When you’re craving a coastal getaway, head to North Carolina’s Sunset Beach. Staying at a vacation rental in Sunset Beach puts you close to sun, surf, and some of the most exciting attractions that the greater Myrtle Beach area has to offer. This tourist-oriented town goes out of its way to be welcoming and memorable for visitors of all ages. These are some of the top things you can do when enjoying this historic town’s hospitality.

1. Take in a Show

The Alabama Theater has been showered with honors as an outstanding venue for country music and live acts that include the Four Tops and Loretta Lynn. Guest series are booked months in advance, so check in before you head out to your Sunset Beach vacation home and plan for at least one night with these brilliant performers.

2. Enjoy the Carnival at Barefoot Landing

When you think about fun with the family, you probably have something like Barefoot Landing in mind. Boasting multiple fairway attractions and lots of great stand-up eats, this boardwalk rivals any you can find in America.

3. Tour a Real Battleship

States develop a certain fondness for the ships that bear their names. While most of these eventually wind up as razor blades, North Carolina cared enough to save its namesake battleship, which is moored in Wilmington and open to the public. Visit the ship, see the exhibits, and learn about the history the North Carolina participated in and made for itself.

4. Enjoy a Casino

Even the best parents need an evening alone together, and the Big “M” Casino Cruise offers the kind of riverboat adventure most people only read about. Everything is available here, including poker, blackjack, roulette, and some of the loosest slots in the South.

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5. Go Bowling

Brunswick Bowling Center, in Shallotte, advertises good old-fashioned fun in a family atmosphere and on-site eats worthy of a standalone restaurant. Lane specials are available on a rotating basis, so it pays to call ahead and ask about available deals.

6. Walk Through the Historic Town Center

Sunset Beach has been around for a long time, and a lot of North Carolina’s history has passed through it over the centuries. The finer points of this past, from the Colonial era to the Civil War and beyond, are on display in the historic town center, which features museums, shops, and local worthies who can tell you stories of dubious authenticity — but very high entertainment value — about the town’s good old days.

7. Build a Bear

When you’re out and about in Sunset Beach and you’re at a loss for an indoor activity to try, take the kids down to the Build-a-Bear Workshop to make a personalized memento of the trip that they can cuddle at night. With dozens of basic bear templates, and hundreds of accessories to mix and match, this workshop can keep the whole gang amused for hours.

8. Visit the Opry

North Carolina is part of America’s Country Music belt, and the Carolina Opry in nearby Myrtle Beach is the best place to experience the local culture for miles around. Take in two-hour shows that combine the best of live music, comedy skits, and variety acts reminiscent of old Vaudeville.

9. Zoom Down the Water Slides

What’s a summer vacation without a water park adventure? The Family Kingdom offers miles of pure water slide goodness and lots of traditional midway attractions, such as bumper cars. Bring the whole family, stay all day, and roll back home to your vacation rental in Sunset Beach with lots of fun memories in mind and some exhausted kids in the back seat.

10. Tour the Aquarium

Seaside communities have ocean life in abundance, and a place like Sunset Beach is well positioned to stock a varied and exciting aquarium. The Fort Fisher Aquarium, in Kure Beach, goes all out with live presentations from experienced divers and a stingray petting zoo, which they swear is perfectly safe.

11. Enjoy a Few Rounds of Miniature Golf

Getting out as a family is one of the best things about taking long vacations together, and miniature golf is the definition of wholesome family fun. Enjoy as many rounds as you have time for at Tribal Island Miniature Golf, with a little side trip to the adjacent par 3 Harbour View Driving Range for the adults and older kids who want a challenge.

12. Shop the Farmers Market

When you’re stocking up the larder at your vacation home in Sunset Beach, one of the best places to shop for fresh seafood and sundry other must-haves is the local Farm Market. Pick up the morning’s catch of fish, and find yourself some farm-fresh lemons and sage for a garnish. The variety of shops here rewards multiple visits; there’s always something new in stock.

13. Rock Out at the House of Blues

One of the best ways to wrap up a hard day’s relaxation on the beach is with a drink and a meal somewhere you can enjoy live music. The House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach has all that and a cool, laid-back atmosphere that’s just what a couple of adults needs to finish a perfect evening and enjoy each others’ company.

14. Explore the Universe

If you’ve ever taken a boat out at night, far from the lights on the beach, you’ve seen the splendor of the night sky for yourself. Ingram Planetarium gives you and your family a much closer look with a fully-modern projection and display system. The sound and light show is informative enough for a science hobbyist to be captivated and flashy enough to keep younger kids enthralled.

15. Enjoy a Private Horse Tour on the Beach

The sun rises over the Atlantic on the North Carolina coast, and what better way to greet the morning than on the back of a well-trained horse, riding slowly along a private beach in the North Myrtle Beach area? Intel Point Plantation Stables offers just such an experience, though demand is high and it’s a good idea to book your ride a day or two in advance.

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