Located on a barrier island just northeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, North Topsail Beach offers families a low-key beach getaway replete with peace and quiet. Choose a North Topsail Beach vacation rental ranging from luxury homes with views of the ocean to cozy houses tucked away in town. With Southern charm and a rich history of being a fishing village, this town welcomes families to enjoy the beach, ride bikes, and fish off the local pier. Plan ahead and keep your kids engaged with a variety of activities. Here’s a quick look at the top nine things to do while staying in North Topsail Beach.

1. Hit the Beach

Of course, a beach vacation isn’t complete without a day on the sand with the surf rolling in. Gather sunscreen, a cooler, and beach toys before leaving your vacation rental for a day at the beach. Walk along the surf line as you look for seashells, and watch as your kids try to outrun the water coming in. Build sandcastles and help your kids take turns burying each other under the sand. You can bring kites and, on a breezy day, run down the beach with it until the updraft lifts them into the air.

2. Look for Sea Turtles

Let the kids stay up late one night and head out to the beach to see if you can spy sea turtles making their nests on the beach. Sea turtles nest once a year from May to August along this area of beach. Large sea turtles, sometimes weighing hundreds of pounds, emerge from the ocean, dig a nest, deposit their eggs, and return to the water. They do this in the dark, so pack flashlights and encourage your kids to watch any turtles that emerge without interacting with them.

3. Boat Charter

Enjoy the water from above with a boat charter. Queen Jean Charters offers several options for time spent out on the water, including a half-day fishing trip, a kid’s fishing trip, and a nighttime charter. During the kids’ fishing trip, the crew of the Queen Jean helps to teach your youngsters to fish as well as how to reel in their first Pinfish or Pigfish. The Queen Jean has a concession stand on board that offers hamburgers and the like, although another option is to pack a cooler before leaving your vacation rental.

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4. Jolly Roger Fishing Pier

Soak up the sun with an afternoon on the Jolly Roger Fishing Pier. Nowhere on the island are the town’s roots more obvious than on this fishing pier that stretches more than 200 feet out into the water. Gather up your fishing equipment and cooler to see if your kids can catch some of the king mackerel that swim in the waters below. Bring binoculars with you from the vacation rental so your kids can try to find some dolphins frolicking in the ocean when they tire of fishing.

5. Lea Island

Rent kayaks or canoes and spend an afternoon on the beautiful, unspoiled barrier island, Lea Island. Once you arrive on the island, gather your pails for some seashell hunting. With a little luck, find sand dollars and sharks’ teeth along with the standard seashells. Pull out your binoculars and make a list of all the birds you see on the island. Take a swim in the ocean to cool off before paddling back to North Topsail Beach.

6. Missiles and More Museum

Spend a rainy afternoon learning more about the local history of Topsail Island at the Missiles and More Museum. This small museum has an exhibit that outlines the pirates that once pillaged the ships off the coast, including the infamous Blackbeard, whose name was feared by locals, along with an exhibit about the WASP Women’s Air-Force Service Pilots. While the museum is heavy into the military side of history, it’s an interesting glimpse into a little local color.

7. Topsail Skating Rink

Escape the heat and have an evening of fun at the Topsail Skating Rink. This small wooden-floor skating rink offers a couple hours of family fun away from the heat and sand of the beach. Skate to the beat of the music, or teach your little ones how to skate. The skating rinks has rails along the walls to help beginners figure out how to stay on their feet. It’s free to skate, but you need to pay for the skate rental.

8. Mini Golf

No trip to the beach is complete without a couple hours spent playing a friendly game of mini golf. In North Topsail Beach, the place to do it is Patio Playground. This putt-putt place dates back to the early 1950s, and while it’s not the most difficult game of mini golf you’ve ever played, it’s a great way to reconnect with your family. After the game, grab some ice cream and enjoy arcade games in the air conditioning.

9. Day Trip to Wilmington

Pack the kids in the car for the short ride to Wilmington and a day of city life. Take a tour of the USS North Carolina, a World War II battleship that now serves as a museum. Learn more about the life under the sea at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher with its touch tanks for your kids to feel some of the aquatic critters. Catch a ballgame at the Legion Stadium that’s home to the Wilmington Hammerheads.

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