A sandy pathway through dune grass leading to a beach at Atlantic Beach, with a blue sky scattered with fluffy clouds.

20+ Fun Things to Do in Atlantic Beach NC & Nearby in 2024

Looking for Things to Do in Atlantic Beach NC & Nearby?

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Welcome to the beautiful coastal town of Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, where endless adventures await you! If you’re seeking an unforgettable getaway that combines sun, sand, and a dash of excitement, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, I’ll take you on a journey through this charming seaside destination, sharing the must-see attractions, hidden gems, and local favorites that make Atlantic Beach a traveler’s paradise.

You might be wondering, “What sets Atlantic Beach apart?” It’s a place where the sea and the land harmoniously coexist, offering a myriad of experiences for all ages. From family-friendly activities to thrilling water sports, there’s something here for everyone.

I’ll dive into the specifics, providing you with in-depth insights into the best things to do in Atlantic Beach.

So, get ready to discover the hidden treasures, sandy shores, and vibrant culture of Atlantic Beach, NC. Leave your worries behind and let the Atlantic waves wash your cares away as we take you on a journey through the top things to do in this coastal paradise. Your adventure starts here!

Things to Do in Atlantic Beach NC & Nearby

Here are some great things to do while you are in Atlantic Beach.

1. Fort Macon State Park 

Address: 2303 E Fort Macon Rd, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

Fort Macon State Park, nestled along the shores of Atlantic Beach, is a captivating blend of history and natural beauty that beckons visitors from near and far. This coastal gem is more than just a park; it’s a portal to the past and a haven for nature enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of experiences.

A brick walkway leading to the entrance of a historic fort with a vaulted passage and people silhouetted in the background at Fort Macon State Park.

Stepping into Fort Macon is like taking a step back in time. This well-preserved Civil War-era fortification has witnessed centuries of American history. Built in the early 19th century to protect the coastline from maritime threats, it played a pivotal role in the Civil War, becoming a key Confederate stronghold.

The interior of a fort's dining area with long white tables set for a meal, and a brick fireplace, under arched brick ceilings.

Today, the fort stands as a living museum. Explore the labyrinthine tunnels, artillery rooms, and soldier’s quarters as you immerse yourself in the past. The fort’s history is not confined to its walls; it’s a testament to the resilience of the American spirit and a window into a bygone era.

A historical display of a soldiers' living quarters with wooden bunk beds and mannequins dressed in period uniforms inside Fort Macon State Park.

Beyond its historical significance, Fort Macon State Park offers a stunning natural backdrop. With its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and sprawling dunes, it’s a paradise for beach lovers and nature enthusiasts alike. Take a leisurely stroll along the shore, collect seashells, or simply bask in the sun’s warmth.

Cannons on a brick fortification overlooking a grassy area with a view of the surrounding landscape and a cloudy sky at Fort Macon State Park.

You can participate in guided tours, picnic lunch by the shore, enjoy the hiking trails, or simply enjoy the refreshing sea breeze. 

2. Atlantic Beach Town Park

Address: 915 W Fort Macon Rd, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

Atlantic Beach Town Park is a versatile and vibrant recreational hub offering a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages. This family-friendly destination is packed with entertainment options, making it a must-visit during your Atlantic Beach adventure.

Park Features:

  • Mini-Golf Course: The park boasts an 18-hole mini-golf course that promises hours of fun. It’s perfect for families, and the best part is that it’s incredibly affordable, with only a $6 fee per person (kids aged six and under play for free).
  • Concession Stand: Adjacent to the mini-golf course, you’ll find a convenient concession stand offering a variety of tasty treats and refreshments.
  • Splash Pad: For those hot summer days, don’t forget to bring your swimsuit and make a splash at the interactive water play fountain. The splash pad is a fantastic way for children of all ages to cool off and have a blast.
  • Skate Park: Skateboarding enthusiasts will be thrilled to discover the free-to-use Town Skate Park. It’s open daily from 8 AM to 10 PM, providing ample opportunities to showcase your skills. Please note that riders under ten must be accompanied by an adult, and safety gear such as helmets, elbow pads, and knee pads are mandatory, as per the NC General Statute.
A signboard for Town Park at Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, featuring amenities like a Splash Pad, Mini Golf, and Skatepark, with the time displayed as 8:05 AM.

3. Beach Time 

The beaches in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, are renowned for their natural beauty and tranquil ambiance. Whether you’re a sunbather, a beachcomber, or a water sports enthusiast, this coastal paradise has something for everyone.

Beach Access Points:

  • Circle Regional Beach Access: Situated at 201 W Atlantic Blvd, this is a prime spot for beach enthusiasts. You’ll find over 300 paid parking spaces, ensuring you have a place to leave your car. Need amenities? They’ve got you covered with bathroom facilities, picnic tables, and outside showers. Plus, lifeguards are on duty from 9 am to 6 pm for your safety.
A parking lot with vehicles facing a wooden building leading to a beach access point, with a clear blue sky overhead and fluffy clouds in the distance.
  • Ocean Blvd Public Beach Access: Located at 104 Ocean Blvd, this spot features outdoor showers, restrooms, a foot-washing station, and a handicap ramp. If you’re bringing kids, they’ll love the beach playground. Parking is also available along Henderson Boulevard.
  • New Bern Ave Public Beach Access: At 129 New Bern St, this access point provides 50 parking spaces and similar amenities like bathroom facilities, picnic tables, and outside showers. It’s a great spot for a beach day with family or friends.
A wooden beach access named "Les and Sally Moore Public Beach Access," welcoming visitors against a backdrop of pine trees and a blue sky with clouds.
  • Near Fort Macon (2210 E Fort Macon Rd) and In Fort Macon (2303 E Fort Macon Rd): These areas offer more than just beach access. Fort Macon State Park features a seaside bathhouse, a refreshment stand (open from Memorial Day through Labor Day), and over 500 free parking spots. Lifeguards are on duty here, too, from 10 am to 5:45 pm during the same period.
A spacious parking lot with scattered cars near a beach access, with sand dunes and a blue sky with white clouds in the background.

4. Atlantic Beach Boardwalk

Address: 201 W Atlantic Blvd, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

The Atlantic Beach Boardwalk, accessible via the Circle Regional Beach Access, offers a delightful experience for visitors looking for a peaceful walk with stunning views. As you amble along the boardwalk, you’re greeted with the soothing sound of waves and the gentle ocean breeze. 

It’s a perfect spot for catching the sunrise or sunset, with the horizon painting a mesmerizing canvas over the Atlantic Ocean. You can grab a coffee or bite to eat at the nearby restaurants as well. 

A sandy pathway through dune grass leading to a beach at Atlantic Beach, with a blue sky scattered with fluffy clouds.

5. Battle Works Tactical Laser Tag & Battle Axe 

Address: 1010 W Fort Macon Rd, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

For an adrenaline-pumping adventure in Atlantic Beach, head over to Battle Works Tactical Laser Tag & Battle Axe. This exhilarating venue combines the thrill of tactical laser tag with the excitement of axe throwing and Nerf wars, offering a unique experience for visitors of all ages.

Engage in a laser tag battle that feels straight out of a video game, with state-of-the-art equipment and immersive game scenarios. If you’re looking for a different kind of challenge, try your hand at axe throwing. It’s a test of skill and precision, providing a satisfying and fun way to compete with friends.

The facade of Battle Works Tactical Laser Tag venue, with clear skies in the background and a logo depicting crosshairs and a laser tag gun.

6. Oceanana Fishing Pier 

Address: 700 E Fort Macon Rd, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

Discover the joy of fishing at the Oceanana Fishing Pier in Atlantic Beach. Stretching nearly 1,000 feet into the sparkling Atlantic Ocean, this pier is a favorite spot for both novice and seasoned anglers. It provides access to a wide variety of fish, promising a rewarding experience for all.

For convenience, a small fishing center located at the Pier House sells bait, tackle, and refreshments. Don’t have your own gear? No problem! Rod and reel rentals are available for a day full of fishing adventures.

With affordable daily, multi-day, and seasonal pass options, the Oceanana Fishing Pier caters to everyone. You can also check out their Pier House Restaurant, The Barnacle Bar, or The Backporch Bar while you visit. 

The expansive Oceanana Fishing Pier stretching into the ocean, with a wide sandy beach in the foreground and a partly cloudy sky above.

7. Hoop Pole Creek Nature Trail 

Address: Next to Atlantic Station Shopping Center

Tucked away near a shopping plaza called the Atlantic Station Shopping Center, the Hoop Pole Creek Nature Trail is a hidden gem that offers a peaceful escape into nature. This half-mile trail, easily accessible and perfect for hikers of all abilities, leads you through a stunning landscape of maritime forests, salt marshes, and the borders of the Bogue Sound.

As you navigate the trail, you’ll be immersed in the diverse ecosystems of the area. The well-trodden path includes sections of boardwalk over marshy areas, showcasing the beauty of the estuarine ecosystem. It’s an ideal spot for wildlife enthusiasts, with opportunities to spot deer, a variety of butterflies, turtles, and even speedy lizards.

Bird watchers, in particular, will find the trail a paradise. The dense woods are home to songbirds like warblers and mockingbirds, while the marshy areas near the creek are frequented by herons, egrets, and ibises. The changing seasons bring different bird species to the area, making every visit unique.

The entrance to Hoop Pole Creek Nature Trail, flanked by informational signs about the trail and the surrounding natural habitat.

8. Elliott Coues Nature Trail

Address: 2303 E Fort Macon Rd, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

The Elliott Coues Nature Trail, nestled within the scenic surroundings of Fort Macon State Park, offers a delightful 3.2-mile roundtrip journey, connecting the fort area to the swim beach area. This trail is a splendid showcase of the diverse landscapes of Atlantic Beach, taking you along marshes, through dense maritime forests, and over picturesque sand dunes.

Accessibility is a breeze, as you can enter the trail from either the fort parking area or the beach access parking area. However, it’s important to note the varying closing times of these parking areas, which change throughout the year. If you’re planning a late afternoon hike, keep a close eye on the time to ensure a smooth return.

The trail’s natural surface, which includes sections of sand, gravel, and wooden boardwalks, adds to its rustic charm. The changing terrain ensures an engaging walk, perfect for those looking for a bit more than a casual stroll.

A wooden signpost at the entrance of Elliott Coues' Nature Trail, indicating the trail's distance, next to a park map signboard at Fort Macon State Park.

9. Beach Book Mart

Address: 1010 W Fort Macon Rd, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

The Beach Book Mart is a delightful destination for book lovers and casual readers alike. This charming local bookstore offers a wide variety of reading materials that cater to every taste, whether you’re looking for a breezy beach read, a deep dive into a historical novel, or a children’s book to share with the young ones.

As you step inside, you’re welcomed by the cozy, inviting atmosphere, a perfect complement to the rows of books that beckon you to explore. The store is well-stocked with both bestsellers and hidden gems, including works that celebrate the local culture and landscape of North Carolina’s coast.

The front of Beach Book Mart with a yellow facade and blue awnings, advertising books and comics with silhouettes of dolphins on the sign.

10. Marsh’s Surf Shop

Address: 615 Atlantic Beach Causeway, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

Marsh’s Surf Shop in Atlantic Beach is a local icon, embodying the spirit and culture of the surfing community. This shop is more than just a retail store; it’s a cornerstone of the local surf scene, offering a wide range of products and services for both seasoned surfers and those new to the sport.

At Marsh’s, you’ll find an extensive selection of surfboards, whether you’re looking for something for a beginner or a custom design for more advanced waves. Alongside boards, they stock a variety of surf essentials, including wetsuits, swimwear, and accessories. The shop’s collection is carefully curated to cater to all your surfing needs, ensuring you’re well-equipped for your time in the water.

The front of Marsh's Surf Shop with a large blue oval sign above the entrance, showcasing brand logos and images of surfers on the facade.

11. Chasin Tails Outdoors Bait & Tackle 

Address: 709 Atlantic Beach Causeway, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

Chasin Tails Outdoors Bait & Tackle, located on the Atlantic Beach Causeway, is a haven for fishing enthusiasts and an essential stop for anyone planning to explore the waters of Atlantic Beach. For over 15 years, they have been the go-to source for pier, surf, inshore, and offshore anglers.

This shop is much more than just a place to buy bait and tackle. It offers a comprehensive range of fishing gear and supplies to cater to all your fishing needs, whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out. From live and frozen bait to a variety of fishing tackle, they have everything to ensure a successful fishing trip.

Additionally, Chasin Tails Outdoors offers charters, making it easy for you to experience the thrill of fishing in the Atlantic waters, guided by local experts. The friendly staff are not only knowledgeable about their products but also about the local fishing spots and techniques, providing invaluable insights and tips.

The shop also has a weight station and sells fishing licenses, ensuring you’re fully equipped and legal before heading out. 

Chasin' Tails Outdoors Bait & Tackle shop, with a rustic wooden facade and a sign featuring a fish illustration, against a clear blue sky.

12. Fishing Charters 

Fishing charters in Atlantic Beach offer a fantastic opportunity for both novice and experienced anglers to explore the rich waters of North Carolina’s Crystal Coast. Here’s a brief overview of some popular charters you can consider for your next fishing adventure:

  • Family Time Fishing Charters | (252) 808-7171
  • Captain Bates |  (252) 888-4868
  • Capt. Stacy Fishing Center | (252) 726-4675
  • Reelax Fishing Charters | (252) 726-4675
  • Reely Livin’ Charters | (919) 215-5828
  • Top Shelf Sportfishing | (919) 306-5651
  • Crystal Coast Fishing Co. | (910) 508-1060
  • Fin Chaser Charters NC | (919) 223-1925
  • Reel Time Charters | (919) 621-6715
  • Annie O Sportfishing | (919) 819-2118
  • Pelagic Sport Fishing Charters | (252) 904-3361
  • Bogue Banks Expeditions | (252) 725-7558
  • Chasin Tails Outdoors | (252) 240-3474

13. Atlantic Station Cinema 

Address: 1010 W Fort Macon Rd, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

Atlantic Station Cinema is a classic example of a traditional movie theater, offering a comfortable and unassuming movie-going experience. Nestled in a convenient strip mall location, this family-owned cinema is known for its welcoming atmosphere and commitment to screening first-run films.

The theater’s charm lies in its simplicity and focus on the essentials of a good movie experience: comfortable seating and a good selection of current movies. It’s the kind of place where you can unwind and enjoy the latest blockbusters without the distractions of larger, more commercial theaters.

Atlantic Station Cinema also offers matinee deals, making it a great option for those looking to enjoy a movie at a more affordable price. Whether you’re planning a family outing, a date, or a solo trip to catch that film you’ve been eager to see, this cinema provides a cozy, unpretentious environment.

Cinema 4 at Atlantic Beach, with a large red sign above the entrance, under a yellow archway and a clear blue sky.

14. Sound Side Pier 

Address: 100 Shore Line Dr, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

Sound Side Pier is a great spot to watch a stunning sunset in Atlantic Beach. This pier, located on the calmer waters of the sound side of the island, offers a tranquil setting for ending your day with a breathtaking natural display.

The calm waters of the sound side provide a contrasting experience to the oceanfront, with gentle waves and a serene atmosphere.

A concrete ramp leading to a wooden pier on the sound side, with calm waters and a distant shoreline under a sky dotted with clouds.

15. Rent a Boat at AB Watersport 

Address: 612 Atlantic Beach Causeway, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

Renting a boat at AB Watersports in Atlantic Beach offers an exciting way to explore the Crystal Coast’s beautiful waterways. Their boat rentals allow you to enjoy a day on the waters of the Crystal Coast with options for both half-day and full-day excursions. 

Whether you want to explore coastal waterways, find a secluded island for seashell hunting, or take a leisurely cruise along the Morehead waterfront for lunch, their boats provide the perfect opportunity for adventure.

The pontoon boats at AB Watersports can accommodate up to 10 passengers, making them ideal for groups or families. They come equipped with radios, comfortable seating, life jackets, and all required safety equipment. The rental cost includes gas, so you can enjoy your time on the water without worrying about additional expenses.

The exterior of Atlantic Beach Boat Rentals, offering boat and scooter rentals, with contact information displayed on a blue sign.

Drinks & Restaurants in Atlantic Beach NC

✅ Crystal Coast Brewing Company
Address: 219 W Fort Macon Rd, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

The facade of the Crystal Coast Brewing Company, a gray building with teal accents and large glass windows under a clear blue sky.

✅ Atlantic Beach Coffee
Address: 1010 W Fort Macon Rd #29, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

Grab some coffee and baked goods.

A takeout coffee cup with a black lid and brown sleeve, placed on a table surface covered in an array of pennies.

✅ Oceanana Pier & Pier House Restaurant
Address: 700 E Fort Macon Rd, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

✅ The Shark Shack
Address: 100 S Durham Ave, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

Shark Shack, a vibrant blue and yellow beachside snack bar with a sign advertising fresh shrimp, set against a backdrop of palm trees and clear skies.

✅ On The Rocks
Address: 2604 W Fort Macon Rd #5344, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

The front of On The Rocks Restaurant and Tavern, a two-story building with a maritime-themed signboard and a cupola on top.

✅ Table 9 Seafood Restaurant
Address: 1104 W Fort Macon Rd, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

The modern exterior of Table 9 restaurant, featuring a wooden facade with the establishment's name prominently displayed above the entrance.

✅ AB Ice Cream & Candy Shoppe
Address: 1010 W Fort Macon Rd, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

✅ Hang 10 Donuts
Address: 157 Atlantic Blvd, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

Made-to-order donuts and coffee.  Near the beach circle. 

A maple bacon donut with a luscious maple glaze and topped with crunchy pieces of bacon, presented on a paper plate.

✅ Idle Hour Biergarten
Address: 153 Atlantic Blvd, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

A charming white building with teal doors and trim, identified as Idle Hour Biergarten, with festive lights strung along the roofline.

✅ 4 Corners Diner
Address: 100 E Fort Macon Rd, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

✅ Sub Tropics
Address: 126 E Fort Macon Rd, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

✅ Big Oak Drive-In
Address: 1167 Salter Path Rd, Salter Path, NC 28575

Big Oak Drive-In & Bar-B-Q

Read More: Things to Do in Indian Beach, NC

✅ Amos Mosquito’s Restaurant
Address: 703 E Fort Macon Rd, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

Amos Mosquito’s Restaurant, a popular spot in Atlantic Beach, is known for its exceptional seafood and unique atmosphere. Such is its fame that eager diners often line up before opening.

A plate of shrimp and grits with chunks of sausage, peppers, and onions in a savory red sauce, served beside a scoop of creamy yellow grits.

Featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” this restaurant has earned a reputation for delicious, memorable meals in a lively setting. You will receive a bread basket with three types, including a spicy firecracker bread that you should try! I enjoyed the shrimp & grits and key lime pie! 

A slice of key lime pie with a golden crust, topped with lime glaze, accompanied by whipped cream on the side, served in a white takeout container.

✅ The Island Grille
Address: 401 Money Island Dr, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

✅ MF Chappell Wine Merchant
Address: 407 Atlantic Beach Causeway Suite 12, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

✅ Full Moon Oyster Bar – Atlantic Beach
Address: 505 Atlantic Beach Causeway, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

The entrance to the Full Moon Oyster Bar with a sign displaying the restaurant's name, contact information, and an outdoor seating area.

✅ Scoopin’ Yummies
Address: 211 Atlantic Beach Causeway Unit 9, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

✅ Venice Italian Kitchen & Delicatessen
Address: 407 Atlantic Beach Causeway, Ste 9, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

Things to Do near Atlantic Beach NC

Let’s dive into even more fun things to do nearby.

✅ NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores
Address: 1 Roosevelt Blvd, Pine Knoll Shores, NC 28512

The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, a short drive from Atlantic Beach, offers an immersive experience into the aquatic world. Here, visitors can explore exhibits featuring local marine life, from river otters to sea turtles and sharks. 

An indoor view of an aquarium exhibit at Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium, featuring a circular window with a vibrant blue glow showcasing jellyfish and a larger tank with various marine life and coral structures illuminated by ambient lighting.

Interactive displays, educational programs, and outdoor trails provide fun and learning for all ages. It’s a perfect family-friendly destination, combining entertainment with a deeper understanding of North Carolina’s diverse marine ecosystems. This is a great activity for a rainy day.

North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores Jellyfish

✅ Lost Treasure Golf & Raceway 
Address: 976 Salter Path Rd, Salter Path, NC 28575

This themed miniature golf course takes players on a journey through an adventurous expedition, complete with two 18-hole courses.

The fun begins with a ride on a mining train, setting the stage for an exciting putt-putt experience. Players navigate through creatively designed holes, each telling a part of Professor Hacker’s quest for hidden gold and diamonds. It’s an engaging adventure for all ages.

In addition to miniature golf, Lost Treasure Golf boasts a variety of family-friendly attractions like go-karts, bumper boats, and a newly added Mining Sluice attraction. The kiddie rides and an arcade add to the entertainment, making it a perfect spot for a family outing.

Lost Treasure Golf & Raceway

✅ Theodore Roosevelt Nature Trail
Address: NC Aquarium – 1 Roosevelt Blvd, Pine Knoll Shores, NC 28512

The Theodore Roosevelt Nature Trail, located adjacent to the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, offers a serene and educational escape into the natural landscapes of the Crystal Coast. This 265-acre nature preserve features two distinct trails, allowing visitors to choose between a more rigorous one-mile hike or a gentler short trail through the marsh.

The Roosevelt Nature Trail, the longer of the two, takes you through high dune ridges and past soundside and interior marshes. Benches along the route offer resting spots and opportunities for wildlife viewing. The area is a haven for bird enthusiasts, with migrating birds visible year-round.

Open to the public and free of charge, the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Trail is a hidden gem of Pine Knoll Shores, ideal for those looking to explore the natural landscape off the beach. Highly recommend you start early, wear sunscreen and bug spray, and bring water and snacks, as facilities are limited along the trails.

The entrance to the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Trail, with a large informational sign detailing the trail's features and history, next to a green banner marking the trailhead, with a bench and trash receptacle nearby.

✅ Cape Lookout National Seashore

Taking a ferry ride to Cape Lookout National Seashore from Harkers Island or Beaufort is a captivating journey and a must-do for anyone visiting the Atlantic Beach area. This trip offers a unique opportunity to experience the pristine beauty of the southern Outer Banks, away from the more developed areas.

Cape Lookout National Seashore is renowned for its scenic beauty, highlighted by the iconic Cape Lookout Lighthouse. The seashore stretches over 56 miles of undeveloped beaches, dunes, and marshes, offering a perfect setting for various outdoor activities. You can enjoy beachcombing, bird watching, fishing, or simply relax on the serene beaches.

Ferries from Harkers Island or Beaufort provide a convenient and scenic route to this remote barrier island. The ride itself is an adventure, offering stunning views of the crystal-clear waters and the chance to spot dolphins and sea birds along the way.

Once at Cape Lookout, you can explore the historic lighthouse, visit the Keeper’s Quarters Museum, or take a stroll along the shoreline. The seashore’s unspoiled nature makes it an ideal spot for a peaceful retreat or an adventurous day out.

Remember to check ferry schedules and book in advance, especially during peak seasons. 

✅ Ferry to Shackleford Banks

A ferry ride to Shackleford Banks, part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore, is an enchanting journey from either Harkers Island or Beaufort. This trip is a gateway to one of the most untouched and fascinating areas along the North Carolina coast.

Shackleford Banks is famous for its wild horses, believed to be descendants of Spanish Mustangs. The sight of these majestic animals roaming free in their natural habitat is truly unforgettable. This barrier island also offers some of the best shelling opportunities in the area, with a wide variety of shells washing up on its shores.

Apart from horse-watching and shelling, the island is a fantastic spot for fishing, swimming, and exploring the unspoiled beaches. Its isolation and undeveloped nature make it a perfect destination for those seeking tranquility and a close encounter with wild nature.

Wild Horses on Shackleford Banks

The ferry service provides a convenient and scenic way to access Shackleford Banks. The boat trip offers stunning views of the surrounding waters, and you might even spot dolphins or sea turtles along the way.

Remember to bring water, snacks, and sun protection, as there are no facilities on the island. 

✅ Day Trip to Beaufort NC

Just a short drive away, Beaufort is steeped in maritime history and charm, making it a perfect day trip. Stroll along the picturesque waterfront, visit the North Carolina Maritime Museum, or explore the historic homes and buildings. The town’s vibrant array of shops and restaurants provides a perfect backdrop for a leisurely day. 

Boats in Beaufort NC along the docks

✅ Morehead City

Just over the bridge, Morehead City brims with maritime charm. The bustling waterfront is a hub of activity, offering fresh seafood restaurants, quaint shops, and captivating views of the busy port. Fishing enthusiasts can enjoy deep-sea charter trips, while history buffs can explore the Carteret County Historical Society Museum. The city’s lively atmosphere is complemented by events and festivals, especially along the historic Arendell Street. 

20+ Fun Things to Do in Atlantic Beach NC & Nearby in 2024

Annual Events in Atlantic Beach NC

Here are some fun events to enjoy 

Atlantic Beach International Food Festival | May 11, 2024

Atlantic Beach Beach Music Festival | May 18, 2024

✅ Fourth of July Fireworks

✅ Carolina Kite Fest 

Atlantic Beach King Mackerel Tournament

​​Where To Stay in Atlantic Beach NC & Nearby

📍Panoramic Ocean View Condo – This modern, cozy oceanfront unit, originally a 1970s motel, was stylishly remodeled in 2019. You’re steps away from serene beach walks, sunbathing, and sunset strolls. Enjoy ocean views directly from your unit, morning coffee on the shared balcony, or breezy moments in the gazebos. Ideal for couples or small families, the condo features a pool, BBQ grills, and a fish cleaning station. 

📍The Inn at Pine Knoll ShoresThe Inn at Pine Knoll Shores Oceanfront welcomes you with its beachfront charm, offering direct access to sandy shores and soothing waves. This hotel provides an outdoor pool, fitness center, and free WiFi, ensuring a comfortable stay. You’ll find relaxation in rooms equipped with flat-screen TVs, refrigerators, microwaves, and private bathrooms, complete with complimentary toiletries. 

📍Oceanfront 1 Bedroom – Discover the unique charm of this oceanfront studio cottage in Atlantic Beach, meticulously renovated for a luxurious stay. With its compact 400 square feet, this cottage boasts cathedral ceilings and a king-size bed, providing an intimate setting for two. Enjoy the stunning ocean views and easy beach access, just a short stroll to local dining, bars, and shops. This property features a dishwasher, washer, and dryer, enhancing your comfort. However, please note that bed linens are not provided, so you’ll need to bring your own or rent from a local company. 

📍Hotel Alice This hotel boasts a range of amenities, including an outdoor pool, fitness center, and complimentary Wi-Fi, catering to all your comfort needs. The rooms are thoughtfully equipped with modern conveniences like microwaves, refrigerators, and flat-screen TVs, ensuring a homely experience. With its on-site Hoffman’s Bar & Bistro, you can enjoy delightful meals and drinks. 

📍Island Inn of Atlantic Beach – This apartment-style hotel, just a 5-minute walk from the beach, is perfect for those seeking sun, sand, and relaxation. It features an outdoor swimming pool and rooms equipped with essential amenities like free WiFi, a microwave, a refrigerator, and a coffee machine. 

Atlantic Beach NC: FAQs

📌 Is Atlantic Beach worth visiting?
Absolutely! Atlantic Beach is a hidden gem with stunning beaches, excellent seafood, and a variety of outdoor activities. It’s ideal for beach lovers, families, and anyone seeking a relaxing coastal getaway.

📌 Is Atlantic Beach NC considered the Outer Banks?
No, Atlantic Beach is not part of the Outer Banks. It’s located on Bogue Banks, part of the Crystal Coast, distinct from the Outer Banks, which are found further northeast along the North Carolina coast.

📌Is Atlantic Beach NC crowded?
Atlantic Beach, NC, can be lively during peak summer months.

📌 Are cars allowed on Atlantic Beach NC?
Driving on the beach is permitted from October 1st to March 15th. You can access the beach for driving at two points: the eastern entrance at Henderson Blvd and the western entrance at Raleigh Ave.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re drawn to the allure of the ocean, the thrill of adventure, or the serenity of nature, Atlantic Beach has it all. 

The charm of Atlantic Beach lies in its ability to blend the excitement of coastal activities with the tranquility of its natural surroundings. It’s a place where every day brings a new adventure yet also offers the peace and relaxation you seek on a beach getaway.

In the end, what makes Atlantic Beach special is the way it stays with you long after the sand has been shaken from your shoes. It’s a place where memories are made, where each visit adds another layer to your story, inviting you back time and again to discover even more.

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