Top 10 Things to Do in the Outer Banks Now
The Outer Banks is a 130-mile stretch of barrier islands just off the coast of North Carolina. Commonly referred to as the OBX, this National Seashore is one of the most ideal places in America for a family vacation. With miles of pristine beaches and endless possibilities for adventure, I am confident after just one visit it will entice you to make an Outer Banks Vacation an annual thing.
Spend a Week in an Outer Banks Vacation Home
Outer Banks Vacation homes are not your usual rental properties. In fact, they are quite unusual. In all of my travels, I have yet to come across a place anywhere else that has vacation homes of this magnitude. I recently stayed in a sixteen bedroom oceanfront home. It has 11,000 square feet of living space, a pool table, a media room, an elevator, and two gourmet kitchens. OBX beach rentals are built to accommodate large groups of families and friends. Moreover, when a house comes with nine master bedrooms no one has to fight over who gets the king-sized bed.
Note: If you are looking to save money on your rental book before Memorial Day and after Labor Day to enjoy offseason rates.
Climb Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
You will need to climb a total of 257 steps to get to the top of the Cape Hatters Lighthouse. Also known as America’s lighthouse, it is the tallest brick beacon in the world. The narrow spiral staircase has a landing every 31 steps so you can catch your breath. Not that it is a race, you should go up at your own pace. You are able to bring water in a non-glass, sealable container and I recommend wearing a comfortable pair of shoes. You will be rewarded with magnificent views of the coast when you reach the top.
Fun Fact: Unbelievably this lighthouse was moved a half-mile inland in 1999. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is now as far from the ocean as when originally constructed in 1870 and should be safe for at least another one hundred years.
Visit the Wright Brothers Memorial
You cannot travel to the Outer Banks and not visit the birthplace of flight! Our world was changed forever in 1903 when Wilbur and Orville Wright flew their powered Wright Flyer over the sands of the Outer Banks for a whole 12 seconds! The grounds of the Wright Brothers National Memorial are large and encompass several locations. Stand on the actual spot where the Wright Brothers first took flight or check out the reconstructed camp buildings that depict the way the men lived while they were in Kitty Hawk. You can climb Kill Devil Hill to the base of the Wright Monument. The ocean views are pretty spectacular from there.
Eat Local Seafood
There are so many outstanding places to eat in the Outer Banks it is hard to recommend just one. The OBX is truly a seafood lovers paradise. Among my favorites is Coastal Provisions Oyster Bar & Wine Cafe. Conveniently located in Southern Shores, they bring the freshest seafood straight from the ocean directly on to your plate. With at least ten different oysters to choose from daily and their award-winning crab cake sandwich, this is a place you must add to your list for a great meal.
Watch a Lost Colony Performance
The Lost Colony is America’s longest-running outdoor play. Every summer for the last eighty years, performers have gathered here to tell the epic story of the Lost Colony. History tells us that in 1587 over one hundred English men, women, and children landed on Roanoke Island with the intention of building a new country. When English supply ships returned just three years later, the island was completely deserted. To this day the mystery of what happened to the colonists is still in question. The performance educates theatergoers and preserves the historical significance of The Lost Colony.
Fun Fact: The theater is located on the same site as where the actual events occurred.
Hike a Massive Sand Dune
You don’t have to go hang gliding to enjoy a visit to Jockey Ridge State Park, although it is one of the many reasons visitors come here. Kitty Hawks Kites gives lesson gives lessons throughout the season. Jockey Ridge is the tallest natural sand dune system on the East Coast and is a significant landmark on the Outer Banks. There are self-guided hiking trails as well as a boardwalk if you want to take the shortest route. The views from the top of the dune are gorgeous and it is a great place to fly a kite.
Note: During the summer months, the sand dunes can be very hot. Bring lots of water and don’t go barefoot.
Order Custom Made Donuts
Who can turn down a warm, delicious, made-to-order donut? Not this girl. At Duck Donuts there are endless combinations of donuts, coatings, toppings, and drizzles. Make your own or choose from their featured flavors like the maple iced with chopped bacon, s’mores, of blueberry with lemon drizzle. Pair one of these or your favorite creation with a hot cup of coffee to start your day. They are simply delicious.
Dine at Kimball’s Kitchen
If an evening of gourmet dining is in your vacation plans, look no further than Kimball’s Kitchen at the Sanderling Resort. Located on the Soundside of the Outer Banks, Kimball’s offers spectacular views of the Currituck Sound. It is best to make a reservation for slightly before sundown to enjoy the sunset with a glass of wine or a handcrafted cocktail. Their menu features an extensive selection of local oysters. sustainable seafood and Certified Angus Beef.
Sip Kill Devil Rum
Outer Banks Distilling is North Carolina’s largest craft rum producer. It was started by four friends who share a love for good beer and great rum. Housed in a historic building in Manteo you can stop by the distillery for a tour and to taste their Kill Devil Rum. While the tasting room has air-conditioning, the distilling room does not. It can be warm during the summer months, therefore you will want to dress accordingly. My personal favorite flavor is Pecan & Honey. It is smooth and creamy and makes great cocktails.
Note: Luckily it can be ordered online so you don’t have to carry it home in your suitcase.
Pull Up a Crab Pot
It doesn’t get much fresher than yanking up your dinner straight from the sea. You can do just that with Captain Marc Mitchum, a full-time commercial fisherman, who provides one of the most authentic Outer Banks Vacation experiences. He’ll take you out on a two or four-hour crabbing and shrimping charter and give you a chance to reel in the pots. You get to keep what you catch.
Why Vacation in the OBX
The Outer Banks is hands down the best place in America to travel with large groups and for family reunions. For more ideas on what to do during an Outer Banks Vacation check out these posts:
- Why the Outer Banks of North Carolina is the ideal family beach vacation destination
- The BEST Places to Eat in the Outer Banks
- Adventures in the Outer Banks; a history and spirits discovery
- Outer Banks Distilling: Keeping Rum History and Pirate Legends Alive
- First Choice: Outer Banks
Disclosure: Complimentary accommodations, meals, and activities were provided by The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau. No other compensation was received for this review. This post reflects the honest opinion of my experience without outside influence.