What are the Best Beaches in North Carolina for Families?

Colorful sunrise on a North Carolina beach, waves breaking on a sandy shore framed by dune grass. Duck, NC
Colorful sunrise on a North Carolina beach, waves breaking on a sandy shore framed by dune grass. Duck, NC

The best beaches in North Carolina for families are as follows: 

  1. Duck Public Beach
  2. Fort Fisher State Park
  3. Carolina Beach
  4. Corolla Public Beach
  5. Kill Devil Hills Public Beach
  6. Wrightsville Beach
  7. Nags Head Beach
  8. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Beach

This article will tell you all you need to know about each of the beaches listed above and will give you all the information you need about planning your family’s next North Carolina beach vacation.

1.) Duck Public Beach

Colorful sunrise on a North Carolina beach, waves breaking on a sandy shore framed by dune grass. Duck, NC
Colorful sunrise on a North Carolina beach, waves breaking on a sandy shore framed by dune grass. Duck, NC

The charming small town Duck, North Carolina lies along a barrier coast known as Outer Banks. The beach is highly rated as one of the best beaches for families and has remained on Travel Channel’s list of best beaches since 2000. 

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With access points to the beach situated among the several small neighborhoods in Duck, lifeguard towers ensure safety for swimmers. This extra protection is ideal for families with young children. 

Featuring 7 miles of wide, sandy beach, a boardwalk is a safe way for beachgoers to access Duck’s many restaurants and stores. 

If swimming isn’t your thing, there are plenty of biking trails and natural scenery in Duck sure to please outdoor enthusiasts and bird watchers alike. 

Duck has one hotel and several rental houses. One important tip: book your trip to this popular summer destination early!

2.) Fort Fisher State Park 

Sunset at Fort Fisher, NC
Sunset at Fort Fisher, NC

Located at the southern corner of the state, this beachside state park has something for everyone. Nature enthusiasts are sure to catch a glimpse of rare species that call Fort Fisher State Park home, such as the piping plover and the Loggerhead sea turtle. The beach is six miles long with salt marshes mingling with the sea, making it a treasure trove teeming with wildlife.   

The town of Fort Fisher is rich in Civil War history, and a designated trail winds through the ruins of the fort after the Confederates were defeated in January of 1865. Historians consider the fateful Civil War battle at Fort Fisher the turning point in the war that sealed the Confederacy’s fate.

The historical site is just a few short miles north of the beach and recreation area. The town of Fort Fisher includes amenities such as hotels, restaurants, and shopping, including the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. 

3.) Carolina Beach State Park

Carolina Beach State Park
Carolina Beach State Park

Located along the barrier coast, Carolina Beach State Park has something for everyone. Whether you’re into fishing, swimming, pontoon boats, hiking, or even scuba diving, Carolina Beach is an ideal vacation destination. 

Carolina Beach State Park offers miles of scenic coastal country dotted with native wildflowers. The park includes tent campsites and rental cabins, with sizes to fit every family’s needs, and a marina where avid fishermen can boat out to explore some of North Carolina’s best fishing spots. 

If you don’t plan on camping in the park, the vibrant town of Carolina Beach has amenities such as hotels, shopping, and restaurants. 

4.) Corolla Beach

Three wild horses walking along the beach in Corolla, NC.
Three wild horses walking along the beach in Corolla, NC.

Located just 15 miles north of the town of Duck, Corolla Beach is a scenic coastal town along the Outer Banks barrier coast. Calm waters perfect for kayaking border the marshy groves ideal for wildlife enthusiasts, where native birds, fish, and plant life thrive. 

Corolla Beach has first-class amenities while maintaining the cozy, friendly feel of a small town. Rental cabins and vacation homes are available in sizes to fit every family’s needs. 

5.) Kill Devil Hills Public Beach

beachfront properties along the shore of Kill Devil Hills in the Outer Banks of North Carolina
beachfront properties along the shore of Kill Devil Hills in the Outer Banks of North Carolina

With an unforgettable name, Kill Devil Hills has a rich history as the site of the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Explore this town’s proud history while enjoying the beach’s family friendly scene. Like many other entries on this list, Kill Devil Hills is located in the Outer Banks. 

The beach has lifeguard stations with lifeguards on duty, and during the summer – between Memorial Day and Labor Day Weekend – roving patrols police the beach to ensure everyone’s safety. This means extra reassurance for parents of small children. 

Hotels and rental cabins are available for overnight stays in Kill Devil Hills. 

6.) Wrightsville Beach

Wrightsville Wilmington North Carolina beach
Wrightsville Wilmington North Carolina beach

Considered North Carolina’s most accessible beach and named by National Geographic as one of the world’s best surfing townsWrightsville Beach has a lot to offer. Surf lessons are available for surfers of all skill levels, as well as sailboat races, fishing excursions, and watersports. 

Located 8.5 miles from Wilmington, North Carolina, Wrightsville Beach has plenty of amenities such as rental cabins, vacation homes, hotels, resorts, shopping, and restaurants. 

Because of the warm coastal climate, Wrightsville Beach attracts tourists all year round. Travel and Leisure magazine dubbed Wrightsville Beach as one of the top Spring Break destinations in the U.S. Even in the winter, kayaking and paddleboarding lessons draw tourists yearning to leave the winter blues behind. 

7.) Nags Head Beach

A man and his dog walk along a stretch of beach and homes in Nags Head, Outer Banks, North Carolina.
A man and his dog walk along a stretch of beach and homes in Nags Head, Outer Banks, North Carolina.

Located along the 130-mile stretch of Outer Banks barrier coast, Nags Head Beach sits between Kill Devil Hills to the north and Hatteras Island to the south. With a namesake paying homage to the land-based pirates of the 1800s, Nags Head Beach has several tourist destinations, including nationally recognized fishing spots, ideal swimming waters, and scenic beauty. 

Lifeguards patrol the beach, which is accessible to the public year-round, which adds some extra reassurance to families with small children. The town of Nags Head is a vibrant island town with plenty of amenities, such as hotels, rental cabins, restaurants, shopping, and more. 

8.) Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Cape Hatteras National Seashore North Carolina
Cape Hatteras National Seashore North Carolina. Editorial credit: Fsendek / Shutterstock.com

Cape Hatteras boasts the unique honor of being the country’s first national seashore, established in 1937. Kids will enjoy the many educational outreaches sponsored by the park as they learn about the ecosystem and the different species unique to the Cape Hatteras region of the Outer Banks.

Swimming, hiking, fishing, kayaking, and more are available to do. Enjoy the calm scenery of the national seashore and the local wildlife’s natural beauty. 

If giving back to the community is part of your ideal vacation, the National Park Service has volunteer opportunities available for families and individuals alike. Serve in capacities such as keeping the beach clean and wildlife healthy by picking up trash, marking sea turtle nesting grounds, or improving hiking trails along the dunes. 

See Also

US Beaches

Best Beaches in North Carolina

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!