Eddie Yoon yeah goodbye
The Outer Outer banks vacation spots in the United States is a chain of sandbar islands. On each of these islands are small, beautiful, and quaint coastal towns. The towns in the Outer Banks, North Carolina, have been visited by tourists for centuries. There are several reasons why a trip to at least one should be on your vacation bucket list!
The Outer Banks north carolina central university public relations something for everyone, from incredible food and beautiful beaches to historical attractions and activities galore.
Due to the many outstanding OBX towns, it can be challenging to choose which to check out when visiting the region. Hopefully, this comprehensive list of towns in the Outer Banks, NC, will help you plan your visit to this beautiful part of the Eastern seaboard.
Before jumping into the list, here is an overview of the towns that will be covered. A map of the Outer Banks towns is also included below, making it easy to see how far away each city is from the others.
In the Northern Beaches area, you have the towns of:
On Roanoke Island, you have the towns of:
On Hatteras Island, you have the towns of:
Last but not least, on Ocracoke Island, you have the town of Ocracoke.
Conveniently, there are many airports close to the Outer Banks, making it easy to reach any of these towns from across the US, or internationally.
Think a trip to the Outer Banks is for you? Then, let’s jump into this list of 16 Outer Banks locations in North Carolina to visit!
Disclosure: Destguides may receive commission for purchases made through links in this article at no cost to you.
Using the map of North Carolina, you can explore all the towns.
Corolla, found in Currituck County, is a modern and upscale Northern Beach town. From ocean-front mansions to expansive beaches and boardwalk shopping, a trip to Corolla is the ultimate coastal getaway.
Popular attractions here include the Currituck Beach Lighthouse and the Whalehead Historic House Museum. Other top things to do in the Outer Banks and Corolla include kayaking, paddleboarding, and trips to the spa.
A fascinating thing to see here is the Corolla wild horses. This herd of Colonial Spanish Mustangs can be seen roaming the beaches, making for a unique and tranquil viewing experience.
Many of the beaches that these horses frequent are only accessible by 4x4, but tours are available to ensure you get to view these majestic creatures. Corolla additionally features a range of delicious beachside restaurants and chic seaside shopping spots.
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Are you looking for a coastal town that’s off the beaten path? Then Duck might be the answer! Thousands of tourists flock here every year to enjoy the area’s natural beauty and the vast array of wildlife. The town is named Duck simply due to the many waterfowl in the area.
The ocean views here are incredible too! You can admire views of Currituck Sound on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Popular activities to enjoy in Duck include kiteboarding, surfing, and hiking. Of course, beach days are a must also!
The town has recently seen an influx of restaurants and shops, too, several of which are on the charming boardwalk. Notably, Duck is home to Duck Donuts, a popular North Carolina chain. Be sure to pick up some of the brand’s sweet treats before you leave!
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Southern Shores is a secluded residential town found between Kitty Hawk and Duck. This quiet and peaceful community is one of the best Outer Banks towns for those looking to unwind and escape the city bustle.
This town is known for its stunning maritime forests and impeccable beaches. Fun activities to partake in include golf, water skiing, and exploring the serene landscape of sandy beaches and forests. Beaches are only accessible to residents, although most vacation accommodation grants you access to nearby beaches.
Having enjoyed the many activities on offer, Southern Shores has a range of outstanding dining options to try. Or, it's just a short drive (or walk, in some cases) to busier Outer Banks towns and attractions.
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Kitty Hawk is another breathtaking Outer Banks vacation spot. This vibrant seaside town offers something for everyone. From vast sandy beaches and a quaint pier to multiple dining and shopping outlets, you won’t get bored exploring!
Watersports are very popular in Kitty Hawk, so be sure to try at least one. Aquatic options available include kayaking, surfing, and paddleboarding. Rental shops abound if you don’t have gear with you.
For nature and wildlife lovers, a visit to the Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve is also a must. Creatures you may spot are toads, snakes, raccoons, and a vast selection of bird species.
A notable fun North Carolina fact is that this is where the world’s first flight took place! Despite this, the Wright Brothers’ first powered flight was in the nearby Kill Devil Hills, where you'll find most landmarks relating to this feat.
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Most say that this town got its unique name after barrels of Kill Devil rum split into its waters decades ago. Others even say that barrels of the rum are still hidden in the town's sand dunes. Along with an interesting namesake, Kill Devil Hills is the oldest and one of the most-visited towns in the Outer Banks.
A popular attraction is the Wright Brothers National Memorial. The brothers took their first powered flight here, and the memorial commemorates Kill Devil Hills’ claim to fame.
At night, you can even see it lit up from all over town. A small fee is required if you would like to see the memorial and grounds, but a visit is a must, and all proceeds go to the area's upkeep. Other activities to partake in include relaxing on the beach, visiting Avalon Fishing Pier, and trying incredible dining options.
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This Outer Banks town is another incredibly popular tourist destination packed with amazing beaches, attractions, and nature spots.
Bodie Island Lighthouse is particularly well-known. This scenic lighthouse is surrounded by lush grass and a charming boardwalk. Venture to the lighthouse viewing point for stunning views of Nags Head.
Jockey Ridge State Park is also a much-loved attraction. It’s home to the largest sand dune on the east coast and has many hiking trails to try. You can even try hand gliding here!
Additionally, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, found 10 miles south of Nags Head, is the perfect day trip location for nature and wildlife lovers. Creatures you may see include loggerhead turtles, otters, and over 300 species of birds.
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This colonial-style OBX town sits on Roanoke Island in Dare county. Manteo is one of the places in the Outer Banks with the most history, making it a popular vacation spot for tourists from across the globe.
Notably, this is where the famous Roanoke Colony formed, marking the start of the English colonization of America. It's also where the first English child was born into the New World.
This colony is particularly interesting because its entire population disappeared without a trace between 1587 and 1590. What happened to them is still unknown and gained them the nickname "The Lost Colony."
Along with being home to this historical mystery, you can visit the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. Other attractions include the Elizabethan Gardens and the Roanoke Island Festival Park. The waterfront here is just stunning too!
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This lesser-known Outer Banks town is a must-visit for those looking for a peaceful and less busy getaway destination. This charming fishing town has a stunning marina and a vast array of seafood restaurants serving fresh and delicious local catches.
Living up to its fishing village heritage, the houses here are adorned with painted lobster and crab pots and seashell garden decor. This picturesque town will leave you yearning for the quiet seaside village life!
Want to give the real fisherman’s life a go? There are daily fishing charter tours to join. You may even spot dolphins!
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Rodanthe is another of many places in the outer banks with stunningly pristine beaches and is one of the three Tri-Villages of Hatteras Island. It’s also known for being the setting of Nicholas Sparks’ novel and movie Nights in Rodanthe.
This location is additionally renowned as being home to the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station. This former maritime rescue hub is now a museum that is well with visiting.
Vacationers here can also kayak, kitesurf, windsurf, or relax on the tranquil, wind-swept beaches. Parts of the formerly mentioned Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge also cross into Rodanthe.
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Waves and Rodanthe were previously one town called Chicamacomico before separating in 1939. Today, Waves is a much-loved beach, surfing, and kitesurfing destination and the second Tri-Village town on Hatteras Island.
Being such a renowned water sports destination, you’ll find two of the biggest watersports rental companies: Kitty Hawk Kites and REAL Watersports. These are the go-to outlets to get everything you need for a fun day of water activities.
Of course, you can also relax on the Atlantic beaches if watersports aren’t your thing. After a busy day in Waves, you can dine at one of many cute eastern seaside town-style eateries.
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Salvo is the third of Hatteras Island’s Tri-Villages and is also the southernmost. This Outer Banks town is mainly a residential area, but there are some vacation rentals available.
Salvo is an optimal location for those looking for a quiet getaway, with few other tourists and beautiful beaches. Many of the beaches in Salvo also have picnic areas and designated spots that offer the best sunrise and sunset views.
Along with being the perfect quiet getaway, Salvo is a fantastic family-friendly vacation destination, especially if you’re looking for some quality time with the family without a range of distractions.
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This town on Hatteras Island is known as the center of the island. Avon features the only chain grocery store on all of Hatteras and boasts a vast selection of incredible dining options and other amenities. Despite having more cosmopolitan amenities than other Outer Banks towns, Avon retains its peaceful beachside charm.
Of course, you’ll find stunning beaches in Avon. But there are also other attractions, including a spa, mini-golf course, and fishing pier.
If you don’t want your evening to end too early, you can check out Koru Village Beach Club and Spa too. The club features a restaurant and late-night dancing. There's also a pool and spa if you want outer banks vacation spots hang out there during the day.
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Buxton is another of the great cities in the Outer Banks, North Carolina, found on Hatteras Island. The most popular attraction here is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
This lighthouse reaches almost 200 feet tall, making it the tallest in the US and second tallest in the world. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is also known for its fun swirly black and white stripes outer banks vacation spots red base; getting a picture of it is a must!
While visiting the lighthouse, be sure to hike the trails of Buxton Woods, too - wildlife sightings are guaranteed! Other popular Buxton activities include windsurfing, beach days, and stopping by the famous Orange Blossom Bakery. While at the bakery, be sure to pick up one of their delicious Apple Uglies.
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Frisco is one of the most relaxed and remote parts of Hatteras Island. It’s an excellent camping spot and perfect for those looking to explore unspoiled and uncrowded outer banks vacation spots.
Vacationers come here to enjoy stunning sunrises and sunsets and take in the beautiful and quiet surroundings. While amenities are few, there are a handful of local restaurants serving super tasty home-style and seaside dishes. Cute vacation rentals are aplenty too, with many located on the beach.
If looking for the best Outer Banks cities for secluded getaways, Frisco should be top of your list!
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Hatteras Village is the southernmost town on Hatteras Island. It’s best known as a fishing town, and the world-class fishing opportunities are what draw most tourists to Hatteras.
Hatteras is even known as the “Blue Marlin Capital of the World" due to the fish being both abundant and some of the largest you can catch (some say illustrious Blue Marlins weighing over 1,000 pounds swim in the waters!) The town additionally boasts a rich history and stunning beaches.
When visiting this part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore for a fishing trip, you can either join a charter or fish from the shoreline (surf fishing.) Other fun water activities to try in Hatteras Village include canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, and kiteboarding.
The North Carolina Maritime Museum and a scenic trail, the Sea Breeze Trail, can also be atoz amazon app ios in Hatteras.
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Ocracoke stands apart from the other Outer Banks areas. This secluded paradise features maritime forests, stunning beaches, and a host of island activities to try.
These activities include wandering or biking around the quaint village, horseback riding on the beach and through the forest, and tackling hiking trails. There is also the charming Ocracoke Lighthouse to view.
Another unique attraction is the British Cemetery of Ocracoke. This cemetery has the graves of four WWII soldiers and is on land perpetually leased to the United Kingdom. Therefore, if you visit, you are on foreign soil!
Despite only being accessible by boat, getting to Ocracoke isn’t too challenging. There are free ferries that run from Hatteras, Cedar Island, and Swan Quarter, or you can take a private boat. If you have access to a small plane, you can land at Ocracoke Island Airport too.
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The towns of the Outer Banks, North Carolina, are stunning vacation spots on the Atlantic seaboard. With so many to choose from, you're sure to find the ideal OBX getaway!
Whether you are enjoying a weekend away or are planning a longer seven days in the Outer Banks, you are sure to have the most incredible North Carolina holiday!
If you want to learn even more about the Outer Banks, then be sure to check out these 45 fun facts about the Outer Banks, North Carolina.
This article was edited by Loredana Elena.
For more interesting articles about United States, read:
allisewellWRITER Currently based in Canada, I've also lived and worked in the UK and Brazil and travelled in North and Outer banks vacation spots America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. I love finding the best photo-ops and food and drink locations wherever I go!
We love traveling to places during the shoulder season – you get great weather and less crowds! There are pros and cons of going to the Outer Banks in October so we’re sharing what it’s like and what there is to do there during fall.
Families flock to the Outer Banks when kids are out of school for summer. This is typically the beginning of June to August in the Carolinas. Since we’re just a couple who travels without kids we stay away from this time. We prefer to visit during their shoulder season after fall begins.
It seemed like it wasn’t busy when we were in Roanoke during our long weekend trip. So we asked the bartender at Ortega’z Wine Bar how October is different from summer to get a local’s perspective.
We were shocked to learn that what felt like a “ghost town” (especially at night) was busy for October. And it was quiet in town. (It was much busier during the day in the village of Manteo but the nights were really calm and quiet.)
We also experienced way less people on Ocracoke island when we visited in October. It was busier in the Nags Head/Kill Devil Hills area that same trip. But we loved that there were less people, overall.
Needless to say, expect less people during shoulder season if you visit in October versus peak season, during summer.
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 on for more info about that). We were grateful we didn’t have to contend with high booking season for 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 may 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 in 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 I 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 outer banks vacation spots 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 one. 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!
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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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I first learned of The Outer Banks (OBX) of North Carolina decades ago from a Backpacker Magazine article. I don’t remember exactly what piqued my interest at that time, but it put OBX on my radar. Perhaps it was because no one I knew at home in the Midwest had been to OBX. But the more I learned about the region over the years, the more determined I became to visit one day.
That day came earlier this year when I made my first-ever trip to The Outer Banks. It far exceeded my expectations. But at this point in my life, what was most apparent to me, is how absolutely perfect OBX is as a family beach vacation destination. This certainly wasn’t on my mind 20 years ago when I first read that Backpacker article. And now here I am writing about beach vacation destinations. It surprises even me because I’ve never been a “beach person”. But here’s the thing about OBX: what makes it so dynamic is that it isn’t even all about the beaches. OBX offers such a diverse range of activities and attractions to appeal to just about every member of the family.
For those who may not know, The Outer Banks is a chain of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina. The string of islands and spits stretches approximately 200 miles with Currituck, Albemarle, and Pamlico Sounds on one side, the Atlantic Ocean on the other.The geography of the land is as diverse as the OBX towns and villages. Each has its own personality and it’s easy for visitors to enjoy varied experiences across the OBX thanks to well-connected bridges and a ferry system. That is if that’s the type of vacation your family wants to have. Otherwise, staying put in one town or village for the duration of your vacation is perfectly acceptable, too.
The Outer Banks also holds a great deal of historical significance. There is evidence that the islands were inhabited for more than 1,000 years before European settlers arrived. Probably the best-known historical account, at least to American schoolchildren, is the story of The Roanoke Colony, or The Lost Colony. English settlers arrived on Roanoke Island (in present-day Dare County, North Carolina) in 1587. John White, the governor of the new colony, soon returned to England to gather additional supplies. Because of the naval war with Spain, White was unable to return to Roanoke Island for a few years. White eventually arrived back to Roanoke Island in 1590 to a deserted settlement. There was no trace of any of the colonists, including his 3-year-old granddaughter, Virginia Dare, who was the first English child born in the Americas. What exactly happened to The Roanoke Colony still remains a mystery.
In more recent history, OBX has also been the site of the Wright Brothers’ first flight. On December 17, 1903, brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright accomplished the first-ever controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on The Outer Banks.
The rich history of the OBX and the abundance of beaches add to the range of things to do and see on your OBX family beach vacation. Following is a more detailed look at what OBX has to offer.
Beaches. The key word here, again, is diversity. The beaches of The Outer Banks can be quite different from one another. There are the beaches with the big waves on the Atlantic Ocean side and much calmer water along one of the sounds. It really depends on what type of experience your family is looking to have. If it involves a more secluded beach free from development, head to Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Have a windsurfer in the family? Then Candian Hole, just a couple of miles south of Avon, is the beach for you. When you’re ready to plan your OBX family beach vacation, be sure to consult the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau website for the most extensive beach information.
Fishing. Yes, being surrounded by all that water can mean only one thing: fishing. And excellent, year-round sportfishing at that. Depending on the season, anglers have the option of offshore and inshore charter fishing; fly fishing; pier fishing; and more. Sadly, I didn’t get to do any fishing on my first trip to OBX. The family and I are headed back down there later this year, though, and I will definitely be out on the water at some point!
Crabbing and shrimping. Not quite fishing and definitely deserving of its own mention, time on the water with Captain Marc Mitchum is guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser! Captain Marc runs OBX Crabbing & Shrimping out of Wanchese, offering 2-hour and 4-hour charters for up to 6 people. The experience is suitable for all ages and interest levels, whether you want to get in-depth information about the crabbing and shrimping industry, or you just want to watch the kids delight in pulling in the crab orthopedic and fracture clinic mankato minnesota. Basically, you can choose to be a participant or a spectator. Either way, it is an enjoyable boat ride on Roanoke Sound and you get to keep whatever you catch (all shrimp, crabs, & legal finfish).
Lighthouses. OBX is home to 4 historic lighthouses: Cape Hatteras (the tallest lighthouse in America); Bodie Island Lighthouse; Ocracoke Light Station (the second oldest operating lighthouse in America); and Currituck Beach Lighthouse. There is a 5th OBX lighthouse, Roanoke Marshes, in downtown Manteo. It is a replica of an old screwpile lighthouse that once guided the way for sailors through the nearby marshy wetlands.
Visitors may take part in self-guided climbs to the top of either or both Cape Hatteras and Bodie Island Lighthouses. Be advised that the climbs are strenuous; there are no elevators and the stairways can get hot and crowded. There are 257 steps to the top of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and just over 200 steps at Bodie Island Lighthouse. If physically capable of handling the climbs, I definitely recommend it as the views from the top are incomparable. Timed ticket entry is required for both lighthouses.
Currituck Beach Lighthouse is operated by the non-profit Outer Banks Conservationists, Inc. (OBC). OBC has spent 3 decades and more than $1 million to repair and maintain Currituck Beach Lighthouse, which this year is celebrating its 143rd birthday. Visitors may climb the 220 steps to the top for more stunning views of OBX.
While climbing to the top is not possible, visitors are welcome at both Ocracoke Light Station and Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse.
Historical sites. OBX history runs more deeply than the two significant events I mentioned earlier, but those are still excellent places to start. Fort Raleigh National Historic Site preserves the site of England’s first New World settlements while also preserving “the cultural heritage of the Native Americans, European Americans and African Americans who have lived on Roanoke Island.” Fort Raleigh is also home to “The Lost Colony” outdoor theater production. In its 81st year, the historical drama brings the story of the Roanoke Colony to life with elaborate set designs and a cast of more than 80 actors.
At Wright Brothers National Memorial, visitors can see exactly where that historic first flight took place. Learn more about the Wright Brothers and their lives by visiting the reconstructed camp buildings, where they lived and worked while at Kitty Hawk. Also, just by being there, visitors can experience the constant wind at Kitty Hawk to understand why Orville and Wilbur selected that site for their historic flight.
Your accommodations in OBX is as much a part of your overall OBX experience as what you do while there. The range of lodging options makes an OBX vacation more attainable for families of all sizes and spending limits. While there are some hotels and resorts in OBX, it’s the vacation rentals that are most prominent. Options range from modest condos to palatial homes, some as large as 16 bedrooms. Those larger properties will have larger price tags, naturally, but if you get a bunch of families together – or a big group of your own family members – and split the cost, it is way more manageable. Personally, it’s this aspect of OBX that makes it most special to me. I fully appreciate any place that makes family travel, whether it’s with my small clan or a multi-generational production, possible and convenient.
The homes themselves are destinations all on their own. Generally speaking, they offer all the comforts of home and then some. Many have private swimming pools and beach access, whether it’s on the Atlantic side or the sound side. They may also have hot tubs, multiple decks, and entertainment options like board games, poker table, billiards, and maybe even an extraordinary extra like an in-home movie theater! Despite there being so much to do in OBX, you may never want to leave the luxuries of your vacation rental.
I’ve only scratched the surface here on what makes The Outer Banks the ideal family beach vacation destination. I mean, I didn’t even get to where to eat and drink! Until I do, check out my colleagues’ articles for dining recommendations:
I was part of an International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association press trip to The Outer Banks. As such, all accommodations, meals, and activities were provided by The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau. Be assured that all thoughts and opinions here are, as always, 100% my own. In fact, my family and I are heading to The Outer Banks later this year at our own expense.
Filed Under: Lodging, North Carolina, Travel With Children, USAИсточник: https://www.theworkingmomstravels.com/outer-banks-ideal-family-beach-vacation-destination/
One of the most memorable parts of your Outer Banks vacation will be catching the spectacular sunsets each evening! The hardest decision you’ll have to make is the best place to go to watch the sun go down each night. Here are a few of our
Jockey’s Ridge State Park
This park in Nags Head is one of the most well known spots to head to for sunset in the Outer Banks, and is well worth the climb up the stunning sand dunes!
Duck Town Park Boardwalk
Spend a leisurely evening in Duck and take a walk along the sound side boardwalk as you watch the sunset and wander through the many shops by water.
Bay Drive in Kill Devil Hills
This iconic Outer Banks street is one of the absolute best places to see the sun go down. There is no parking for cars so plan for an evening stroll or bike ride along the scenic Bay Drive to the gazebo on the sound.
Feeling hungry? You can also choose one of many sound side restaurants throughout the Outer Banks and watch the sunset as you dine!
Have your purchased your tickets yet for the 82nd Season of The Lost Colony?
The Outer Banks, aka Huntington national bank payment phone number, has a long-standing and well-earned reputation for not letting anything get the best of it. The long thin ribbon of sand that makes up these barrier islands may change shape over time, but the resilient soul of the place remains. The expansive, natural beaches and wide-open parks of the Outer Banks feel exotic, but you don't have to take an airplane or cruise to get here, just hop in the car!
The OBX is even better with friends and family, just be mindful that these days other visiting folks might give you a little more space and expect the same courtesy in return. With so many miles of beach and so many things to do on the Outer Banks, you'll find it's easy to claim your own territory for one-of-a-kind experiences.
We've gathered some Trip Ideas to help plan your vacation. Do you consider yourself an adventure junkie, history buff, nature enthusiast? Find your way to your favorite Outer Banks activities by air,on land, or cruising the waters. And don't forget to check out a new MUST-SEE in America, the spectacular Basnight Bridge, towering over Oregon Inlet and connecting visitors to Hatteras Island by way of the iconic NC-12 highway.
While summer is a favorite for many, don't sell fall, winter, or spring short. Each season holds its own treasure. We've created an OBX Daydream video series to give you a glimpse of the activities available throughout the year or check out our blog that features "13 Best Outdoor Things To Do in the Outer Banks."
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History Fangirl has just turned six years old! To make sure all travel guides are up to date, some posts are getting overhauled, which means you may come across posts that are under construction. Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure page for more details.
I adore visiting the Outer Banks, but even after vacationing here over multiple summers, I haven’t gotten to stay in every town I would like to! So if you’ve never been here before, it can be hard to know which are the best Outer Banks towns for your vacation.
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While every OBX town is charming in its own way, these are the best ones!
Located on Hatteras Island, Buxton is home to the beautiful and historic Hatteras Lighthouse. And as far as lighthouses go, this one is kind of a big deal. Literally, I might add, as it’s the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States.
First built in 1802 and reconstructed in 1868, the lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The National Park Service operates the Hatteras Island Visitor Center and Museum of the Sea in the old lighthouse keeper’s quarters. This is a great place to learn about Outer Banks’ maritime history!
While you should visit the lighthouse, you can see it from Cape Point and the beaches in Buxton. As far as charming goes, there isn’t anything more charming than a view of a historic North Carolina lighthouse!
Buxton is also great for anyone hoping to wells fargo bank branch locations near me some fishing in, as Cape Point has some of the best fishing in the area.
Corolla has a bit of a reputation as one of the more upscale places to stay in the Outer Banks. Its location as the second most northern town in the Outer Banks also helps keep it generally more secluded than the rest. The town also has more nice restaurants, boutique shopping, and luxury spas compared to the rest.
Corolla is one of the best OBX towns to stay in if you’re interested in seeing the Outer Banks’ wild horses. The horses, which primarily stay in Corolla and Corova, are wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs.
There are Corolla Horse Tours available during the tourist season that gets you up close with them. Because they are wild, you should not approach them. Local guides will show you how to enjoy them with your safety and the horses’ safety in mind.
You can also visit the Currituck Beach Lighthouse for gorgeous views of the shore below.
Kill Devil Hills, beyond its simply outstanding name, is the oldest official town in the Outer Banks. So if you’re looking to stay in a historic beach town, this is the one for you!
One of my favorite things to do here is going to the Wright Brothers National Monument. Even though their flight is famous for taking off from Kitty Hawk, it left from Kill Devil Hills. Which town is which here can get a bit confusing at times when you have so many lined up, one after the other, and at the time they were practically indistinguishable.
A great photography spot in the Outer Banks is the Avalon Pier. If you’re more into the outdoors and less into the Gram, you can pay a fee to fish off of the pier instead.
The most famous name among the towns of the Outer Banks, Kitty Hawk is not the home of the Wright Brother’s first flight, but it does have a fabulous coastal reserve, making it the perfect town for anyone who wants to spend time on beautiful nature walks or spend their time bird watching.
The Kitty Hawk Coastal Reserve is over 1800 acres and has great trails to explore. Even though the OBX gets crowded in summer, you can still expect to find some solitude here!
From here, you’ll also have access to the great shopping in Duck and the Wright Brother’s National Monument in Kill Devil Hills, so you won’t have to go far to enjoy a little bit of everything.
The Kitty Hawk Pier is a great photography spot any time of day, but it’s fabulous at sunrise!
Manteo boasts a charming town center and serious American history. What more could a girl want? There’s also a picturesque harbor and cute beach homes to drool over.
Essentially, the town’s layout offers more options for a quintessential small-town feel than the townships in the Northern Beaches, so keep that in mind if you want a town you can stroll around that has historic spots like its vintage movie theater.
This is the best town to stay in if you want to visit Fort Raleigh National Historic Site where the lost colony of Roanoke was. Here you can see the earthworks of the fort, stroll the Elizabethan Gardens, and even watch an evening performance of The Lost Colony, an outdoor drama depicting the events.
Manteo even boasts its own lighthouse. While it’s not tall like some of the other ones mentioned here, the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse is simply charming.
One of my favorite places to stay in the Outer Banks, Nags Head is so much more charming than just its silly-sounding name. Here you can climb up Bodie Island Lighthouse and visit Jeanette’s Pier. Both of these attractions have been newly reinvigorated by the tourists in Nags Head.
From here you can also visit Jockey’s Ridge State Park, which is beloved by photographers for its gorgeous views of the town.
The southernmost part of the Outer Banks, Ocracoke is on its own island and separated from the rest of the Outer Banks, so if you’re looking to truly getaway from it all, this is a great place to start! Especially since the island isn’t connected by a highway. You’ll have to take a ferry to get here.
Ocracoke is an animal lover’s dream. They have their own herd of wild ponies and great birdwatching.
The lighthouse is the second oldest lighthouse that’s still being operated in the country (and the oldest in North Carolina), so you get to enjoy a bit of history here as well. Many of the homes date back to the 1800s. Areas of Ocracoke, including the lighthouse and part of the town center, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places!
I have always stayed in one of the Northern Beaches, switching between Nags Head and Southern Shores. Though I love visiting Manteo and Kill Devil Hills and exploring their historic sites!
If you’re a large group or family, I’d suggest staying in the Northern Beaches so wells fargo bank branch locations near me you have access to tons of different kinds of activities. This way there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
If you’re a couple looking for a romantic getaway, I suggest Ocracoke. Here you will feel like you’re far away from stress and can just enjoy each other’s company.
History lovers and anyone wanting a true small-town feel should head to Manteo, which is truly one-of-a-kind.
Of course, they’re all fabulous, and you really can’t go wrong!
If you’re planning on renting a beach house, start looking early! Many of the most popular places get rented by the same families year-after-year. Even our group of friends rented the same house more than once!
Don’t overthink it. Your accommodations and your access to the water are what will have the biggest impact on your stay. If you want to see Hatteras but you find the perfect rental in Nags Head, take it! You can always visit the other towns during your stay. I would rather have a great beach right outside and drive to a cute area then stay in a bad house to be closer.
Pick out a few historic sites or tours you know you want to visit. Once you get here and start relaxing, you might find the time escapes you! I’ve missed a thing or two that I wanted to see here.
Finally, plan for gas to be a considerable part of your budget. Even if you plan on just enjoying your rental and not getting out much, it’s almost impossible not to end up driving around more than you anticipated.
Packing for a North Carolina beach vacation shouldn’t be stressful! Just make sure you bring these five things:
guidebook. It can be kind of a pain to find the major guidebooks once you land, or you’ll find them overpriced. I always like to pick mine up ahead of time.
Full-Sized Travel Towel This is the best travel towel in the world. It’s pretty enough for the beach, large enough that you forget it’s a microfibre towel, and quick-drying so you can enjoy it day after day.
A Go Pro for underwater and action photography. Why go all the way to the beach and not be able to capture some of the most exciting parts of your trip?
A Camera since OBX is super photogenic. I use a mix of my Nikon D810 and my Samsung8 smartphone these days.
Backup Charging Bank for your cell phone since you’ll be using it as a camera, GPS, and general travel genie.
Before you leave for North Carolina make sure you have a valid Travel Insurance Policy because accidents happen on the road. I pay for World Nomads, and I happily recommend them. It’s especially important to get travel insurance if you’ll be hanging enjoying time at the beach. Accidents happen, after all!
I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for travel insurance for three years, and I happily recommend them. If you get sick, injured, or have your stuff stolen, you’ll be happy to have the ability to pay for your medical bills or replace what’s stolen or broken.
Surfers in the Outer Banks. Photo: Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post/Getty Images
The Outer Banks — a 130-mile stretch of beach towns off the North Carolina coast — offer rich historical memories (it’s home to one of the first havens for freed slaves), gorgeous stretches of beaches and chase bank with drive thru near me towns ranging from lively areas stocked with oceanside crab shacks to remote, nature-filled spots frequented mostly by year-round residents. Plus: customizable donuts, captivating bookshops, and even a handful of beer shops you can literally drive your car straight through. (Note that we’ve limited this guide to Roanoke Island and a handful of the northern beach towns.)
Relatively mild weather means the Outer Banks are a good beach destination year-round. There’s a high season: the summer months, particularly the last two weeks of July and the first two of August, when you’ll need a miracle to score a weekend booking anywhere.
Accommodations will be easier to find in May and September, which are known as the “newlywed and nearly dead” months (thanks to the wedding parties and empty-nesters flocking there to take advantage of lower prices and temperatures that hover around the high 70s).
Aside from a small uptick in visitors at Thanksgiving and during the last two weeks of the year, October and the winter months are the slow season. So rates drop significantly — but far fewer restaurants, shops, and services will be available. Still, temperatures typically remain in the 50s through the winter.
The biggest drawback to the Outer Banks is that there really isn’t an easy way to get there — you’ve just got to commit. The closest airport is Norfolk, Virginia (nonstop flights from NYC start at $259 in September), but then you have to rent a car and drive the remaining 82 scenic miles south. Or fly into Raleigh-Durham (nonstop flights start at $258), where you’ll have more airline options but a longer, 192-mile ride. We think having a car on the islands is a nonnegotiable point, but if you want to be fancy, hop a charter flight for up to five people with Outer Banks Air Charters. Leave from La Guardia or Teterboro and fly directly into Manteo on Roanoke Island ($2,150 per person). From there, Uber and Lyft are available on the Outer Banks and are your best options for getting around: There’s no public transportation, and hitchhiking is illegal. Cyclists can rent cruisers at Ocean Atlantic Rentals and can ride from Duck to Nags Head via bike paths and wide shoulders along Highway 12.
All of the northern beaches have a great mix of footpaths, wooden crossovers/piers, and public parking. There’s no overwhelming difference among the beaches themselves, but here are a few distinguishing qualities to help you choose the best one for you. Unless otherwise noted, expect plenty of public parking and restrooms.
Roanoke Island doesn’t have an actual beach, but there is a waterfront outer banks vacation spots in Manteo and various swimming holes along the Roanoke and Croatan Sounds. If you have access to a boat (rent a kayak from Kitty Hawk Kites), take a day trip to Banana Island, a long sandbar just off the northeast corner of Roanoke Island. It’s a sweet spot for some seclusion, snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing.
Duck is a resort town known for its great beaches, restaurants, and shopping — and for being the most pet-friendly (dogs can be off-leash). Along the Currituck Sound, you’ll see folks kayaking, Jet-Skiing, and fishing, thanks to the flat waters. On the Atlantic Ocean side to the east, the beaches are beautiful but there’s no public parking, meaning that if you aren’t staying at either a house or hotel in Duck, you won’t be able to park near the beach. (You can park for free near the town-hall building, but there’s about a half-mile walk to the beach from there.)
At just four miles long, Southern Shores has more natural vegetation and less commercial development than the other northern beaches. And there’s an above-average number of year-round residents, so you may find it a bit easier here to find outer banks vacation spots uncrowded spot on the beach than in the resort towns packed with summertime visitors. The beaches are public, but parking is limited to vacationers or residents who are staying in a home or property within town limits and using day passes or window stickers.
Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills
Both Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills are known for great surfing and skimboarding. Dogs are permitted on the beach but must be leashed. Kill Devil Hills is said to be the more crowded of the two because there are more hotels nearby — but it really depends on the day. Vehicles are allowed on the beach at Kill Devil Hills with a permit (from October 1 to April 30) but not allowed in Kitty Hawk.
At Nags Head, visit Jennette’s Pierand Outer Banks pier, both prime spots for fishing and to learn more about the area’s ecology. There’s also Jockey’s Ridge State Park, located on the sound side of the Highway 158 bypass, home to the tallest natural sand-dune system in the eastern United States.
For true seclusion, head to Coquina Beach, a stretch of undeveloped shoreline about eight miles south of Nags Head. If you have access to a four-wheel-drive vehicle, stop by the National Park Service to apply for an off-road-vehicle permit ($50/week; you need a driver’s license and vehicle registration) that’ll allow you to drive right up to the beach. If you don’t have a 4WD vehicle, just use the public parking — the route to the shore is quick and totally worth it for the quiet, unspoiled environment.
May and September are the best months to visit the Outer Banks and score off-season pricing without sacrificing great weather. Otherwise: Book a hotel or resort at least three months in advance for the summer, especially if you want to stay over a weekend. Beach-house rentals are a whole different ball game. Our tips and recommendations, below.
Overlooking the Manteo waterfront, the 25-room Tranquil House Inn is an elegant and peaceful haven from the bustle of the main beaches — but it’s still right in the heart of downtown Manteo and within walking distance of cute shops, restaurants, and ice-cream parlors. In the mornings, take your complimentary Continental breakfast to a rocking chair on the front porch; return from a day at the beaches to a wine reception. The 25 rooms and suites are all spacious, comfortable, and offer style preferences like canopies or four-poster beds. 1587, the property’s fine-dining restaurant, has a daily-changing menu of Atlantic seafood and dishes with ingredients sourced from Outer Banks purveyors (recent items included crab hush puppies; Pamlico Sound shrimp, etc.).
For a taste of luxury in an otherwise low-key destination, head to the Sanderling Resort in Duck, which offers both typical hotel-style accommodations and luxurious home rentals for eight to 16 guests. It’s easily the most full-service resort in the entire Outer Banks, with direct beach access, fire pits, indoor and outdoor pools, and activities ranging from surf lessons to horseback-riding. It’s ideal for families but great even without the kids: The adults-only Tranquility pool, award-winning Spa at Sanderling, and romantic Kimball’s Kitchen restaurant are all major draws for couples.
But the bread and butter of vacationing in the Outer Banks are vacation-home rentals, and there are a ton of agencies to choose from. First, narrow down your group size: Accommodations range from studios to gargantuan, 23-bedroom homes (the average is eight bedrooms). For your pick of the prime houses during the summer season, https compass talent cognizant com at least a year early — yes, really. Agencies like Resort Realty, OBX Rentals, Village Realty, and Outer Banks Blue have decades of experience and dedicated teams to help you find the perfect house. In general, check-in and check-out days are Saturdays or Sundays with little to no exception, so for flexibility, try Kees Vacations, where you can check in to a property any day of the week with no seven-night-minimum stay. Prices vary based on size and quality: In Duck, Resort Realty offers both $17,000-a-week, oceanfront, private-pool-equipped nine-bedrooms and $1,500 four-bedrooms with decks overlooking the water. But rental rates also vary based on seasonality: Winter prices are generally a quarter of what you’d pay in mid-summer. Note that someone in your party must be 25 or older to rent a house in the Outer Banks.
Many visitors pack beach equipment and gear, especially if they’re driving and staying in a house, but renting kayaks and surfboards is easy: Kitty Hawk Surf Co. can accommodate most of your gear needs and offers expert-led paddling and Jet-Ski tours and surfing classes. Kitty Hawk Kites is the place for hang-gliding and kite-boarding lessons.
If your beach needs are more about lounging, head to one of the multiple locations of Super Wings for swimsuits, beach bags, and sunscreen. And pick up beach reads at two sister bookstores: Downtown Books in Manteo and Duck’s Cottage Coffee & Books in Duck. Owner Jamie Anderson places handwritten Post-It notes on her personal recommendations.
Grab and Go
All the beaches in the Outer Banks are alcohol-friendly, but glass is prohibited. You’ll find all of the typical grocery stores on the islands that you would on the mainland, but while you’re here, why not shop local? In Duck, pick up housemade salads and pastries plus deli meats and cheeses from Tommy’s Natural Food Market & Wine Shop, which offers the largest selection of local groceries in the Outer Banks. For fresh seafood, head to O’Neals Sea Harvest in Wanchese, on Roanoke Island. Along with the freshest local seafood like yellowfin tuna, blue crabs, and flounder to buy and prepare at home, it has an onsite restaurant: Pop in at lunchtime and order a soft-shell-crab basket ($11) to eat among the crowd of local fisherman. For North Carolina–made beer and wine, visit a Brew Thru in either Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, or Nags Head. Picture a drive-through car wash, but with coolers of beer on either side — you never leave your vehicle as workers grab whatever beverages and snacks you need to stock your cooler.
For breakfast on the healthier side, go to The Spot in Nags Head for fruit smoothies and a wide selection of açai bowls (from $6). Art’s Place in Kitty Hawk is known for its burgers; you’re in the South, so try the one with pimento cheese ($11). John’s Drive In, also in Kitty Hawk, is a totally unassuming shack that boasts the best milkshakes in the Outer Banks (open May to October). And Duck Donuts, where you can customize your own made-to-order doughnut, is a must — choose a coating, topping, and drizzle from 24 options ($1.65). Our vote is for a glazed doughnut with crushed-Oreo topping and salted-caramel drizzle. You might cry. For tiki-bar vibes, visit Fish Heads Bar & Grill on the Outer Banks Fishing Pier for fried fish, clam and shrimp baskets, and 15-cent-steamed-shrimp happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar is a relaxed place for straightforward raw and steamed seafood. Get a taste of it all with a steamed combo: Choose from oysters, clams, shrimp, crab legs, and lobster ($14 to $39).
Get Dressed Up
Feel free to define “dressed up” how you want: The most formal you’ll ever need to be in the Outer Banks is a sundress or khakis. The Lifesaving Station in Sanderling Resort is one sign up woodforest online banking the only restaurants in the Outer Banks that’s open year-round. It’s housed in the historic Caffey’s Inlet life-saving station, constructed in 1874 to assist wayward passengers and crews aboard shipwrecked vessels. At dinner, the heirloom-tomato and burrata ($12) and crab-stuffed flounder ($32) are standouts. For a break from coastal cuisine, visit Ortega’z Grill in downtown Manteo for Southwestern cuisine like pork-belly tacos ($13) and bourbon and fiji-apple-juice brined smoked chicken ($19).
A History of “Firsts”
It’s pretty astonishing how many historic firsts took place on the Outer Banks. At Fort Raleigh on Roanoke Island, learn about the case of the Lost Colony, a group of New World settlers from England who came to the island in 1584 but had mysteriously vanished, with few clues as to their whereabouts, by 1590.
Also at Fort Raleigh is a commemoration of the Freedmen’s Colony. Roanoke Island, controlled by the Union after 1862, became a haven for slaves in search of freedom during the Civil War. Many of the freed African-Americans were forced to leave Roanoke Island at the end of the war, but some remained and their descendants still live there today.
In Kill Devil Hills, visit the site of the first successful airplane flights at the Wright Brothers National Memorial ($7 parking fee). In addition to the reverential monument, explore reconstructed camp buildings where the Wright brothers stayed while testing flights, as well the locations where they landed.
Other Historic Sites
Although not necessarily “firsts,” there are many other sites to see away from the beach. Climb the 214 steps to the top of the striped Bodie Island Lighthouse, just south of Nags Head, for 360-degree views of the Atlantic. On Roanoke Island, Island Farm ($8) is a living-history site interpreting daily life on the island in the mid-1800s, including a farmhouse, reconstructed slave cabin, cookhouse, kitchen garden, and sheep pasture. Actors in period clothing put daily life on the farm into historical context. Nearby, the Elizabethan Gardens ($9), home to more than 500 species of plants, is a beautiful, relaxing place to spend an afternoon.
Virginia Tillett is a lifelong resident of Roanoke Island, former Dare County commissioner, and chairperson of the Freedmen’s Remembrance Committee, a local organization dedicated to preserving the history of the Roanoke Island Freedmen’s Colony. Mrs. Tillett has traced her ancestry back to the beginning of the Freedmen’s Colony in 1863.
When I have friends come to visit, I like to plan a full itinerary for them. We start with breakfast at Darrell’s Seafood on Roanoke Island. Darrell’s was my first job, back in 1963! After breakfast, we’ll go to the North Carolina Aquarium. There’s a fantastic exhibit about Richard Ethridge, a former slave turned keeper of the first all-black U.S. lifesaving station, and his burial site is located there as well. Afterward, we’ll dip our feet in one of the swimming holes on the sound side of Roanoke Island, then go shopping in downtown Manteo. Roanoke Heritage Extended is a beautiful shop for ceramic pottery, painted furniture, and other unique items with a nautical theme.
We’ll stop to eat again at Poor Richard’s Sandwich Shop before crossing the bridge to the main towns. One of my favorite places is the Nags Head Woods Preserve. It’s a very peaceful ecological reserve of ponds, marshes, and wetlands, and there are easy-to-navigate walking trails. For dinner, we must have the jumbo lump crab cakes at Lone Cedar Cafe in Nags Head.
Eddie Yoon yeah goodbye
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