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Visited by tens of thousands of vacationers each year, Hatteras Island is easily one of the most charming places on the East Coast. To help you make the most of your trip, we’ve put together a list of 15 things you MUST do during your next Hatteras Island vacation.
Partake in all of these activities within a week-long stay, and you’re bound to feel a sense of accomplishment knowing that you’ve taken full advantage of your vacation days on this alluring, ever changing barrier island.
Some 1,250,000 bricks were used in the construction of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in the United States. If you’ve vacationed on Hatteras Island before and have yet to visit this iconic black and white striped structure, then you’ve been missing out!
Snag a family photo in-front of the lighthouse, visit the gift shop, and pay $8 per adult to climb the 200+ stairs to the top. The view from the apex is well-worth the hike! Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is open year-round, however you can only climb the structure during the spring, summer and fall months.
Completely free to visit, the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, located near the ferry docks to Ocracoke Island, tells the story of the area’s rich maritime history. About 600 shipwrecks have occurred off the coastline of Hatteras Island as a result of Diamond Shoals, an area of continually shifting sandbars that extend 14 miles from the North Carolina coastline into the Atlantic Ocean.
Within the museum you can view old Coast Guard memorabilia, artifacts from the various shipwrecks that have occurred over the years, and you can get an up close look at the 12-foot-tall lens that was made in 1854 and used in Cape Hatteras Lighthouse for many years.
This one is a no brainer. If you vacation on Hatteras Island, you have to citi prepaid debit card customer service at least a few hours of your vacation to some rest and relaxation on the area’s award-winning beaches. Comb the shore in search of lost and forgotten treasure; grab a board and try your hand at catching a wave; or chill out under an umbrella with a cold drink in your hand.
The beach is only a few minutes away from wherever you are on Hatteras Island, and best of all, it’s totally free to enjoy!
(Photo by BobIsTraveling, Flickr)
Some 400+ species of birds have been spotted at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, which is the patch of island located just south of Oregon Inlet and the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers many opportunities to learn about the area’s superb wildlife diversity and unmatched natural beauty.
Be sure to bring along your binoculars and take a leisurely stroll down the soundside boardwalk near the The Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. Also, don’t miss the small turtle pond near the beginning of the boardwalk, located directly across from the building that houses the bathrooms.
Hatteras Island is encircled by water, and is a haven for kayak enthusiasts of all skill levels and age brackets. Explore the lesser-known, nooks and crannies of the island by means of either a single or tandem kayak. Or, take a Hobie fishing kayak out on the water and try your luck at landing the big one. (Be sure to bring along your North Carolina Fishing License!)
Kitty Hawk Kites has an assortment of kayaks that you can either rent or purchase. Visit kittyhawk.com/rentals for more information.
Kayak & Adventure Rentals
(Photo by NCDOT, Flickr)
Only accessible by boat, Ocracoke Island is a remarkably unique place to visit. Drive your car onto the ferry at the end of Hatteras Island and take a free ferry ride to Ocracoke. The boat ride typically takes anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes depending on the weather and time of day.
Many quaint shops and galleries fill this isolated slice of the North Carolina coastline. Be sure to check out the relatively small, all-white Ocracoke Lighthouse during your excursion. Also, be sure you don’t miss the last ferry ride of the day on the way back or you’ll be forced to spend the night on the island!
Over 100 local and regional artists are represented within this historic replica of the 1874 Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station. Browse the Pea Island Art Galleries expansive offering of watercolors, oils and acrylics, sculpture, jewelry and untold other beautifully inspirational & tempting works of local art.
For gallery hours and additional information, call 252-987-2879 or visit their Facebook page.
(Photo by Ken Lund, Flickr)
The Oregon Inlet Life-Saving Station is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is one of the most distinctive buildings on the Outer Banks. An estimated $700,000 was spent restoring the exterior and interior of the building not so many years ago, and during the renovation, the structure was raised about ten feet off the ground and placed on pilings, allowing outer banks in november things to do to blow freely underneath.
Located just south of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, be sure to stop by the Oregon Inlet Life-Saving Station and take a photo of yourself and a friend with the structure in the background. Consider snagging your photo about an hour before sunset to enjoy the best lighting of the day!
A place for all ages to enjoy and learn about the ocean and wetlands, play, learn and most important of all, have fun. Located within walking distance of central Hatteras Village, the Hatteras Island Ocean Center is a terrific resource for locals and visitors alike.
The Ocean Center is a non-profit 501(c)(3), with ambitious plans of expanding from a single multi-story building to a much bigger area attraction. They have hopes of one day adding a world-class fishing pier, pier house, bathhouse, beach volleyball court and more as funding allows. Open from the beginning of March through the month of October.
Probably one of the coolest experiences available during your Hatteras vacation. Explore the Buxton Woods Coastal Reserve and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore by horseback! Enjoy the barrier island’s natural beauty from an entirely different perspective.
Your guided horseback tour will take you through Buxton Woods for 45 minutes, then you’ll ride your trusty horse over the rolling sand dunes and onto the beach! Hatteras Island beach horseback riding adventures are available through Kitty Hawk Kites.
Horseback Riding Tours
Opened in 1987, the Frisco Native American Museum is a non-profit educational foundation with a 501(c)(3) status. Headquartered in a building which is nearly a hundred years old, there are few structures on Hatteras Island that were built in the early 1900s that are still standing.
Open year-round, the Frisco Native American Museum holds a prized collection of Native American artifacts from Hatteras Island as well as other American Indian cultures. At the time of writing this post, admission to the museum is $5 per person, $15 per household, and $3 for seniors. Open every day except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Closed on Mondays.
With massive glass windows overlooking the scenic Pamlico Sound and a spacious outdoor seating area, Good Winds Restaurant is one of the very best spots to enjoy a sunset on the Outer Banks. The eatery is located on the second story of the Waves Village shopping complex, right above one of Kitty Hawk Kites’ signature retail stores.
Open for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch, the restaurant’s menu consists of a variety of items including sandwiches, salads, and signature seafood entrees. Closed from December through February, Good Winds Restaurant is open every day of the week.
(Photo by the National Park Service)
Once you wander down Buxton Woods Trail for several minutes, it’s easy to forget that you’re on a thin barrier island that’s surrounded by water and covered in sand.
Take in the diverse maritime forest ecosystem up close, listen to the birds chirping, and traverse a few of the highest points on Hatteras Island. The start and end of the trail’s loop is at the Buxton Woods picnic area.
(Photo by Our State Magazine)
Don’t let your Hatteras vacation pass you by without trying one of Orange Blossom Bakery and Cafe’s famous apple uglies, the restaurant’s signature menu item.
These pastries are one of the ugliest baked goods you’ll ever see – they also happen to be one of the best tasting baked goods you’ll ever digest as well! They’re seriously good, and people drive from as far away as Corolla to savor them. Be sure to get to the bakery early in order to beat the crowd!
Hatteras Island is known for being one of the premier kiteboarding destination locations in the world. Take advantage of the area’s ideal conditions and either learn how to kiteboard from a PASA certified school, or stop in at Waves Village Watersports Resort or the Canadian Hole and watch others strap into a specially design board and fly through the air with the help of a massive kiteboarding kite.
If you are an experienced rider and have your own gear (or wish to rent some from Kitty Hawk Kites), be sure take advantage of the free launch site at Waves Village!
If you love beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the water, and enjoy places where nearly everyone you’ll meet loves pets, a dog friendly trip to the Outer Banks could be the perfect vacation for you!
We got a tiny taste of what the Outer Banks offers when a mechanical issue on our boat (also our home) caused us to hunker down there for repairs.
Since we weren’t going to be sailing for a while, we rented a car and did a whirlwind tour of the Outer Banks with our dog, Honey.
What would we find when we arrived in the Outer Banks? Our travels through Beaufort, North Carolina had exposed us to tales of the state’s most famous pirate, Blackbeard (or Edward Teach, as his mother called him). His spirit (or at least his name) appears everywhere in the Outer Banks.
Aviation enthusiasts will remember the Outer Banks as the site of the Wright Brothers’ first flight.
And I remember being fascinated in middle school with tales of the lost English colony of Roanoke Island. The only clue to the disappearance of more than 100 colonists was the word “Croatoan” carved into the rock. Even today, there isn’t enough archaeological evidence to know what happened.
Some argue that the colonists assimilated into the indigenous Algonquin community. Others point to the poor relations the first colonists had with the original inhabitants in arguing that the colonists were killed or simply starved without outside support.
Four hundred years later, it’s possible we’ll never know.
Would the modern Outer Banks show any signs of its historical and mysterious past? Or would it look like other beach communities we had visited? It was time to find out!
The Outer Banks (or OBX) is a series of barrier islands. Well, not entirely islands. The Northern Outer Banks now connect to the mainland after years of storm damage. The northernmost peninsula lies just south of Virginia Beach and near the more-interesting-than-it-sounds Dismal Swamp.
North Carolina Route 12 connects most of the island settlements. It ends at the inlets where ferry service picks up until the road starts again on the next island. And yes, North Carolina ferries are all pet friendly!
Until the 1930s no bridges reached the Outer Banks. The only access was by boat. As a result, the accent of some of the natives is quite peculiar, sounding more like the British Isles than the rest of Outer banks in november things to do Carolina.
One thing the Outer Banks does share with the rest of the South is a welcoming hospitality, especially if you’re accompanied pnb saving account interest rate calculator a furry friend.
We tried to pick up lunch from a local business on our way home from our OBX vacation, back to Raleigh. We wanted to shop and support local.
Unfortunately we learned both local businesses offering sandwiches to go in Nags Head on our way out of town were temporarily closed.
The summer, which is this “seasonal” destination’s peak tourism time when kids are out of school, is probably exhausting for people who work in the area. We were there the first five days of October and both delis we called were closed because the staff was out of town for family vacation.
And hey, they deserve a break after a few busy months!
Overall it wasn’t an issue, we were just bummed we couldn’t try these two places.
We don’t imagine a bigger restaurant with more people running it would close for a week’s vacation. However, smaller restaurants may take advantage of time during shoulder season to close for a few day to treat employees to time off after working their butts off during summer.
Your chances for reservations where you want to dine or partake in water sports, for example, may increase during October in the Outer Banks. This is also a result of there being less people in OBX in October.
For instance, we did a beginner hang gliding experience with Kitty Hawk Kites (read where is woodforest national bank located for more info about that). We were grateful we didn’t have to contend with high booking season wells fargo bank branch locations near me this!
There were also many restaurants where we benefited from simply walking in and being seated, as opposed to during peak season when you may need a reservation. You would potentially have to book a reservation way in advance.
Additionally, you outer banks in november things to do have a better chance of staying in a hotel that you are lusting over if you visit the Outer Banks in October. We stayed at The Inn on Pamlico Sound (read on for more information about that) and it was fantastic.
Visiting in October gave us other little perks too. It meant we didn’t have to wait our turn to enjoy sunset on these white Adirondack chairs on their dock in the water. We had them all to ourselves.
It’s hurricane season in North Carolina (just like in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida) from June through November.
We’ve had plenty of friends book vacations in OBX during peak season, as well, including June and July. They rent a house for the week only to have outdoor activities rained out. Or worse – “hurricaned” out.
It’s still hurricane season in October though. It rained the entire day we were there one day of our trip. Luckily, there’s good indoor activities in the Outer Banks so we weren’t at a loss for things to do that day.
You may not have to contend with an actual hurricane (though a possibility you will) when you visit walmart money card balance espanol October. But it’s plausible there will be colder temperatures, high winds and rain because of the season.
It’s typically not as hot as June, July or August in October in the Outer Banks. Yet it’s entirely possible it can be.
It was warm during most days but rather windy when we were there the first week of October. Nights were pretty chilly and very windy. It’s safest to pack for two climates – warm and cold – and bring layers to wear.
For example, I typically wear flip-flops throughout October in Raleigh. While Outer banks in november things to do was able to do so in the Outer Banks most days of our trip there were a few times I wish I had socks and shoes on. I wish I had even packed fall boots. But we were glad we at least had jackets and plenty of layers.
The week before we were there we heard people weren’t able to drive through Hatteras Island on the main road, NC-12, because the wind and inclement weather blew about six feet of sand onto it.
NC-12 road was clear by the time we visited but hey – you just never know. So prepare for wind, some rain and colder nights.
One of our favorite activities of our entire trip to the Outer Banks in October was visiting Jockey’s Ridge State Park to hang glide. The park has the tallest living sand dunes of their kind on the Atlantic coast. Some of the dunes reach higher than 60 feet.
Jockey’s Ridge State Park was declared a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service in 1974, and established as such in 1975.
(Its National Park status may only be 45 years old but the ecosystem has existed for over 3,500 years. Scientists predict maybe even 4,000 years.)
It’s a premiere place to fly kits because it’s pretty much always windy there. For the same reason, it’s also a great place to go hang gliding.
We were SO excited to enjoy the outdoors, changing our beach scenery, for an activity. The Elizabethan Gardens were gorgeous and the perfect place to diversify the landscapes we were visiting.
The gardens are located on the north side of Roanoke Island. It was only a 10 minute drive from our hotel in the same town, The Tranquil House Inn.
Leave about an hour of time to walk around these beautiful botanical gardens, if not a little more. You’ll probably want to visit at a leisurely pace and take advantage of sitting on a bench for a little to enjoy the scenery and nature a while.
The cost of an adult ticket is $9 and parking is free. They’re open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm during October.
There are over 20 points of interest on the map of the gardens as well as 21 place that are a part of their OnCell audio tour.
Our favorite spots within the Elizabethan Gardens were:
A perk of going to Elizabethan Gardens in the Outer Banks in October, especially an hour before they closed, was that there were only about 10 other people there we saw as we walked around. It was practically empty! It felt like we had the gardens to ourselves.
We stayed at a couple of notable hotels during our long weekend in the Outer Banks in October.
This was our favorite hotel of three we stayed in during our OBX October vacation. There were incredible views of Pamlico Sound from our room and outdoor balcony.
Each room at the Inn on Pamlico Sound is named after a flower – ours was the Sunflower room. Special touches, like paintings of sunflowers or the bathrobes embroidered with the hotel’s branding, indicated we were at classy accommodations.
We ate a seafood dinner on their property that evening, at Cafe Pamlico. It was the nicest restaurant we went to all weekend yet still casual enough that it didn’t feel “stuffy.” Breakfast there the next morning was enjoyable as well.
Our favorite part of our stay was perhaps watching the sunset over the sound and capturing those moments on our camera. It reminded us of sunsets in Charleston, with its pretty marshes and warm golden light.
This east-coast hotel in Manteo on Roanoke Island, has a waterfront view. It was great to be able to park our car at the Tranquil House Inn and walk to lunch or dinner in town. It’s also just a walk over the bridge to Festival Park.
The rooms are charming; we felt very cozy in our beautiful room with white linens, a view of the boats through our bedroom and bathroom shutters, and outside access just outside our door.
It’s a premium location in Manteo and a great place to stay.
There were two museums we visited worth noting. One had no cost to visit and the other had a nominal entrance fee:
We wrote about both museums in more depth in our article about great indoor activities in the Outer Banks.
However, we’ll also mention that there’s a great outdoor component to both museums. There is direct access to Hatteras Beach directly across from the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.
There’s also a lovely outdoor component to the Wright Brothers National Memorial. We went back there the day after our first visit since entry is valid for seven days.
It was raining the first day we went when we did the indoor museum, so we went back to walk the outside areas the next day when the skies were clear.
We visited as early as possible when the park gate opened at 9:00am. (We had to be at Jockey’s Ridge State Park for hang gliding the same day, around 9:45am.)
The unofficial award for first car into the park went to us! (Though there must be another way in since locals using the park for exercise and to walk their dogs were around us.)
We took our morning coffee for a little walk up to the Wright Brothers Monument and had a beautiful view over Nags Head to the water. We highly recommend it! It was especially peaceful during a weekday morning in October in the Outer Banks.
Again, it’s like we had the whole place to ourselves minus two or three other visitors we crossed paths with.
There are five beatiful lighthouses in the Outer Banks to visit in October.
Some of these have small museums on the property where you can learn more about the lighthouse and its role in the history of NC and the Outer Banks. You can walk up spiral stairs to the top of most of them during non-pandemic times too for a small fee.
We learned the name for the pattern on one of the informative signs around the lighthouse so be sure to read them.
The patterns on the lighthouses are called “daymarks.” They’re purposely painted in colors that make them standout amongst the earth tones of the beaches they stand near.
We mentioned the lighthouse on Ocracoke Island above. You reach Ocracoke by taking a ferry to the island – for us, we traveled there via the southend Hatteras Island complimentary ferry ride. It’s a fun hour and a half hour ride.
You’re able to drive your car onto the Ocracoke ferry. The main area of the island is about a 15 to 20 minute drive west once you reach the Ocracoke shore from Hatteras. There, you can drive off the boat. It’s a good idea to have a mode of transportation once you get to the island from the ferry since it’s not walkable to reach the main area of town from there.
The best experience once you get to the main area of Ocracoke, in our opinion, is simply walking around the island. But there’s more you can do on Ocracoke, including renting kayaks, walking around and enjoying nature, and visiting 1718 brewery. You can also get lunch or dinner, indulge in some ice cream, and maybe even sign up for a fishing tour. (Which you can do in Hatteras as well, so if you’re only on Ocracoke island for the day perhaps don’t spend the day fishing on the water.)
A word of advice for going to Ocracoke, especially for your first visit: if you can stay overnight you should. It’ll take you less time to get onto a ferry during off hours, rather than wait in line until your car makes it on during the day. But once you can get onto a ferry at night, it’s not enough time to explore the island in October with sunlight since sunset is between 6:30pm to 7:00pm.
We didn’t have a wait and got onto a ferry around 5:30pm. We stayed overnight after our ferry arrival around 6:45pm. But we had heard that people wanting to get onto an earlier ferry that day, to spend the day there, had to wait for hours. What a waste of time to simply wait in line!
We also had no problem getting onto a ferry the next afternoon, around 1:30pm, to go from Ocracoke back to Hatteras Island. Our ferry plan worked like a charm!
The Mother Vine is the oldest grapevine in the United States. It’s a muscadine scuppernong variety that’s been there since the colonists came over to America in the 16th century. It’s believed the Mother Vine earliest-cultivated grapevine in the US dates back to 1584. Bly who planted it is
We were intrigued to see it after seeing the Oldest Vine in Slovenia, and hearing about the Mother Vine in our very own state of North Carolina. We learned about its existence after a virtual class learning about muscadine grapes. (And we were fascinated!)
It’s a little odd to see it because there isn’t much else to do there as of fall 2020. And it’s on the front lawn of what appears to be a family home.
But it was fun to stop by to see the leaves changing color in October in the Outer Banks and get a historic photo. We got a kick out of visiting this very interesting piece of NC and American history. (And it’s a must for wine-enthusiasts.)
We loved getting seafood everywhere we went in the Outer Banks in October. An advantage of visiting during this time is it shouldn’t be too hot – nor too cold, hopefully – for waterfront dining.
Sure, you can get seafood year-round in OBX. But one of the best perks was learning that being there in October meant we could take advantage of Oysters Happy Hour at Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar! And that, alone, is worth visiting for during fall if you love oysters, like us. $1 oysters are available during October between 4:00pm to 6:00pm.
It was also nice to not have to compete with other visitors for a waterfront table if we wanted outer banks in november things to do. The restaurants know such seats are in demand. And because it was off-peak, shoulder season time, we were seated with a view at whatever restaurant we ate at
Another cool thing about visiting the Outer Banks in October was that several restaurants had pink cocktails for Breast Cancer Awareness month. Drink proceeds benefitted the cause.
You can easily walk from The Tranquil House Inn over the bridge next to the hotel to Festival Park. We used the opportunity to simply get some exercise but there’s potential for there to be events and a museum vistit when you vacation in the Outer Banks. You can drive there as well – there is parking on the island.
For $11 you can experience the Roanoke Island Festival Park Museum when it’s open. You’ll learn about what it was like for the English settlers to come over to Roanoke Island in the 16th century.
This is also where you can gain access to visit the recreation of Elizabeth II boat from the late 1500’s. We didn’t go on it but we did enjoy a view of the boat while we had a seafood lunch in the Outer Banks at Avenue Waterfront Grille, across the water.
They occasionally have fall events as well, like a scavenger hunt they held in October. Check their calendar for the latest information.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00am to 5:00pm.
There were so many cute cafes and coffee shops in the Outer Banks. We loved how welcoming Island Perk Coffee Shop was just across from the Tranquil House Inn on Roanoke Island.
Ocracoke Coffee Company was also adorable. It had plenty of patio seating to enjoy the October air, complete with seasonal pumpkin decorations.
You have to walk on the beach at some point during your Outer Banks vacation along North Carolina’s shores. These barrier islands provide miles and miles of coastline to choose from. (And they’re very unique in their location. Read this article about Hatteras Saltworks for precise information about why.)
We loved the pink and orange sky sunset gifted us as we arrived to Ocracoke. And the views to the ocean from Hatteras beach, which was across the road from the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.
We wore sweatshirts to keep warm during our October visit to the Outer Banks. Though we did see a few people go into the ocean during the day.
Breweries, wine tastings and RUM, oh my!
We loved 1718 brewery on Ocracoke island, sharing a bottle of wine at Ortega’z wine bar in Manteo and tasting the rum spirits at Outer Banks Distilling.
Passing the time with some good libations and the company of your partner is one of life’s greatest past times.
If you visit during summer you may not be in the mood for holiday shopping unless you celebrate Christmas in July! But who would on their beach vacation during that season? You’re not in a holiday-season mindset or mode.
But when we were there in October It was officially fall when Starbucks has their pumpkin spice lattes and fall squash abounds.
We loved our time inside the Christmas Shop store! They have so much more than Christmas items, including some spa-like gifts, Halloween and Thanksgiving items. And since it was so close to Halloween within the month, all Halloween items were on sale.
Going to the Outer Banks in October is wonderful. You’ll avoid the crowds, reap some extra benefits of having less people there, and the weather is still fantastic during the day. Just pack some layer options for at night and you’ll be golden!
Heading to the Outer Banks? Also check out:
Mikkel is co-owner and editor of Sometimes Home and Sometimes Sailing along with her husband, Dan. She is a professional photographer in addition to writing about their travel adventures to encourage and motivate others to book their next trip and explore the world.
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In a very short visit, we got a tantalizing taste of a fascinating area. I’ve already started planning our next trip there on our boat. If you haven’t been there yet, add it to your future vacation plans. Your dog will thank you!
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Set on a barrier island along North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, Atlantic Beach will always be one of my favorite beach towns on the planet–and despite its small size, there are a surprising number of fun things to do in Atlantic Beach, NC!
This small town, along with surrounding spots like Morehead City, Beaufort, Emerald Isle, outer banks in november things to do Pine Knoll Shores, are the beach towns that I grew up in, visiting at least annually since birth–as did my mother before me, and my grandmother before her.
The Crystal Coast (sometimes known as the Southern Outer Banks) may not have as much name recognition as the better-known Outer Banks towns to the north, but if you’re looking for a laid-back, fun, and affordable beach vacation in North Carolina, you can’t go wrong with a visit here.
Here are the best things to do in Atlantic Beach, NC!
Table of Contents
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Without a doubt, the beach that runs the length of town and beyond is the major reason people visit Atlantic Beach, us included.
We tend to head to Fort Macon State Park–more on amazon coupon website below–to park our umbrella in the sand, but there are plenty of places to choose from.
Atlantic Beach is home to some of the best beaches in North Carolina, so no matter what stretch of sand you choose, it’s bound to be gorgeous.
As one of the most popular state parks in North Carolina, visiting Fort Macon is definitely one of the best things to do in Atlantic Beach!
Tour the restored 19th-century fort, hike a nature trail, or simply head directly to the beach to enjoy some sun and waves.
The Atlantic Beach Boardwalk and Oceanana Pier are both popular and offer great views.
The Oceanana Pier is also a great place to fish!
As one of the oldest towns in North Carolina, Beaufort is packed with both history and charm.
Shop the boutiques on Front Street, learn a bit of history at the North Carolina Maritime Museum, see if you can spot the jack lemmon and judy holliday ponies across Taylor Creek, and grab lunch.
Growing up, no Atlantic Beach vacation was complete without spending at least one day in Beaufort!
Of all the things to do in Atlantic Beach, this is one that you absolutely should not miss: a day trip to nearby Cape Lookout National Seashore will introduce you to a completely different side of the Crystal Coast that you can’t get by staying on the mainland.
During the summer, tours run daily from both nearby Beaufort and not-so-nearby but reachable Harkers Island (which incidentally, while very small, is a deeply interesting place that is home to one of the only unique dialects of English in the United States).
Be sure to climb the lighthouse itself (it’s one of the prettiest lighthouses in North Carolina) for absolutely magnificent views, to enjoy the bright, shallow water on the beach that is more reminiscent of the Mediterranean Sea than most of the typical beaches on the Crystal Coast, and look for wild horses across the water on Shackleford Banks!
Since climbing the lighthouse is such a big part of a day trip to Cape Lookout, be sure to check the schedule to see when it is open, and hurry to grab your ticket and schedule your climbing time as soon as you arrive on the island!
Since only a certain number of people are allowed to climb Cape Lookout at a given time, you’ll likely need to wait a bit to go up.
Note: Unfortunately, the Cape Lookout lighthouse will not be open during the 2021 season due to a need for structural repairs.
However, the seashore itself is still absolutely worth visiting!
Atlantic Beach is home to some stunning sunsets over the dunes and sound, too, but the sunrises over the ocean are truly magnificent.
Depending on your experience level, this could mean grabbing some bait and heading to one of the piers, signing up for a deep-sea fishing tour, or renting a boat and heading out to sea yourself!
Going parasailing over the Bogue Sound was a childhood favorite in my family, and offers fantastic views over the water!
Home to one of the largest collections of shipwrecks in North America, the Crystal Coast of North Carolina is a fantastic place for experienced divers to head underwater!
Long walks (or bike rides) are one of our favorite ways to get to know a new place–and Atlantic Beach has several marked loop walks that will help you discover the best of the town.
This short, shady, one-mile loop walk leads to excellent views over Bogue Sound.
It’s a great way to stretch your legs with a little less sun exposure!
Be sure to bring bug spray, though–the mosquitos are brutal here during the summer.
The barrier island known as Shackleford Banks is an easy day trip from Atlantic Beach, and visiting is undoubtedly one of the most unique things to do in the area, as the island is home to wild horses!
It’s not entirely clear how they got there, but a pack of wild horses that are distantly related to Colonial Spanish horses have made their home on this small barrier island (the most likely scenario for their arrival is via shipwrecks in the 1500s).
The horses are generally shy, and as with all ethical wildlife encounters, a close view isn’t guaranteed–but in the decades I’ve been visiting Shackleford Banks, I don’t think I’ve ever left without spotting at least a couple of beautiful horses.
The North Carolina Aquarium is involved britannica great books of the western world ebay enormous amounts of conservation work–and what better time to learn about the fragility of our oceans than when you’re already visiting one?
Pine Knoll Shores is home to one branch of the North Carolina Aquarium, one that I credit with teaching me a lot about the ocean, marine life, and the local ecosystem as a child.
Home to a very affordable mini-golf course ($5 per round as of the time of writing), a splash pad, and more, this park is a fairly new addition to the list of things to do in Atlantic Beach (anyone else still remember when there was a Food Lion here?).
It’s also an excellent way to still enjoy a bit of fresh air when you need a break from the beach.
Depending on how confident you are driving, renting a boat for a day can mean anything from driving to Beaufort via the sound to taking an independent day trip to Cape Lookout and Shackleford Banks!
Atlantic Beach pie has been a staple on the Crystal Coast for far longer than it has had a national reputation, and it’s definitely worth enjoying on its home turf!
A pie crust made with saltines may sound a little quirky, but I promise–you won’t regret ordering a slice.
If you’ve always wanted to go horseback riding on the beach, there are a few outfits (kind of) near Atlantic Beach that will take you out for an unforgettable ride.
You can go horseback riding on the beach in Emerald Isle during the off-season, however, during the summer your best bet is to head up to Cedar Island.
It’s a bit of a drive, but if you ask us, it’s well worth it–we got to admire wild horses right up close during this sunset ride!
Atlantic Beach’s location along a long, thin barrier island means that most hotels are on or near the ocean, though the small size of the town means that there aren’t too many to choose from.
We typically stay in a family home or occasionally a rental property when visiting Atlantic Beach, which is common among repeat visitors (options like this are the norm), but we did stay in the Doubletree a few years ago and absolutely loved the oceanfront location.
If you’d like to save a little money, you can stay sound-side instead of oceanfront, but even in a worst-case scenario, if you’re staying in Atlantic Beach itself you’ll never be further than a short walk or very short drive from the ocean.
Prefer to have a few more hotel options? Morehead City and Pine Knoll Shores both have more properties to choose from.
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At least sugar daddies have better return on investment. And that initial "investment" for girls is almost nothing.. all they gotta do is be there and exist.
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