Road Trip to Carolina Beach with the Mazda CX-9 Signature

Ever since my parents and my sister (+ her fam) moved to North Carolina, we’ve been talking about doing a Girls’ Trip but it’s never worked out. This year, even in the midst of a pandemic, we found a way to make it work and we had THE BEST time spending a few days in Carolina Beach, North Carolina!

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Smiling family in Mazda CX-9 Signature

We partnered with Mazda to drive the 2020 CX-9 Signature SUV and I was seriously impressed! There was plenty of room for the six of us and our luggage (I originally wasn’t convinced it would all fit, but it did – thank you, packing cubes!!). Once we got everything loaded up, we hit the road . . . to Starbucks, obv . . . and then to the beach!

Girl in carseat with headphones and iPad in Mazda CX-9 Signature

Ellie’s car-seat went in easily and she was super excited to have a cupholder in the center console where she could reach it!

two girls eating a picnic lunch

Since we’re not really doing the indoor dining thing right now, we got take-out and ate it outside at a closed Chick-fil-A – yay for traveling on a Sunday when Chick-fil-A is closed!

three girls happy to be at the beach

And before long, we arrived at the Courtyard Carolina Beach! It’s just under four hours from our house to the beach so it’s perfect for a long weekend getaway.

two girls coloring in a hotel room

The littles broke out the coloring supplies while the adults unpacked and got everything settled. This Melissa and Doug Color-by-Number set turned out to be the favorite- and it was easy for them to share.

two girls enjoying a snack on an oceanfront balcony

Hannah and Ellie made off with the bag of Gardetto’s and enjoyed their snack on the balcony, taking in the beautiful ocean views.

girls at the beach, one in a mask

The Courtyard Carolina Beach sits on the Carolina Beach boardwalk so it’s super convenient to not only go to the beach but also to walk to the restaurants and attractions (when they’re open again) on the boardwalk.

Carolina Beach from above

Looks like it’s going to be a great day at the beach!!

Beach chair rental at Carolina Beach

One thing that I’ve learned after traveling to the beach countless times with so many kids is that it’s so much easier to rent beach chairs and umbrellas at the beach instead of lugging all that gear around! Yes, it does cost a bit more than bringing your own, but I’ve always found it to be well worth the money. Plus, you don’t get a bunch of sand in your hotel room and car from sandy gear.

Relaxing at Carolina Beach

She loves a good beach day!

2 girls running around the beach

While there were others at the beach, people did a wonderful job respecting boundaries and gave a wide berth when walking by or setting up their beach gear.

two girls on an empty beach

These two are already making plans to live at the beach when they grow up – it’s most definitely their happy place!

two girls eating pizza at the beach

We ordered pizza for lunch and had it delivered to the hotel lobby- and Auntie Janne ran back to the hotel to grab it and bring it to the beach. It was an awesome choice for a physically distant, outdoor meal, and the pizza was still piping hot when we started eating!

Girl eating Britt's Donuts on oceanfront balcony

Britt’s Donuts is a Carolina Beach institution and we enjoyed them several times on our trip! Our hotel was less than a five-minute walk from Britt’s and hot donuts were the breakfast of choice while we were there.

Girl with boogie board

Back to the beach! We rented boogie boards one day and the kids (both big and little) had a blast with them.

Girl doing beach yoga

Ellie used one to do some beach yoga. ????

Girls getting italian ice from cart on beach

The Island Ice Factory and Italian ice carts were another favorite on this trip and we enjoyed delicious treats from both!

two girls pulling boogie boards in crashing waves

These two girls loved pulling the boogie boards around . . .

Carolina Beach kids

And sitting or laying on them while the waves crashed.

adult and child boogie boarding

Auntie Janne and Lexie were much more adventurous and took the boards out farther!

Three adults and three children at the beach

This trip to the beach was just what we all needed. It was a great break from the monotony of life at home and constantly being stuck in the house. It was a literal breath of fresh air – the salty, beach kind, that’s my absolute favorite, and I’m so glad that we finally had the chance to make our girls’ trip a reality!

Mazda CX-9 Signature

On our way back to real life, we stopped to grab a quick lunch in Wilmington.

Smiling girl eating nachos outdoors

We originally planned to get our food to-go and eat at a park, or in a parking lot, but they had an open patio area that worked out perfectly.

Mazda CX-9 Signature overhead camera view

One of my favorite features of the Mazda CX-9 Signature is the overhead camera view. I’m used to having a back-up camera (and honestly don’t know what I did before I had one!) but the overhead view allows you to see so much more!

Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD

Check out this beauty! The Mazda CX-9 Signature is the perfect SUV for a road-trip with the family. It’s not super big but still manages to have plenty of room for 6 people + all their gear – and trust me, we don’t pack that light! ????

I was really impressed with all of the safety features in this crossover SUV: lane-keep assist, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring- so many features to help keep your family safe! Plus, with a turbo, this thing is so much more fun to drive than my usual minivan!

Are you team SUV or team minivan?? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. Kendal
    August 21, 2020 / 12:05 pm

    What a great trip! BTW- Flaming Amy’s is in my top 5 favorite places to eat. When we go to the coast, it’s a given. I want that car!

    • Jennifer
      August 21, 2020 / 1:36 pm

      It was our first time at Flaming Amy’s but it certainly won’t be the last!!!

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