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Which Carolina Beach is Best for Your Family?


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Courtesy Sarah Jessup/Shutterstock.com

Headed to the coast this summer?

Take our quiz to find out which beach best matches your family's vacation personality.

Where do you like to stay on vacation?

A. We usually rent a house or condo.

B. A small family-friendly hotel or rental house with a pool.

C. We love high-rise hotels with spectacular views of the beach, or a resort with a lazy river and indoor and outdoor pools.

How do you feel about other vacationers?

A. We prefer very quiet beaches and solitude. We would LOVE to have the beach to ourselves.

B. We don't mind people, but dislike large crowds and heavy traffic.

C. The more, the merrier!

What are YOUR favorite beach activities?

A. Simply spending time with family.

B. Fun in the sun by day and a good game of mini golf or other family-friendly attraction at night.

C. Surfing, parasailing, arcades, go-carts, live shows, amusement parks, mini golf - you name it, we love it!

What are your KIDS' favorite beach activities?

A. They are happy as long as there's water.

B. Splashing in the surf and perhaps a day trip to a nearby aquarium or museum.

C. They are constantly on the go enjoying a variety of activities. It's something different every day: water parks, ziplines, watersports, etc. My kids love adventure!

Describe your family's eating habits on vacation.

A. We cook most of our meals.

B. We enjoy the occasional mom-and-pop style cafe or deli.

C. We prefer a large variety of restaurants, especially national chains.

The Results

Did you answer mostly A, B or C? Tally your answers to find what Carolina beaches might be good matches for your family.

A Your family craves relaxation and quiet. Consider the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina, which spans 70 miles from Bodie Island to Ocracoke and includes Rondanthe, Salvo, Avon, Waves and Buxton. You'll have no problem finding a quiet spot along this seashore even during peak season, and there are a variety of homes available for rent. (nps.gov/caha)

If seclusion is your No. 1 priority, consider Carova Beach in the northern portion of the Outer Banks in Currituck County. Four-wheel drive is a must, though, as there are few paved roads, and you'll have to drive on the beach and possibly through water to get there. There are no fast food restaurants or malls, but a number of houses, many quite luxurious, are available for rent here. (carovabeach.info)

B You dislike large crowds, but don't like feeling like Tom Hanks in Castaway either. You prefer a beautiful beach near a few family-friendly attractions. These Carolina beaches are your best bets:

Kure Beach or Carolina Beach - These small but scenic beaches are just 15-20 minutes from Wilmington and near the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher and the Fort Fisher State Historic Site and Museum. Enjoy shelling, shopping and local family-friendly restaurants. (visitkurebeachnc.com, carolinabeach.com)

Holden Beach - Midway between South Carolina's Myrtle Beach and Wilmington, Holden Beach's 9-mile shoreline has houses, quaint cottages and condos for rent. Enjoy the fishing pier, mini golf, water slide and locally owned restaurants. (holden beachnc.com)

Topsail Beach - Located midway between Wilmington and Jacksonville in North Carolina, Topsail is the perfect beach for fishing, relaxation, swimming and more. Visitors will enjoy several unique shops and restaurants. (topsailbeach.org)

Emerald Isle - Emerald Isle is perhaps the most well-known area of North Carolina's Crystal Coast, which includes Atlantic Beach, Beaufort, Morehead City and Cape Lookout. Attractions include Cape Lookout Lighthouse and N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. (emeraldisle-nc.org)

Edisto Island, S.C. - This Low country beach is about 45 minutes south of Charleston, S.C., and vacationers will love the casual flavor of this 68-square-mile island. (edistobeach.com)

Pawleys Island, S.C. - This resort island is 4 miles long and is 20 miles south of Myrtle Beach. The island is known for golfing, fishing, boating, shelling and more. (townofpawleysisland.com)

C Your family loves a variety of activities and wants to stay on the go. Myrtle Beach spans 60 miles and has numerous activities for the adventure-loving family. From oceanfront skyscrapers to family-friendly resorts, there's no shortage of places to stay. There are more than 100 golf courses, numerous waterparks, amusement parks and watersports including boat rides, jet skis, parasailing, surfing and more.

Shoppers will enjoy factory outlets, malls and specialty shops, and foodies will have their pick of numerous restaurants from local delis, seafood eateries, steakhouses, chain restaurants and fine-dining options.

And when the sun goes down, Myrtle Beach comes to life with live shows, music and more.

With thousands of activities and attractions, Myrtle Beach is the best choice for the family seeking excitement. (visitmyrtlebeach.com)

Family Getaways: Vacation Destinations & Day Trips!315x205-odile-travel.jpg

Find more vacation and travel ideas on our Travel page.

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Calendar

August 2016

Enjoy water slides, bounce houses, water gun fights and food. All ages. Service will begin at 9:30 a.m. with festivities immediately following.

Cost: Free

Where:
Driven Church
5511 Avent Ferry Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: Driven Church
Telephone: 919-307-9801
Contact Name: Christopher Murray

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Kids ages 5-11 and their adult companions enjoy a 30-minute tour. Meet at the West Building Information Desk.

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Telephone: 919-839-6262
Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
122 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca QuiƱones
Website »

More information

Enjoy the captivating story of a band of underdogs who become unlikely heroes when they stand up to the most powerful men in New York. This rousing tale is about fighting for what’s...

Cost: $35-$80

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Take a look at the monsters and beasts that inhabit our dreams and folktales by peering through different lenses to explore the beauty, monstrousness and magic of these creatures as Paperhand...

Cost: Suggested donations are $8 for kids, $15 for adults

Where:
Forest Theatre
123 S. Boundary St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-0522
Website »

More information

Enjoy the captivating story of a band of underdogs who become unlikely heroes when they stand up to the most powerful men in New York. This rousing tale is about fighting for what’s...

Cost: $35-$80

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Take a look at the monsters and beasts that inhabit our dreams and folktales by peering through different lenses to explore the beauty, monstrousness and magic of these creatures as Paperhand...

Cost: Suggested donations are $8 for kids, $15 for adults

Where:
Forest Theatre
123 S. Boundary St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-0522
Website »

More information

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Explore the wonders of the great outdoors and create fun, nature-inspired crafts. Take a lunch, snack and water bottle. Ages 6-11. Meet at the Cypress Shelter. Registration required.

Cost: $20/person

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

More information

Meet other moms at the Durham Mothers Club open playdate. New and prospective members learn more about the DMC and make new friends. Meeting take place in the nursery; young kids play with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pilgrim United Church of Christ - Nursery
3011 Academy Road
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Sponsor: Durham Mothers Club
Contact Name: Jennifer Johnson
Website »

More information

Take the fast track to nature in this hands-on study of ecology. Ages 8-12. Registration required.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

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Learn how people made flour and cornmeal long ago and try out a variety of ancient-style hand mills. Survey milling history and learn about equipment that has been used around the world to grind...

Cost: $4/child

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, AL
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Local community heroes from the Chapel Hill Police Department show that they are also “Reading Role Models” by reading a story or two with kids and answering questions about the work...

Cost: Free

Where:
Chapel Hill Public Library, Programming Room
100 Library Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Chapel Hill Public Library
Telephone: 919-969-2036
Contact Name: Daniel Siler
Website »

More information

Hunt for clues and investigate the mystery of milling with real historical artifacts inside Wake County's only remaining water-powered gristmill. Ages 7–14. Registration required.

Cost: $4/child

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Take part in the KaBOOM! Playground Build at Crest Street Park in Durham. Durham Parks and Recreation, Keep Durham Beautiful, the Duke Durham Neighborhood Partnership, the Crest Street Community...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crest Street Park
2503 Crest Street
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Sponsor: Keep Durham Beautiful
Telephone: 919-560-4197 x21269
Contact Name: Monica Ospina
Website »

More information

Take time out to spend with your little one as you crawl, explore and bounce in a safe environment exclusively for children ages 12 mos-3 yrs. Parents play free; admission is $5 per child....

Cost: $5/child

Where:
BounceU of Apex
3419 Apex Peakway
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

Tinkergarten is an early childhood education experience in the best classroom you could ask for: Nature! Tinkergarten offers play-based learning for children ages 18 mos-5 yrs, and is all...

Cost: Free

Where:
Apex Community Park
2200 Laura Duncan Road
Apex, NC  27523
View map »


Sponsor: Tinkergarten
Contact Name: Kelci Mukherjee
Website »

More information

Local community heroes from the Chapel Hill Police Department show that they are also “Reading Role Models” by reading a story or two with kids and answering questions about the work...

Cost: Free

Where:
Chapel Hill Public Library, Programming Room
100 Library Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Chapel Hill Public Library
Telephone: 919-969-2036
Contact Name: Daniel Siler
Website »

More information

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Meet a staff member at the information desk to visit one of the museum galleries. Have a look around and listen to a history-related story. Ages 3 and older with adult.

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore animals in art. Learn about animals in the museum and enjoy activities. Ages 2-5 with caregiver. First come, first served. Sessions take place at 10:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.

Cost: $3/member, $6/nonmember

Where:
N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Telephone: 919-839-6262
Website »

More information

Local community heroes from the Chapel Hill Police Department show that they are also “Reading Role Models” by reading a story or two with kids and answering questions about the work...

Cost: Free

Where:
Chapel Hill Public Library, Programming Room
100 Library Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Chapel Hill Public Library
Telephone: 919-969-2036
Contact Name: Daniel Siler
Website »

More information

Johanna leads preschoolers on a storytime adventure.

Cost: Free

Where:
Flyleaf Books
752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Flyleaf Books
Telephone: 919-942-7373
Website »

More information

Assist park staff with invasive species removal in the educational gardens. Learn about harmful invasive species and tackle the task of removing these plants. Take a water bottle and wear clothes...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

More information

Enjoy "Back to the Future" outdoors. Food trucks available. Take lawn chairs and blankets. Movies shown on the back lawn of the Garner Performing Arts Center; gates open at 7 p.m....

Cost: Free

Where:
Garner Performing Arts Center - Back Lawn
742 W. Garner Rd
Garner, NC  27529
View map »


Sponsor: Garner Revitalization Association
Telephone: 919-773-4402
Contact Name: Mari Howe
Website »

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Enjoy an energetic, musical storytime with Amy Godfrey, who was a Durham County librarian for six years. Babka and challah will be served as...

Cost: Free

Where:
Levin JCC
1937 West Cornwallis Rd.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Go nutty for nature as children satisfy some of their curiosity about the world around them and parents share in the joy of discovery. Ages 3-5 with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $10/resident, $13/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy a kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified and participatory music show. Children delight in active,...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
"Pump it Up" Briercreek
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
View map »


Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
Website »

More information

Local community heroes from the Chapel Hill Police Department show that they are also “Reading Role Models” by reading a story or two with kids and answering questions about the work...

Cost: Free

Where:
Chapel Hill Public Library, Programming Room
100 Library Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Chapel Hill Public Library
Telephone: 919-969-2036
Contact Name: Daniel Siler
Website »

More information

Spread a picnic blanket for garden stories and crafts. Meet at the Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center. Ages 3-5 with adult. Dress for the weather as this program is held outdoors. Activities are moved...

Cost: Free for members, $5/nonmembers

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Road
Raleigh, NC  27606-1446
View map »


Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Kids spend a night out in nature making memories and new friends in an old-fashioned, camp-style program. Ages 8-12. Registration required.

Cost: $18/resident, $23/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Families gather for an overnight experience complete with a naturalist-led night hike, a light Dutch oven dinner, s'mores for the kids, breakfast, and time for fishing and boating in the...

Cost: $20 adults, $15 youth

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Telephone: 919-870-2871
Website »

More information

Take a look at the monsters and beasts that inhabit our dreams and folktales by peering through different lenses to explore the beauty, monstrousness and magic of these creatures as Paperhand...

Cost: Suggested donations are $8 for kids, $15 for adults

Where:
Forest Theatre
123 S. Boundary St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-0522
Website »

More information

Roast marshmallows over the fire and go on a short night hike to see who is out and about. Marshmallows and roasting sticks provided. Take a camp chair and water bottle. All ages. Meet at the...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

More information

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After basic instruction, explore the pond's many features by canoe. Canoes, paddles and life jackets provided. Ages 6 and older with adult. Canoes fit 2 adults and 2 children. The first session...

Cost: $10/boat

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

The Lazy Daze Arts and Crafts Festival celebrates its 40th anniversary by expanding the one-day festival to two days. Enjoy arts and crafts from vendors from across the Southeast, festival foods,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Town of Cary Town Hall Campus
316 N. Academy St.
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

Mix, mold and decorate a stepping stone. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Registration required.

Cost: $5/child

Where:
Logan's Garden Shp
707 Semart Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 3-5 and caregiver celebrate  little ruby-throated hummingbirds with stories, craft, play and hands-on exploration in the summer blooming garden. Register online.

Cost: $8/member, $10/nonmember

Where:
North Carolina Botanical Garden
100 Old Mason Farm Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
View map »


Sponsor: North Carolina Botanical Garden
Telephone: 919-537-3770
Contact Name: Elisha Taylor
Website »

More information

Kids ages 5-11 and their adult companions enjoy a 30-minute tour. Meet at the West Building Information Desk.

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Telephone: 919-839-6262
Website »

More information

Fish the old-fashioned way with a cane pole. Equipment, instruction and assistance with identifying fish species provided. Ages 5 and older with adult. Registration required.

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Explore moon lore as it relates to agriculture, the autumnal equinox and the harvest season. Head into the park to gaze at the full "Green Corn" or "Grain" moon. Ages 5 and...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, AL
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Features food trucks, more than 20 local businesses, games for the entire family and more.

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Fuquay-Varina
322 S. Main St.
Fuquay-Varina, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Families enjoy a free craft, workshop, giveaway, photo download and activities.

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shop
801 Bass Pro Lane
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

Little ninjas learning how to kick, punch, yell, jump, and roll, and then put their skills to the test on a Ninja Warrior-inspired obstacle course, followed by board breaking time lead by a master...

Cost: $18/first child, $12/additional children

Where:
Original Strength Institute
101 S. Main St.
Fuquay-Varina, NC  27526
View map »


Telephone: 919-576-5526
Contact Name: Danae Canna
Website »

More information

Take a stroll in the creek to search for frogs, fish and more. Ages 10-13. Registration required.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Learn how you can help conserve this valuable state symbol. Meet Lake Crabtree's adopted turtle, Shel Silverstein, and join park staff on a box turtle survey. Enjoy an opportunity to search for...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Enjoy live music, fresh cooked seafood, barbecue and more. Healthy, locally sourced cuisine from participating chefs, food trucks and restaurants will be served throughout the day featuring fresh...

Cost: $8 advance tickets, $10 at the door. Ages 12 and younger admitted free.

Where:
Raleigh Beer Garden
614 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Discover the American Tobacco Trail's new GeoArt project and learn the basics of the high-tech treasure hunt. Learn what geocaching is and search for some newly placed geocaches along the...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
American Tobacco Trail
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

More information

Families gather for an overnight experience complete with a naturalist-led night hike, a light Dutch oven dinner, s'mores for the kids, breakfast, and time for fishing and boating in the...

Cost: $20 adults, $15 youth

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Telephone: 919-870-2871
Website »

More information

Kids ages 7-17 take part in a hands-on magic workshop. Learn the performance art of theatrical magic from local masters on the second and fourth Saturday of each month. Details available at...

Cost: $10

Where:
The Magic Corner Magic Shop
3684 Capital Blvd.
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Sponsor: Ring #199,The Int'l Brotherhood of Magicians
Telephone: 919-272-6465
Contact Name: Roger Way
Website »

More information

Enjoy an evening walk to learn about owls. Listen for owl calls and coyotes’ howls as we search by ear, as well as sight, for some of the night’s early risers. Turn logs and search for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Johnston Mill Nature Preserve
6001 Turkey Farm Road
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Triangle Land Conservancy
Telephone: 919-908-0054
Contact Name: Barbara Goldentyer
Website »

More information

Take a look at the monsters and beasts that inhabit our dreams and folktales by peering through different lenses to explore the beauty, monstrousness and magic of these creatures as Paperhand...

Cost: Suggested donations are $8 for kids, $15 for adults

Where:
Forest Theatre
123 S. Boundary St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-0522
Website »

More information

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