Carolina Beach is a North Carolina town that is situated in New Hanover County. This town covers an area of two and a half square miles and has a population of over forty-seven hundred residents. Carolina Beach is a part of the Wilmington metro area and is located on Pleasure Island. In 2000, Carolina Beach annexed Wilmington Beach. Of the twenty-three hundred households that are located in the town, eighteen percent had children under the age of eighteen, forty-three percent were married couples, seven percent had a female head of household with no male present, and seven percent of the households had someone over the age of sixty-five living in it. The official local paper in the town is the Island Gazette.
Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex is a popular attraction in the area around Carolina Beach. The museum is dedicated to the cultural heritage and history of North Carolina. It was opened in 1988 and features the North Carolina Museum of History, 1897 Poe House and Arsenal Park. The North Carolina Museum of History has permanent exhibits that center on the decorative arts, North Carolina’s military history and the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. This museum can trace its history back to the nineteenth century when Frederick Augustus Olds began collection items from all over the state. He collected a large private collection and in 1902, he merged his collection with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. In 1914, it was taken over by the North Carolina Historical Commission and the collection was moved to the Ruffin Buildning. When the collection began to outgrow this building, it was moved to the Education Building in 1939. In 1968, it was moved to the State Library Building and opened to the public in 1973. In 1988, a new building was constructed that included a research library, three hundred seat auditorium, classrooms, offices and over fifty-five thousand feet of exhibition space. Today, the museum has a ton of exhibits which include Pleasing to the Eye: The Decorative Arts of North Carolina, The 1920s Drugstore, A Call to Arms: North Carolina Military History Gallery, The Tar Heel Junior Historian Association, In Search of a New Deal: Images of North Carolina, 1935-1941, Museum Sleuths: Whatchamacallits and Thingamajigs and Workboats of Core Sound.
The Carolinas Aviation Museum is another popular attraction near the city of Carolina Beach. It was founded by Lois Wilson and Floyd Wilson in 1992 and features a collection of historic exhibits highlighting aviation in North and South Carolina. It also features a collection of over fifty-two aircraft, as well. Aircraft that are contained in its collection include a 1953 HOK-1, 1941 CG-15 Waco Combat Glider, 1902 Wright Glider, 1950 T-28B Trojan, 1952 L-19 Bird Dog, 1952 F-86L Sabre Jet, 1948 Midget Mustang and a 1985 F-4S Phantom II. Carolina Beach tate Park is another place in the city that attracts a ton of visitors each and every year. This park cover an area of seven hundred and sixty-one acres and can trace its history back to when the Cape Fear Indians lived in the area. This tribe of indians camped alongside the Cape Fear River and many of its ributaries. When Europeans entered the area in the eighteenth century, this group of Native Americans grew very hostile towards them and participated in an uprising of various Native American tribes. In 1725, the Europeans put down this rebellion and the remaining members of the Cape Fear Indians fled the area. A year later, a permanent settlement was founded along Lower Cape Fear. The area quickly became an important center of commerce and goods such as wood products passed through the area. In 1969, this area was incorporated into Carolina Beach State Park, in order to preserve the natural landscape and protect the ntercoastal waterway.
North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is another popular attraction in Carolina Beach. This aquarium features a two thousand gallon aquarium that holds a variety of saltwater fish. There is also a five hundred gallon Pacific Reef Display that contains an assortment of living coral, cardinal fish, sea anemones, clown fish and wrasses. There is also an Exotic Aquatics display that contains animals that are indigenous to Indo Pacific Ocean areas. These displays contains animals such as spiny lobsters, scorpion fish, red lionfish and other marine animals. Other types of marine life at this aquarium are bass, trout, frogs, snakes, horshoe crabs, sea horses, giant clams, sea urchins and a variety of other marine life. Other key features of North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher include a Spade Fish Sculpture, Open Oceans Gallery, Sharks Tooth Ledge and Coastal Waters Gallery.
The New Hanover County Extension Service Arboretum is often a favorite among many visitors to the Cape Fear area. This arboretum is located on seven aces and
is open to the public on a daily basis. This arboretum was founded in 1989 and contains thirty-three gardens including an aquatic garden, rose, children’s garden, bog, herb and Japanese gardens. There are more than four thousand different varieties of native and foreign plants. A key activity in the park is Art
in the Arboretum. This two day event displays a large amount of art from different artists which are then auctioned off. Its fun for the entire family.
Other attractions in and around Carolina Beach include the Battleship North Carolina, Cape Fear Segway Tours, Burgwin-Wright Museum House, Poplar Grove Plantation, Cape Fear Serpentarium, Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park, Thalian Hall, Henrietta III, Arlie Gardens, Bowman’s At the Beach, Haunted Pub Crawl, Screen Gems Studio, Fort Fisher State Historic Site, Zebulon Latimer House, Tregembo Animal Park, Cape Fear River, Forest Hills, Carolina Heights, Boardwalk Arcade, Federal Point History Center, Michael’s Seafood Restaurant, Ocean Grill, Wheel Fun Rentals, Fat Pelican, El Zarape Mexican Restaurant, Beacon House Inn Bed & Breakfast and Cottages, Beach Side Inn, Savannah Inn, Carolina Beach Hotel and Cabana Suites.