North Carolina’s foothills and forests might get most of the attention, but residents know that lush vegetation isn’t all there is to enjoy in this beautiful state. Located in coastal New Hanover County, Wilmington has some of the most beautiful coasts in America. The secret is getting out, though; USA Today readers voted Wilmington as “Best American Riverfront” in 2014.
Naturally, Wilmington has some incredible beaches to go along with its great seafood restaurants and busy ports. From sapphire waters to scenic boardwalks and exciting surfing spots, you’ll find it all if you take the time to visit these top spots.
With a small population that numbers in the thousands, the historic town of Kure Beach stretches out along Pleasure Island’s coastline and measures less than half a mile across at its widest. Constructed in 1923, the main pier on the beach is the oldest in the entire Eastern Seaboard. In 1943, Kure Beach was the target of an attempted German U-boat attack. Fortunately, the shells that the U-boat fired missed and ended up in the Cape Fear River.
Lately, Kure Beach has become a popular vacation spot for everybody from North Carolina residents looking to get away for a weekend to tourists from the other side of the country. Popular activities include deep-sea fishing, visiting the aquarium at Fort Fisher, walking through Ocean Front Park, and dining at any of the town’s famous sandbars.
Home to the famous Britt’s Donut Shop, the boardwalk at Carolina Beach is full of local shops, amusement rides, and delicious restaurants. Away from the main drag, a series of wooden walkways rise above the sand and prairie grass to offer calming views of the surrounding scenery.
Technically, this beach is actually inside of a North Carolina state park. After you spend time on the pier, you can get close to the Cape Fear River by hiking up Carolina Beach State Park’s beautiful sand trails. If you’re a fishing enthusiast, then you’ll want to spend some time at the marina to explore your options for a charter boat. Throughout the year, Carolina Beach also holds fierce fishing competitions that you can participate in or watch!
Located less than nine miles from Wilmington proper, Wrightsville Beach is one of North Carolina’s most popular hubs for watersports, cruises, and fishing charters. Sailboats are always abundant in the crystal-clear waters that you’ll find at Wrightsville, and you won’t need to look far if you want to do some shopping after you’ve soaked up the sun.
When the sun sets, Wrightsville’s nightlife scene comes alive with friendly taverns, great music, restaurants serving fresh seafood by the oceanfront, and more. During the daytime, paddleboards and kayaks are always available from a variety of local providers.