It’s a beach lover’s paradise. Located midway between South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach and Wilmington, Holden Beach’s 9-mile shoreline is dotted with quaint cottages and condos, rather than high-rise hotels and loud amusement parks.
Part of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, Holden Beach was named one of the top-10 family beaches by USA Today in 2005. It’s the perfect destination for moms and dads who are seeking much-deserved breaks from the never-ending e-mail, laundry and errands. But while Holden Beach is known for its uniquely quiet atmosphere, you’ll still find plenty to do to keep the kids entertained and happy.
For the Kids
The ocean’s calm water and pristine sandy beach make conditions ideal for sunbathing, swimming, castle building and shell hunting. But if the kids need a break from the sand and salt, then you’ll definitely want to take them to Magic Mountain Water Slide, where kids (and adults) can enjoy a slip and slide adventure. Smaller children can get in on the action, too, with their very own miniature water slide and kiddie pool.
If your kids love miniature golf, then be sure to visit Harbor Island Miniature Golf or Treasure Island Miniature Golf, which also has a family game room and is adjacent to Super Track Go-Karts & Bumper Boats. Kids can play video games, grab an ice-cream cone and then head out to the track to compete against other racers. Here, younger kids can also ride the carousel and train ride, perfect for kids ages 3-7. Tickets for miniature golf are in the $2 range. Bumper boats and go-karts are $5, and the carousel and train ride are $3.
Fishing and Golf
The Holden Beach Pier is great place to drop a line. In addition to live bait, the pier sells daily and three-day fishing permits. The pier also has a grill, snack bar and gift shop. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited. The cost to walk the length of the pier is 50 cents.
In addition to fishing, this area is a mecca for golf lovers, with more than 125 courses within an hour drive from Holden Beach. Myrtle Beach, a 45-minute drive south, has numerous courses from very challenging to par-3.
After a day at the beach, you’ll have a hearty appetite, and there’s no shortage of Holden Beach restaurants to please your palate. One local favorite is Paradise Café. Try the Chicken Speedie ($7.95), a grilled marinated chicken breast served on a pita with lettuce, tomato and garlic cucumber sauce. If you prefer seafood, then be sure to try one of the café’s classic sandwiches — fried flounder, crab cake or grouper ($7.95-$8.95). The kids’ menu offers the typical fare for the under-12 crowd — cheese pizza, grilled cheese, hot dog, etc. ($2.95-$4.25).
Your Holden Beach vacation isn’t complete without dinner at Betty’s Waterfront Dining, located on the Intercoastal Waterway. This restaurant serves fresh seafood at its finest, and you’ll have a hard time deciding what to order. Chef specials include Shrimp Mediterranean ($16.95), a blend of shrimp, herbs and pasta cooked in a special sauce topped with fresh feta cheese; Stuffed Grouper ($19.95), a large filet stuffed with jumbo lump crab meat; and Blackened Shrimp & Oysters ($15.95), which is served over rice and sautéed vegetables. Kids can choose from flounder, boiled or popcorn shrimp, chicken tenders or grilled cheese.
Make sure you arrive early to Betty’s, or you will have to wait for a table. But if there is a wait, kids will be easily entertained watching the boats pass by on the waterway.
Holden Beach is a great launching point for many other attractions in the area. Just 30 miles north is Bald Head Island, where you can visit North Carolina’s oldest lighthouse, Old Baldy. The historic town of Southport, known for its Southern charm, is 25 miles to the north. From here, you can take a ferry to visit the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher and the Fort Fisher Historic Museum. Other nearby beaches include Caswell Beach, Oak Island, Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach.
Whether you plan to spend every moment at the beach soaking up the sun, or if you prefer to spend your days sightseeing, Holden Beach has something for everyone. So grab your bathing suit, sunscreen and camera for a fun-filled vacation and enough memories to fill a scrapbook.
While You're There
Magic Mountain Water Slide
3396 Holden Beach Causeway Road
Harbor Island Miniature Golf
3340 Holden Beach Road SW
Super Track Go-Karts & Bumper Boats
3437 Holden Beach Road
Holden Beach Pier
441 Ocean Blvd. W.
102 Jordan Blvd.
Betty’s Waterfront Dining
1045 B Var Road S.W.
Holden Beach is a 4.5-hour drive from Greensboro. Take I-40 East toward Wilmington. Take Exit 416-A toward Myrtle Beach and Shallotte. You will be traveling on 140 West for 6 miles. Take Exit 14 and merge with traffic on Hwy-421. Take Hwy-17 Exit South and merge with traffic from Hwy-74. Follow signs for Hwy-17 South, which you will travel for about 30 minutes. Turn left onto Business Hwy-17 into Shallotte. Take a left on Hwy-130 and follow for 6 miles. Turn left at Ocean Blvd.
Holden Beach has a variety of cottages, condominiums and houses available for rent. Prices vary according to season, location and number of bedrooms.
* Alan Holden Vacations
128 Ocean Blvd. West
Holden Beach, NC 28462
* Coastal Vacation Resorts
131 Ocean Blvd. West
Holden Beach, NC 28462
* Brunswickland Realty
123 Ocean Blvd.
Holden Beach, NC 28462