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10 Finest Seaside Cities in North Carolina

Seaside cities are famously laid-back. They’re the kind of locations the place time strikes a bit slower, itineraries are versatile, and the one required determination is determining what to eat for dinner. That is notably true in North Carolina, a state with greater than 300 miles of shoreline and numerous seaside cities that embrace this leisurely way of life accented by surf, sand, and probably the most lovely sunsets you’ve ever seen.

Selecting which seaside vacation spot to go to, nevertheless, might be troublesome. Some vacationers desire the Outer Banks, the place you’ll discover cities like Duck and Nags Head. Others prefer to retreat to the Crystal Coast, Topsail Seaside, or the Wilmington space in the summertime months. There’s additionally the Brunswick Islands, a set of barrier islands, tiny cities, and vast, sandy seashores that really feel hours away from any main metropolis. All of it depends upon what you’re on the lookout for.

To assist slender the search — whether or not you’re planning for a week-long household trip or a fast weekend getaway — we referred to as in a couple of residents to share their high picks. Learn on to find the perfect seaside cities in North Carolina, based on native specialists. 

Wrightsville Seaside

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Wrightsville Seaside, which comes really helpful by Dean Neff, chef and co-owner of Seabird in close by Wilmington, is the right place for anybody who feels at dwelling on the water — or is concerned about native procuring, informal eats, and contemporary seafood. ‘[I] like Adapt Kitchen & Juice Bar for tuna poke bowls, juices, and good espresso — and if you’re on the lookout for a extra rowdy seaside bar scene, Purple Canine is the place,” says Neff. “I additionally love Motts Channel, an incredible family-owned seafood market proper on the water that sells every kind of native fish, like hogfish, when it is in season. I prefer to enter by means of the again loading dock so I can chat up the mongers about what they simply introduced in.”

Oak Island

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For Ryan Shelton and Josh Lemke, North Carolina locals and homeowners of trip rental @BeachPlease_OKI, Oak Island tops the listing of finest seaside cities because of its dog-friendly nature. “Canine are welcome, on a leash, anytime,” says Shelton. This laidback way of life additionally extends into each side of life on Oak Island, and most guests spend their days lounging on the seaside, traversing the city’s bike paths, or fishing from Oak Island Pier. Come mealtime, Lemke says you have got a couple of choices: “Make your personal coastal shrimp boil or go to Koko Cabana, Salt 64, or Ruby’s, that are a few of our regionally owned favourite eating places.” And whereas summer time is a spotlight on Oak Island, they suggest coming within the spring and fall, when “you’ll have milder temperatures and breathtaking sunrises and sunsets.”


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You may keep as busy or do as little as you need when visiting Corolla, an Outer Banks village tucked between the Currituck Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. When you fall into the previous class, begin by reserving a two-hour journey with Corolla Wild Horse Excursions, whose guides will allow you to witness the magic of the world’s wild horses (that are descendants of colonial Spanish mustangs). A go to to the Currituck Seaside Lighthouse, the place you possibly can climb the 220 steps to the highest, can be a preferred exercise, as is a day spent at Whalehead, a vibrant yellow, Twenties-era mansion-turned-museum. Lastly, no journey to Corolla is full with out catching some rays on Corolla Seaside, exploring Historic Corolla Village, and having fun with a barbecue platter from Corolla Village Barbecue.


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“Salvo is without doubt one of the most scenic and rural untouched seaside areas I’ve ever visited,” says Neff. Technically a census-designated place with a inhabitants of simply over 200, Salvo has a couple of small grocers, sort out outlets, and an artwork gallery — however that’s about it.  “Off the overwhelmed path and simply north of an uninhabited part of the Cape Hatteras Nationwide Seashore, it’s the best place to unplug and get in contact with nature. It’s simply you, the seaside, and the water. And at night time I’ve by no means seen so many stars,” he provides.

Nags Head

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If the phrase “North Carolina seaside city” conjures up pictures of towering sand dunes, you could be considering of Nags Head. An extended-time favourite for household holidays, the barrier island city is just not solely charming in its personal proper, but it surely’s additionally the best base camp for exploring different Outer Banks cities and close by factors of curiosity — like Hatteras Island and Roanoke Island. However if you wish to keep on the town on your whole journey, that’s okay, too. With 12 miles of sandy shoreline and over 30 public seaside entry factors, you possibly can simply spend every day in a seaside chair with a very good guide. Nevertheless, if you wish to uncover the aforementioned dunes — often called the East Coast’s tallest dune system — head to Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Right here, you’ll possible see different guests making an attempt their hand at flying kites, kiteboarding, or windsurfing.


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“Solely quarter-hour from Oak Island, Southport has a quaint foremost road for procuring, and there are nice eating places on the water,” says Shelton. When you’re craving Southern fare and contemporary seafood, he says you possibly can’t miss the “absolute gem” Mister P’s Bistro. Outdoors of its culinary scene, Southport leans closely into its position as a picture-perfect harbor city (it’s situated the place the Cape Concern River and the Atlantic Ocean converge). In actual fact, you could even acknowledge it because the setting of some motion pictures and TV exhibits, together with “Protected Haven” and The Summer season I Turned Fairly. To correctly get your bearings, guide a room on the Robert Ruark Inn, a historic bed-and-breakfast in downtown Southport, and request a tour from the proprietor, who will assist level out movie areas and different factors of curiosity within the space.

Bald Head Island

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When you’re staying in Southport and need to discover a distinct seaside city for the day, Lemke recommends taking the ferry to Bald Head Island. Whereas it’s not your typical seaside city — no passenger vehicles are allowed — the village is without doubt one of the most unusual and stress-free locations within the state. Residence to North Carolina’s oldest still-standing lighthouse, Previous Baldy, Bald Head Island is finest explored by golf cart or bike, each of which might be rented on the island. “Cruise round in your rented golf cart, climb the lighthouse, play golf, and benefit from the expansive lovely seaside,” he says. “The ferry journey alone is well worth the journey.”


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Beaufort, North Carolina, pronounced like “bow-furt,” is a historic fishing village with unbeatable water entry, a walkable downtown, and a roster of native eating places you’ll bear in mind lengthy after your seaside trip. To gasoline your tour of the Beaufort Historic District — or a day on the seaside — pop into Beaufort Grocery Co. for pancakes and a BeauGro Bloody Mary, if it’s that type of morning. For lunch, Black Sheep makes home made, coal-fired pizzas, however you’ll positively need to save room for one thing candy from Beaufort Creamery. Vacationers who prefer to pair a little bit of schooling with their travels can spend an hour on the North Carolina Maritime Museum on Entrance Road or take a boat-building class at Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Middle.

Carolina Seaside

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“When you’re on the lookout for one thing a bit extra distant, I like to recommend Carolina Seaside,” says Neff, who describes the seaside city as a vacation spot with “a lot of character.” In basic seaside trend, the Carolina Seaside Boardwalk is populated with carnival video games, amusement rides, and road meals distributors. For a bit extra nature, head to Carolina Seaside State Park (dwelling to the Venus flytrap) to strive your hand at kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. After working up an urge for food, comply with Neff’s ideas and have a number of the well-known glazed donuts from Britt’s Donut Store or a fish sandwich from The Sandspur.


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There’s maybe no North Carolina seaside vacation spot as match for household holidays as Duck, the northernmost city on the Outer Banks. Vacationers of all ages can reap the benefits of the mile-long Duck Boardwalk alongside the Currituck Sound, paddleboard and bike leases from Duck Village Outfitters, and the number of seaside reads from Geese’ Cottage & Downtown Books. So far as lodging, you’ll have a couple of choices. These with bigger teams ought to contemplate renting a seaside home from Southern Shores Realty or Twiddy & Firm Realtors — however Sanderling Resort can be a preferred selection, notably in the event you’re concerned about luxurious facilities and an unbeatable beachfront location. Regardless of the place you select to remain, one factor’s for sure: You completely can not go away Duck with out grabbing a contemporary donut from the unique Duck Donuts.

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