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Good beach vacations in NC?

400 Views 18 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  beanma
Hi. I don't know if this is the right place to post this, but my husband and I (with our 2 year old ds) are planning a trip to the states this summer (we live in the UK), and we are planning to go to NC to check it out as a possible place to live (particularly Charlotte and Cary). We want to go to the beach for a few days while we are there. Someone has recommended Holden Beach, but are there any other good beaches (preferably in the southern part of NC, as we will be travelling back to Atlanta after) for families?
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they're all good! :LOL

what are you looking for in your vacation destination? are you looking for a quiet family beach that's very non-commercial? sunset beach would be a good bet for that. are you looking for some place that has lots of stuff to do? rides to ride? sights to see? you could always hit myrtle beach (it's SC instead of NC, but it would be close to charlotte and cary and atlanta). the beaches around wilmington are very nice and have a lot of stuff to see and do around them (fort fisher and the NC aquarium are nearby). they would meet your criteria of close to charlotte and cary, too. the outer banks are wonderful, but probably not too close to the places you mentioned.


p.s. i think holden beach is very nice, too.
i think the thing about the nc beaches that makes them so nice is there are sooo many nice houses/condos to rent right on or near the beach. I think we went someplace called emerald isle? holden beach is nice. the far reaches of the outerbanks is nice too. myrtle beach is a bit, well, too commercial and not as family oriented as some of the others.

edited to add: my dh and i spent 5 years in chapel hill in graduate school.
I'm from NC and I agree that they are all nice
I would definitely suggest Carolina Beach (that is where Ft. Fisher and the aquarium are). There is a small amusement park there as well as the boardwalk. Very nice parks too. My parents are still there. I would advise against Myrtle Beach with a 2 yr old...too many high school and college students this time of year. They get way rowdy and obnoxious. I was one of them every summer and we never even realized there were kids around us. Holden Beach is really nice, but not too much to do. Carolina Beach is about 1-1.5 hrs from Cary. BTW, Cary/Raleigh/Durham area is much nicer than Charlotte. Cary is expensive though. There are some nice smaller towns outside of Charlotte if you don't mind a commute. Anyhoo...sorry for the ramble! I'm major homesick :LOL Feel free to pm me if you want to know anything else
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We like Wrightsville Beach which is close to Wilmington. It is probably 2 hours from Raleigh? There are houses and condos right on the beach...and it is close enough to Wilmington that you can go there if you want a nice dinner. Also near Wilmington is Bald Head Island which you have to take a ferry to and there are no cars...supposed to be very quiet but very beautiful.

Another place we love to go that is about 3 hours from Charlotte is Charleston, SC. We usually stay on Kiawah Island which is beautiful...miles of unspoiled beaches and it is a half hour from Charleston which is one of the oldest, most charming cities in America.

The beaches of the Outer Banks in NC usually get rated the best beaches in the country...but we have STILL never been though we've lived in NC for 6 years. Its just so far. But I've heard it is wonderful and worth the trip. I've heard particularly good things about Ocracoke.

Good luck!
Sunset Beach is my absolute favorite. It's quiet and family-oriented, and there is no large commercial development on the island. It's about 45 minutes from Myrtle Beach. I grew up in Charlotte and have been to the NC beaches often, and Sunset is the one I love to return to.
Carolina and Kure beaches are wonderful. Not too windy and not too developed. Very pretty with plenty to do, places to eat and sleep. BTW, I live in Clinton about an hour NW of these two beaches but have been to Wrightsville, Indian, and some of the outer banks beaches and I would have to say Carolina and Kure are the best.
I am a born native of NC... The RTP area as a matter of fact... So just about every part of the NC I have seen. The outer banks are nice and quite with lots of historical fun and sites but quite a bit further than the other beaches mentioned. Emerald Isle/Holden Beaches are nice and have plenty of fun but still a 3 hour drive from Cary. The Wilmington area where Carolina/Kure Beaches are have the best of both worlds IMO. History, fun, science, etc and only 2 hours from Cary. We started going there every mother's day to celebrate together and always find new stuff to do each time we are down there.
Does Wilmington still have the Kid's Science Center? That place was awesome...totally forgot about it.
Thanks for your replies, mamas!
I am now thinking of Carolina Beach (but thanks for all the other suggestions too), and I am looking in to where we can stay. I am sure we will have a great vacation - thanks again!
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If you would like an opinion of the place you choose from someone that can actually see the rooms/hotel/motel let me know and I'll have my mom check it out for you
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Wow, CraftyMommaof2! That's a great offer! I have just started looking on the internet, but when I find somewhere, I may well PM you.
Here is the site I used to help with accommodations when we vacation at Carolina Beach.... FWIW, I DO NOT recommend the Sea Ranch... They do not have any rooms with a full size tub which IMO is essential with a toddler!
No problem! I know how it is to try to find a place without actually seeing it, KWIM? Gotten burned a few times that way. Mom knows alot of those places anyways
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UK mom, did you make your beach plans yet? we just got back from a weekend in carolina beach and i'd be happy to give you my impressions of it if you're interested. hope you have a fun time wherever you go.
I am just booking my vacation now! I am planning to go to Carolina Beach. What did you think? Would it be a good place for a two year old? I am looking at staying in a condo for a few days.
I grew up in Wilmington. I MUCH prefer Wrightsville Beach. I remember that Carolina Beach's surf was usually rougher and and more dangerous. Don't know why though. It is a great area in general though.
well, yeah, we liked it, but the surf was too rough for my 3 yr old. the beach has had some erosion trouble recently and they replenished it with new sand and it's just not quite as smooth a slope as a natural unreplenished beach. are you looking for a lot of sand and surf time? if so, sunset beach might be more up your alley. we've stayed there for years and years and years and it's a very gentle beach, depending on the weather. carolina beach had a ton of stuff to do, though, which sunset does not. we loved the ferry ride from ft fisher over to southport (check out and the aquarium comes highly recommended, though we didn't make it 'cause we were only there for two days. dh and dd1 got swamped by a wave and he lost his glasses so we spent one afternoon at the wilmington mall lenscrafters getting new glasses
! it was fun, though. dh and i and dd2 walked down to the boardwalk one night and i thought that was fun (dd1 stayed with MIL at the condo). the condo we stayed in was fine -- not spectacular -- but fine. dd1 enjoyed the pool they had. i think riding the ferry was our favorite part. i'm on a quest now to check out all the beaches in NC. i've got quite a ways to go, but we might try to check out somewhere else in sept.

hth. please feel free to post or PM with any questions.
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