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Old 01-28-2007, 10:35 AM
 
54 posts, read 341,742 times
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I keep reading about how great it is that the beaches are only 2 hours away. Living in FL, I'm used to grabbing my chair and umbrella and just finding a spot at a variety of public beaches.

If you drive down to the closest beach for the day, are there places where you can drive up, plop down a chair and relax or are the places there mostly hotels and private residences so that you'd have to rent a room somewhere to sit on the beach and relax?
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Old 01-28-2007, 10:40 AM
 
Location: Durham, NC
2,024 posts, read 5,327,821 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkey Toes View Post
I keep reading about how great it is that the beaches are only 2 hours away. Living in FL, I'm used to grabbing my chair and umbrella and just finding a spot at a variety of public beaches.

If you drive down to the closest beach for the day, are there places where you can drive up, plop down a chair and relax or are the places there mostly hotels and private residences so that you'd have to rent a room somewhere to sit on the beach and relax?
I wouldn't say they're _really_ just two hours away. It's about 130 miles from Raleigh to Wilmington, or just at 2 hours... and 196 miles, or about 3.5 hours to Nags Head on the Outer Banks. In the case of Wilmington, once you get to the city, you then have to take local highways once I-40 ends to get to Carolina Beach or another actual waterfront.

This time of year, it's an easy and quick drive. Come summer... :-) It's quite a ride! Unlike Fla., the entire coastline of which is one long accessible beach, it seems like there are fewer true accessible beach areas in N.C. However, my experiences at both the OBX and Carolina Beach were great. Very busy, but less congested than, say, Daytona or Cocoa at their busiest, and (in the case of Carolina Beach), cheaper and more accessible parking.
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Old 01-28-2007, 10:41 AM
 
Location: Triangle, North Carolina
17 posts, read 83,528 times
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Wrightsville Beach, about 2 hours East of Raleigh, is a place where my husband and I would pack up the two kids and head for the day. You can park on the street (metered nowadays) and just hang out for the day. Most beaches I have been to here in NC are like that - no admission to the beach as with some beaches in NJ. There are places to crash for the night. Next to Wrightsville Beach is Wilmington. A historic riverfront town with Victorian B&B's and unique shops.
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Old 01-28-2007, 11:58 AM
 
Location: Cary, NC
33,603 posts, read 58,304,270 times
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There are no private beaches on the NC Coast. (Well, there IS Figure Eight Island...)
Some folks on the Northern Outer Banks, Corolla area rattled about a lawsuit to keep people from trespassing on their beach, but I think they faded away.

Nearest beach to Raleigh is Wrightsville Beach. Good day trip, 2 1/2 to three hours each way, with the last few miles on local boulevards.

The best beaches in the area, IMO, are on Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island. Neither is a day trip.
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Old 01-28-2007, 06:26 PM
 
Location: Sarasota, FL
137 posts, read 561,178 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkey Toes View Post
I keep reading about how great it is that the beaches are only 2 hours away. Living in FL, I'm used to grabbing my chair and umbrella and just finding a spot at a variety of public beaches.

If you drive down to the closest beach for the day, are there places where you can drive up, plop down a chair and relax or are the places there mostly hotels and private residences so that you'd have to rent a room somewhere to sit on the beach and relax?
Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach are readily accessible public beaches (and also very popular, thus, more weekend crowds). If you prefer a place a little less crowded, you can try Topsail Beach just up the coast from Wilmington, although from Raleigh that involves a little extra driving time. There are other nice beaches worth checking out in Onslow County as well.

A favorite beach spot of mine is Atlantic Beach. It's about the same driving time as Wilmington, although being that it's not freeway (there are stoplights along US 70 through Johnston and Wayne counties) it seems like a slightly longer drive. Morehead City is a much smaller town than Wilmington and not as readily accessible via interstate, thus, the beaches draw less tourists and are much less crowded.

There's plenty of beachfront to explore on the Outer Banks, but it's a good drive from Raleigh (it's a good distance east - much further than Wilmington or Morehead City). Weekends during the summer can generate a lot of traffic on US 64 and increase driving time. That's not to say you should avoid OBX - it's a great place to go. You'll just enjoy it more when it's not jammed with summer tourists.
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Old 01-29-2007, 07:48 PM
 
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You can get to Freeman Park at Carolina Beach in 2.5-3hrs max. Raleigh to Wilmington is 1.5-1.75 and then the drive through town depends upon traffic.
Freeman Park is at the end of CB. You can drive your 4wd out there with cooler, tent, etc and stay a while. 'Admission' is 10 a day or 40 for the year. When you get to CB, stop at the Scotchman by the fishing boats (can't miss it) and get a pass--or pay the 10 at the gate to the beach. I'ts about 1.5 miles of open beach. Great spot. I walk my dogs there as often as possible. Wrightsville beach can get crowded and parking is a hastle. I'm all about driving my car and my stuff onto the beach with me...Freeman Park has recently added porta-potties and trash cans. BTW it can get packed in the summer time, but still nothing like the Jersey beaches of my childhood. In the regular part of CB, at the north end, before Freeman Park is a pier. There's public parking nearby along with facilities. The beach just (literally) finished its 3-4 year renourishment so it's wide (but maybe a little rough on the feet.) Welcome and enjoy. I love it here.
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Old 01-31-2007, 12:06 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magicmk View Post
Topsail Beach just up the coast from Wilmington, although from Raleigh that involves a little extra driving time. There are other nice beaches worth checking out in Onslow County as well.
I grew up near Topsail. And it can be a shorter drive time than Wilmington. You take 1-40 to Burgaw, where you get 53 E to Maple Hill where you take 50 E to Holly Ridge where you catch the road to South Topsail Island. Sorry I can't remember the road name. It looks like 50 continues on to Topsail, but I thought in Holly Ridge the name of the road changed. But there are signs where 50 intersects with Hwy 17 pointing you to the coast.

Some folks take 1-40 to Wilmington and then Hwy 17 North to Holly Ridge. That is as my Grandaddy use to say "going around your elbow to get to your thumb." But Hwy 53 & 50 are 2 lane country roads and you might run into some slow farm equiptment.

There are other ways to get to hwy 50 from I-40 but I've found that the Burgaw route is the easiest to follow. Visited only once a year I've forgotten all those short cuts my Dad taught me. Maybe after we move this summer it will come back to me.

BTW, Topsail has some great beach accesses. The North end of Topsail Island is in Onslow Co. and the South end of Topsail Island is in Pender County. IMHO, the beach accesses in Onslow Co are better... bigger parking lots, bathrooms, concession stands for the kids. But mainly it's because South Topsail was more densely developed prior to the 80s so there was less land for beach accesses on that part of the Island. In the 80s when development started on the North end of the island, the good people of Onslow Co had the sense to demand public beach accesses because they knew one day would come when you could no longer just park at Paradise Pier to catch a few waves. And now Paradise Pier is gone and saddly is covered with Cape Cod style Mcmansions. (BTW, I love Cape Cod homes.... just not covering the sandy ground that I spent my youth.) But I digress.

Oh, I've made the drive from RDU Airport to Holly Ridge in 2 hours. It's another 15 mins to Topsail. (Of course this is on weekend days when I-40 is not a problem in the Raleigh Durham Area.)
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Old 01-31-2007, 08:17 AM
 
134 posts, read 512,394 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PDXmom View Post
I grew up near Topsail. And it can be a shorter drive time than Wilmington. You take 1-40 to Burgaw, where you get 53 E to Maple Hill where you take 50 E to Holly Ridge where you catch the road to South Topsail Island. Sorry I can't remember the road name. It looks like 50 continues on to Topsail, but I thought in Holly Ridge the name of the road changed. But there are signs where 50 intersects with Hwy 17 pointing you to the coast.

Some folks take 1-40 to Wilmington and then Hwy 17 North to Holly Ridge. That is as my Grandaddy use to say "going around your elbow to get to your thumb." But Hwy 53 & 50 are 2 lane country roads and you might run into some slow farm equiptment.

There are other ways to get to hwy 50 from I-40 but I've found that the Burgaw route is the easiest to follow. Visited only once a year I've forgotten all those short cuts my Dad taught me. Maybe after we move this summer it will come back to me.

BTW, Topsail has some great beach accesses. The North end of Topsail Island is in Onslow Co. and the South end of Topsail Island is in Pender County. IMHO, the beach accesses in Onslow Co are better... bigger parking lots, bathrooms, concession stands for the kids. But mainly it's because South Topsail was more densely developed prior to the 80s so there was less land for beach accesses on that part of the Island. In the 80s when development started on the North end of the island, the good people of Onslow Co had the sense to demand public beach accesses because they knew one day would come when you could no longer just park at Paradise Pier to catch a few waves. And now Paradise Pier is gone and saddly is covered with Cape Cod style Mcmansions. (BTW, I love Cape Cod homes.... just not covering the sandy ground that I spent my youth.) But I digress.

Oh, I've made the drive from RDU Airport to Holly Ridge in 2 hours. It's another 15 mins to Topsail. (Of course this is on weekend days when I-40 is not a problem in the Raleigh Durham Area.)
DAMN, I was hoping no one would give this secret away

September is a great time to visit this area. The crowds are away, the beach has very few people on it, and it is still quite warm.
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Old 01-31-2007, 03:28 PM
 
3,155 posts, read 9,786,721 times
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Originally Posted by Packer Fan View Post
DAMN, I was hoping no one would give this secret away

September is a great time to visit this area. The crowds are away, the beach has very few people on it, and it is still quite warm.
Sorry to spoil your secret, Packer Fan. Of course this summer I might to be cursing myself for giving away this secret. We were usually there around 4th of July (the busiest weekend) and to me it's not crowded. But it's all relative. My parents barely leave there home during the 4th of July week because of the "crowds".

Some of my favorite beach times have been spent on Topsail after Labor Day Weekend! Your smart to go then. October is great too. But most locals think the water is too cold in Oct. However, if you are from Packer Country it might feel refreshing to you.
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