Coastal North Carolina has no shortage of beautiful beaches. Activities range from relaxation to surfing to fishing and more. Surf City, located on Topsail Island, is an easy trip from the capital city of Raleigh, NC, making it the perfect location for a beach break or summer vacation.
Surf City has many public beach access points and a remarkable amount of parking for a beach town. We found navigating for a beach day easy, and paying for parking was straightforward using the designated app. Lodging opportunities range from hotels to private rentals or RV resorts, and dining options are plentiful.
With approximately five square miles to work with, Surf City, NC, has created a destination worth returning to again and again. It’s one of the best beaches in North Carolina.
Things To Do in Surf City
This coastal town is relaxed and fun and offers one of the most beautiful sandy beaches on the NC coast. Whether you want a relaxing or active vacation, the choice is yours.
Sunrise or Sunset?
How about both? We love that you can watch the sunrise over the ocean and the sunset over the sound for the perfect bookends to a fun day of exploring.
Our favorite sunset spot is from the Kenneth D. Batts Family Park boardwalk. There is a small play area for young kids to enjoy before and after the walk and nearby restaurants to enjoy as well.
Active Fun in the Sun
If your idea of frisbee is more competitive than tossing a disc in the sand, check out the 9-hole Surf City Disc Golf Course. You can print a scorecard online ahead of time with a course map. Plus, there are plans to expand to 18 holes for even more play.
Or hang out at the beach, toss a football, or try water sports like surfing, jet skiing, or parasailing. Kayaking or boating in the sound is also fantastic and even better at sunset.
Enjoy the Art Scene
You can often catch a live concert or hear a band play in summer. There are also several art galleries to enjoy and support, like Seacoast Art Gallery or Surf City Coffee.
You can also paint your own pottery at Hot Mess Art and Pottery Studios. Or try making pottery in one of their hand-building or pottery wheel classes. Reservations are required for classes.
Relax at the Pier
Plan to relax on the beach by walking out on the Surf City Pier. Whether you want to fish, shop, or stroll in the sun, the pier is a beautiful backdrop for your day’s adventure.
Photography lovers know how to get the best shots when a pier is involved. There’s something so magical about the colors of the wood, sand, and waves colliding in an image. So bring your camera!
Where To Eat on the Island
Donuts are life on vacation, and Daybreak Donuts is the place to get them when you’re in Surf City. Create your own combination of flavors or choose from the impressive menu. The donuts are made to order and are so delicious.
You won’t have to look far if you’re looking for seafood. Topsail Steamer, Sears Landing Grill & Boat, and Shuckin’ Shack are all great options. Many places offer indoor and outdoor dining.
Santorini Greek & Italian Bistro is another one of our favorite stops. We love the pizza and try to get at least one every time we visit. They are also dog-friendly when seated outdoors.
If you rent a home or use your RV kitchen, you can also find small supermarkets on the island. That said, I recommend the 10-15 minute drive to Publix on the mainland for everything from bottled water to snacks. They also have a great selection of beach toys and floats if you need them.
Where To Stay In Surf City
We love to visit Surf City from our home in Raleigh, and we have claimed it as our favorite NC beach town. You can stay on the mainland in several locations, but you still have options for places to stay if you want to be right on the beach.
Vacation rental homes are quite popular in this area, and book well in advance. This is an excellent option for large families and those with pets, especially if you can get a coveted beachfront location.
You won’t find large, sprawling hotel resorts in Surf City. However, there are several highly rated smaller hotels like Saltwater Suites or, further north of Surf City, the Blue Water Inn & Suites.
We love to stay in nearby RV resorts and have quick access to our favorite spots. Oceans RV Resort and The Inlet at Lanier Pointe are two campgrounds near the bridge to Surf City, with the former being our preferred location. Surf City also has a compact family campground right on the beach if you are okay with being a little closer to your neighbors.
Whether you are planning a summer getaway or a long weekend trip, Surf City is the perfect beach break to refresh and rejuvenate you.