The 10 Best Beach Destinations Near Charlotte

North Carolina has exactly the beach vacation you need. Whether you are looking for a quiet retreat or are seeking the nightlife and crowds, you can find what you are looking for near Charlotte. Read on for our top picks for the perfect getaway.

1. Lake Norman

Located within a half hour’s drive of Charlotte, Lake Norman has a 125 yard beach which has attracted families visiting Charlotte for generations. This is the state’s largest man-made lake built around 1960 from the waters of the Cowans Ford Dam.

Why We Like It

Along with its sandy beach and family-friendly activities, Lake Norman has a lot to offer. It has one of the largest trail networks around, which draws in bikers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts. 

Offering more than just the sand, Lake Norman is close to three neighboring historic South Carolina towns. While you’re in the area, visit Huntersville, Cornelius, and Davidson to learn more about the area’s history and benefit from the dining, shopping, and attractions.

2. Lake Wylie

Another of the closest beaches near Charlotte, North Carolina is Lake Wylie, which was formed from the Catawba River. The lake offers fishing and boating and the nearby Ebenezer and Windjammer parks give you excellent swimming areas.

Why We Like It

Thanks not only to its convenient location, we like Lake Wylie because its sandy beach areas come with camping, picnic areas, playground sites, concession stands and more to satisfy all of your needs. 

If you don’t want to pack your own food, enjoy the offerings from the waterfront bar and shore clubs. While you eat you can watch the water sports going on during fair-weather outings. You can benefit from 38 boat slips and easy access if you want to partake for yourself!

3. Wrightsville Beach

This beach is famous for its surfing. People come from all over to enjoy the water here at this four mile long beach.

Why We Like It

Wrightsville Beach-goers can experience the thrill of the ocean with paddleboarding, surfing, kite sailing, and more. Sunbathe on the beach or go all out to enjoy all the benefits this waterfront has to offer.

As a bonus, Wilmington, North Carolina is a pedestrian-friendly town with its share of attractions from food to shopping and accommodations. This active town has a down-to-earth vibe and is welcoming to visitors from far and wide.

4. Carolina Beach

This beach is perfect for swimmers with its shallow shorelines and calm waves with infrequent riptides. It also has a lively atmosphere that you are sure to enjoy.

Why We Like It

Carolina Beach is near Wilmington, about 20 minutes from Wrightsville Beach. This is the better bet for people looking to wade in the ocean. This calm beach has everything you could want for a simple day at the beach.

This beach has a vintage boardwalk with a number of restaurants, food stands, shops, live performances, and attractions to appeal to any visitors young or old. Come for the beach, stay for the nightlife.

5. Atlantic Beach

This beach brings the seclusion you could want with the boardwalk, nature, and park attractions that will satisfy any visitors.

Why We Like It

Atlantic Beach is by the ocean and Bogue Sound. One of the quieter beaches in North Carolina, it really only sees large crowds around the holidays. Take your family here for some family time.

The beach features natural walking areas as well as a boardwalk and fishing access. Looking to entertain? You can also take your family to the town park or the local Civil War museum for additional sources of interest.

6. Topsail Beach

Topsail Beach is found on the 26-mile long Topsail Island, and is one of the best beaches outside of Charlotte.

Why We Like It

Spend the day however you like, because Topsail has it all. You can sim, surf, sunbathe, fish, and more. This is one of the more relaxing beaches you will find around North Carolina.

You can tell that Topsail has long been a fishing town when you visit one of its delicious seafood restaurants. Its other attractions include outdoor activities, a patio playground, a skating rink, a museum, and the chance to catch sight of marine life.

7. Kure Beach

Another great beach in the Wilmington area is Kure Beach, which is right next to Carolina Beach.

Why We Like It

Visit Kure Beach for the laid-back setting and a smaller crowd. Here you can enjoy swimming, paddleboarding, kayaking, and other water activities, or just lie back and sunbathe.

The area has many festivities and entertainment options for people looking for more than the natural attractions. Visit the many parks and recreation areas or tour the islands, the farmers market, live concerts, art shows, and more.

best beaches close to charlotte

8. Emerald Isle

This is a great family beach near Charlotte and was designed in the 1920s.

Why We Like It

Emerald Isle sits on a barrier island and offers a full range of activities. You can swim, kayak, play volleyball, enjoy a picnic, and more. This beach may get more crowded because of its reputation as a lovely area to take your family.

Once you’ve soaked in the sun long enough for the day, try visiting the Emerald Isle Woods Park or take your family to the nearby water park.

9. Outer Banks

The Outer Banks, or OBX, are some of the most popular beaches. These include Corolla and Carova. 

Why We Like It

Carova is famous for its white sand and the wild mustangs that roam the island. The warm waters around Carova make it a great destination for peaceful wading and sunbathing into the fall.

Corolla may not have the boardwalk you are looking for but thanks to its lack of commercial influence, you have a great chance at finding a nice spot on the beach for yourself and your family.

10. Ocean Isle

This is a small barrier island spot with only a small population of year-round residents.

Why We Like It

Ocean Isle has a seven mile beach. This is the ideal location to bring your family with access to white sand and calm waters. Enjoy a swim, try your hand at fishing, or just sunbathe in the peaceful atmosphere of this quiet beach.

You can count on fun for the whole family with the nearby attractions. Visit the planetarium, museum, seafood restaurants, boutiques, and more to round out your trip to Ocean Isle.

Finding Your Beach Vacation Near Charlotte

North Carolina boasts a wide array of beaches including large man-made lakes, coastal beaches, barrier island spots, and the outer banks. Check out these destinations and enjoy!

Charlotte Unlimited

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