Is the beach calling your name? The below zero temperatures have many people wanting to put their feet in the sand.
Kick off 2015 by exploring the coastal destinations of Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, North Carolina where countless winter activities will leave you feeling refreshed and energized for the year ahead.
Start planning your trip with 15 tips and suggestions from the area’s top insiders that are perfect for anyone who wants to start the New Year off on the right (and healthy) foot by exploring nature and enjoying outdoor adventure in a beautiful coastal setting.
- Play beneath towering trees, cast a line into some of the best fishing spots in the state, or hike trails that span a variety of distinct habitats along the Cape Fear River and into the pine forest at the 761-acre Carolina Beach State Park. This hidden gem is home to a number of different coastal ecosystems, as well as one of the world’s most unique carnivorous plants, the Venus flytrap.
- Explore the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve, which includes one of the most unusual areas of North Carolina’s coast – Zeke’s Island Reserve. It’s a popular spot to view Loggerhead sea turtles and is part of the North Carolina Birding Trail.
- Fort Fisher State Historic Site, located at the south end of Kure Beach, was recently announced as one of the top tourist attractions in the state. On Jan. 17–18, the site of the largest land-sea battle of the Civil War will host a living history program to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Fisher. The observance weekend will feature reenactments of the January 1865 Union attacks on Fort Fisher, with as many as 500 reenactors representing Union and Confederate soldiers, sailors and Marines.
- Nearby Fort Fisher State Recreation Area is a natural outdoor laboratory any nature enthusiast will love. Thanks to the ever-changing barrier split ecosystem, 16 threatened and endangered species call it home at various times throughout the year, including hawks, warblers and peregrine falcons in the winter. Explore the area by hiking the 1.1-mile Basin Trail, or through various ranger-guided educational events and activities.
- Located in the heart of downtown Kure Beach, Ocean Front Park is a public seaside green space that features a boardwalk, playground, swings and rain gardens.
- Athletes and sports enthusiasts can head to Joe Eakes Park, home to an 18-hole disc golf course (the only one in the area), a softball field, basketball courts, tennis courts and bocce ball courts. The park also has a fenced-in dog park where four-legged guests can play off-leash.
- Take an aquarium adventure at The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher – recently named a top 20 aquarium in the U.S. by Trip Advisor – and explore the many habitats and wildlife that call the North Carolina coast home. Exhibits include marine environments from salt marshes and tidal pools, to a two-story open ocean exhibit featuring sharks, rays and eels. There are also interactive experiences like touch tanks, daily live animal presentations and feedings.
- Freeman Park Recreational Area, located at the north end of Carolina Beach, is one of the few areas on the East Coast that issues permits allowing vehicles and overnight camping on the beach. The area – which is a great spot for building a cozy bonfire in the winter – is known for great crabbing, boating and a variety of wildlife. Pets are also welcome in the off-season.
- Tee off at Wilmington Municipal Golf Course, a Donald Ross golf course designed in 1926 that provides players with a championship 18-hole game. A $1.5 million renovation, completed in October 2014, restored the course to Donald Ross’ original design by doubling the greens and restoring the bunkers, along with upgrading golf cart paths and the tee boxes.
- Kayak along the coastline and take in the breathtaking views. Kayak Carolina offers rentals or guided kayak tours with trained interpretive naturalists and certified instructors. Explore the beautiful waters, marshes and secluded sandy beaches of the Carolinas. Paddle NC provides kayak and standup paddleboard (SUP) tours, rentals and instruction and is located in the heart of Carolina Beach State Park.
- Carolina Beach Lake was once noted in the Guinness Book of World Records as being the freshwater lake closest to salt water. A walking path circles the lake and is the perfect place for a stroll, jog or bike ride. There’s also a playground, picnic shelter, gazebo and public restrooms on the north side of the lake.
- Experienced surfers and paddlers can enjoy the ocean and Intracoastal Waterway during the off-season with a wet suit. In need of gear? Tony Silvagni Surf School offers several different rental options and free delivery anywhere on the island, year-round. Tony and his talented team of instructors also offer surf, standup paddleboard (SUP) and standup paddleboard yoga (SUPY) lessons.
- The island is home to a variety of pet-friendly locales and accommodations, so bring along a furry friend in need of an active getaway. Trek through Fort Fisher State Recreation Area’s six-mile span of natural, undeveloped beach or jog beneath the pines and six miles of hiking trails at Carolina Beach State Park – leashed dogs are welcome through March 31.
- Skateboarders can grab their equipment and head to Mike Chappell Park, which features 8,000 feet of ramps, rails and bowls. And thanks to tennis and sand volleyball courts, baseball and soccer fields, there’s a variety of other ways to get active there.
- Take a sunset stroll along the beach, knowing that things for 2015 are shaping up nicely.
Mild winter temperatures, less crowds and off-season Carolina Beach and Kure Beach rates make winter the perfect time to enjoy a last-minute trip with the family, a romantic getaway for two, an impromptu vacation with friends, or even a solo exploration. For a list of things to do this winter at Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, visit the seasonal landing pages online.
About Carolina Beach
Carolina Beach offers the best of a North Carolina beach experience from the past with a fun, family-friendly spin for today. Visitors can experience a vintage, nationally recognized boardwalk, Carolina Beach State Park, one-of-a-kind festivals and events, world-class fishing, miles of beautiful beach, and all kinds of people united by their love of good times that are unmistakably Carolina Beach. For more information, go to www.VisitCarolinaBeachNC.com or call (800) 641-7082. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CarolinaBeachNC and Twitter and Instagram, @CarolinaBeachNC.
About Kure Beach
Kure Beach, North Carolina’s small wonder, offers a naturally beautiful setting in a peaceful, small-town atmosphere. The coastal community, with its relaxed pace, lets visitors reconnect while they enjoy nature unspoiled and nearby signature state attractions, including the Fort Fisher State Historic Site and the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Kure Beach visitors can escape the busy pace of life and embrace the curiosity and innocence of childhood in this pure and natural playground. For more information, go to www.VisitKureBeachNC.com or call (800) 631-1460. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KureBeachNC and Twitter, @KureBeachNC.