birders and photographers from across the nation. Located nearby is the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, home to over 2,000 animals including an albino alligator and a family of Asian small-clawed otters. Kure Beach is also known for its high-quality fishing locations like Kure Beach Fishing Pier.
CAROLINA BEACH: THE TOWN THAT HAS IT ALL
The appreciation that this town has for arts and culture is evident as soon as you arrive. The Carolina Beach Mural Project includes five beautiful murals and growing painted across the town, and there is always live music playing at The Fat Pelican or the Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar. Families will enjoy the Boardwalk Film and Fireworks Series, which runs June through August, and the Island of Lights Festival, a holiday event running from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day.
Carolina Beach State Park is the most popular destination in town to catch some rays. The boardwalk is a beach staple, featuring plenty of rides, carnival food favorites, gift shops, and games. From the Ferris wheel, your group will get an amazing view of both the city and the ocean, creating memories that will last a lifetime.
If your group wishes to avoid the crowds, there is also an abundance of walking trails along Carolina Beach State Park, where you can spot wild Venus fly traps and rare coastal birds. Carolina Beach Lake Park is an 11-acre freshwater lake located just a short drive away from the shore. This location is perfect for those who want to try out water sports like kayaking and paddle boarding without the pressures of being out in open water. You can also rent a boat at places like Carolina Beach Pontoon Rental to further explore these intercoastal waterways.
By Isabella Wilkes