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Old 11-09-2015, 12:52 PM
16 posts, read 13,979 times
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Still new to the area (well, 2 years in) and we are planning a trip to the beach this summer and I need help deciding where to go. We have 3 young kids (1,3,5) and a dog. We are planning on going for a week, and would love someplace low key, maybe allows dogs on the beach and has something to do incase it rains the whole week for the kids! Also, it would be a bonus if there was good fishing, or a place my husband could take a charter out for some deep sea fishing. Thanks!!!
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Old 11-09-2015, 01:06 PM
Location: Southport
4,639 posts, read 4,481,112 times
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Atlantic Beach sounds about right. (Dogs must be on leash) Maybe Carolina Beach too. (No dogs on beach in the summer, but allowed at Freeman Park, a city beach park during the summer.)

Here's some existing threads that may help:

New Residents looking to make a beach run
Dog friendly NC beach
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Old 11-09-2015, 01:09 PM
258 posts, read 577,774 times
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Topsail Island was the best I ever found here as a native when our spawn was young.. It is very family oriented with out all the "night life" and rowdiness

unless things have changed I still think it is the best bet if your land bound for a beach trip.

We moved from a camper to a large sailboat...so we frequent carolina beach more now and slip in the state park for the weekend...it is a little more rowdy there in town than I remember topsail was
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Old 11-09-2015, 01:12 PM
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I still consider Sunset Beach to be the perfect place for a family beach vacation. If the weather fails to cooperate you're a short drive from North Myrtle Beach and all it offers. It's extremely family friendly, very convenient to the beach itself and Affordable (that's right, with a capital "A"). Dogs are only allowed on the beach before 8:00 am and after 6:00 pm, but you're a five minute walk from whatever place you rent so it's easy enough to take him/her out for frequent walks.
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Old 11-09-2015, 01:16 PM
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Topsail is your answer! Dogs allowed on beach. Sea turtle rescue is nearby and young kids enjoy visitng it. My kids loved topsail!
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Old 11-09-2015, 01:19 PM
Location: The Windy City
5,183 posts, read 2,871,657 times
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Atlantic Beach is boring unless you just like the beach and pool. Not sure why, but it seems like the whole area has been stagnant or in a state of decline.

The Wilmington area has much more to do with little kids.
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Old 11-09-2015, 01:19 PM
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Lonnie Died, and Beulla I doubt runs it alone since he did, but check out the "surf city campground"

We stayed there for years....I don't know what it is like now that we moved to the sea vs the land, but that was hands down the best place for the $...the beach was yards away from you
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Old 11-12-2015, 09:21 AM
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Our family loves Carolina Beach!
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Old 11-13-2015, 01:08 PM
Location: Chapelboro
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I am not a fan of Carolina Beach. Had a bad experience there with really rough beach and surf conditions when my kids were little. I know some folks like it, but I've been to many nicer beaches in NC. Actually all of the beaches in NC that I've been to are nicer than Carolina Beach, IMO. Thumbs up for Britt's Donuts, though, and I know a lot of people do like it, but it would not be my recommendation.

There are many beaches (almost all of them in NC) that will meet your requirements of being good for young kids, low key, something to do in case it rains, good fishing, and charter boats.

The dog is going to be the hardest requirement. Most beaches now have some beach houses that are pet friendly, but the towns set the rules about when dogs can be on the beach. Many of them let you take your dog out only early in the morning or after 6. There are some that will require the dog to be on a leash, but otherwise allow them on the beach anytime. One thing to remember is you may not want to bring your dog down to the beach right in the middle of the day. Hot sand can scorch paws, too. If you do want to take your dog to the beach in the middle of the day, Topsail and Surf City are good suggestions (not my fave kid beaches, but they're okay), the OBX are pretty dog friendly but again surf can be rough for wee ones.

I agree with NYC2RDU that Sunset is a perfect little kid beach. Super wide beach at low tide (probably the widest beach in NC) and very gentle slope. Often tide pools form at low tide that trap a little bit of water for small fry to play in w/o having to deal with the waves. Super low key, but if it rains it's not far to area attractions, like the kids' museum at Ocean Isle. One thing to note about Sunset is that it has been retaining sand over the years, so rather than an erosion problem and having to periodically have "renourishment" of the beach, the beach has been building up and there are a lot of sand dunes between the beach and the ocean front houses. I really like this — there are nice boardwalks from the beach access points across the dunes to the beach — but if you want to walk right out your door and get your feet wet then other beaches might be better for you.

Ocean Isle is pretty good, too. It's a little more built up and commercial, but still has more houses than condos, and has that wide beach, though not as many dunes as Sunset and some erosion especially on the east end, but a little on far west end, too. The little museum at OIB is great for small peeps with a touch tank and some little rowboats they can get in.

I have been to (starting South and working our way North), Sunset, Ocean Isle, Oak Island (Long Beach area), Bald Head Island, Carolina Beach, Wrightsville Beach, Topsail, Surf City, Emerald Isle, Ocracoke, Nags Head and have had drive-bys of some of the others. My goal is to get to all of them one day, but it's hard to pass up old faves.

If you want to take the dog down to the water any time of day I'd recommend Topsail/Surf City, but otherwise for the kids I'd recommend Sunset or Ocean Isle. When they're a little older I'd definitely recommend the OBX, too. I adore Ocracoke, but it's a very different beach experience. We liked Emerald Isle quite a bit, too, and I disagree about there not being much to do along the Crystal Coast (Emerald Isle, Atlantic Beach, etc). Beaufort is a fun day trip and you can go out to see the wild ponies on Shackleford Banks, or the Cape Lookout lighthouse, or the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores (there's also one of the 4 NC Aquariums at Fort Fisher, which is an easy day trip from all the southern beaches from Topsail, Wilmington, to Sunset). I just prefered the actual sand and water at Sunset and OIB when my kids were babies, but I grew up going to Sunset so am probably biased.

Last edited by poppydog; 11-13-2015 at 01:16 PM..
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Old 11-13-2015, 04:11 PM
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Lots of good suggestions here, but I would recommend going off season since it looks like your crowd is not yet school age. Lots of money to be saved, fewer crowds and cooler weather. Fall is best, but your 5 yr old might be in kindergarten next year.
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