Escaping the City with a North Carolina Camping & Beach Experience at Croatan National Forest

This could have been a story about an awesome trip to the Outer Banks, the famous barrier islands that are a hugely popular vacation destination and which inspired those ubiquitous OBX bumper stickers.

But it takes a long time to drive all the way out there, and during my North Carolina visit, I didn’t have the time to make the extra-long voyage. So after passing through the city of New Bern, a friend and I settled for the next best thing – some camping in Croatan National Forest and a stop in some beach towns on barrier islands near Bogue Sound in the southeast part of the state.

Camping at Croatan National Forest

The camping experience itself wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. We drove up, set up the tent, did a bit of hiking in the woods, enjoyed the scenery, started a fire, roasted marshmallows. The usual. But I loved it because any chance to get out of the sometimes-suffocating city environment for some peace and quiet and nature relaxation is very welcome in my world.

croatan national forest camping

north carolina sky



For more specific info on the campgrounds of Croatan National Forest, check out the official page.

Heading to the Beach!

The next morning, it was off to the town of Atlantic Beach for an ocean visit. The cool thing about this part of North Carolina is that the ocean is less than an hour’s drive from the national forest. Camping and beaches in one day!

So much for that “no dogs allowed” sign.



I cannot overstate how much I love the beach. As someone who grew up inland and only saw the ocean once before age 25, every beach visit is a big deal and something I never take lightly.


Even the simplicity of shells and rocks in the sand can be fascinating.


It’s a shame no one was playing volleyball here. I would have joined in and dominated the competition.


Vehicles on the beach. Apparently this is a normal thing in the south. It always seems really odd to me.


Near the beach I encountered my first-ever duck-crossing sign.


Wouldn’t it be great to own a beach house?


I always love all the little surf shops near the ocean.

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But this one’s a little lost. Someone should tell them they’re next to the Atlantic Ocean. What an embarrassing gaffe.


Before leaving the beach, I had to leave evidence of my visit. It didn’t remain intact for long, but that’s ok. I’ll be back.

quirky travel guy beach

About Quirky Travel Guy

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based freelance writer & fan of indie rock, road trips, ice cream, squirrels on power lines, runaway shopping carts, and six-way intersections. Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, which may earn me a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.

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  1. Having the campsites near the beach is so convenient! It’s like two vacations in one. Although you didn’t make it to the Outer Banks, Atlantic Beach looked like a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Scott,
    Glad you enjoyed your trip to NC. I know the places you visited well. They don’t really allow a lot of traffic on the beaches year round because of the turtles. Did you get a chance to go check out Fort Macon while you were at Atlantic Beach?


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