When you think of visiting the beautiful beaches of North Carolina, you probably think of doing it during the balmy months of summer. But, the off-season is actually 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 awesome North Carolina beaches to visit in the off-season.

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Wrightsville Beach (Nearby Hotels)

Located just outside of Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach is a beautiful beach destination, 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 (Nearby Hotels)

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

Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Nearby Hotels)

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 (Nearby Hotels)

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 less crowds at the restaurants. Plus, there’s tons of things to do once you reach the island from hiking and biking, to shopping and nightlife.

Kure Beach (Nearby Hotels)

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 If you're lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the wild ponies during your visit to Beaufort.
If you're lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the wild ponies during your visit to Beaufort.

Beaufort (Nearby Hotels)

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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