best islands in outer banks

Depending on how you define "Outer Banks," it could include all the barrier islands all the way down to the SC border. Kill Devil/Nags Head is far and away the. Roanoke island boasts the quaint and well-heeled town of Manteo, complete with a yachting marina and Elizabethan garden. Across the Oregon Inlet. A great story about ocracoke island in north carolina – best of outer banks islands, Read about the things to do in america for a perfect. best islands in outer banks

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What To Do On The Outer Banks During The Offseason


Once considered to be only a summer vacation destination, the Outer Banks has transformed into more of a year-round place for sightseers and tourists to explore. Weather during the spring and fall months on the Outer Banks is superb, and winters are typically more temperate than what many visitors may be accustomed to in the Midwest and Northeast.

Not long ago, there were few activities that were available during the offseason and most restaurants would close for the season after Labor Day. However, this is not the case any more and there are certainly no shortage of things to do or places to dine at year-round on the OBX.

Check out our list of things to do on the Outer Banks during the offseason below and let us know if we left anything out in the comments section at the end of this post.


Uncover Hidden & Forgotten Treasure

The Atlantic Ocean is best islands in outer banks more active during the offseason as compared to the summer, which means beachcombers will likely find more shells and other treasures during the spring, fall and winter months. Discover a fully intact conch shell, a colorful piece of sea glass, or uncover hidden treasure from an ancient sunken ship. Beachcombing is a free, offseason activity that will get you up out of bed early in the morning and on the beach with your toes charter cable bill pay the sand and wind in your hair.


Eat Like A Local

With fewer lines and plenty of fresh, locally-caught seafood to fill your palate, there are plenty of reasons to love dining out on the Outer Banks during the offseason. Chow down on a hearty crab cake, savor every last bite of a yellowfin tuna sandwich, or relish the flavor of a raw oyster. And unlike years past, many of the area’s finest restaurants remain open during the spring, fall and even winter months.


Stop By A Lighthouse… Or Two

You may not be able to climb the various lighthouses of the Outer Banks year-round, but you can still visit them! Take as many family photos as you like in front of Currituck Beach Lighthouse, Bodie Island Lighthouse, Roanoke Marshes Light, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse or Ocracoke Light Station during the offseason.


Spread Your Wings

Not many people know this, but dune hang gliding with Kitty Hawk Kites is offered year-round! In fact, December is actually a really busy time of year for the hang gliding school since many thrill seekers have time off and are looking for some excitement during the holiday season.

Join the ranks of the over 300,000 people that have graduated from the hang gliding school at Jockey’s Ridge State Park! More info on dune hang gliding with Kitty Hawk Kites can be found on our website.


Discover Marine Life Without Ever Getting Wet

Boasting a massive 285,000 gallon exhibit filled with nurse, sand tiger and sandbar sharks and offering many other indoor and outdoor exhibits, the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island is one of the best spots on the Outer Banks to be on a rainy day. The aquarium is open everyday, year-round from 9 AM to 5 PM.


Shop Till You Drop

Do you like to shop? There are plenty of great, locally-owned shops you’ll what to check out on the Outer Banks during the offseason. Most stores stay open year-round, and offer hours that are convenient for anyone who enjoys shopping in between late morning and early evening.

One note: Be sure to call ahead! Not all area businesses update their hours online so be sure to check before you go.


Tour The Queen’s Gardens

Enjoy hundreds of different species of native plants and wildlife in this 10 acre sound front attraction on Roanoke Island. If you’ve visited The Elizabethan Gardens during the summer and enjoyed your stroll through the magnificently maintained gardens, you’ll certainly enjoy visiting the Gardens during the offseason as what’s in bloom will be very different.

Open daily, year-round, be sure to add The Elizabethan Gardens to your OBX offseason vacation itinerary. Also, if you are vacationing in December, check out WinterLights at night. Tens of thousands of festive lights twinkle and glow during this month-long celebration of the holiday season.


Explore With A Paddle

No question about it, the Outer Banks is a haven for kayak enthusiasts of all skill levels and ages. Is there a better way to explore the OBX than in a kayak? We think not!

During the offseason, Kitty Hawk Kites offers four different kayaking adventures including tours at: Alligator River, Roanoke Island, Kitty Hawk and Pea Island.


Saddle Up

This offseason, explore the Buxton Woods Coastal Reserve and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore on Hatteras Island by horseback! Experience the natural beauty of Hatteras Island from a completely different perspective. Kitty Hawk Kites’ horseback riding adventure is offered year-round and during most days of the week.


Drop A Line

Surf and pier fishing, brackish, fly and sound fishing, inshore and offshore charter fishing – you’ll find an unparalleled array of catch on the Outer Banks. Often called “The Billfish Capital of the World,” the International Game Fish Association lists 92 world records for fish caught on the OBX. Anglers say there’s no better way to relax than fishing.

Drop a line during the offseason and discover what many fishing enthusiasts consider to be the best time of year to land the big one.


Enjoy The View From Above

Dotted with cozy beach cottages and oceanfront estates, enjoy breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and area landmarks from an entirely new perspective. Aerial tours with Kitty Hawk Kites are available year-round and are an experience you won’t soon forget. With many different price points depending on your budget, this offseason Outer Banks adventure is certainly a memorable way to spend a morning or afternoon on vacation.


First In Flight

From 1900 to 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright traveled from Dayton, OH to Kill Devil Hills, NC (Kitty Hawk at the time) to test their soon-to-be famous flying contraptions. The Wright Brothers National Memorial, located atop Kill Devil Hill, commemorates the first ever successful, sustained, powered flights in a heavier-than-air machine.

We implore you to scale to the top of the hill and get a closer look of the monument while enjoying a breathtaking view of the barrier island. The National Park Best islands in outer banks operates and maintains the park, which is open daily, year-round from 9 AM to 5 PM.

If you visit on December 17th, the date of the famed “First Flight,” you’ll be in for a treat as there are numerous flyovers and some type of special celebration to commemorate two brothers from Ohio who changed the world forever by dreaming big and taking numerous calculated risks.


An Adrenaline Rush Like None Other

Steady winds are nearly a constant on the Outer Banks during the offseason months, which makes for ideal kiteboarding conditions. One of the most exhilarating sports in the world, kiteboarding lessons with Kitty Hawk Kites cover everything you need to know to get started including: setup, launching, landing, flying techniques, and most important of all, safety.

When you feel thirty one consultant login page incredible sensation of the kite pulling you in the water, you’ll find yourself daydreaming about kiteboarding on a daily basis, longing for your next escapade on the sound or ocean waters.


Atlantans have been vacationing regularly in The Outer Banks of North Carolina for decades, so if you’ve been missing out or if it’s been too long since your last visit, this info is for you!

33 Things To Do In Outer Banks By Town (+ An Itinerary)

Below you’ll find a bucket list of things to do in Outer Banks, and we organize the list by Outer Banks’ towns.

But don’t fret, we won’t leave you hanging when it comes to making a plan. You are also able to access our 5-day itinerary which breaks down step-by-step plans to maximize your stay here. (Just click the link or send me an email.)

See a gallery of additional photos by clicking here.

Whether you prefer water sports, beach lounging, or indulging in those special things that only The Outer Banks can offer – we’ve got you covered.

So, come on! Let’s plan your next Atlantic Coast vacation where it counts – along the 100+ miles of beaches in North Carolina’s northern barrier islands.

OBX Vacation Rentals

While there are a number of Outer Banks’ hotels along the beach (we’ve listed our favorites at the bottom of this post!), some folks opt for a vacation rental. We have a post coming out soon that breaks down our favorites, but if you need a rental now, check out this list. (Or look here for unique North Carolina Rentals here.)

33 Things To Do In Outer Banks By Town (+ An Itinerary)


Most people only consider the barrier islands when they think of this area, but Roanoke Island in the Sound is also part of The Outer Banks. Manteo is the island’s most popular city.

It is such a charming little town, filled with cute shops and restaurants. There are several smaller hotels and bed and breakfasts if you want to stay here, and you’ll find almost everyone riding their bike or walking.

What To Do

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

Roanoke Island is home to a number of historical encounters, and Fort Raleigh is a great place to learn about them. Entrance is free, and if the visitor center is open, be sure to get your Jr Ranger info.

You’ll see reconstructed ruins from the 1585 expedition that landed Sir Walter Raleigh and his ship in North America from England. (Yes, well before Jamestown!)

See a monument mentioning Virginia Dare, the first English child born in North America. It what is money and capital market mentions the baptism of the Croatoan native, Manteo, by the English – for whom the island’s largest town is named.

I didn’t learn until we were there that this is also the site of the Roanoke Island Freedman’s Colony that was set up during the American Civil War. The island was a safe-haven for formerly enslaved people, to help them prepare for a new way of life.

TheLost Colony

The Lost Colony is the first and longest running symphonic outdoor drama in the U.S. It tells the tale about how that first colony that landed here in 1587, just disappeared only three years later.

Because of COVID, it was closed when we visited. We still walked out to the stage area, which was a pretty awesome site. The boys liked dancing on stage and learning how amphitheaters work.

Elizabethan Gardens

On the grounds of the park, you’ll also find the Elizabethan Gardens. There is an entry fee, but if you love gardens best islands in outer banks me, it’s worth the extra coin.

The North Carolina Garden Club show their talents with a royal garden like it would have been in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. There is also a children’s garden and butterfly house (closed during COVID).

Roanoke Island Festival Park

The Roanoke Island Best islands in outer banks Park is like a “living history” museum of the 1585 settlement. Kids will love the ship, Elizabeth II, where they can swab the deck, fire the sling gun, and more. Great for young children!

Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

The Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse isn’t one of the tall black and white lighthouses that you may be familiar with when you think of The Outer Banks, but it’s still worth the visit.

Park at the waterfront and walk the boardwalk to the screwpile lighthouse, with great views of the sound. It’s right in the heart of downtown, where the shops and restaurants are located, including our favorite OBX restaurant (below).

Where To Eat

Avenue Waterfront Grill

This waterfront restaurant is where we enjoyed lunch, and every bite was unbelievably delicious. Dan and I both concur, it was the best meal we had that week — and that’s saying a lot because OBX food is to-die-for!

The seared tuna kale salad, the chowder, the fried fish sandwich… it was all so tasty. And we loved sitting outside near the marina, enjoying the shade.

33 Things To Do In Outer Banks By Town (+ An Itinerary)
33 Things To Do In Outer Banks By Town (+ An Itinerary)


Now we’re leaving Roanoke Island and heading to the barrier islands. We’re starting in Duck, which is the northern-most town in The Outer Banks.

I know, you’re wondering why we’re not discussing the wild horses in Corolla, or the Currituck Lighthouse. The travel industry can be weird…it’s based on counties. I know, it’s one of those things that tourism is fueled by, but tourists know nothing about (and shouldn’t really care to, if you ask me).

Tourists view The Outer Banks as the which cashpoints dispense 5 strip of barrier islands along the coast, but it’s actually just the cities that fall into Dare County (with Duck, NC aep pay my bill by phone the most northern city of that bunch).

We didn’t travel into Currituck County for this trip, but if you want to see the wild mustangs, it’s not too hard to get from here to any number of tour operators that can help you see them.

OK. Back to the Northern Outer Banks town of Duck. This delightful little town has about 7-miles of beaches that constantly rate high with the Travel Channel. You won’t see mega chain stores or lots of bright, blinking attractions.

You will find a slew of local shops, plenty of space to ride your bikes around, and a wonderful boardwalk along the sound. In fact, we found that the action here happened more on the south side than the beach side, with options for kayaking, fishing, sailing, and more.

What To Do

Vineyard Voyage Wine Tour

We really enjoyed this adventure, which worked well for us even with the kids. We hopped on a boat at the Duck Soundside Boardwalk, taking a ride across the Currituck Sound (we even saw the Currituck Beach Lighthouse from a distance) to Sanctuary Vineyards.

From there we loaded up in the “Currituck Cadillac” for a ride through the vineyards best islands in outer banks the tasting room. When we were there, our guide told us about the wine history and then led us out for a tasting.

Because of COVID, our tasting was outside on the shaded patio – which honestly was divine! We sampled 12 wines; a mix of dry and sweet.

How did we do this with kids? The boys loved the boat and truck ride, but during the tasting we just sat them in the air-conditioning and let them have their tablets huntingdon valley bank near me about a half-hour.

The site recommends this tour for ages 5+, but I’d say you’ll only enjoy it yourself if the kids are able to sit alone for 45-odd minutes like ours did. They welcomed the rest and screen time, and we appreciated the chance to sample the vino. My added tip: Bring snacks. There were not chips, etc to purchase there for them while they waited on us.

When you return, don’t jump in the car. Instead, mosey southward on the boardwalk.

You’ll find a number of cute shops and restaurants, gorgeous views, and a slow, easy vibe. It’s only about a mile walk, and truly worth the time.

Where To Eat

You’ll can you set up a business bank account online for the wine tour at the northernmost part of the boardwalk, at victoria secret credit card number Duck Waterfront Shops. On the southernmost end is Aqua Restaurant, a great place for dinner. It sits right on the waterfront, and if you are lucky you can catch the most amazing sunset here. There is live music every evening, and kids are welcome.

33 Things To Do In Outer Banks By Town (+ An Itinerary)

Southern Shores

Southern Shores is such a small little town I almost didn’t include it…but I couldn’t miss out on tell you about the incredible bike trails here, and the beaches.

This is really just a sleepy little town that vehemently protects its beaches from almost any commercialization, so you’ll find they are pristine. In fact, it’s one of the most low-density tourist areas in The Outer Banks, and you need a permit to park in the beach access areas. Want to get on these beaches? There are condos nearby for rent.

Where To Eat

Steamers Restaurant is where to go for casual seafood that is delicious. Shrimp, chicken, BBQ, salads…yum!

33 Things To Do In Outer Banks By Town (+ An Itinerary)

Kitty Hawk

Kitty Hawk was the town that officially welcomed Orville and Wilbur Wright to build their “machines” here, and the brothers took them up on it primarily because of the sand dunes and the steady 15+mph winds. This history has made it one of the most popular towns in OBX.

What To Do

Get in The Water

Because of COVID, the Kitty Hawk Pier (above) is only open to Hilton Garden Inn Kitty Hawk guests, but there are still plenty of beach access points around for fun play all day in the Atlantic Ocean! It’s also the town which attracts a ton of surfers, so keep an eye out for them.

On the sound side, try kayaking, fishing, or paddle boarding. Girl names that start with letter m nice and quiet here – very peaceful.

Where To Eat

Black Pelican Oceanfront Restaurant is one of the most popular restaurants in OBX. The building was finished in 1874 and used as a United States Lifesaving Station, but now it’s where to watch the sun set over the day’s fresh catch.

We also had lunch at Barefoot Bernies. The salads are filling, and drinks are fun.

33 Things To Do In Outer Banks By Town (+ An Itinerary)
33 Things To Do In Outer Banks By Town (+ An Itinerary)

Kill Devil Hills

Kill Devil Hills is probably best known for being home to the Wright Brother’s Museum (more below). It’s the most populous OBX city, brings a little heavier traffic than the northern cities, and begins a stretch of well-known grocery and department stores.

This is where we stayed, so I can attest that the beaches are fantastic. If you want to be smack in the middle of all that is happening, then this is where to grab your accommodations.

What To Do

Wright Brother’s National Memorial

On December 17, 1903 the world changed because the Wright brothers took flight. Here, you can be a part of that history.

When we visited, the museum was closed but that didn’t deter us. Just be sure to bring water because it can be hot out in the open sun!

When you get there, head toward the museum first (even if it’s closed). We met with the rangers and picked up our Jr Ranger Booklet and Badge that made the adventure even more fun (and educational).

And if you can’t yet get in, peer through the windows at the plane. The original 1903 Wright Flyer is at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, but this replica is still pretty amazing.

After that, see the spot where Orville and Wilbur first took flight and walk the four locations where they landed. Then, keep walking toward the Wright Brothers Monument.

The monument is perched on a dune 90-feet in the air – Big Kill Devil Hill. The Wright Brothers used this location to test gliders prior to the first powered flight. Fascinating fact – the dune itself sits about 30 feet north of it’s 1903 location. Around 1930, when they built the monument, they planted grass on the dune to prevent it from moving any further.

Be sure to walk (or drive) to the back of the monument to see the sculpture garden. That’s where we got the photo of the boys and the plane above.

Where To Eat

Max’s Italian Restaurant makes amazing NY style pies. Seriously – delicious! We also had a filling salad and a charcuterie plate that was terrific. The owner came out to check on us, and she was delightful. I highly recommend a stop here.

Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar is a good place for raw oysters, but it’s a great place for best islands in outer banks spiced shrimp. There is a gift shop next door run by the same folks, but that didn’t stop it from feeling like a locals hangout.

My youngest turned 8yo while were in The Outer Banks, and we celebrated with dinner at Miller’s Seafood and Steakhouse. Steak, seafood, even sushi! Everything was sensational. And they even brought us a brownie with ice cream and candles to celebrate!

33 Things To Do In Outer Banks By Town (+ An Itinerary)

Nags Head

When you come in from the mainland, this is the town you hit. It reminds me a little of Myrtle Beach or Destin, with tons of off-beach activities, stores, restaurants and more as you come onto the barrier islands.

But don’t let that fool you…Nags Head is fairly large and spread out, touting epic beaches with tons of public access point, gigantic sand dunes, and gorgeous rental cottages.

What To Do

Jennette’s Pier

Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head is the most popular of the OBX fishing piers, and for good reason. Catch a fish off the 1,000 foot pier…you can get your license, bait and rod rental right there.

Want to play on the beach? Parking is unify western federal credit union, the beaches are wide, and there is a public bathhouse to clean up before lunch or dinner.

During COVID, the pier house gallery is closed but if they are open when you visit then don’t miss it. The gallery is run by the NC Aquarium.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park

Jockey’s Ridge is known for its sand dunes… they’re the tallest living sand dunes on the Atlantic coast. What can you do here?

On the sound side, try wading, paddling or hiking the one-mile nature trail.

From the main entrance, stroll the boardwalk with exhibits that explain the dune’s ecology, then head right out onto the dunes. Yes, you can walk on these dunes! Climb to the top, where you can see great views of the ocean.

If you ask us, though, the best way to truly feel experience the park – and the true “feel” of Outer Banks – it to try your hand at hang gliding on the dunes!

Glide off a sand dune just like the Wright brothers. We did it with the boys and it was un-beee-lievable! So much fun. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime things you MUST do, especially in OBX.

See our full post about what to expect when you fly solo with Kitty Hawk Kites

Beach Bonfire

There are several places in The Outer Banks that allow for beach bonfires…and it is so lovely in the fall or winter, you don’t want to pass it best islands in outer banks sure to find the beach bonfire rules for the beach you are visiting. In Nags Head, you need a permit. You pick that up after 5:30pm from the fire department. They like to make sure that the winds are not too strong before giving the thumbs up.

Pick up your wood from the local grocery or convenience stores, pack a blanket and some s’mores…and you’ll be making beautiful memories.

Where To Eat

Nags Head Pier Restaurant

This is a seasonal restaurant, right on the water with superb views and great eats. But here’s why I love it! They will clean the fish you catch, and cook them. Served up with french fries, slaw and hushpuppies, the kids (and adults) will love this!

Save your receipt and you can walk on the pier for free after dinner. It’s a great place to watch the sun set.

33 Things To Do In Outer Banks By Town (+ An Itinerary)

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Come off the mainland and turn north…you hit Tarrant county municipal court records Head (which we discussed above). Turn south, and you enter Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

The Seashore actually encompasses a little of the south end of Nags Head…all the way to the tip of Hatteras Island. This was my favorite part of OBX. Read more to learn why.

Bodie Island Lighthouse

If you can only visit one lighthouse, make it the Bodie Island Lighthouse. It’s perched in the perfect setting against the marsh. Be sure to take the time to walk the boardwalk, where you’ll find spectacular views of the lighthouse, wild birds, and serenity.

33 Things To Do In Outer Banks By Town (+ An Itinerary)

Oregon Inlet

Looking to fish in Outer Banks but want something a little more tame than the big game fish of Hatteras? Oregon Inlet Fishing Center is the ideal place to catch a fishing charter ore head boat. There are charter types angel card victorias secret every type of fisherman – including kids.

We took the twilight fishing tour with Miss Oregon Inlet and had a great time! We only caught a single fish on our trip, but we loved every second of it. It was fun and beautiful watching the sun set on the water.

Fishing in the sound is ideal for kiddos, where the water is calm and the trips are generally shorter.

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is a stellar place to view migratory birds (bring your binoculars) or spy hatching turtles heading to the ocean.

Be sure to stop by the visitor center. It’s free! You can learn about the animals and birds in the area, look through a spotting scope, and walk a few of the trails to an overlook.

33 Things To Do In Outer Banks By Town (+ An Itinerary)

Avon Pier

We loved each and every pier in The Outer Banks, but really appreciated Avon Pier. It was only $1 to walk it, and the people were super friendly.

It extends out 665 feet, and is the only remaining pier on the national seashore. We watched the waves lap, talked to the anglers, and took a dozen photos. It’s a great place to stretch your legs during your drive.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is probably the most famous lighthouse, and it is certainly the tallest brick lighthouse in North America. It has 1000 walmart gift card text message steps from the ground to the balcony level (69 more than Bodie Lighthouse above), which equates to climbing a 12-story building.

When we visited it was closed for climbing, but we still enjoyed seeing it up close. Be sure to look for the tracks they used to move the structure inland by about a half-mile, back in 1999.

Frisco Beach

There are several beaches dotting the seashore, but we opted to stop and play at Frisco Beach and later learned from a local that we’d found the hidden gem.

We saw only one other family here – the mom and dad taking turns surfing the waves. We played in the surf, hunted shells, and watched as the DNR came through checking turtle nests – dozens of them.

If you love a secluded beach, I can’t recommend this enough.

33 Things To Do In Outer Banks By Town (+ An Itinerary)

Equine Adventures

I said hang gliding citibank na best buy credit card one of my favorite OBX adventures…and this was my other favorite. Horseback riding in the maritime forest and on the beach with Equine Adventures was sensational!

They offer guided tours twice a day, lasting about 2-2.5 hours. You’ll ride about 45 minutes through the forest, then spend about 30 minutes on the beach before returning back.

On the beach we were free to run the horses, and the guides positioned each group by the water to take our photos before coldwell banker lake oconee long term rentals back.

See our full post about what to expect when you horseback ride on the beach with Equine Adventures

Where To Eat

Diamond Shoals Restaurant is just up the road from Equine Adventures, making it a great place to grab a late lunch before your ride. We didn’t try the sushi, as it was only available at dinner, but we did love the salad bar and seafood plates. It’s very casual…looks like a hole in the wall….but serves amazing food.

33 Things To Do In Outer Banks By Town (+ An Itinerary)


At the end of Hatteras Island is the village of Hatteras, and what a different feel this town gives. If (when) we return, this is the town I would want to stay in.

It’s more of a marina town than a beach town, though there is plenty of beach. It’s where the cold Labrador Current meets the warm Gulf Stream and creates the largest surf available on the East Coast.

Additionally, this is where you can catch a ferry to Ocracoke Island. The waters between Hatteras and Okracoke are one of the largest estuarine systems in the world…this means that the fishing opportunities are amazing.

Things To Do

Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum

When we visited the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum (part of the NC Maritime Museum system) it was closed for COVID, but since it is opening again next week I highly recommend a stop. Be sure to ask about the scavenger hunt!

It’s because of that warm and cold current I mention above that this area has become a graveyard of ships over the years. You may have heard the “graveyard” mentioned in the popular book Where the Crawdads Sing…or you may know it from stories of Theodosia Burr (daughter of Aaron Burr, of Hamilton fame) losing her life in a shipwreck in this area. The museum is where to learn about these and other interesting pieces of history.

Whether or not you are able to see the museum, do be sure to visit the beach here. It’s really special, seeing the waters at the very tip of the OBX.

33 Things To Do In Outer Banks By Town (+ An Itinerary)

Where To Eat

Locals and people in the know recommended both Dinky’s and Breakwater Restaurant – both are waterfront restaurants with impeccable eats.

On the day we were in the area, Breakwater was closed so we headed over to Dinkey’s. Words cannot describe this meal – it was fantastic! The tuna tartar appy is a must.

The seafood (loved the steamed platter), the beef, the salads! All delicious…as was the sunset from our window.

Even if you don’t dine at Breakwater, stop there to see if the fishermen have come in for the day. You can catch them cleaning some BIG catches here if you come at the right time.

Where To Stay In The Outer Banks

Outer Banks Hotels

Best in Kitty Hawk Beach: Located in Kitty Hawk Beach, 200 feet from the beach, Saltaire Cottages features accommodations with a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a private beach area and barbecue facilities. Boasting family rooms, this property also provides guests with a sun terrace. The rooms are equipped with a balcony.

Best in Corolla: Offering an outdoor pool and an indoor pool, the Hampton Inn & Suites Outer Banks is located right on the beach in Corolla. Each room has a balcony or patio, a fridge and microwave, and your stay here includes a free continental breakfast! There are fabulous pools here and a hot tub too.

Best in Duck: The Barrier Island Station of Duck, North Carolina, is on the beach just one mile from the Scarborough Lane Shoppes. Guests have access to an indoor pool and hot tub. Guests here have access to tennis courts, as well as a game room with a pool table. A barbecue area and a children’s playground are also on site.

Outer Banks Campgrounds

Escape the hustle and bustle of the daily grind, while camping waterfront and instilling the love of the great outdoors in your family at affordable rates. Rodanthe Watersports & Campgrounds, located waterfront on the Pamlico Sound, is the answer to your quiet, relaxing vacation dreams. Enjoy nature at its finest—bring your tent or RV to the waterfront campground for sound front and sound side camping. 

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Disclosure: Thanks to Outer Banks Visitors Bureau for hosting us on this amazing adventure. We appreciate Kitty Hawk Kites and Equine Adventures for showing us the ropes, as well. This post may contain affiliate links. Opinions here are all our own, as always.

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Outer Banks, North Carolina: Family Travel Guide

What to do in the Outer Banks

The Outer Banks, a 200-mile-long string of barrier islands sandwiched between North Carolina and the Atlantic, could be famous simply for its broad, Instagrammable beaches, some of which are home to wild Mustangs. But there's quite a bit of history in the area as well — for example, the Wright Brothers chose it as the site of their inaugural flight launches, and 1st phorm joy bundle frisky breezes along the shoreline make it easy to see why.

Where to go in the Outer Banks

At the Wright Brothers' National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, visitors can walk the original paths of the first flights and see replicas of the brothers' plane and living quarters. Wild Horse Adventure Tours offers Hummer trips to see the area's legendary wild horses and ponies. There's no minimum age limit, but parents of children under age 8 (or weighing less than 80 pounds) must bring their car seats. It's possible to ferry from Hatteras Island to Ocracoke Island for a day trip to explore its pristine beaches. Although it's only chase bank credit card address miles west, this remote, undeveloped island, most of which is part of the National Seashore, is best explored by bike (there are rental shops near the ferry terminal).

Where to stay in the Outer Banks

The Surfside Hotel in Nags Head is right on the beach and has a mix of accommodation styles in different price ranges. Some have additional lofted sleeping areas to give parents a little more privacy, and the efficiency units have kitchens with stoves and full-size refrigerators. Looking for that easy, breezy resort life? You'll find it at the Sanderling Resort in Duck, where the quiet location makes it feel like you're staying on a private beach. Families typically prefer the North Inn building, which has its own pool. Perks for guests include iPhone docks, comfy Serta mattresses and, down on the beach, helpful valets to set up chairs and umbrellas.

Where to eat in the Outer Banks

Goombay's in Kill Devil Hills has a Caribbean-inspired menu with zesty choices like jerk burgers and coconut shrimp salad. But what kids will remember most are the special drinks created with them in mind, each of which comes with a toy. Crocodile Punch is a blend of three juices (orange, pineapple and cranberry) and the Alien Elixir mixes 7-Up and pink lemonade. It's worth visiting the original Duck Donuts in the Osprey Landing shopping center. You can create your own vanilla-cake doughnut using their list of glazes, toppings and drizzles, or, if you're feeling lazy, just choose one of their popular combinations, like maple icing and chopped bacon, or lemon icing with shredded coconut. When you're finished, stroll the nearby town boardwalk and look for green turtles and pelicans.


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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Best Outer Banks Towns

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The Best Towns in the Outer Banks

While every OBX town is charming in its own way, these are the best ones!

Buxton (Hatteras Island)

USA - North Carolina - Cape Hatteras Lighthouse towers over beach dunes of Outer Banks island near Buxton, North Carolina, US

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 get some fishing in, as Cape Point has some of the best fishing in the area.

Corolla (Northern Beaches)

USA - North Carolina - The Currituck Beach Lighthouse is in Corolla on the Outer Banks and is a popular attraction 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 (Northern Beaches)

USA - North Carolina - beachfront properties along the shore of Kill Devil Hills in the Outer Banks of North Carolina

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.

Kitty Hawk (Northern Beaches)

North Carolina - USA - North Carolina - Morning time at Kitty Hawk fishing pier along North carolina's Outer Banks

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 (Roanoke Island)

USA - North Carolina - Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse in Manteo, North Carolina

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 tarrant county clerk mega search 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.

Nags Head (Northern Beaches)

USA - North Carolina - Bodie Island Lighthouse and boardwalk autumn landscape on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina

One of my favorite places to berkshire bank online customer service 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.

Ocracoke (Ocracoke Island)

USA - North Carolina - White picket fence and walkway lead past the red-roofed keepers quarters towards the tower of the Ocracoke Island lighthouse on the outer banks of North Carolina

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 best islands in outer banks 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 create your own t shirt design online free to the 1800s. Areas of Ocracoke, including the lighthouse and part of the town center, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places!

So Which is the Best Outer Banks Town to Stay In?

USA - North Carolina - Outer Banks Sunrise

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 that 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!

Outer Banks Travel Tips

USA - North Carolina - Iconic bridge over the Currituck Sound at the historic Corolla Park at sunset on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

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 chase bank atm nearest me. 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.

5 Things to Bring to the Outer Banks

Greece - Crete - Stephanie Luggage

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.

More North Carolina Travel Resources

USA - North Carolina - Outer Banks Stephanie

Coming soon!

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

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.

Pin this Guide to the Best Towns in the Outer Banks for Your Trip!

Best Outer Banks Towns
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