Outer Banks travel tips for the beach-bound
The Outer Banks is a stunning stretch of barrier islands located off the coast of North Carolina. Steeped in history and natural beauty, this popular vacation destination offers an array of family-friendly activities, local dining experiences, and comfortable accommodations. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll share our top Outer Banks travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable beach getaway.
A Brief History of the Outer Banks
Before diving into our travel guide, let’s take a quick look at the history of the Outer Banks. Dating back to the 16th century, European explorers and settlers, including Sir Walter Raleigh, first attempted to establish colonies in the area. Pirates, like Blackbeard, also frequented the Outer Banks around this time, taking advantage of its hidden coves and inlets.
The region witnessed significant milestones in American history, such as the Wright brothers’ first flight in Kill Devil Hills. In the early 20th century, wealthy industrialists were drawn to the Outer Banks for waterfowl hunting and winter retreats. Today, the Outer Banks is a beloved vacation spot for families and nature enthusiasts alike.
Exploring the Best Beaches and Towns
The Outer Banks boasts miles of pristine beaches and charming towns, each with its unique attractions and activities. Here are a few of our top recommendations:
1. Carova Beach and the Wild Spanish Mustangs
Take a guided tour or drive your own 4WD vehicle to Carova Beach in Corolla, where you might catch a glimpse of the wild Spanish Mustangs. These majestic horses are often seen roaming the nearby residential areas and dunes. Remember to obtain a permit if you plan to park on the beach during the high season.
2. Historic Corolla Park and Whalehead
Spend an afternoon exploring Historic Corolla Park, home to the 1920s-era Whalehead mansion and the picturesque Currituck Beach Lighthouse. Admire the beautifully restored American Art Nouveau architecture of Whalehead and climb the 220 steps of the lighthouse for incredible views of the surrounding landscape.
3. Duck Town Park and Boardwalk
The small town of Duck offers a delightful mix of natural beauty, local shopping, and excellent dining options. Enjoy a leisurely walk along the mile-long boardwalk, which offers stunning views of the Currituck Sound and access to numerous local shops and restaurants.
4. Wright Brothers National Memorial
History buffs shouldn’t miss the chance to visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, where Orville and Wilbur Wright achieved their dream of powered flight.
5. Jockey’s Ridge State Park
Marvel at the tallest natural sand dunes on the East Coast by visiting Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head. Perfect for kite-flying, hang gliding lessons, or simply enjoying a peaceful sunrise or sunset.
Family-Friendly Activities and Adventures
Beyond the beaches, the Outer Banks offers a plethora of family-friendly activities to keep everyone entertained. Here are some popular options:
1. Water Sports
Take advantage of the coastal location by trying out various water sports, such as fishing, kayaking, jet-skiing, surfing, and sailing.
2. Wildlife Watching
The Outer Banks is home to a diverse population of wildlife and migratory birds, making it an excellent destination for nature lovers and birdwatchers.
3. Visiting Historic Sites
Explore the many historic sites dotted throughout the Outer Banks, including the numerous lighthouses, Whalehead mansion, and the Wright Brothers National Memorial.
4. Touring the Local Art Scene
Discover local culture by visiting art galleries, museums, and artisanal shops in towns like Duck, Corolla, and Nags Head.
Savoring the Local Cuisine
While the Outer Banks may be known for its seafood and Southern comfort food, there are plenty of delicious dining options to satisfy every palate. Some of our top picks include:
1. Blue Point
Enjoy elegant yet approachable Southern fare at Blue Point in Duck. Request an outdoor table for stunning waterfront views and indulge in mouthwatering dishes like jumbo lump crab cakes and fried green tomatoes.
2. Treehouse Coffee
Start your day with a satisfying breakfast at Treehouse Coffee in Scarborough Shopping Village. This local favorite offers a peaceful outdoor seating area, excellent coffee, and a range of breakfast options, from omelets to Southern biscuits.
3. Duck’s Cottage
Cozy up with a cup of artisanal coffee and a good book at Duck’s Cottage, a charming café and bookstore housed in a historic building.
4. Duck Donuts
No trip to the Outer Banks would be complete without a visit to the original Duck Donuts. Choose from a wide array of decadent toppings and coatings for your made-to-order donuts.
Choosing the Perfect Accommodations
The Outer Banks offers a variety of accommodations to suit every vacation style and budget. Here are a few options to consider:
1. Beach House Rentals
Renting a beach house is a popular choice for families, providing a comfortable and spacious home away from home. Choose from a range of sizes and locations, from cozy cottages to lavish multi-bedroom estates.
2. Sanderling Resort
If you prefer a full-service hotel experience, consider Sanderling Resort, which, although a bit dated, offers clean and friendly accommodations with direct beach access, pools, and on-site restaurants.
The Outer Banks is a treasure trove of natural beauty, historical sites, and family-friendly activities. With our comprehensive Outer Banks travel tips in hand, you’re well-prepared to plan a memorable beach vacation that everyone will enjoy.