Retro Coastal Carolinas Destinations

Relive the simple pleasures of bygone vacations with these classic diversions.

As the world speeds up with ever-changing technology and longer to-do lists, wouldn’t it be great to slow things down and get back to basics? Unplug and enjoy the charms of a vintage vacation. 

Go Fly a Kite

When is the last time you lifted a kite into the wind and watched it soar overhead? If you dream about the simple, tech-free pleasures of kite flying, Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head is for you. This North Carolina State Park protects the largest living sand dune on the Atlantic Coast. Located between Roanoke Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, the top of the dune offers great views for sunsets and perfect kite-flying conditions. Buy a kite in Nags Head before getting to the park, and be sure to have comfortable shoes for walking in sand (the sand temperature can get up to 30 degrees hotter than the ambient temperature).

A few miles north, relive the glory days (they weren’t that long ago!) of early flight and flying machines at Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills. These windy sand dunes were the site of the first successful airplane flight by Wilbur and Orville Wright. Park rangers lead entertaining tours along the original flight path of the world’s first flight.

Shag Dancing

A true coastal Carolina tradition, the “Carolina Shag” is an important component in every vintage-inspired beach vacation. Believed to be created in Myrtle Beach, shag dancing started with teenagers in the 1940s who blended elements of swing dancing with the emerging music of Motown and rhythm and blues. Soon, the new dance spread to boardwalks all along the coast. Today, this partner dance accompanied by beach music is named South Carolina’s official state dance.

If you want to sit back and see some of the best shag dancing, the National Shag Dance Championships finals take place in Myrtle Beach Mar. 8-10 this year. Want to try it for yourself? Head to North Myrtle Beach and visit Fat Harold’s Beach Club any time of the year. Or plan your visit around Society of Stranders’ events. Their Spring Safari and Fall Migration are 10 days of shag dancing fun along with plenty of instructors on hand to teach anyone how to do the dance.


Take a drive down Memory Lane as you wander through a classic car collection. The Wheels of Yesteryear museum in Myrtle Beach displays a private collection now open to the public. It currently holds 50 classic, American-made cars where visitors can dream of what is was like to cruise beside the beach in a convertible with the top down. Want to see even more classic cars in Myrtle Beach? The Myrtle Beach Car Club plays host to Car Club Cruise-Ins year round, but you might want to plan a visit to the club’s Back to the Summer Car Show at Broadway at the Beach in May or attend the Chicora Car Club’s annual Cruise to the Coast Classic Car/Truck Show held at Barefoot Landing in October.

Bike Riding

For many of us, riding our bikes and feeling the breeze on our faces was one of the greatest childhood joys. Recapture that joy when you stay in a truly bike-friendly destination, Hilton Head Island. With more than 60 miles of paved paths, biking is definitely one of the most popular vacation pursuits in this coastal community. A scenic ride in Harbour Town at sunset is highly recommended.

Whether you want to shop, enjoy an al fresco dinner at one of Hilton Head’s many to-notch restaurants, or spend the day on the beach — you can get anywhere on a bike on this island. Don’t have a bike, or just don’t want to transport your own? No worries. With more than 30 bike rental shops in the community, you can easily find one to rent. 

Explore the area’s cultural history with a bike tour through the Heritage Library Foundation and learn more about the Gullah community, descendants of slaves who lived in the area, as well as local fishing and farming industries.  

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