Discovering Hidden Gems: Unique Vacation Rentals in North Carolina

Masonboro Island

Ask visitors about the best things to do while visiting coastal North Carolina, and you’ll hear familiar chants of water sports on Wrightsville Beach, ride the rides at the Carolina Beach boardwalk amusement park, and fishing on Topsail Island. However, if you ask the locals, you’ll discover hidden gems to put on your seascape bucket list.

Here’s what you don’t want to miss!

Our Favorite Hidden Gems near Coastal North Carolina

  1. Take the Ferry to Masonboro Island Reserve

If Wrightsville Beach gets crowded during the busy season, ride the ferry to the nearby Masonboro Island Reserve. It’s an uninhabited barrier island only accessible by boat, so you’ll experience nature in its purest form.

Wander the sandy shores in search of rare shells washed ashore and sightings of the endangered green sea turtles. Hike the coast to windswept sand dunes. Launch your kayak from the Trails End Park boat ramp and explore the offshore salt marshes.

It’s also pet-friendly if your furry friend accompanies you in our pet-friendly homes in Coastal North Carolina.

  1. Learn Regional History in the Federal Point Historic Preserve

Federal Point Historic Preserve

If the bright yellow facade isn’t enough to draw you into the doors of the Federal Point Historic Preserve, knowing what’s inside this free museum will surely do the trick!

Peel away from the beach for an hour to peruse the story-filled exhibitions inside this museum preserving the history of Coastal Carolina. Learn about Federal Point’s role in the Civil War, see vintage bathing suit fashions, and archive photos of Carolina Beach before the amusement park!

This is a great place to find Coastal North Carolina guidebooks and memorabilia you can take home as souvenirs.

  1. Find a WWII Bunker on the Fort Fisher Hermit Trail

A hermit once lived in an abandoned WWII bunker near Kure Beach for nearly 20 years until his death in 1972. Pay homage to this legendary hermit by discovering the bunker on the Fort Fisher Hermit Trail.

This trail’s official name is the Basin Trail and well-marked to direct you to the WWII bunker. It’s approximately one mile into the 2.2-mile route. This hermit was quite the opposite of a loner as he met many travelers passing by to share a conversation. Now, it’s a great route to see a piece of history, go birding, and explore the scenic marshes.

Don’t forget your bug spray!

  1. Watch the Sunset at Serenity Point

Serenity Point Lake Reeds

You’ll experience stunning sunrises every day in our ocean front homes in Coastal North Carolina. But this eastern-facing shore makes it tricky to see a sunset over the water—unless, of course, you visit Serenity Point!

This is the southernmost point on Topsail Island. The sunrise shore is the Atlantic Ocean, the sunset shore is over the Topsail Sound, and this point is where the two bodies of water meet. Take in views of golden hour from atop grassy dunes while overlooking untouched island landscapes.

  1. Aerial Fun at The Swamp Park

Air dry from the Ocean Isle Beach with aerial fun in the nearby Shallotte River Swamp Park. You’ll have plenty of time to relax, so now it’s time to get your adrenaline rushing with high-flying outdoor activities.

Zip through the swamp forest canopies on a zipline. There’s new scenery on each platform! Strap in to navigate the aerial rope course full of fun obstacles. On the ground, you can shred through the grounds on an ATV tour. In the water, you can explore the wetlands on the Shallotte River Swamp Boat—keep an eye out for birds and wildlife!

  1. Shop & Dine at The Cotton Exchange

We love shopping in the upscale Mayfair Shopping Center or the chic Lumina Station. But if you’re looking for a more unique shopping experience, stop by The Cotton Exchange. Shop local at this collection of 20+ boutique shops.

The Cotton Exchange is located in the Historic Downtown Wilmington—and has its own history! It was once a hub for a thriving cotton export business. This complex of eight 19th-20th century buildings is now repurposed to host retailers and restaurants. Old brick walkways lead to various stores specializing in wellness, toys, art, jewelry, aromatics, stationery, gifts, and more.

When you’re done shopping, walk right outside to the Wilmington Riverfront.

  1. Outdoor Recreation at Greenfield Lake Park

Greenfield Lake Amphitheater

Greenfield Lake in Wilmington is often overlooked by visitors to Coastal North Carolina since the ocean is just 20 minutes away (this park is less than 10 minutes from Downtown Wilmington). But at half the distance from downtown Wilmington, it’s a local favorite for spending time outdoors.

Greenfield Lake Park spans 250 acres, with the 190-acre lake in the center. Join the locals on the 5-mile hiking and biking routes surrounding the lake. Rent a kayak and paddle to lakefront vistas. It’s time to play, and there are tennis courts, green spaces, a kid’s playground, and even a skate park. Check the calendar for live shows at the Greenfield Lake Amphitheater.

For even more water fun, check out our vacation homes with pools in Coastal North Carolina.

Best Places to Stay in Coastal North Carolina

Imagine waking up to sunrises over the beach, the Atlantic Ocean just steps from your front door, and immersing yourself in laid-back beach towns. That’s what makes visiting Coastal North Carolina so special, and we don’t want you to miss out on any of it!

Sea Scape Properties has vacation rentals near Coastal North Carolina’s top beaches. From the popular Wrightsville Beach to the serene Kure Beach to the local barrier islands, you’ll never be too far from the action.

If you’re deciding where to stay in Coastal North Carolina, check out our vacation rentals in these locations:

Wrightsville Beach

Carolina Beach

Topsail Island

Kure Beach

Ocean Isle

0 Adults
0 Children
0 Pets

Compare listings