If you’re a Raleigh newcomer there are a few things to know about North Carolina beaches. This shortlist was compiled by an enthusiastic some-what newcomer after living here for 5 years. As a member of the NC Eat & Play team, he is dedicated to helping The Real-Tour Experience provide information and resources for other newcomers. The Real-Tour Experience is sponsored by The W Group – one of Raleigh’s most referred real estate firms for buyers relocating to Raleigh and its neighboring cities and towns.
Thanks to him, we are trying to keep it real and right to the point.
If you live in Raleigh, it’s no big deal to drive to any of these North Carolina beaches
If you’ve moved from a city or town where beach life was a skip away, you’re going to want to read this portion of our essentials things to know for Raleigh newcomers.
First, many locals will share with you that Wilmington is a great place to visit as it’s one of our closest coastal destinations from Raleigh. And it is, but if you think you’re rolling up to a beach resort city, you’re not. Wilmington is more of a walkable river district with wonderful charm and history. You’ll even see horse-drawn carriages if you’re into things like that. Slightly Charleston-ish in the downtown parts, but nothing like Virginia Beach or Jersey Shore vibes here. But don’t scream at her new neighbors quite yet for recommending, there are great beaches nearby. And thanks to the Cape River that flows through the town, you’re close to beautiful parks and trails, as well as beaches on the Atlantic ocean.
Many Raleigh locals head to Wrightsville Beach or Carolina Beach.
Quick fact: If you ever go to downtown Raleigh on the weekend, you’re pretty much going to feel like it’s a ghost town. Why? Because everyone heads to Wrightsville Beach or Carolina Beach on the weekends.
Wrightville Beach is closest to Wilmington and is one of our most popular North Carolina beaches. Popular getaways usually include some Wrightville beach fun in the sun during the day and downtown Wilmington riverwalk dining and drinking at night. Carolina Beach (on Pleasure Island with Kure Beach) is another popular destination boasting one of the oldest boardwalks in the country. It’s a great place for seaside fun with plenty of attractions and entertainment for the whole family. We highly recommend Raleigh newcomers take a day trip for North Carolina beach fun.
You may want to bring a friend on the drive to Wilmington
Next, let’s discuss the drive. Look, depending on where you’re driving from the roads to Wilmington are, how should we say, a bit lackluster. Unless you like looking at the trees from hundreds of miles. There are no cool towns off the interstate to view or even many interesting billboards to read. We’d recommend bringing a friend, play an audiobook, load a playlist, call a friend you haven’t spoken with in a while, or something else to help pass the time. From Raleigh, it’s a straight shot, so you won’t be missing any exits. Even your navigation will have a chance to take a lunch break. And if you have kids with you, you’re going to want to keep them busy, because again as stated earlier, unless they like looking at trees for hundreds of miles on the highway, they will need some form of entertainment.
Want more beaches? Outer Banks offers a lot of choices
Another consideration for Raleigh newcomers if you’re looking to really get away, is a short 3+ hour drive to the Outerbanks. As one of our nation’s most popular beach destinations, the Outer Banks is a collection of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina between the Atlantic Ocean from the mainland. You’ll find plenty of great hotels, local rentals, seafood dining, great surfing, and water sports. We love it because it has both beach city and charming beach town vibes. You can go big with stays right on the beach in Nags Head or go to more quaint areas like the town of Duck.
Quick fact: Tying in some history to Raliegh, Sir Walter Raleigh, the city’s namesake, sponsored England’s first endeavor to settle in the New World at Roanoke Island located in Outer Banks.
What Raleigh newcomers should know before heading out to the Outer Banks
First, it can feel quite touristy. Since it’s a mid-Atlantic beach destination for east coasters and beyond, you’re looking at rental properties and hotels catering to more tourism.
Second, you will find more seafood than you know what to do with – which is a great thing since in Raleigh their’s only a handful of seafood options. Captain George’s is one of the preeminent seafood restaurants with AYCE (that’s all you can eat) crab legs in the state of North Carolina. Check out our NC Eat & Play owner, Megan’s other foodie picks, but here she is enjoying plates of crab legs from there.
@nceatandplayIf you’re like me and can eat your weight in crab legs, capt georges is a must. ##nctiktok ##seafood ##northcarolina ##sc ##va ##crablegs ##ncfood♬ Seafood – G-Mayne Da Wreck
Lastly, the drive there is filled with great towns to stop in and have a bite. Along the drive, there are fantastic spots worth trying out. Depending on where your starting destination there is likely some great local barbecue mom-and-pop places just off an exit. We’d love for you to tag @nceatandplay in your road trip finds. And if you’re really in a hurry, North Carolina’s own Cook Out is a perfect choice. This used to be our state’s best-kept secret for great food at super great prices, but they’ve successfully expanded to so many areas now. Either way, you can’t beat their cookout tray and shakes. These white cheddar cheese bites are a Megan-must as well!
@nceatandplayTrust me on this one👌🏼 ##cookout ##cheese ##cheesepull ##fastfood ##cookoutmilkshake ##nc ##northcarolina ##foodies ##nccheck ##southernfood ##eatthis ##919♬ Honeypie – JAWNY
Want more information and recommendations about North Carolina beaches?
Check out Megan’s guide to North Carolina beaches. In the guide, she shares great places for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And she didn’t forget about brunch and a few sweet extras in between.
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