Fall is an amazing time to vacation in the Outer Banks. The heat of summer has broken and the weather is mild all throughout November and December. The summer crowds are long gone and it’s just you and the locals enjoying the best of the Outer Banks together.
When planning your autumn getaway, keep these 10 tips in mind to make sure your vacation turns out just the way you hope!
#1 Pack layers — Mornings in the Outer Banks are a chilly 50 or 60 degrees, but temperatures usually reach the mid-60s to low 70s by midday. Pack a fleece jacket and long pants for morning excursions, and shorts and long-sleeve shirts for later in the day. Even though ocean temperatures are usually too cold for swimming, bring your bathing suit. Many rental properties have hot tubs. Also, you can rent a wetsuit and still enjoy watersports year-round. If you’re bringing a furry friend, note that small or shorthaired dogs might like a sweater in the evenings — especially if they’ve been playing in the water.
#2 Catch some air — Winds pick up this time of year, and a kite-boarding or windsurfing lesson is the perfect way to burn off a hearty Southern breakfast. The Outer Banks have shallow waters and soft waves, so if you’ve ever wanted to try kite-boarding or windsurfing, this is the perfect opportunity. Consistent winds along the coast mean that fall is also a fantastic time for sailing. Whether you’re an experienced sailor or would rather sit back while someone else does all the work, there are plenty of sailboat charters that operate year ’round.
#3 Ride a century— If you’re a cycling enthusiast who’s always wanted to ride a century (a hundred-mile excursion), the Outer Banks is the perfect place to check it off your list. With more than 100 miles of flat roads and paths, constant sea breezes and beautiful scenery, going for a bike ride of any length is sure to be a memorable and relaxing experience.
#4 Play bird bingo —The Outer Banks is an important migration stop for hundreds of species of birds, and fall is an especially enjoyable time for birding. Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on the north end of Hatteras Island is a perfect place to observe migrating geese, swans, ducks, and shorebirds. Grab a pocket field guide and a pair of binoculars, and then see if you can spot rare species such as peregrine falcons and piping plovers. Or make your own bird bingo cards and see how many different species you can spot.
#5 Read up on Outer Banks’ history — For those leisurely afternoons, enjoy books about local history. Popular works include Hatteras Journal by Jan DeBlieu, North Carolina Lighthouses and Life Saving Stations by John Hairr, or Ribbon of Sand by John H. Alexander. There are also plenty of fiction books set on the Outer Banks. Try True Believer by Nicholas Sparks or Outer Banks by Anne Rivers Siddons.
#6 Take a class — Whether you enroll in a cooking, art, kite-boarding or tennis lesson, the Outer Banks is full of opportunities to learn a new skill.
#7 Visit an oyster roast — This is a truly local experience! In fall, oyster roasts pop up all over the islands at backyard fundraisers and community get-togethers. Pick up your own oyster-shucking knife at any grocery store, then experiment with the many ways there are to top steamed oysters. Oyster roasts are convivial communal experiences where everyone is welcome — if you’re invited to one, accept and enjoy.
#8 Pack indulgences and plan for downtime — There’s something extra cozy about fall in the Outer Banks, so bring your favorite warm pajamas, a big box of fragrant tea or coffee, and a few good books. Even if you are the active type, you may just find that a full day of doing nothing but gazing at the sea is exactly what you need.
#9 Bring a journal — The Outer Banks are so quiet this time of year that you’ll finally be able to hear yourself think. Bring a journal to capture your thoughts and inspirations. Your Outer Banks vacation could just transform your whole year.
#10 Eat like a local — Fall is the best time of year for seasonal dishes. Be adventurous and eat how locals eat — fresh shrimp and crab, fresh oysters, hearty seafood stews with local vegetables, and anything on a biscuit. You’re sure to find some new favorites, and with a diet of fresh local seafood, you may even go home a few pounds lighter.
Fall is the perfect time to enjoy an end-of-year break in the Outer Banks. Pack a jacket and some warm socks, then prepare for the perfect combination of fun and downtime.