It's the end of July and Summer is still in full swing here in North Carolina. With these sky-high temperatures, cooling off in the waves with a nice ocean breeze is sounding pretty good to me right about now. And the beauty of North Carolina is that the beach is not too far away. If you're in the Triangle area, you can have your feet in the sand in less than three hours.

Whether you're looking for a bustling beach town with plenty of activities or your own quiet, little paradise, the NC coast has it all.

So what are you waiting for? Pack your beach bag and check out our Top 5 North Carolina Beach Spots to find the best beach for you.

1. Wrightsville Beach

If you're in Raleigh, Cary, Durham, or the surrounding areas, Wrightsville Beach is a perfect day trip - you can be there in 2 1/2 hours. There is plenty of public parking and public beach access, so park the car, grab your beach towels, and claim your spot in the sand. If you didn't pack a picnic lunch, head over to the Oceanic and enjoy some fresh seafood with a view of the beach that can't be beat. If you're staying overnight, book a room at the Blockade Runner. This oceanfront boutique hotel has cabanas on the beach, a great pool, and top-notch service.

2. Topsail Beach

A bit further, but still within three hours, is Topsail Beach. Pronounced Top-sul (not Top-sail), this quiet little beach town is a great family location. The island consists of Topsail Beach at the southern end of the island, Surf City in the middle, and North Topsail Beach on the other end. Enjoy the miles of sandy beach or take a walk down the Jolly Roger pier to watch fishermen reel in their catch. Topsail Beach is also very dog friendly, so it's perfect for the fur babies, too.

3. Atlantic Beach

Located off North Carolina's Crystal Coast, Atlantic Beach is a beautiful vacation spot with plenty of things to do besides lounge in the sand. Rent a bicycle and peddle around the beach town or take a stand up paddle board tour of the Crystal Coast. Atlantic Beach is also close to several historic attractions, such as Fort Macon State Park and the quaint town of Beaufort, as well as the wonderful aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.

4. Nags Head

If you're planning a longer beach vacation, a visit to the North Carolina Outer Banks is a must-do. The town of Nags Head is a popular Outer Banks destination. With less development than other coastal spots in North Carolina, the Outer Banks beaches are pristine and sometimes a little wild. If you're looking for something more to do than spend the day in the waves, check out Jockey's Ridge State Park, where the Wright Brothers made history, or journey over to Roanoke Island to visit the historic Festival Park and learn about the early colonial settlement on the island.

5. Ocracoke Island

Accessible only by ferry, Ocracoke Island is a paradise for those beach-goers looking for a quiet respite from the hustle and bustle. The town of Ocracoke is entirely walkable, but it's more fun to bicycle around, so be sure to bring yours or rent one on the island. Protected as part of the Hatteras National Seashore, there is absolutely no development on the beaches. If you need a break from the beach, you can visit the wild ponies or the historic lighthouse. Ocracoke was also home to the notorious pirate Blackbeard, so be sure to visit Teach's Hole to learn more about his life on the island. There are plenty of fantastic places to eat as well, like the Back Porch Restaurant and Wine Bar or Dajio Restaurant, which often features local musicians on the patio.

So, there you have it. I admit I might be a little biased towards my favorite spots. Did I leave yours off the list? Let me know in the comments.

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