Ranked among "America's Best Boardwalks" by Food and Wine Magazine, this historic boardwalk is lined with carnival rides, food stands and arcade games. During the summer, the boardwalk offers a weekly fireworks show and concert series. During the holiday season, the island hosts annual evens like the Island of Lights Festival and Christmas by the Sea.
At this water wonderland, kids can touch a live bamboo shark, climb along the Adventure Reef play area and take a 3-D journey with Calvin and Delilah in the Right Whale Quest. Beyond that, there are seasonal exhibits, such as the Alligator Egg Hunt and Butterfly Bungalow.
This 11-acre lake features gazebos, restrooms, an amphitheater and more. Pack a lunch and enjoy a meal with your friends or family at the sheltered picnic area, or schedule accordingly to catch a live show at the amphitheater. There is also playground equipment available for younger kids. To cool off on the water, rent a paddleboat during warm summer days.
Spanning more than 700 acres, Carolina Beach State Park is a popular coastal attraction perfect for hiking, boating and fishing. The hiking trails traverse a variety of habitats. Keep an eye out for the Venus flytrap, one of the world's most unique carnivorous plants.
You can explore the stunning waterways of Carolina, Wilmington and Kure Beach when you rent a jet ski with the family. Kids love the ride, even when they're hanging on for dear life behind you.
There are several boat chartering operators that take vacationers fishing off Carolina Beach to the productive waters surrounding Cape Fear. Deep-sea charters reach the Gulf Stream in search of marlin, dolphin, tuna, king mackerel, grouper, sailfish and snapper. Or if you don't want to leave the dock, drop a line from the Carolina Beach Fishing Pier, one of the few piers left on Pleasure Island where visitors can catch a handful of species that the bay has to offer.
Carolina Beach Boardwalk has a handful of amusement park rides and attractions, but the most prominent is, to no surprise, the Ferris wheel. At night, the wheel lights up the skyline. You'll also find a carousel, spinning rides and plenty of arcade games.
Fans line up under the blue-and-white awning for traditional glazed pastries made with a secret recipe. This delicious dessert hot spot has been around for more than 70 years, and originally a nickel a piece, each donut now costs 85 cents - still a bang for your buck.
This family-owned restaurant has a menu stacked with everything from Barb's 'Especial' spaghetti to seafood hits to ribeye steak. There's also a small bar that claims to serve the best martinis in the area.
This eatery specializes in Caribbean-inspired dishes like seafood and lobster dinners. You can eat indoors with the island atmosphere or dine outside on the upper deck that offers magnificent views of the ocean.