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Top 6 North Carolina Beaches for an Off-Season Visit

When you think of visiting the beautiful beaches of North Carolina, you probably think of doing it during the balmy summer months. But the off-season is one of the best times to hit the shore. There are fewer crowds, cheaper accommodations, and a crispness to the air that gives a whole new feeling to the family beach vacation. So, if you’re used to automatically booking a mountain getaway during the fall and winter months, why not mix things up a little this year and check out one of these excellent North Carolina beaches to visit in the off-season?

Wrightsville Beach Wrightsville Beach

Wrightsville Beach

Located just outside of Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach is a beautiful beach town in North Carolina, no matter what time of year you visit. In addition to a spacious beach with white sands and picturesque dunes, there are tons of things to do here in the off-season. Because of the mild temperatures, you can still enjoy some of the local favorites like paddleboarding, kayaking and surfing, or take a scenic cruise along the Cape Fear River or the Intracoastal Waterway. Plus, there are lots of restaurants, live music, bars and special events like the Lighthouse Beer and Wine Festival, held in late October, and the Holiday Flotilla that lights up the city at Christmastime.

Topsail Beach Topsail Island
Credit: Topsail Island by © Patricia Shrout | Dreamstime.com

Topsail Beach

Not far from Wrightsville is another beautiful North Carolina beach – Topsail Island, located almost exactly between Wilmington and Jacksonville. Topsail Beach is a relaxed, laid-back beach all year-round. So, you definitely won’t find large skyscraper hotels or chain restaurants here. But, during the off-season, the small beach town becomes even more relaxed and low-key. Take a walk on the beach in the morning to collect shells, go shopping during the day at some of their charming boutiques that stay open year-round, and then have dinner at one of the delicious restaurants situated right on the oceanfront.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore Sand Dune in Cape Hatteras National Seashore, on Hatteras Island, North Carolina
Credit: Sand Dune in Cape Hatteras National Seashore, on Hatteras Island, North Carolina by Bigstock.com

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore, located in the Outer Banks area of North Carolina, is made up of 72 miles of pristine coastland, much of which is still undeveloped and untouched. And the off-season months are a great time to visit since you’ll find less traffic on the roads, fewer crowds at the area’s popular lighthouses, and great opportunities for surf fishing. There are also several major events held during the off months in the Cape Hatteras area including Restaurant Week, Bike Week and the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival.

Bald Head Island Aerial view Bald Head Island, Brunswick Islands, North Carolina
Credit: Aerial view Bald Head Island, Brunswick Islands, North Carolina by Bigstock.com

Bald Head Island

Bald Head Island is the perfect vacation spot if you truly want to escape the hustle and bustle of your regular life because it is truly an island getaway – accessible only by boat and ferry. And although it’s a gorgeous place to visit all year long, you’ll find everything a little easier and quicker in the off-season. From no waiting to board the ferry to fewer crowds at the restaurants. Plus, there are tons of things to do once you reach the island from hiking and biking to shopping and nightlife.

Kure Beach Kure Beach, Wilmington, NC
Credit: Kure Beach, Wilmington, NC by bigstock.com

Kure Beach

Kure Beach, located about 45 minutes outside of Wilmington, offers plenty to do in the off-season. First off, you can take a pretty private walk along the beach since you won’t find many people in town after the busy summer season ends. And during the off-season, you’re allowed to have dogs on the beach, so Fido can come along too. Plus, you can explore nearby Fort Fisher and the North Carolina Aquarium and then have dinner at one of the town’s year-round restaurants or take a quick trip into Wilmington and enjoy a meal in their downtown historic district.

Beaufort Beaufort - Businesses on Front Street in downtown
Credit: Beaufort - Businesses on Front Street in downtown by bigstock.com


The small beach town of Beaufort, located on the Crystal Coast, is well known for being not only one of the state’s oldest towns but also the site where Blackbeard’s vessel, Queen Anne’s Revenge, was discovered. It’s part of the area’s rich history that you can learn about at the North Carolina Maritime Museum or if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, on the Beaufort Ghost Walk. History buffs can also check out Fort Macon State Park and take a hike on the historic site’s surrounding trails, all without worrying about crowds.

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