The 8 Most Amazing Places in North Carolina to Adventure to This Summer

The weather is getting nice and the school year is winding down. Which means it’s time to stretch your legs by doing something fun! Perhaps you like to hike, bike, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard. What’s better? If you’re staying in Wilmington this summer, you’re in luck because we live in a great place that offers lots of outdoor adventure possibilities.


1. Greenfield Lake

If you love to go for a bike ride or a brisk walk, Greenfield Lake should be your go-to. There’s a 5-mile paved walking or biking path that winds around the lake and into the surrounding area. If biking or walking isn’t quite your thing, you can bring or rent a boat to take your adventure on the water.

Address: 1739 Burnett Blvd, Wilmington, NC 28401

Photo courtesy of Sarah Miner.


2. Harbor Island

You may not know it, but every time you drive into Wrightsville Beach, you drive through Harbor Island. Sitting between the mainland and Wrightsville Beach, Harbor Island offers some great sights while kayaking or SUPing. You can choose a route that weaves through the residential side of the island or if you’re looking for some solitude, another route leads you through salt marshes.

Boat launch: 109 W Salisbury St, Wrightsville Beach, NC


3. Masonboro Island

Many people have likely heard of this island, which is isolated just off the coast. The only ways to get to the island are by watercraft, and it’s always a fun adventure paddling out to the island. Once you’re there, you’ll find lots of uninhabited beach, beautiful sights, and unique takeaways--like seashells. If you’re interested in an extended stay, bring a tent and make your Masonboro adventure into a camping trip.

Boat launch: 610 Trails End Rd, Wilmington, NC 28409

Photo courtesy of Chuck Parks.


4. Lake Waccamaw

Lake Waccamaw State Park is a great place to take your next hike or paddle. The state park offers miles of hiking along the lake’s shoreline. If you’re inclined to get on the water, you’ll have plenty to explore, given the lake is 8,000 acres large. This destination is perfect for anybody looking to get in a little road trip as well, since it takes roughly an hour to get to the state park. It’s well worth it though. Just roll down the window, turn up the tunes, and enjoy the day.

Address: 1866 State Park Dr, Lake Waccamaw, NC 28450

Photo courtesy of Sarah Miner.


5. Carolina Beach State Park

Carolina Beach State Park is the perfect place for anybody wanting to get in a hike that’s a bit more local. CBSP offers six-miles of mostly flat trails that weave through different habitats. One minute you’ll be surrounded by longleaf pines and the next you’ll be walking on a bridge over a marsh. Be sure to stop by the visitor center to grab a trail map to the Sugarloaf Dune; it offers the best sights of the Cape Fear River which is adjacent to the park.

Address: 1010 B Rd, Carolina Beach, NC 28428


6. Northeast Cape Fear River

The Northeast Cape Fear River is a little known spot that is seriously perfect. The river is always calm, and there are lots of sights to see. You can choose to go upstream, where you’ll cross underneath an I-40 bridge or downstream where you’ll have the chance to see riverhouses. One a beautiful day in the summer, there’s nothing that’ll beat the Northeast Cape Fear River.

Boat launch: 6418 Orange St, Castle Hayne, NC 28429

Photo courtesy of Sarah Miner.


7. Brunswick River

The Brunswick River is another little known spot, and the perfect place to take a kayaking or SUPing adventure. The river is calm, scenic, and easy to get to, which is a recipe for a perfect trip. Just hop across the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge into Leland, where your adventure awaits.

Boat launch: 580 River Rd SE, Leland, NC 28451


8. Cape Fear River

If hiking at Carolina Beach State Park doesn't jive with you, consider paddling on the Cape Fear River. There’s a boat launch inside Carolina Beach State Park which offers a nice grassy area for setting up and pushing out. The river is lovely on a beautiful day, but be aware that the tides affect the river daily and strong winds coming from the southwest might make conditions less than desirable.

Boat launch: A Rd, Carolina Beach, NC 28428

Photo courtesy of Sarah Miner.


Wherever your summer adventure may take you, always remember to be safe and plan ahead!