Go beyond the beach this fall to discover hidden gems, local favorites, overlooked attractions and so much more in Kure Beach. There’s more than meets the eye in this quiet island destination, making it the perfect spot for a relaxing autumn getaway.

Read on to discover some of our favorite ways to explore beyond the shore in Kure Beach:  

Small Town, Big Flavors

Despite its small island town charm, Kure Beach boasts flavors from all over the world. Colorful ingredients and bold flavors delight foodies at Jack Mackerel’s Island Grill. Specializing in Caribbean-inspired dishes and locally influenced meals, this island staple uses ingredients from nearby land and sea. Try the Island Salmon with mango crab butter or the Cajun Chicken or Shrimp Alfredo for a meal that’s sure to delight your taste buds. Dine inside or enjoy the autumn breeze on the second-floor covered patio.

It’s easy to close your eyes and imagine yourself in Italy at Freddie’s Restaurant. Serving authentic Italian cuisine, as well as some American cuisine favorites, Freddie’s Restaurant has been voted “Most Romantic” dining spot in Kure Beach year after year. Pair Freddie’s Special Spaghetti, Shrimp Scampi or Chicken Florentine with a delicious glass of wine for a magnificent experience.


A local favorite since 1965, Big Daddy’s Restaurant serves up fresh seafood, steak, burgers and salads. You can’t go wrong with their Carolina Crab Cakes, House Smoked Baby Back Ribs or Fish & Chips, or try a seafood platter of crab, shrimp, flounder or oysters prepared Calabash style with fries and coleslaw. Dine indoors or opt for a seat on the seasonal outdoor patio for ocean views at this family-owned restaurant.


Get to Know Local Wildlife

Discover the diverse marine life and wildlife of the island during your stay. Meet Asian small-clawed otters, a sea turtle and a rescued bald eagle at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. In other exhibits, watch sharks glide with rays and eels and touch sea stars and horseshoe crabs.

With nearly six miles of pristine beach and trails through salt marsh, Fort Fisher State Recreation Area borders both the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River. This protected shoreline often attracts birders and photographers thanks to the rare species that nest along the sandy shore. Stop by to spot loggerhead sea turtles, piping plovers and other rare species.


Rent a kayak from Kayak Carolina and paddle out to Zeke’s Island Reserve, one of the most important shorebird feeding habitats on the East Coast, to catch a glimpse of some coastal species. The lagoon-like intertidal complex is home to bird species such as dunlin, black-bellied plovers, great blue herons and many more.


Fresh-Air Adventures

Breathe in the crisp autumn air and take advantage of the comfortable fall temperatures in Kure Beach. Bring the ball for your favorite sport to Joe Eakes Park, where you can play on the baseball, volleyball, basketball and tennis courts, as well as the bocce ball courts and an 18-hole disc golf course.


Take in scenic views and enjoy the fall breeze off the Atlantic Ocean from the Kure Beach Fishing Pier. Enjoy panoramic views of the shoreline as you walk along the 711-foot pier or cast your line and see if you can reel in the catch of the day for a nominal fee. In fact, fall is one of the best times for fishing. Don’t worry if you don’t have your own equipment, as the on-site bait shop has everything that you need to get started.


Fort Fisher State Historic Site is a fantastic spot to soak up some of the area’s history outdoors. The site of the largest land and sea battle of the Civil War, today you can see the remaining portion of the gigantic Fort Fisher earthworks, as well as a restored palisade fence and an impressive 32-pounder seacoast gun. Wander along scenic walking trails to explore all the coastal history the site has to offer.


You won’t want to miss Kure Beach’s rare natural wonder, the coquina rock formation. Dating back thousands of years, this unique formation is host to a rare mossy hard rock outcrop cemented together by seashells and coral. It is only visible during low tide, but the shells have created a perfect spot to view marine life over the years. If you look closely, you may spot sea stars, hermit crabs and conchs.


With fewer crowds and mild temperatures, these activities and attractions make for a fantastic fall escape. Explore beyond the beach at Kure Beach this season and discover all the island destination has to offer.