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.
Take a break from the beach and enjoy the winding canals and creeks that border the Elizabeth and Cape Fear Rivers with a visit to the May Moore Park. This small destination, located on the northeastern side of Oak Island, is within walking distance of a number of vacation rentals, and provides plenty of peace and quiet for beach lovers who want to try a different natural excursion off the salty Atlantic shoreline.
Surfing is big in the Cape Fear area, and it’s a sport that has been enjoyed by decades of locals and vacationers alike. With gentle summertime waves that are perfect for beginners, and larger and more challenging swells that can make an appearance with a passing storm or hurricane, the surfing scene in the Cape Fear area can be as wild or as laid-back as a surfer wants. Visitors who want to get their toes wet in this popular beach activity will find ample destinations – and ample learning opportunities – to hit the waves. From cool camps that are perfect for young surfers just learning the ropes, to popular tournaments where East Coast’s best surfers shine, there’s something for everyone when it comes to the Cape Fear surfing scene.
Located on the southern tip of the Cape Fear coastline, and jetting out into the ocean like a jewel of green land in a sea of blue, Bald Head Island is a beach vacation destination that is truly unique for its geography, history, and distinctive character. Isolated from the rest of the world, but wonderfully accommodating with plenty of vacation homes and attractions, this tiny island is a paradise for nature fans, mariners, and beach lovers of all varieties.
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.
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.
With miles of water in every direction, and a collection of cool destinations that are only accessible via a water-bound vessel, the Cape Fear area is a prime destination to launch a kayaking adventure. Take to the waves for a thrilling ride, or enjoy a leisurely exploration through a network of shallow creeks and marshes, and discover why kayaking reigns supreme as one of the most popular sports in the Cape Fear region.
Located just east of the quiet Ogden area of Wilmington, Figure Eight Island is a destination that has inspired curiosity for decades. Privately owned by its homeowners, and only accessible by a single bridge that crosses the Intracoastal Waterway, the island is a rumored haven for celebrities, wealthy CEOs and company owners, and any visitor who just wants a private escape. Though difficult to access, visitors who make the cut by renting or buying a vacation home on the island will be treated to one of the quietest beach landscapes in the area. As a result, Figure Eight Island retains its reputation as one of the most pristine – and privileged – vacation destinations in the coastal Cape Fear area.
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.
The Oak Island Lighthouse and Coast Guard station have a long history together, and the tall lighthouse tower stands as a welcoming beacon to visitors who head to these picturesque shores. As the newest lighthouse in North Carolina, the distinctive white, gray and black structure is unlike any other on the coastline, prompting both curiosity and amazement from visitors, and making it a "must-see" on any lighthouse lover's road trip list.
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.
The sunny Wrightsville Beach Park, conveniently located in the heart of town, is a fantastic destination for an outdoor adventure that doesn't necessarily entail a trip to the beach. Adjacent to the Wrightsville Beach Parks & Recreation's main facilities, the Wrightsville Beach Arboretum, and plenty of wide open green spaces, this park is a perfect spot for enjoying a little free fun in the sun, without the risk of getting sand in the shoes.
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.
Sunset Beach is a unique little North Carolina coastal destination that encompasses both mainland and barrier island terrain, and is located just a seashell's throw from the South Carolina border. Despite its proximity to larger destinations like Wilmington, NC to the north and Myrtle Beach, SC to the south, the community has never lost its small town charm, and its decidedly beachy atmosphere, making it an ideal destination for laid back vacationers who want to soak up the salt, the sun, and the endless ocean views.
The Carolina Beach Boardwalk is the place to go for family-oriented or even late-night fun after a sunny day on the beach. Noted as one of the top 10 boardwalks in America by Food & Wine magazine, this classic oceanside boardwalk features a full host of shops, amusements, restaurants, and nightlife for visitors of all ages to explore.
The coastline of North Carolina is unique in that beach-goers have ample opportunities to explore the shoreline from the comfort and convenience of a 4WD vehicle. From the northern Outer Banks along the Virginia state border to the sunny beach towns that border Wilmington, visitors will find that there are plenty of options when it comes to cruising the coast.
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.
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.
There’s an ocean of adventures waiting for visitors at the Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park. Featuring a full range of entertainment options including a water park, mini golf course, go karts, arcade, and so much more, veritably every visitor under the sun can enjoy an active excursion or just a day of splashing around at this all-encompassing amusement center.
The Museum of Coastal Carolina is the only North Carolina Natural History Museum that’s located on a barrier island, and is a fun destination for visitors of all ages to dive deep into the unique and beautiful coastal region. Located in the heart of Ocean Isle Beach, just a couple blocks away from the oceanfront and the Ocean Isle Beach Pier, this rainy day destination will impress patrons with its wealth of natural, interactive, and eye-catching treasures.
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
Enjoy miles of pristine beaches, salt marshes, and scenic views in every direction with a visit to Fort Fisher State Recreation Area. Located just south of Kure Beach, and renowned for its 6 miles of undeveloped shoreline, this sunny beach destination is one of the most popular state parks in North Carolina, and offers miles of fun around every corner.
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.
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.
New visitors may find that making a list of things to do during a packed Cape Fear vacation seems, initially, like an impossible task. With a wealth of incredible attractions, activities, and stunning landscapes, it’s hard to narrow down the literally hundreds of diversions into a single vacation agenda. So if you’re having a little difficulty deciding what to do during your Cape Fear vacation, consider these activities that are readily waiting at your fingertips. From cruising through open river waters, to sampling the finest cuisine in coastal NC, these are the “must” things to do that have led to countless happy vacations.