Charlotte’s landlocked location does not mean it’s devoid of aquatic fun. Lake Norman and Lake Wylie offer plenty of water-related activities. But the Atlantic Ocean, with its salty breeze and sandy shores, holds a unique allure. While there is no single answer, the most straightforward response is Wrightsville Beach.
Located approximately 200 miles east of Charlotte, NC, Wrightsville Beach can be reached in about 3.5 hours by car. This beautiful beach is known for its crystal clear water and clean sand. It is also a popular destination for watersports enthusiasts, offering a variety of activities from surfing to paddleboarding.
However, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are another excellent option. The picturesque Brunswick Island, with beaches such as Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, and Sunset Beach, is a little further drive from Charlotte but provides a quieter, family-friendly atmosphere. Ocean Isle Beach, in particular, offers seven miles of shoreline perfect for sandcastle building, shell seeking, and lounging in the sun.
Atlantic Beach, part of the beautiful Crystal Coast, is another option. Though slightly further away, it is well worth the trip. Along the way, you may choose to visit the historic Fort Fisher, then take a ferry to Pleasure Island, where you can visit Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. A trip to Carolina Beach State Park, for example, promises not only beach fun but also hiking trails and fishing spots.
Further north, Topsail Beach and North Topsail Beach, located on Topsail Island, and Emerald Isle, with their pristine sands and charming beach town vibes, offer another perfect seaside escape. The tranquil, less crowded beaches are perfect for those seeking peace and relaxation.
Beyond the boundaries of North Carolina, the beaches of South Carolina are also accessible from Charlotte. One of the most popular is North Myrtle Beach, less than a four-hour drive away. North Myrtle is a part of the Grand Strand, a 60-mile stretch of beaches on the Atlantic Coast known for its bustling boardwalk, shops, restaurants, and lively entertainment scene.
A slightly longer drive will bring you to Myrtle Beach, a favorite among many due to its blend of natural beauty and entertainment options. Here you can indulge in everything from golfing to live shows, or simply lounge on the sandy shores.
Other South Carolina beaches within reach include Hilton Head Island, known for its golf courses and beautiful beaches, and the historic Sullivan’s Island. Folly Beach, also known as “The Edge of America,” offers an eclectic vibe, while the upscale Kiawah Island boasts a pristine beach and a world-class golf resort.
Back on the North Carolina coast, the Southern Outer Banks or Crystal Coast hosts a plethora of beautiful beaches such as the secluded Cape Lookout National Seashore, accessible only by ferry, or the wild, windswept Cape Hatteras National Seashore. These beaches might be a bit further to drive, but they offer an untouched beauty and tranquility that’s hard to beat.
For those seeking a unique beach experience, Bald Head Island, a car-free community located at the southernmost point of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, offers a tranquil retreat. Here, the preferred mode of transportation is electric golf carts, bicycles, or simply your own two feet.
It’s worth noting that despite the absence of a beach within the city limits, Charlotte offers its residents and visitors plenty of options to cool off during the hot summer months. The beaches of Lake Norman and Lake Wylie, although freshwater, offer a sandy retreat and various water-related activities.
In conclusion, while Charlotte, North Carolina, may lack its own beach, several beautiful beaches along the North Carolina coast, and even some in South Carolina, are within a reasonable drive. Whether you’re looking for the closest beach to soak up the sun, the best beach for family fun, or a peaceful retreat, options abound for every beach lover. From the lively atmosphere of Myrtle Beach and Daytona Beach to the tranquil vibes of Topsail Beach, and from the charming Carolina Beach to the serene Emerald Isle, the southeastern United States offers a rich variety of seaside experiences, all within a short drive from the Queen City.