What You Need To Know About Surf City

What You Need to Know About Surf City 

This week we're putting the spotlight on Surf City, North Carolina, the town that's front and center when you drive over the bridge onto Topsail Island. Being at the heart of the island has its advantages. It's where you'll find most of the island's shops, restaurants and other points of interest along with all of the beautiful barrier island beach your heart desires.

Surf City is a small, rural beach community and is the largest of the three cities on Topsail. It's seen as the commercial hub of the island offering a large array of amenities for both living and vacationing. Staying in a Surf City vacation rental ensures that you will be close to all of the city activities. Visitors and vacationers enjoy miniature golf, surf shops, gift shops, and an area favorite, Soundside Park, which offers picnic areas, playground, public boat ramps and boardwalk. Surf City has plenty of bike paths making the navigation of Surf City's parks and 25 public beach accesses a true pleasure. Then there's the main attraction—the breathtaking beach with pristine sands and sparkling blue-green Atlantic waters.

Ready to learn more about Surf City? Then let's get started by delving into more of the highlights of this Topsail Island town and all it has to offer you!


About Surf City 

About Surf City, NC


Located just off the southeastern North Carolina coast, halfway between Jacksonville and Wilmington, NC, Surf City is easily accessible from I-40 and US Route 17 via NC Highways 50 and 210. Start your visit at the Welcome Center, located on the oceanfront in the heart of town to get to know it a little better. Surf City has been the commercial heart of Topsail Island for over 65 years. The town has grown from a small fishing village that was home to a handful of families to a year-round community of about 2,500, which of course swells well beyond that number with seasonal visitors and vacationers in the summer months. Visitors enjoy Surf City as "the way the beach used to be,” with its quiet, serene, peaceful atmosphere and quintessential beach vibe that's hard to find in this day and age. 
Lying west of Surf City, Topsail Sound separates the island portion of the town from the mainland. This narrow body of water with its nearby creeks, estuaries and wetlands provides the perfect setting for canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, jet skiing and fishing. Both Soundside Park and Kenneth Batts Family Park offer playgrounds, piers, boardwalks and spectacular views of the setting sun. From maritime forests and wetlands to waterways and pristine natural environment and broad biodiversity, Surf City offers up an idyllic setting to explore the sights and sounds of an extensive variety of plant and animal life that only add to the outdoor adventure that awaits you. It's easy to see why Surf City is a family favorite beach destination with abundant opportunities for family fun in the Carolina sun.

But wait, there's more! 

Things to Do 

Attractions & Things To Do in Surf City

Surf City Beach: Miles of pristine sands, sparkling Atlantic waters, soothing salt air and panoramic coastal views as far as at the eye can see. What's not to love? Shelling, sunbathing and strolling the sand are some of the best ways to spend your time here.

Shopping: The central business district offers a surprising choice of shopping opportunities. Shops range from boutiques that carry a variety of distinctive gifts to specialty shops featuring foods, resort wear and items for recreational activities. 

Dining: A variety of indoor and outdoor dining facilities features coastal Carolina cuisine. Local fare ranges from fresh, locally-caught seafood and fish to uniquely seasoned surf, turf and poultry. Whatever you enjoy and whatever your budget allows, Surf City can provide it. Once you get a taste of Topsail, you’ll be hooked! 
Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital: Surf City is a sanctuary for loggerhead and other varieties of endangered sea turtles that typically nest on its shores from May through October. Surf City is now the home of the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, whose volunteers care for injured sea turtles and then return them to their ocean home. 

On-the-Water Activities: You name it, Surf City's got it! Paddle your way around the local waters, take a boat tour or scenic cruise, go surfing, take a charter fishing excursion, or whatever aquatic adventure you desire. Enjoy your favorite or try something totally new.

Topsail Art Galleries: Surf City is home to some of Topsail Island's favorite art and cultural experiences. Take in a local art exhibit or try your artistic hand at a painting or pottery class. There's a little bit of everything for you to experience and explore in the world of art on the island. Local favorites include the Seacoast Art Gallery and the Topsail Art Gallery. 

Soundside Park: Families love Soundside Park for its awesome amenities and stunning views. The Surf City Town Council along with the former Volunteer Surf City EMS Squad combined funds for the playground at Soundside Park. Complete with a climbing wall, a climbing fish, multiple slides, and swings, the playground is a fun addition to the already wonderful park. Also for your enjoyment there are boardwalks around the sound's edge, several viewing decks and a fishing pier. This beautiful park overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway has picnic shelters available for reservation for birthday parties and other family gatherings. There is also an amphitheater available for reservation for wedding ceremonies. 

Surf City Ocean Pier: Take in the views or drop a line off the pier and see what's biting. The Surf City Pier offers fishing fun for everyone from novice to expert. The Surf City Pier was Topsail Island's first ocean pier, originally built in 1948. It has been owned and operated by the Lore family since 1973. Though it has weathered many storms (some better than others), Hurricane Fran destroyed it in 1996. It was totally rebuilt and reopened in August of 1997, looking much like it does today including a few additions. The Surf City Pier comes complete with large assortment of bait, fully stocked tackle shop, an eclectic collection of souvenirs, fresh ground chuck burger's from the grill, and an outside covered dining area. Don't forget to take a stroll under the wooden pier and experience what's known as the Surf City Cathedral. It's a photo op waiting to happen! The lighting and shadows are picturesque and ever-changing throughout the day. 

Where to Stay

Where to Stay in Surf City

Surf City rentals are situated right where you want to be if you want close, convenient access to the heart of Topsail Island and easy access to both ends of the island including North Topsail Beach and Topsail Beach. With plenty of rental options to choose from, you're sure to find the perfect fit for you and your guests. From pet-friendly and family-friendly to oceanfront and soundfront, plus all of the awesome amenities you deserve on a beach vacation, you're able to customize your stay and tailor it to your needs and wants.  

Enjoy accommodations with the extras you desire during your hard-earned vacation. From condos and duplexes to single-family homes and everything in between, you won't run out of choices when it comes to feeling right at home on Topsail Island. Having enough bedrooms and bathrooms to make your stay comfortable is essential to any successful and stress-free vacation. Amenities that matter to you is what will set your vacation apart from the rest. Elevator? Pool? Boat dock? Two-car garage? Direct beach access? Turn-down service? Dog-friendly? You want it, we've got it right here for you in Surf City. Take a look at what we have to offer and see what catches your eye.

Where to Live 

Living in Surf City, North Carolina 

There are many draws to beach life in Surf City, North Carolina and island living on Topsail Island. The town motto is fittingly "Big enough to be competitive and small enough to be happy." The climate throughout the year is moderate, with mild winters and summers, and broad shoulder seasons. The cost of living throughout the region and the state make it ideal for young professionals seeking to relocate from urban areas, for retirees, or for the "early outs,” wishing to enjoy a lifestyle change.
Surf City is a coastal town situated in Pender and Onslow counties. The Pender County portion of Surf City is part of the Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area, while the Onslow County portion is part of the Jacksonville Metropolitan Statistical Area. Pender County Schools are part of the public education system with a nationally recognized high school. Pender County Tourism has the resources for prospective newcomers or business owners and operators and are a wonderful resource to get you started in the right direction when it comes to life on Topsail Island. They can also help answer any relocation questions you may have. 
Century 21 Action Topsail Real Estate has all of the home buying resources you need to make a successful move to Surf City. Peruse Topsail real estate listings, property sales on and off the island, and helpful advice every step of the way. Check out our real estate blog for practical articles with a local and national focus, and feel free to contact our knowledgable and experienced real estate agents with any questions you have or assistance you need. We're here to help!  

Swinging Bridge (Photo Credit: Surf City Swing Bridge Facebook Page)

What About the Topsail Island Swing Bridge in Surf City?

You may or may not know that the NC Department of Transportation is building a bridge to replace the existing swing bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway on N.C. 50/210 in Surf City. The existing bridge—one of two bridges providing access to Topsail Island—is a steel truss swing span bridge that more than 60 years old and due for replacement. The new bridge will have a 65-foot vertical clearance that will not need to open for vessels in the waterway, eliminating vehicle and vessel traffic delays from the bridge opening and closing.

There are a lot of mixed emotions about replacing the swing bridge, as its historical significance has been a memorable part of the Topsail Island landscape for a long time. This beloved landmark has seen four generations of travelers going to and fro from the mainland to the island. If you'd like to learn more about the strong emotions behind this locally loved structure, check out the full Story Behind the Swing Bridge at Surf City by Our State magazine. It's a good read!

According to W. Jay Boyd, operations manager with Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc. who has been contracted for the bridge replacement, "There should be virtually no disruption of traffic to the beach during construction, with the possible exception of some minor off-season detours." Completion is expected by September 2019. "We are targeting finishing in advance of the project completion date,” Boyd added.

For the latest updates on the current bridge replacement and swing bridge status and progress, you can visit the NC DOT Topsail Island Bridge Replacement Project page

We hope you've learned a little more about Surf City, NC. Isn't it time you planned your first or next visit? Yes!

Have you visited or vacationed in Surf City? Tell us what you love about this Topsail Island town.

What You Need to Know About Surf City 

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