Located on the Atlantic coast of North Carolina, Jacksonville is within a short drive of some of America’s most scenic beaches. These beaches draw tourists from all over the country, and are perfect for a romantic weekend getaway or a relaxing family vacation. The area is also a short drive from some of our country’s best-known historical sites, giving history lovers an opportunity to stand where history was made.
Marsh Harbour Inn
If seclusion is what you and your partner seek, look no further than the Marsh Harbour Inn on the beautiful (and isolated) Bald Head Island. BHI is accessible only by ferry and devoid of automobiles, and the Inn is exactly what you could want out of a quaint, seaside bed and breakfast. Your room rental comes with the use of a golf cart so you can explore the island and its vacant beaches. Or, you could just never leave the room and enjoy your view overlooking the Cape Fear Seashore. That’s what we’d do.
Just 20 minutes from Jacksonville is the locals' favorite, Topsail Beach. With numerous hotels and rental properties up and down the beach, skip the trip home after a long relaxing day on the beach and turn it into a weekend getaway. The star is the beach, of course, with its white sand and spectacular views—but the small, beach community vibe makes Topsail Beach what it is. The short drive also makes this a great choice for an impromptu escape from the daily Jacksonville grind.
Just south of Wilmington are the remains of the Civil War-era Fort Fisher. The fort itself was instrumental in keeping the port of Wilmington open until its fall in 1865. Today, visitors can walk the gun emplacements and take guided tours of it. Just down the road is the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, which has hands-on exhibits perfect for kids, and is a great way to spend a hot summer day.
The town of Kitty Hawk, NC was made famous by Orville and Wilbur Wright, when in 1903 they became the first to achieve powered flight. At the Wright Brothers’ National Memorial, visitors can stand on the exact point that the brothers launched from, see replicas of their first flying machine, and explore the history of America’s most famous aviators.
Hammock Beach State Park
Twenty-five minutes from Jacksonville is Hammock Beach State Park, which offers camping right on the beach. Take the ferry or rent a kayak and paddle out to Bear Island (it's only accessible by boat), and stay at one of their primitive campsites. You’ll find water and bathrooms on the island, but be prepared to carry everything you bring—it’s a long way from the ferry to many of the campsites. Once the long haul is over, though, you're likely to be treated to beautiful sunsets (and sunrises) from your spot on the beach. What’s more romantic than that?