Welcome to Ft. Liberty, North Carolina, a haven for military families seeking adventure, relaxation, and unforgettable experiences. Nestled in the heart of this welcoming community, you’ll discover a treasure trove of day trip destinations that cater to solo parents and families alike. Join us as we embark on a journey of exploration, from sandy beaches to majestic mountains, picturesque waterfalls, and family-friendly attractions. Let’s create cherished memories together in this charming region.
One of the best ways to create lasting memories and explore your new surroundings is by going on day trips. These excursions are perfect for single parents looking to bond with their children and for families seeking quality time together. Before you hit the road, consider packing essentials like snacks, water, first-aid supplies, and a sense of adventure.
Ft. Liberty’s Natural Wonders – Waterfall Road Trips
There are over 250 waterfalls in NC! If you want a specific curated road trip, you can hit up to 8 beautiful scenic waterfalls in 5 hours. This list consists of Linville Falls, Crabtree Falls, Looking Glass Falls, Moore Cove Falls, Cove Creek Falls, Sliding Rock (our favorite!), Dry Falls, and Upper Whitewater Falls (source: https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/north-carolina/nc-waterfalls-road-trip/)
If you’re wanting to make a Waterfall Weekend trip, consider checking out the North Carolina ByWays provided by the NC Department of Transportation. On pg. 18 you will find the Waterfall Byway which leads you through the ultimate NC waterfall road trip of 200 waterfalls. But wait, there’s more! This handy NC guide features multiple scenic routes throughout the state for any nature loving family. The Sandhills Scenic Drive and Averasboro Battlefield Scenic Byway are two close-to-home routes.
Beach Day! Kure Beach at Ft. Fisher is barely Two Hours Away
If your family loves sandy shores and salty breezes, a visit to Ft. Fisher is a must. This beach not only offers sun and surf but also extends military discounts as a heartwarming gesture of gratitude for your service.
Ft. Fisher isn’t just any beach; it’s a destination filled with history, natural beauty, and exciting opportunities for family fun. Here’s what you can expect:
1. The Beach: Spend a day at Ft. Fisher building sandcastles, swimming in the gentle waves, and picnicking with your loved ones. The wide, sandy shores provide ample space for families to spread out and enjoy their beach day to the fullest. Don’t forget to bring the hot dogs! Fort Fisher State Recreation Area has charcoal friendly grills and a picnic area. This beach is pet-friendly with watering stations as well.
2. Southport – A Ferry Ride Away: Want to add a touch of cinematic charm to your visit? Ft. Fisher is just a short ferry ride away from Southport, a quaint coastal town famous for being the filming location of “Safe Haven.” Stroll along the charming streets, visit the picturesque waterfront, and relive moments from the beloved movie. Some of our favorite shops are The Christmas Shop (there’s a candy store in the back!) and Bullfrog Corner.
3. Free Parking: Ft. Fisher offers free public parking, making it convenient for military families to access the beach without worrying about additional expenses. This perk adds to the appeal of this already budget-friendly destination. Anywhere else in the Carolina Beach/Wilmington area has paid parking which can add up quickly.
4. Ft. Fisher Museum: While at Ft. Fisher, take a detour to the Ft. Fisher State Historic Site and Museum. Explore the exhibits and learn about the area’s Civil War history, including the pivotal Battle of Ft. Fisher. It’s an educational opportunity for the whole family.
5. Camping: For the adventurous souls among you, Ft. Fisher allows camping right by the beach, and Carolina State Park allows camping directly on the beach. Imagine falling asleep to the sound of ocean waves and waking up to breathtaking sunrises over the Atlantic. It’s a unique experience that will leave you with lasting memories. Ft. Fisher is pet-friendly!
If you’re looking to savor some local flavors as part of your beach experience, be sure to check out these dining options:
Britt’s Donuts on the Boardwalk: Treat your taste buds to the sweet delight of fresh, melt-in-your-mouth donuts available at Britt’s Donuts. They are a cherished tradition on the boardwalk. They are a cash-only operation so make sure you bring plenty!
Island Burgers and Bites: Believe it or not, some of the best burgers can be found in a gas station! Island Burgers and Bites offer delicious burgers that will satisfy your cravings.
Kate’s Pancake House: Start your day with a hearty breakfast at Kate’s Pancake House, known for their mouth watering pancakes and a cozy, family-friendly atmosphere.
Ft. Fisher is more than just a beach; it’s a complete coastal experience for military families, where history, relaxation, and fun come together in a beautiful setting. So, pack your sunscreen and towels, and get ready for an unforgettable day at Ft. Fisher.
Camping and Mountains:
For families who crave the great outdoors, Ft. Liberty is surrounded by lush mountains and offers excellent camping opportunities. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a newbie, the serene mountain landscapes and clear night skies make for a memorable experience. There are plenty of options for cabin rentals, campground camping, dispersed camping, group camping, and RV camping. Visit the National Forest in North Carolina website for more information on sites, rules, and how to make reservations.
Thrills and Adventures – Carowinds
If you’re in the mood for thrills and laughter, Carowinds amusement park is a must-visit. Packed with family-friendly attractions, it promises an action-packed day for everyone. From roller coasters to live entertainment, Carowinds has it all. Check their website for military discounts.
If you like Spooky Season like me, don’t miss out on Scarowinds! This is the highly anticipated seasonal transformation of a screaming good time that offers mazes, scare zones, shows, and more. Get your tickets and Fast Lane passes early- they go quick!
If you are an animal lover, you’re in luck! There are quite a few options to see animals near Ft. Liberty, here are some of our favorites:
NC Zoo: Located in Asheboro, the NC Zoo is a fantastic place to explore the animal kingdom. Consider getting a membership to enjoy year-round visits and skip-the-line privileges. With the NC Zoo membership you also get a discount for the NC Aquarium. If you’re planning on taking either of these trips more than once a year, it pays for itself. Bring your walking shoes- the NC Zoo has 500 developed acres making it the world’s largest natural habitat zoo.
NC Zoo Pro-Tip: The Zoo is sectioned by continent. Park in the North America Parking lot. Once inside the Zoo, take the tram to the Africa Tram Stop. Work your way back through the Zoo going through Africa, Asia, and North America. Then voila- you don’t have to take the tram back to your car at a very congested time.
You can do this the other way as well- park at Africa, ride the tram to North America, and work your way south. However, keep in mind North America houses the Garden Friends Playground. This will allow you some rest time while the kids play before you load back up into the car. Entrance times, shuttle times, and tram times vary throughout the year. Always check the times before you go!
NC Aquarium: Dive into the wonders of the deep at the NC Aquarium. Like the zoo, memberships and discounts are available, making it a budget-friendly option. Marvel at colorful fish, playful otters, an albino alligator, and even sharks. There are plenty of hands-on opportunities for little ones and different activities throughout the year. You can even plan a birthday party or participate in a sleepover!
North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher Pro Tip- get your tickets online in advance! This will help you have a hassle free entry the day of.
A little closer to home with Aloha Safari Park: Whether you want to feed a giraffe or invite a zebra to give you a nuzzle in the drive-through safari, this park has some amazing animals! Aloha Safari Park houses over 300 animals and they specialize in caring for animals that came from homes where they were not taken care of previously.
Our State Capitol: Raleigh, NC
While there are tons of things to do in Raleigh, we usually go for the museums and the food. Choosing between the dinosaur and the life-size Connect Four game can be hard, but somebody’s gotta do it! Luckily Raleigh isn’t too far away.
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences: Welcome to the Southeast’s largest natural history museum. Yes, there’s a dinosaur. This museum has it all: a kid-friendly discovery room, an arthropod zoo, a nature research center, a live sloth, and more. They also host multiple events throughout the year that cater to all audiences.
Marbles Kids Museum: Ever wanted to play chess with life-sized pieces? This is your kind of place! From a pirate ship playland to interactive brain-nurturing hands-on activities, this is a great place to take the whole family. The grownups have just as much fun as the kids.
Time to pack your bags
Now it’s time to pack your bags, bring your sense of wonder, and embark on these incredible journeys. The adventure awaits, and the memories are yours to make. Welcome to North Carolina!
Hey there! I’m Andrea McGillivray, a military spouse with over 20 years of firsthand experience navigating the unique challenges faced by military families. I’m honored to be a contributing blogger for Pioneer Military Credit, a trusted provider of personal military loans for service members. Pioneer is committed to helping military families navigate the challenges of military life through its financial products and educational resources on its website.