10 Best Beaches for Family Vacations in North Carolina
Are you planning a family getaway this summer? Head to North Carolina, a state famous for its beautiful beaches. Whether you prefer lounging with a book by the shoreline or playing volleyball with your kids in the sand, North Carolina beaches are the perfect place for everyone in the family to find something they love.
As for us, we love the family beaches in North Carolina so much that we've put together a curated list for your next family vacation. Every single one of these beaches provides everything you need to keep everyone in the family happy — not to mention an unforgettable backdrop for your stunning swimwear, too!
Top 10 North Carolina Family-Friendly Beaches
Most North Carolina beach towns are family-friendly and have lots to offer, from great dining and accommodations to pristine stretches of gorgeous sandy beaches. Many beaches in North Carolina offer special activities for children, whether it be a nature trail, birding, kayaking, and canoeing, or simply hunting the beach for gorgeous seashells. Here are our top picks of the best NC beaches for kids.
1. Emerald Isle
Emerald Isle on the Crystal Coast takes the cake for the best family beaches in North Carolina. It's a beautiful beach with soft sand that’s perfect for building sandcastles with the littles, flying kites, fishing, or going for a bike ride on an 11-mile path to The Point at Bogue Inlet. If you plan accordingly, you can take part in the lively EmeraldFest concert series every summer.
2. Cape Hatteras National Seashore
This beach on Hatteras Island is one of the best beaches in North Carolina in part because of the iconic black-and-white-striped Cape Hatteras lighthouse. Family camping is available here and there are opportunities for all sorts of water activities, such as kiteboarding and windsurfing. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a sea turtle.
3. Nags Head
Nags Head is one of the many public beaches in North Carolina on the infamous Outer Banks featuring its own lighthouse, Bodie Island, which can be climbed for stunning views and a historic experience in the summer months. The beach allows 4x4 driving in the off-season from October to April and even has a skatepark for the daredevil in your family.
4. Topsail Island
This 26-mile barrier island has three of the best family beaches in North Carolina, all in one place: Topsail, North Topsail, and Surf City. Go for sunset walks on the pier or grab a burger at low-key, beachy restaurants. Great for nature-loving kids is the nearby Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.
5. Duck Beach
People love Duck Beach, a popular family beach in North Carolina that proudly claims its national recognition as one of the top 15 family-friendly beaches in America. Your family will enjoy the small-town atmosphere with charming shops and cafes, and those who love water sports can rent everything from kayaks to jet skis.
6. Kure Beach
Kure Beach, with its white sand and clean blue water, is one of the many North Carolina beaches for kids that offers plenty of activities to keep your family busy, from disc golf to playgrounds. Kure Beach also features summer concerts at Ocean Front Park and Pavilion. Kids can join in summer programs such as storytime while you shop for treasures at the open-air market.
7. Carolina Beach
A list of family beaches in North Carolina wouldn't be complete without Carolina Beach, one of the most historic beaches in the state, with the nationally recognized vintage Carolina Beach Boardwalk. Just 15 miles from the hustle and bustle of Wilmington, Carolina Beach offers fishing on the pier and a summer music festival right on the beach.
8. Kitty Hawk Beach
Kitty Hawk is famous for the Wright Brothers' first flight in 1903, which took place nearby, but nowadays it’s on the list as a best beach in North Carolina for its Outer Banks charm. Take your family to visit the Kitty Hawk Coastal Reserve for an immersive nature experience. Dogs are allowed on this beach all year round, and so is surf fishing.
9. Cape Lookout National Seashore
Cape Lookout has a spectacular black-and-white lighthouse painted in a diamond pattern, which you and your family can climb during the summer. Because this is a national seashore, there are also park ranger programs and tours. Fishing and birding are popular activities here as well.
10. Hammocks Beach
Hammocks Beach, a beautiful and rugged stretch of white sand, is another of the family beaches in North Carolina located within a state park. It includes the 4-mile-long Bear Island, which you can reach by passenger ferry or, if you're up for a water adventure, by kayaking or canoeing.
Get Packing for Your Postcard-Perfect Getaway
With so many picturesque locations to visit along the North Carolina coast, you’ll need some gorgeous beach attire to match. Browse our flattering and stylish choices featuring one- and two-piece modest bathing suits, resort wear, and accessories. You’ll look and feel spectacular watching the sun set with your family on the beautiful beaches in North Carolina.