Sweet Treats, Fun Shops, and Summer Camps
With all this activity, a kid is bound to work up an appetite, and there are plenty of places to indulge a sweet tooth along the beach. On the Outer Banks, there's no better place than the Orange Blossom Cafe in Buxton for hot out-of-the-oven treats. Try a warm apple ugly - a gooey combination of donut and warm apple filling that might be a little messy, but well worth it for the taste! On Ocracoke Island, head over to Sweet Tooth for a wonderful display of all sorts of candies, as well as outdoor porch swings and hammocks to relax and enjoy your sugary snack.
Continue your candy tour with a stop at Artisan Coastal Confections along the Crystal Coast as you head down to the Cape Fear area and some of the best beach treats around. With an amazing array of restaurants and bakeries, it's hard to figure out where to start first. After all, there are over 30 ice cream shops in the area alone! For a standard treat, you can head to the local Baskin Robbins or Cold Stone Creamery, or try something new at Boombalati's Homemade Ice Cream in Wilmington, well known as one of the best ice cream shops in town. Chocolate lovers will adore a trip to The Fudgeboat in Carolina Beach, which offers a variety of unique and fun fudge flavors, like Almond Joy or Rocky Road.
Head a little further south to the Brunswick Beaches and let the fudge eating continue at Callahan's Fudge Co., which offers homemade confections as well as a gift shop for inedible souvenirs to take back home.
Speaking of shopping, be sure you save up your allowance before heading off on vacation as there are tons of stores, gift shops and just-for-kids toy shops with all sorts of goodies for you and your friends back home. On rainy days, touring the stores along the beach is a must, and there are plenty of places to find a great bargain, or just indulge in a little window shopping.
On the Outer Banks, no vacation is complete without a trip to Kitty Hawk Kites. With store locations from Corolla to Ocracoke Island, the world's biggest kite store not only offers unique toys and kites of all sizes, but all kinds of fun activities, like a rock climbing wall in Nags Head, or sunset kayak tours in Avon. Along the Crystal Coast, you can update your wardrobe with a trip to one of the many surf shops along Emerald Isle and Atlantic Beach. Whether you are shopping for a surfboard or just want to look the part, stores like Emerald Island Surf Shop and Tony's Surf Shop and Ice Cream are great places to get into a beachy state of mind from the inside out.
In Wilmington, a cloudy afternoon is a perfect time to explore the variety of stores downtown. A quirky blend of shops and cafes, but with a neighborhood feel, the downtown area is home to a number of cool stores, like the Blowing in the Wind kite store. Have fun exploring, and if you visit on a summer weekend, be sure to stop by the downtown Farmer's Market for fresh fruit and veggies, or fun and impromptu outdoor concerts.
In Southport, the Bullfrog Corner shop is a must for younger and older kids alike, with a wide variety of gift items and collectibles including stuffed animals, artwork and more. While you are in the Brunswick Beaches, you may also want to stop by Madeline's Playhouse in Ocean Isle Beach for a selection of unique toys, gifts and clothes designed with kids in mind.
During a beach vacation you might need a break from Mom and Dad, and at the same time, you might want to learn something new or try an adventure on your own. For curious kids who want to try something different, the North Carolina Coast offers a variety of day camps. These camps are a great way to explore the coast, make new friends, and have a "mini vacation" from the folks.
The Crystal Coast and the Cape Lookout National Seashore offer a variety of outdoor sessions sponsored by the National Park Service. You can try your hand at crabbing, learn about the sea turtles that flop onto the beaches to lay their eggs, or simply go on a shelling adventure along the coast. The programs are seasonal, and a complete list can be found on the National Park Service website.
In the New Hanover area, you can take the reins and a guided tour by horseback at Peterson Stables, which offers two-hour tours through wooded trails, or in the Brunswick Beaches area, you can take the helm and shape up you ship skills at a local sailing academy, like Cape Fear Sailing Academy. No matter where you start your adventure, you'll have a wonderful vacation story to share with your family at the end of the day.