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Old 07-12-2010, 01:39 PM
 
420 posts, read 573,087 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toot68 View Post
In my opinion, the absolute best is the north end of Wrightsville beach. Small parking lot next to shell island, you may have to wait 10 min to get a parking spot but send the spouse on to the beach and while you wait a spot to open up (can also head a quarter mile down the beach to a larger.

For 2 hours on either side of low tide an awesome tidal pool forms in front of the hotel, probably 50 yards long and 20 yards wide, 6" to 2' deep. Perfect for little kids, lots of crabs and fish to chase around. Really cool spot.
Do you know the name of the hotel? We have little kids and we love tidal pools! Thanks!
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Old 07-12-2010, 02:09 PM
 
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Originally Posted by twinmomkris View Post
Do you know the name of the hotel? We have little kids and we love tidal pools! Thanks!
It's called Shell Island, it's the last building on the north end of the beach, you can't miss it.
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Old 07-12-2010, 02:15 PM
 
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We went to Wrightsville Beach Memorial Day weekend(Sunday) and drove around for 2 HOURS and never did find parking. People were even lined up for meters. We finally left to go to Topsail/Surf City and traffic was backed up going in for 2 miles. Turned around and came home. Got home at 4 p.m. Never saw the beach. Nightmare.
We usually go Surf City/Topsail(thru Hampstead) and never have a problem with parking(plus its FREE) or crowds(even Labor Day weekend last year was not bad at all)...so not sure what was going on that day. I don't think we'll ever return to Wrightsville mainly because I am not willing to wait/drive around forever to find pay-parking. Not a very parking-friendly beach town.
We prefer non-crowds and easy parking so I'm willing to give up bathrooms/restaurants etc. for less crowds and not paying to park. If you want JUST BEACH go to Topsail, Surf City.

We've also been to Carolina Beach but found it to be on the "seedy" side...if that makes sense. And again, we had to pay to park and to drive around a while.....probably because there are amusements/restaurants etc. along the beach.
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Old 07-12-2010, 02:27 PM
 
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We're new here and also wanting to visit the beach soon so this info is very helpful! We are also considering taking a weekend trip later in the season. Does anyone have advice on when "beach season" ends here--meaning when it becomes too cold to swim. Thanks!
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Old 07-12-2010, 02:31 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
8,509 posts, read 12,655,100 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newmom5497 View Post
We went to Wrightsville Beach Memorial Day weekend(Sunday) and drove around for 2 HOURS and never did find parking. People were even lined up for meters. We finally left to go to Topsail/Surf City and traffic was backed up going in for 2 miles. Turned around and came home. Got home at 4 p.m. Never saw the beach.
We always go to Kure - just a short distance beyond Wilmington, and plenty of easy parking right along the beach.
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Old 07-12-2010, 02:40 PM
 
Location: Cary, NC
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I think all NC beaches are very kid friendly. I'm partial to Wrightsville because my family has a place there that has been in our family for decades, but they're all beautiful and family friendly.

This past week (July 4th week) was crazy at Wrightsville (and probably most NC beaches which are within a few hours drive of the triangle), but street parking was fine later on in the week (as long as you get there fairly early).

I do not recommend going to any of the area beaches for an easy day trip during July 4th week unless you are going to get up and leave EARLY. This week should be significantly better. Shell Island is a nice place with nice swimming. Low tide is the best for ocean swimming (that's when the tide pools and the sandbars appear) and high tide is the best for sound swimming and fishing.
It's generally too cold to swim at the southern beaches around October (I was swimming at Topsail this year in mid October). I had a friend in the OBX this past week who said there was a cold water surge from one of the current and that the water was absolutely frigid. It was in the 80's at Wrightsville!

Have fun!
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Old 07-12-2010, 03:20 PM
 
3,155 posts, read 7,033,954 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newmom5497 View Post
We went to Wrightsville Beach Memorial Day weekend(Sunday) and drove around for 2 HOURS and never did find parking. People were even lined up for meters. We finally left to go to Topsail/Surf City and traffic was backed up going in for 2 miles. Turned around and came home. Got home at 4 p.m. Never saw the beach. Nightmare.
We usually go Surf City/Topsail(thru Hampstead) and never have a problem with parking(plus its FREE) or crowds(even Labor Day weekend last year was not bad at all)...so not sure what was going on that day. I don't think we'll ever return to Wrightsville mainly because I am not willing to wait/drive around forever to find pay-parking. Not a very parking-friendly beach town.
We prefer non-crowds and easy parking so I'm willing to give up bathrooms/restaurants etc. for less crowds and not paying to park. If you want JUST BEACH go to Topsail, Surf City.
newmom, next time try the North end of Topsail Island. From Wilmington you can get there by staying on hwy 17 and going through Sneads Ferry. That end of the island has a high rise bridge that boats pass under on the ICW. At Surf City the bridge is still an old metal turn bridge (which I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE for nostalgia). But it does make getting on and off the Island a pain. I think I remember that the bridges opens on the hour to let boats through. Week before and after the 4th of July is high season for both Surf City AND the ICW. So it's a double whammy. You don't get that on the North End. Plus the north end has public beach access with bathrooms.
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Old 07-12-2010, 04:38 PM
 
Location: Wake County
345 posts, read 606,926 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newmom5497 View Post

We've also been to Carolina Beach but found it to be on the "seedy" side...if that makes sense. And again, we had to pay to park and to drive around a while.....probably because there are amusements/restaurants etc. along the beach.
Actually, it makes perfect sense, but people who make less than 6 figures a year enjoy the beach too.
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Old 07-12-2010, 04:50 PM
 
Location: Raleigh, NC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bellasformas View Post
Actually, it makes perfect sense, but people who make less than 6 figures a year enjoy the beach too.
Yes, traditionally, Carolina Beach was the "blue collar" beach to Wrightsville's "rich folks" beach. I haven't been to Wrightsville in ages but I think it's more "regular folks" now, while Carolina may have slipped some (BTW, the 80s thriller "Bedroom Window" was filmed there and you can see the old downtown).

To answer the question about "beach season"--it is nice into October, possibly even swimmable (water stays warm even after the air starts getting chilly--just as conversely, it takes the water longer to warm up in the early summer than the air). Many locals MUCH prefer to go after Labor Day when the crowds die down a lot.

It's gotten so holiday weekends are the last time anyone local would venture to an NC beach, unless they had a house/condo and didn't plan to leave it!
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Old 07-13-2010, 06:29 AM
 
Location: Clayton, NC
1,512 posts, read 4,814,485 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OceanMia View Post
We go down to Kure Beach a lot. It is a little over 2 hour drive. Right accross from the pier there is a hot dog/pizza/ice cream little shop, there is also ice cream at the pier. There is always plenty of parking at Fort Fisher Recreation area, they have bathrooms with changing area and several rinsing off stations, they also have a grill area with picnic tables if you want to cook your lunch. I am not sure about the smoking, I didn't see anyone smoking there when we were there with our kids, and they don't allow alcohol on that beach section and there are lifeguards. We also like Wrightsville beach, but it is a little hard to get a parking spot in the pay lots if you don't get there real early, some of the lots do have bathrooms, and there are lifeguarded secitons. Carolina beach has a huge boardwalk with tons of shops and eateries and a small amusement area there as well, I don't know the beach at all, we just go down there for the great Brit's doughnuts in the morning!
I actually second this. I'm guessing the original poster just wants a day trip?

Head to Kure Beach but more specifically, Fort Fisher. There is the one great section that has a HUGE parking lot, free parking. I've been going there for about 15 years and never had a problem finding a close spot. They have clean restrooms, changing rooms, picnic area, grills, and the beach is right there. (very clean, water is very calm too). What I love about this section, especially with kids, is the Ft Fisher Aquarium is right there. Also, the Ft Fisher musuem. The aquarium has a snack area too. Head into town (Kure Beach) and have lunch at the two seafood restaurants (they have a kids menu, plus both restaurants are VERY good) plus a dairy queen stop at the same corner (these places are next to the pier). For this particular parking lot, just follow the signs to the Ft Fisher Aquarium. Its about 20 miles from Wrightsville Beach. Once you turn onto Loggerhead Dr for the Aquarium, the parking lot is right there on your left. You can't miss it!
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