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Old 12-22-2008, 06:52 AM
 
Location: South Carolina
130 posts, read 609,117 times
Reputation: 51

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Hello,
I've searched through the previous threads but can't quite seem to find what I'm looking for so thought I'd ask another vacation question and tap your local knowledge!

We're heading down to Charlotte and Columbia in August and want to do a detour to stop at the beach for a week on the drive back home to VA. We're open to any beach in North or South Carolina but are specifically looking for a kid friendly beach with quaint shops, high walkability. We like to park our car for the week and be able to walk to dinner, grab some ice cream, play some mini-golf, etc after a long day at the beach. We've enjoyed our stays at Hilton Head (Coligny Plaza has restaurants, shopping, shows for the kids, etc right across the street from a beachfront condo) but August puts us in the high season and it's pretty pricey. Any other suggestions? I've googled Carolina Beach and Ocracoke but can't quite figure out if the restaurants and shopping are actually walking distance from the beachfront rentals. Is Wilmington really built up? I'm not looking for the t-shirt shop experience that is Virginia Beach. In contrast, we thought Duck was a little too small. Feeling a bit overwhelmed!

Thanks so much for your thoughts,
Jess
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Old 12-23-2008, 04:12 PM
 
Location: Oriental, NC
917 posts, read 2,091,611 times
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Just know a bit about Ocracoke, the beach is quite a hike from the village if you have kids or are not athletic, but bike rentals are around. Lots of the houses for rent though are within walking distance of the shops and the restaurants. The real estate company will send you a booklet with a map of the island and all the places for rent are on it so you can pick the most convienent house for your needs.
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Old 12-23-2008, 04:18 PM
 
Location: South Carolina
130 posts, read 609,117 times
Reputation: 51
thanks for the tip! Our kids are young (1, 4, 7) so under a mile is best. Anything longer and mom and dad get tired from the inevitable piggyback rides! I have requested some brochures, etc through different websites but didn't know what other beaches might fit our needs.
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Old 12-23-2008, 05:25 PM
 
Location: Arden, NC
535 posts, read 1,560,998 times
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Ocracoke fits the bill for quaint although it might be pricey in August plus there are those pesky hurricanes that can come up out of nowhere. No mini golf there as far as I can remember, I doubt it. Small island most of which is national park. Lots of beaches, I usually to go the one at the campground. Wide, not too rough and there usually are other families there.

Nags Head/Kitty Hawk might fit the bill but they're large areas and haven't been quaint in a while. Duck or Corolla are options but they can be pricey. Lots of mini golf and that stuff. If you want the VB experience go there.

Another option might be Sandbridge, which is in southern VB. Lots of rentals, both houses and condos. Little Island has a pier and parking with nice bathrooms and showers. Food is nearby, there are a couple of restaurants near their. I grew up here, I love it. It's nothing like the rest of VB.

Avon/Rodanthe are options too. Avon is busy but quiet mostly. We go here yearly for a week in September, it's nice. Lots of rentals to select from. No boardwalk or "strip" but there is a shopping center and a few shops. Just south of Avon is a little beach on the sound, nice and warm and calm.

Carolina Beach might be looking into also. I used to stay at oh...the Sanddollar I think it was, a motel on the ocean near a small pier. Older part of town but it was fun. Not too loud.
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Old 12-27-2008, 11:19 AM
 
Location: Cape Carteret, NC
713 posts, read 3,472,342 times
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Smile You might give Emerald Isle a try

Quote:
Originally Posted by jessnboys View Post
Hello,
I've searched through the previous threads but can't quite seem to find what I'm looking for so thought I'd ask another vacation question and tap your local knowledge!

We're heading down to Charlotte and Columbia in August and want to do a detour to stop at the beach for a week on the drive back home to VA. We're open to any beach in North or South Carolina but are specifically looking for a kid friendly beach with quaint shops, high walkability. We like to park our car for the week and be able to walk to dinner, grab some ice cream, play some mini-golf, etc after a long day at the beach. We've enjoyed our stays at Hilton Head (Coligny Plaza has restaurants, shopping, shows for the kids, etc right across the street from a beachfront condo) but August puts us in the high season and it's pretty pricey. Any other suggestions? I've googled Carolina Beach and Ocracoke but can't quite figure out if the restaurants and shopping are actually walking distance from the beachfront rentals. Is Wilmington really built up? I'm not looking for the t-shirt shop experience that is Virginia Beach. In contrast, we thought Duck was a little too small. Feeling a bit overwhelmed!

Thanks so much for your thoughts,
Jess
Ocracoke is some serious driving from Charlotte. I do not know Carolina beach, but I can suggest Emerald Isle which I think has everything you might want.

You might try to find a duplex which is usually a little less expensive these days.

The stretch that I have marked on the Google maps from Mallard Drive to Bogue Inlet Drive is just a little over a mile.

It has ice cream shops, restaurants, bicycle trail, miniature golf, gift and beach shops etc. There is also a pier and plenty of beach.

It's a great family beach

If you can't stay for a week, you might be better off checking out the Islander at Emerald Isle. It is just another block or so and is oceanfront.

You can check out the Emerald Isle Travel Guide (http://coastalnc.org/emeraldislenctravelguidecd - broken link) that I wrote a year ago last fall. We drive from the area to Charlotte about once a month. It is around five hours driving time.
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Old 12-28-2008, 07:34 AM
 
Location: Asheville
1,162 posts, read 3,696,454 times
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If you're driving from SC up to VA, Ocracoke is really hard to access from the mainland, you'd have to take a ferry up there. It seems like I've heard Wrightsville beach in NC being real nice for families, so search for that one. Also, you asked if Wilmington is built up, and yes, it's a large city, with a bunch of beaches nearby, so not sure if you want to deal with all that traffic. Seems like there's some smaller beach communities near Morehead City you'll want to research, and the areas known as Emerald Isle and the Crystal Coast, all in NC. There was an article written sometime ago by the Washington Post, the title begins "If you like Kitty Hawk, try...", so if you google some of those words and that newspaper, you'll find that story.

Basically Hwy 17 runs up and down the coast of NC and SC, so if you get on it somehow, all the above-mentioned beaches are off it. If you wind up perhaps getting on I95 and go on up into northeastern NC, then cut over thru ECity to the northern beaches of the Outer Banks, it's a little out of the way to go that way, but anyhow, really and truly, Duck may be small, but it is charming, has a small deck-and-shop area within walking distance to the beach. Plus, you could drop down into Nags Head for an afternoon where the giant sand dunes Jockey Ridge National Park is, and the kids would love to hike around on it, there's lots of kiting and hang-gliding that goes on up there. BUT if you choose the Outer Banks, between the Duck-Nags Head area, it's already probably almost fully booked for August, so you'll need to make a decision about that area very soon.

I'd look at those other beaches I mentioned before trying to jump over to the Outer Banks, they don't call it "Outer" for nothing.
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Old 01-10-2009, 06:27 PM
 
Location: South Carolina
130 posts, read 609,117 times
Reputation: 51
Thanks to everyone for your replies! You've given me some great ideas and food for thought. Thanks!
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