Sometimes taking a break from reality and getting outside is just what you need to relax your mind, even if only for a few hours. There's a spot on the southeast coast that will do just that and you'll feel like you've taken a step back in time. This North Carolina state park has an untouched shoreline you can sink your toes into as well as some old ruins to find and explore.

You'll find Fort Macon State Park located in Atlantic Beach. With glorious beach views, wooded forests, and salt marshes, there is no shortage of adventures to take on its shores.

Over one and a half miles of beach for hiking and two nature trails that total about three and a half miles will take you along boardwalks and through a maritime forest. You may even spot one of the 302 species of birds flitting about or dolphins as they splash in the ocean.

Fort Macon might be the star of the show though. A Civil War-era fort built in 1834, officers and soldiers spent much time within its crumbling halls.

The building and its facade have been restored so you can explore the entire interior and get a glimpse of the past.

Fort Macon has five sides and was crafted using brick and stone. There are 26 rooms with walls that are 4.5-feet thick for you to wind through, and you'll even be able to check out the cannons and courtyard.

During the summer, you can watch historic war reenactments that are hosted on the inner court. 

To cool down after adventuring and exploring all the Fort has to offer, taking a dip in the ocean or going fishing might be on the agenda. There are multiple grills and picnic areas in the park which allow guests to cook what they catch.

An education center on-site will teach you more about Fort Macon State Park. You'll learn about its natural history, island ecology, and even have the opportunity to wander museum exhibits that display fort artifacts of the past.

This park is completely free to visit, so you can make an escape without breaking the bank. This could be the first stop on your North Carolina summer bucket list.

Fort Macon State Park

Price: Free

Address: 2303 E. Fort Macon Rd., Atlantic Beach, NC

Why You Need To Go: This park has an untouched beach, a Civil-War era fort you can explore and plenty of trails to get your exercise on.

We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.