Visitors are often surprised at the number and variety of weekly vacation rentals throughout the area.. Vacation rentals are, in fact, an increasingly popular accommodation available to vacationers, and visitors will find that the sheer number of rentals available allows them to find an ideal retreat to fit their crew, from quiet condo complexes to brightly colored oceanfront sand castles.
Visitors to historic Southport who want to make a beach escape, or Carolina Beach travelers who need an easy yet scenic route to head south will find the Southport / Fort Fisher ferry a convenient yet completely unique way to explore the southern North Carolina coastline. Though just a short 35 minute ride from the mainland to Pleasure Island, (the home of Fort Fisher State Park, Carolina Beach and Kure Beach), this ferry trip nonetheless gives its passengers exceptional views of the Cape Fear River, and an incredible story to take back home.
Visitors who want to transform a vacation into a learning experience that will delight “students” of all ages will adore the Cape Fear area. Home to a wealth of museums, iconic sites, and natural attractions, there’s always an opportunity to discover something new in this historically and culturally rich region. So spend a couple afternoons or days exploring the following sites that put education in a unique and always fascinating new perspective. From historical treasures to stunning shorelines, learning is always a joy in the Cape Fear region.
Mariners of all varieties will find that the Intracoastal Waterway in this corner of coastal North Carolina has a lot to offer visitors and locals alike. Following the Cape Fear coastline, and bypassing a myriad of cool towns and attractions along the way, mariners taking a cruise along this famed stretch of water may want to settle in for a day to discover what the Cape Fear region is all about.
Known in local mariner circles as one of the easiest inlets to cruise through in North Carolina, Masonboro Inlet is much more than just a straight-shot channel to the Atlantic Ocean. The waters and the cool beaches surrounding the waters are ideal for a myriad of activities, including fishing, shelling, surfing, and just enjoying a gorgeous day on the beach. Plan an outing to the beaches that border this sliver of water, or take a cruise to explore abundant Cape Fear waters, and enjoy one of the most popular waterways west of Wilmington.
If there’s one thing that Cape Fear locals and visitors alike adore, it’s the local beaches. The area is teaming with stunning shorelines that span from the private Figure Eight Island all the way to the pristine Zeke’s Island Reserve. Spanning miles of coastline, it can be tricky for visitors to decipher where to go first, where to park, and what to do once they’ve landed on the sand. The good news is that virtually any stretch of shoreline has its own arsenal of activities for visitors to enjoy, and because of the sheer diversity of beach communities, virtually any beach fan can find just the environment they are looking for.
Cap off a leisurely day of exploring Southport with a scenic walk along the waterfront, courtesy of the Southport Pier and Riverwalk. Located on the edge of Howe and Bay Streets, and therefore easy to reach for veritably any Downtown Explorer, this scenic walk is a great place for fishing, birdwatching, or just settling into a wooden bench and admiring the miles of open water views.
From the beautifully undisturbed coastal beaches to the cool resort-style accommodations found just an easy trek away from Wilmington, the Cape Fear region is bustling with amazing camping options. As a result, visitors of all tastes will find exactly the type of stay they are looking for – regardless of whether it’s a cool family-friendly environment, or just a stretch of shoreline in the middle of nowhere.
Creating a list of the “must see” attractions during a vacation to the Cape Fear area can be a difficult task. With 300 years of history, a brilliant natural landscape, and an array of activities, it can seem impossible to do and see it all during a getaway to this enriching coastal destination. And while visitors may have their own specific interests and pursuits when they come to the Cape Fear area – whether it’s history, beaches, or incredible dining and shopping – any vacationer who wants to fully discover the region will want to ensure these iconic attractions are on their itinerary.
Enjoy a freshwater environment just a block or so away from the beach with a visit to Carolina Beach Lake Park. This public park is centered on the 11-acre freshwater lake, which was noted in the Guinness Book of World Records as being the closest freshwater lake to a major body of saltwater. This unusual feat has produced a sunny and surprising environment that’s perfect for off-the-beach relaxation and entertainment.
From the historic homes of Wilmington’s famed residents to coastal destinations that highlight the life of vacationers past, there’s a lot to uncover when it comes to the Cape Fear area’s many enticing museums. Spend a cloudy day learning something new, or start a vacation off right by uncovering the region in rich detail by ensuring that a trip to these local museums are on your vacation itinerary.
The Riverwalk in Downtown Wilmington is a showstopper of a stroll that is a distinctive attraction all its own. Originally conceived in the 1980s as a way to generate more interest and tourism to the Cape Fear River waterfront regions of Wilmington's historic Downtown, today the Riverwalk encompasses a full mile of scenic boardwalk, hugging the borders of the riverfront, and providing visitors with endless views and easy access to some of the Downtown's most beloved attractions.
Zeke's Island Estuarine Reserve is found just south of the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, and is one of the three original 1985 National Estuarine Research Reserve components dedicated by NOAA and the Division of Coastal Management. Encompassing a wide range of habitats, the lagoon-like reserve is one of the most important feeding regions of the North Carolina shoreline for a wide range of birds, and is a popular destination for nature lovers, mariners, kayakers, and birdwatchers alike.
Visitors who take a trip to the very southern tip of the North Carolina coastline will be treated to a wild landscape where the local wildlife thrives – the Bird Island Reserve. Situated on the border of North and South Carolina, this collection of marshy islands and shoreline is a paradise for beachcombers, kayakers, birdwatchers, and any visitor who enjoys a pristine piece of the coastline. Fairly easy to reach and yet wonderfully isolated, the Bird Island Reserve is a breath of fresh air for anyone who appreciates a purely natural exploration.
Clean and uncluttered beaches and a remarkable local history combine to make the Fort Fisher State Historic Site one of coastal North Carolina's most treasured barrier island attractions. This incredible locale, just miles away from Carolina Beach, is home to gorgeous stretches of shoreline, thickets of nature trails and live oaks, and the original site of Fort Fisher itself, a relic of the 1800s and an instrumental turning point during the Civil War.
Visitors who are on the hunt for the postcard-perfect vacation rental in the heart of the Carolina Beach or Kure Beach area will find an enticing selection and plenty of friendly customer service when they rent through Victory Beach Vacations. Based in Carolina Beach in the coastal Cape Fear region, Victory Beach Vacations has more than 100 vacation rentals in all shapes and sizes to ensure that every vacationing family can find their dream home away from home on the beach. When you book your Cape Fear getaway with Victory Beach Vacations, the fun doesn’t end when you leave the beach, it continues with an array of privately-owned properties outfitted with all of the amenities needed for a fabulous beach vacation. Jenna Lanier, General Manager, explains that her family first opened the rental and property management business in 2002. At the forefront of Victory Beach operations is Lanier’s mother, Caroline Meeks. Meeks is both the Broker in Charge and co-owner with husband, Buck Meeks, who manages the Field Services team with Lanier’s husband, Scott. For nearly 20 years, the Victory Beach team has worked tirelessly to establish a network of top-of-the-line rental properties for Cape Fear visitors to enjoy. “As far as our properties go,” explains Lanier, “they are all updated, well-furnished and appointed. “We have always performed post-cleaning inspections and since the pandemic, have put freshly laundered duvets over all of the comforters between rentals.” Lanier emphasizes how important the guests experience is “we strive to give our guests a relaxing, stress free, memorable vacation.” This emphasis on customer service has led to Victory Beach Vacations having a 4.8 Google rating with over 300 reviews by happy owners and guests.In addition to Victory Beach’s superior sanitation practices, the company offers properties for every type of visitor. Choose from luxury oceanfront houses and condos to more reasonbly priced 2nd row properties with oceanviews. Many properties include pools and hot tubs as well, perfect for outdoor entertaining, and many are dog friendly. Lanier also notes that all properties are within walking or driving distance to Pleasure Island’s main attractions – Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. The former, as described by Lanier, is the more commercialized of the two destinations and features a boardwalk, outdoor dining options and a plethora of weekly activities including fireworks, live music, amusement park pop-ups, and movies under the stars. Kure Beach offers a more residential feel with its fishing pier, intimate restaurants and family favorite, North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.More water fun awaits, too. “There is a harbor and a canal that feed into the intercoastal. We have several properties on the harbor so guests can bring their boat, kayak, [or jet ski] and travel between islands,” says Lanier. A stay with Victory Beach Vacations is an annual pilgrimage for most. “A large percentage of guests are previous guests. Some even reserve the same property for the next year as they’re checking out,” Lanier says. “It’s almost like it’s their personal vacation home.” Even before guests arrive at their vacation destination, the Victory Beach Vacations’ website greets them with a live beach cam and exquisite aerial footage of both Carolina and Kure Beaches. See for yourself by scanning the QR code and call Victory Beach Vacations at 910.458.0868 to book your Cape Fear getaway. Start making your memories today! —Grace Silipigni
For over 30 years, Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q, has focused on creating an enjoyable dining experience for our customers.At Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q, we strive to be the best host. From the moment you walk through the door, you are our guest. Our staff personally delivers hot and fresh food right to your table, refills your drink, and even takes care of discarding your trash. Our goal is for you to relax and enjoy the nostalgic décor and music. Let us serve you.There are currently 36 locations stretching from the NC coast to the Piedmont with plans of expansion. This would not be possible without our loyal customers.We invite you to come join us. Dine in, take home or go through the drive thru.
Nature lovers who want to take an in-depth and self-guided exploration of Southport's wild terrain can take an easy stroll down the "Marsh Walk." This long boardwalk that begins along Brunswick Avenue on the edges of the busy downtown ends, essentially, in the middle of nowhere, with incredible views of the Cape Fear River, Elizabeth River, and miles of the waterfront terrain that defines Southport as a uniquely coastal town.
Literally on the international map for nearly 500 years, the Cape Fear region is steeped in history, with ties to virtually every important American era from the first wave of settlers to the Civil War. Always renowned as an important port for the southern states, the myriad of stories to be found in the Cape Fear region truly span the centuries, and provide fascinating insight into this unique coastal community.
Once you have your coastal recreational fishing license in hand, it’s time to start thinking about gear. Anglers will find tons of options when it comes to equipment for casting into the surf, from custom designed rods and reels at local tackle shops, to name brand varieties that are designed for multiple areas along the coastline. Here are just a few of the most popular gear options for surf fishermen. Keep in mind that there are endless options available, and your local bait and tackle store staff will be happy to point you in the right direction if you have any questions about what you’ll need for successful surf fishing in any given area along the North Carolina coastline.
Sandwiched in between the hopping beach town of Carolina Beach and the quiet shorelines of Fort Fisher and the Zeke’s Island Reserve, Kure Beach is a picturesque beach vacation destination that offers a little bit of everything to visitors. Famed for sunny beaches, a quiet atmosphere, and easy proximity to a wealth of attractions and things to do, Kure Beach represents the best of all worlds when it comes to coastal Cape Fear vacations.
North Myrtle Beach locals who want to unwind and relax off the beach head to the gorgeous, centrally located McLean Park. Located in the heart of the city, just 2 blocks west of Ocean Boulevard between 1st and 3rd Avenues, this sprawling natural respite can cater to a wide range of outdoor interests. From active kids and adults to visitors who just want to enjoy a pretty view and a breath of fresh air, this park proves that North Myrtle Beaches' world of outdoor fun extends past the ocean facing beaches.
The New Hanover County Arboretum, located on the outskirts of Downtown Wilmington on Oleander Drive, is a peaceful retreat for nature lovers everywhere. With seven acres of greenery, and gorgeous foliage that changes with the season, every visit offers a new way to experience the native and beloved plant life of Wilmington in a perfectly tranquil setting.