The Outer Banks are a family-friendly vacation spot with something fun for all ages. From history to farm animals, water parks to sand-sculpting contests, your crowd will never forget a vacation in the Outer Banks.
The Island Farm
Located on Roanoke Island, The Island Farm is a living-history museum that takes visitors back to 1847. A farmhouse built by Adam Etheridge in 1757 anchors the museum, and it’s fun to see youngsters’ eyes get wide when they hear that the house is over 261 years old.
Outside on the grounds you’ll find an outhouse, smokehouse, woodshed, dairy, animal barns, chicken coops, a slave cabin, and a corncrib. You’ll even get to walk through the family graveyard.
Adults and young people love interacting with the free-roaming chickens, sheep, cow, Banker ponies, and the farm’s stately ox. Costumed interpreters are also out and about to help put history in context for everyone.
Introduce yourself to a real blacksmith, farmer, or cook, and then look on as you discover how laundry used to be done without any electricity or washing machine. Kids can ask questions while the interpreters work, and maybe also lend a hand.
Far more than just a fun outing, the Island Farm shows young people what life was like before modern technologies such as motorized vehicles, appliances, phones, and computers. (Imagining those days can be fun for adults, too.)
Check the schedule of hands-on activities including woodworking, 19th-century games, farming, and ox-drawn wagon rides.
This innovative park is located in Powells Point, just three miles from the Wright Memorial Bridge. Designed to embrace the culture of the Outer Banks, the grounds are full of pirate, boat, and airplane references and motifs. The park caters to all ages with thrill rides for adults and older kids, and toddler-friendly play structures, soft obstacles, and swim zones.
Fifty private cabanas offer shade, complimentary bottled water, fruit, brownies, and Rice Crispies treats. Depending on size, cabanas accommodate 8 to 12 people; the whole family can take a nap after a day of play.
The park is handicap accessible and is open from the end of May through the first weekend in September.
Don’t forget that when you stay with Outer Banks Blue you can get discounted tickets to the waterpark!
Junior Ranger Program at the Wright Brothers National Memorial
Becoming a Junior Ranger is a tradition and a point of pride for kids visiting the Outer Banks. In fact, children love the program so much that the park now swears in over 6,000 Junior Rangers every year. Open to children ages 5 to 13, the Junior Ranger program helps young people learn about the National Parks and how they can help protect them. To get their badge, candidates must attend two Ranger programs (different programs take place each day), and complete the booklet for their age group.
Nothing says summer vacation like building sandcastles. You can do it the old-fashioned way and scavenge tools from your rental (be sure to wash and return them), or you can buy nifty sandcastle-building tools such as special buckets, flat-edged knives, hoes, and plastic detailing shapers.
There is an art to building sandcastles: Start with really wet sand, pack it tight, and go from the top down. Make your sand pile bigger than you think you need it; after all, making a sandcastle is about sculpting a big pile of sand — it’s not really about building. Take your time and use your imagination. You can work together on one big castle or have a contest to see who can make the best sculpture or structure.
When you need a break from the beach, mini golf is an excellent way to burn off energy and have fun together. There are several elaborate mini golf courses in the Outer Banks, so there’s sure to be one close to your rental. Check out Professor Hacker’s Lost Treasure Golf or Paradise Fun Park in Kill Devil Hills, Pirates Island in Corolla, or Turf’s Up in Kitty Hawk. In Nags Head, Jurassic Putt is a dinosaur-themed course with water misters that keep players cool.
Kids of almost any age love mini golf, but if you’ve got little ones you’ll want your hands free to help them play. Instead of a purse, take a small, lightweight, packable backpack that can hold your phone, wallet, sunscreen, and anything your kids need.
Most mini golf courses aren’t shaded, so first thing in the morning or late afternoon are the best times to go with children. Unless you know the course has shade and misters, it’s best to avoid mid-day.
The Outer Banks is an exciting, educational playground for kids and adults. Take advantage of the innovative museums and activities, but be sure to save some time for old-school fun. There’s so much for everyone to see and do here that you’ll be planning your next trip on the drive home.