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The Best Outdoor Spots Around Atlantic Beach

Want to get outside on the Crystal Coast? The beach is always a fantastic option, of course, but if you’re looking for a change from the surf and the sand, there are plenty of options around the area. Some outdoor spots around Atlantic Beach might be just what you need to shake up your beachside vacation.

Outdoor Spots Around Atlantic Beach That Aren’t the Beach

wild horses around atlantic beach

While Atlantic Beach might be best known for its miles of beautiful white-sand beaches and breathtaking turquoise waters, the ocean shoreline is hardly all it’s got going! These outdoor spots around Atlantic Beach are definitely worth a visit.

Hoop Pole Creek Nature Trail

hoop pole creek nature trail

This short-but-scenic trail is ideal for hikers of all skill levels. The Hoop Pole Nature Creek Trail starts near Atlantic Station Shopping Center and traverses maritime forest and salt marsh, with a few short trails branching from the main path. Along the trail, see Hoop Pole Creek open up to the Bogue Sound, and keep an eye open for wildlife, birds, and maybe even some fiddler crabs.

Fort Macon State Park

a civil war demonstration at fort macon

Located just east of Atlantic Beach on the tip of Bogue Island, Fort Macon State Park is a beautifully restored Civil War-era fort and coastal education center. It also offers unique ecosystems of salt marshes, estuaries, and dune fields, as well as a sandy shoreline ideal for swimming. There are regular cannon and musket demonstrations, guided tours, and several outdoor and indoor exhibits.

Fort Macon features 1.5 miles of hiking trails and is a great spot for fishing, picnicking, swimming, and surfing.

Rachel Carson Reserve

horses at the Rachel Carson Reserve (Photo by Dan Snow Photography)

Located between the mouths of the Newport and North rivers and across Taylor’s Creek from historic Beaufort, Rachel Carson Reserve is made up of a complex network of islands, including Carrot Island, Town Marsh, Bird Shoal, and Horse Island. The entire reserve spans over 2,300 acres of tidal flats, salt marshes, sand dunes, maritime forest, and utterly unique coastal landscape.

The Reserve is a popular destination for explorers, birdwatchers, and wildlife viewers—many of whom come for the wild horses. The islands are accessible by private boat or passenger ferry, which can be caught in Beaufort.

Shackleford Banks

horse tracks

Located just southeast of Atlantic Beach, the Shackleford Banks is an undeveloped barrier island filled with beautiful coastal scenery and a plethora of wildlife—including wild horses. Part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore, the Shackleford Banks is accessible by private boat or ferry from Beaufort or Harkers Island, making it among the easiest to reach of the barrier islands of the National Seashore.

Once you’ve arrived at the Banks, there are a number of ways to pass the time—surfing, swimming, fishing, kayaking, shelling, and other typical beach activities. Kayaking and watersports are also popular, and of course, the birding and wildlife watching is a must.

Atlantic Beach Town Park

mini golf in atlantic beach

This little park is a great place for a picnic, a day out with the kids, or even a relaxing afternoon with friends. Atlantic Beach Town Park offers a splash pad, skatepark, 18-hole miniature golf course, a concession stand, and several sports courts. The park is open from dawn to dusk daily and is free for public use.

The park also offers activities like beach volleyball leagues, a beach run series, outdoor movies, and even a junior lifeguard program.

Ready to Plan Your Vacation on the Crystal Coast?

Are you thinking about buying a vacation home in or relocating to the Crystal Coast of North Carolina? Linda Rike Real Estate would love to help. We’ve been serving Carteret County for over 30 years, so we know a thing or two about buying or selling homes around here. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you find the right home for your goals.

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