Local's Secrets for Exploring Carolina & Kure Beaches


When it comes to coastal destinations in North Carolina, Carolina Beach and Kure Beach are two gems that often remain in the shadows of their more famous counterparts. These neighboring beach towns offer a unique blend of natural beauty, history, and local charm. If you’re planning a visit to the area, you’ll find plenty to see and do beyond the well-known attractions. In this guide, we’ll share some local secrets and hidden gems to help you make the most of your visit.

What is Carolina Beach NC known for?

Carolina Beach is renowned for its beautiful sandy shores, vibrant boardwalk, and an array of water-based activities. The beachfront, with its inviting waves and lively atmosphere, is undoubtedly a hub of activity. Yet, beyond the sun-soaked shores and bustling boardwalk lies a treasure trove of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. It’s a place where the salty sea breeze carries the scent of adventure, and the laughter of beachgoers mingles with the secrets whispered by the ocean. From the serene expanses of Freeman Park, where you can drive your 4×4 onto the sand, to the Carolina Beach State Park, where you can immerse yourself in the wonders of nature, this coastal town offers a diverse range of experiences. Don’t miss the delectable and legendary Britt’s Donuts or the rich history of Fort Fisher State Historic Site. Carolina Beach has a charm that goes far beyond the sun and surf, making it a captivating destination for travelers seeking more than just the ordinary coastal getaway.

Hidden Gems of Carolina Beach

Freeman Park 

Freeman Park

Freeman Park is a cherished sanctuary amidst the bustling beachfront of Carolina Beach. As the main beach area can get quite crowded, especially during peak seasons, Freeman Park offers an oasis of tranquility and space. It’s a slice of coastal heaven where you can escape the crowds and truly immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the North Carolina coast. What sets Freeman Park apart is its unique accessibility – you can drive your 4×4 vehicle directly onto the sandy shores. This feature not only makes it easier to transport your beach gear but also opens up the opportunity to explore hidden corners of the coastline that are otherwise inaccessible. It’s a serene experience, as you can find a quiet spot to set up your beachfront haven, bask in the sun, and let the gentle waves soothe your senses. Freeman Park is more than just a place to escape the crowds; it’s a gateway to a serene, unspoiled beachfront where the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean unfolds before you, uninterrupted by the trappings of modern life. It’s a testament to the coastal charm and natural allure of Carolina Beach that makes it a beloved secret among locals and those in the know.

Carolina Beach State Park 

Carolina Beach State Park by George Bass

Carolina Beach State Park is a haven for nature enthusiasts, a sprawling expanse of natural beauty that beckons those seeking a deeper connection with the great outdoors. Nestled amidst the coastal splendor of Carolina Beach, this state park is a must-visit destination. For those who revel in the wonders of the natural world, the park offers an array of opportunities to explore and discover. Miles of well-maintained hiking trails wind through maritime forests and wetlands, providing a chance to observe a rich diversity of flora and fauna. The marina offers a gateway to aquatic adventures, where you can embark on kayaking or fishing expeditions, or simply savor the serenity of the water.

One of the most intriguing attractions within the park is the carnivorous plant garden, a unique and rare opportunity to witness these fascinating plants in their natural habitat. It’s a captivating educational experience that sheds light on the wonders of nature’s adaptations. And when you’re here, don’t forget to check out Sugarloaf Dune, a natural marvel that stands as the highest sand dune on the entire Atlantic coast. Climbing to the top offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and the shimmering waters of the Atlantic. 

Britt’s Donut Shop

Britt’s Donut Shop is a cherished institution in Carolina Beach, a timeless culinary treasure that has been a local secret passed down through generations. The allure of Britt’s Donuts lies not only in the unparalleled deliciousness of their offerings but also in the sense of tradition and nostalgia that permeates the establishment. This small, unassuming donut shop has perfected the art of crafting mouthwatering, made-to-order donuts that are nothing short of extraordinary. While it’s true that the line to get your hands on these delectable treats can sometimes be long, rest assured, the freshly fried donuts are unequivocally worth the wait. The moment you take your first bite, you’ll understand why generations of locals have kept this secret alive.

Britt’s Donuts specializes in the art of simplicity, and their signature glazed donuts are a testament to this approach. These warm, melt-in-your-mouth confections are a rhapsody of sweetness, with a perfect balance of crispy and tender textures that will transport your taste buds to cloud nine. There’s something profoundly comforting about enjoying a fresh, hot donut by the beach, and it’s an experience that encapsulates the essence of Carolina Beach. 

Fort Fisher State Historic Site

Fort Fisher State Park by Andy Bennett

Fort Fisher State Historic Site is a portal to the past, where visitors can step back in time to the Civil War era and witness the remnants of a pivotal chapter in American history. Nestled on the coast of Carolina Beach, this historic site is more than just a place; it’s a living testament to the trials and tribulations of the past. As you traverse its hallowed grounds, you’ll be transported to a time when this coastal fort played a crucial role in the American Civil War. The onsite museum is a treasure trove of knowledge, housing artifacts, interactive exhibits, and immersive displays that vividly depict the life of soldiers and civilians during the war.

Venturing outside, you’ll find yourself amidst the physical remnants of the fortifications, including earthworks and gun emplacements that once defended the area. Exploring these ruins offers a tangible connection to the past, where you can almost hear the echoes of history whispering through the sea breeze. It’s a truly captivating experience, providing an insightful glimpse into the region’s history and the sacrifices made by those who lived through the tumultuous times of the Civil War. Fort Fisher State Historic Site is more than a historical landmark; it’s a living, breathing tribute to the resilience and spirit of a bygone era, making it an essential stop for history enthusiasts and curious travelers alike. It’s where the past comes to life, allowing us to better understand the roots of the present and appreciate the enduring legacy of those who shaped it.

Secret Spots of Kure Beach

Just south of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach offers a quieter, more laid-back atmosphere, serving as a delightful complement to its more bustling neighbor. Here, you’ll find the true essence of a tranquil coastal retreat. Kure Beach is known for its pristine, uncrowded beaches that invite leisurely strolls and peaceful sunbathing. However, there’s more to this charming town than meets the eye. It’s where the pace of life slows, and the waves gently whisper their secrets to those who care to listen.

Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

The Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, located just south of the bustling historic site in Carolina Beach, is a hidden gem that offers a serene and unspoiled coastal experience. What sets this area apart is its refreshing lack of crowds, providing a tranquil contrast to the busier sections of the coastline. The pristine beaches here stretch as far as the eye can see, offering ample space for beachcombing, sunbathing, and long, undisturbed walks along the shore. For avid anglers, it’s a paradise offering fantastic fishing opportunities, where you can cast your line and reel in a catch while surrounded by the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean.

In addition to its fishing allure, the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area is a prime location for bird watching. This coastal haven provides a habitat for numerous bird species, making it a captivating destination for ornithologists and nature enthusiasts. As you meander through the coastal dunes and salt marshes, you’ll have the opportunity to observe a variety of birds in their natural environment. It’s an enriching experience that allows you to connect with the diverse avian life of the region. The Fort Fisher State Recreation Area embodies the essence of a peaceful coastal retreat, where the harmony of nature reigns supreme. 

North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

Fort Fisher Aquarium

The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, though not exactly a secret, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by nature lovers and aquatic enthusiasts. It’s a captivating world of marine life that beckons you to explore the mysteries of the ocean, both from the coastal perspective and beyond. Nestled in the tranquil backdrop of Fort Fisher, this aquarium is a delightful escape into the wonders of the sea.

What makes the North Carolina Aquarium truly exceptional is its dedication to providing an immersive and educational experience. The aquarium takes you on a journey, starting with the coastal habitats of North Carolina, showcasing the diverse ecosystems that exist right at the water’s edge. As you progress, you’ll delve deeper into the marine world, encountering captivating exhibits that display the beauty and fragility of underwater ecosystems. However, the crown jewel of this aquatic paradise is the incredible ocean tank, an expansive display teeming with marine life. Here, you can come face-to-face with awe-inspiring creatures like sharks and giant sea turtles, providing an unforgettable encounter with the majesty of the deep.

The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is not merely a place to observe marine life; it’s a place where you can gain a profound appreciation for the intricate balance of the ocean and the importance of its preservation. It’s a hidden gem that not only showcases the marvels of underwater life but also educates and instills a sense of responsibility for the well-being of our oceans. W

Kure Beach Pier

Kure Beach Pier is a charming embodiment of coastal life that invites you to savor the authentic local experience. It’s not just a fishing pier; it’s a gateway to the heart of the community, offering a glimpse into the cherished traditions of this coastal town. When you venture onto the pier, you’ll find yourself amidst the rhythmic ebb and flow of the ocean, surrounded by the camaraderie of fellow anglers and the subtle beauty of Kure Beach. Casting your line from the pier, you have the chance to reel in a variety of fish, creating a genuine connection with the sea and the time-honored art of angling. Some of the species you might encounter include red drum, flounder, trout, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel.

Beyond the fishing, the Kure Beach Pier provides a panoramic stage for you to bask in the breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a place to witness the changing moods of the sea, from tranquil mornings to dramatic sunsets that paint the sky in vivid hues. In particular, don’t miss the opportunity to catch a spectacular sunrise over the horizon, an experience that’s as rejuvenating as it is awe-inspiring. It’s during these quiet moments, with the gentle sound of the waves in the background, that you’ll truly feel the essence of Kure Beach’s coastal charm.

Kure Beach Pier isn’t just a structure that extends into the sea; it’s a living testament to the beauty of coastal life, where the simple pleasures of fishing, the splendor of ocean views, and the wonder of nature’s daily theater come together in perfect harmony. 

Freddie’s Restaurant


Freddie’s Restaurant is a culinary gem nestled in the heart of Kure Beach, where delicious seafood and a warm, family-friendly atmosphere come together to create a memorable dining experience. This local favorite has captured the hearts of both residents and visitors, becoming a cherished establishment known for its commitment to providing not just a meal, but a welcoming and authentic coastal dining experience.

As you step through the doors of Freddie’s, you’re greeted by the comforting aroma of freshly prepared seafood dishes and the friendly smiles of the staff. It’s a place where the coastal charm extends from the decor to the service, where you’re made to feel like a part of the family from the moment you arrive.

The menu at Freddie’s Restaurant is a culinary journey through the flavors of the coast. From delectable seafood platters to succulent crab cakes and mouthwatering shrimp dishes, each plate is a celebration of the ocean’s bounty. One of the restaurant’s standout features is its generous portions, ensuring that no one leaves hungry. Whether you’re savoring their signature crab legs or delighting in classic shrimp and grits, you’re sure to experience the essence of coastal cuisine at its finest.

Vacation in Carolina and Kure Beach and Stay with Carolina Beach Realty

Carolina Beach Oceanfront

At Carolina Beach Realty, we understand that a remarkable vacation is more than just a change of scenery; it’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the unparalleled beauty, culture, and activities of Carolina and Kure Beach. Our commitment is to make your stay an experience you’ll cherish for a lifetime. Our wide range of rental options, including cozy beachfront cottages, spacious oceanfront condos, and luxurious vacation homes, ensures that you’ll find the perfect accommodation for your needs. Whether you seek the tranquility of a private beachfront escape, a fun-filled adventure by the shore, or the heartwarming embrace of a vibrant coastal community, our team is dedicated to matching you with the ideal rental. As you explore the pristine sands and charming neighborhoods of Carolina and Kure Beach, let Carolina Beach Realty be your trusted partner, and we’ll ensure that your coastal vacation is a journey you’ll remember for years to come. Book your stay today and let us help you create unforgettable memories along the coast.