Milder temperatures and fewer crowds are sure signs of autumn in Kure Beach, making it the perfect time for adventuring outdoors, taking in the naturally beautiful scenic sights or enjoying alfresco eats found on the island. Known for its small-town beach charm, Kure Beach is the perfect place to escape for road trippers of all ages this fall.
Read on for our generational guide to exploring North Carolina’s hidden gem:
The various lodging properties you’ll find in Kure Beach are friendly and relaxed with gorgeous beachfront and ocean views. For a stay featuring all-day oceanfront views, book a room at the Admiral’s Quarters, where you can relax under the gazebo with your favorite book. Or, choose a room at the South Wind Motel, located directly next to the fishing pier, to be in the center of town.
Rise and shine for a hearty, homestyle breakfast at Kure Beach Diner, where you can fill up for the day on fluffy biscuits and creamy grits. Then, take a morning beach stroll along a stretch of Kure Beach’s shoreline to take in views of the island and feel the fresh ocean breeze. Head to the coastline near Fort Fisher at low tide to discover the coquina rock formation, a very rare and distinctive mossy hard rock outcropping estimated to have originated up to 18,000 years ago.
History buffs won’t want to miss the chance to discover Kure Beach’s rich coastal history. Spend an afternoon wandering around Fort Fisher State Historic Site, home of the largest amphibious battle of the Civil War. The remaining portion of the gigantic Fort Fisher earthworks, a restored palisade fence and an impressive seacoast gun are all waiting to be explored, in addition to the on-site museum.
Originally built in 1923 by the son of Kure Beach’s founder, the Kure Beach Fishing Pier is one of the oldest fishing piers on the East Coast. Open 24 hours a day through Nov. 29, anglers can reel in flounder, Spanish mackerel, drum and more. If being on the water is more your style, glide through Kure Beach’s waters on a kayak adventure to Shark Tooth Island with the expert guides at Kayak Carolina. Comb through the sand to head home with a collection of highly coveted sharks’ teeth. After your day of adventure, unwind with seafood alfredo, Italian gumbo and a bottle of wine to go from Freddie’s Restaurant, a local gem serving authentic Italian cuisine.
Whether you want to lounge on an oceanfront deck or take advantage of a fully stocked kitchen, Kure Beach offers a variety of vacation rentals for you and your family or quarantine pals. Perfect for working from home or virtual learning during the day and seaside fun in the evenings, you’ll feel right at home in Kure Beach.
Enjoy the warm coastal breeze in an oceanfront apartment at Crystal Shores. Located just steps from the beach and within walking distance of the Kure Beach Fishing Pier, it also offers a charming coastal cottage perfect for porch lounging. For a family affair, opt for a stay at the quaint Sand Dunes Motel, where you can relax in your oceanfront room or head out to explore the cozy town’s restaurants, local surf shops, fishing areas and more.
Explore the island’s waters and expansive coastal habitats by setting out on a guided tour with Kayak Carolina to Zeke’s Island Reserve. Only accessible by kayak, canoe, boat or stand-up paddleboard, the reserve protects coastal habitats for research and education and features one of the most important shorebird feeding habitats on the East Coast. Or, spend time on land at Ocean Front Park, Kure Beach’s largest public green space. Located in the heart of downtown, the park includes a walking path and a play area for children right on the oceanfront!
Ocean Front Park
For an afternoon outing perfect for all ages, head to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Come face-to-face with marine life like sharks, eels, rays and more, and explore aquatic environments including salt marshes and tidal pools. Kids will want to meet Luna, the aquarium’s rare albino alligator, and Maverick, a bald eagle. To help protect guests and staff, the aquarium is operating at a limited capacity – be sure to purchase tickets online to secure your spot!
Hit the waves with a lesson from Tony Silvagni Surf School in nearby Carolina Beach. Learn with a group or sign up for a personalized experience with private surf and stand-up paddleboard lessons. If you’re looking to explore the island by land or relax on the sand, rent bicycles and other beach gear from Pleasure Island Rentals.
Take a break from adventuring with a meal at Jack Mackerel’s Island Grill. Offering options for the whole family, the Caribbean-inspired restaurant includes a menu of flavorful and colorful dishes crafted using local ingredients in addition to favorites like cooked-to-order steak and buttery crab legs.
Millennials and Younger
Spend your vacation in the center of town at Seven Seas Inn, conveniently located within walking distance of nearby eateries. Or, find a dog-friendly rental with Palm Air Realty, offering a wide range of rentals equipped with modern amenities. Fuel up for the day with a hot or iced coffee crafted from locally roasted beans at Happy Hippies Java Hut. Pick up their signature beverage, Mermaid Magic, add a muffin or bagel and head to the nearby Ocean Front Park to watch the morning waves roll in.
Get in some friendly competition by challenging family or friends to a round of disc golf at Joe Eakes Park, or play a game at one of the park’s basketball, volleyball, tennis or baseball facilities. And, bring your furry friends along for the fun at the off-leash fenced dog area!
Adrenaline junkies will find no shortage of adventure in Kure Beach. Start the day by discovering North Carolina’s First Heritage Dive Site, The Condor, with a guided tour from nearby Carolina Beach Scuba. A Civil War blockade runner that ran ashore during its maiden voyage to Wilmington more than 150 years ago, The Condor is one of the most well-preserved shipwrecks off the North Carolina coast.
Drive along the shoreline in your own four-wheel-drive vehicle at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area and take in unforgettable views. Pack a picnic and park to lounge in the sand all day long. Or, spend time exploring Kure Beach on the water aboard the drive-on Fort Fisher-Southport Ferry. The 45-minute, one-way trip is filled with beautiful views of the Cape Fear River, providing the perfect scenic cruise.
Wind down from a day of adventuring at Big Daddy’s Restaurant, a Kure Beach tradition since the 1970s, for food, friends and fun. Dine on Calabash-style seafood favorites like flounder, shrimp and oysters as you enjoy mild fall temperatures on the outdoor patio.
With so many outdoor adventures and things to do in Kure Beach, find more fall fun for your next getaway.