You may associate Kitty Hawk with the Wright Brothers' famous First Flight (although that actually took place in nearby Kill Devil Hills).
But there's much more to this quaint Outer Banks town than its role in aviation history. With its pristine beach, wooded coastal reserve, children's museum, and waterfront restaurants, Kitty Hawk provides plenty of opportunities for memorable family fun.
Here's how you might spend a perfect day in this picturesque coastal retreat.
Stroll Along the Beach Before the Crowds Arrive
Kitty Hawk offers a dozen public-access pathways to white sand and sparkling blue sea. So, even if you're not staying right on the ocean, you'll always be able to make a beeline right to the beach.
Early morning is the best time for a walk along the shore. You'll enjoy unparalleled peace and privacy as you savor the salty air, scan the endless horizon, and listen to the rhythmic ebb and flow of the waves. Meanwhile, your younger kids will love wading in the warm shallow waters and searching for seashells washed ashore by the tide.
Before you know it, you'll be ready for breakfast. And, thanks to all that fresh air, salt spray, and brisk exercise, you'll probably have a keen appetite!
Treat Your Family to a Hearty Traditional Breakfast
For filling fare that's sure to tickle your tastebuds, come to Stack 'Em High Original Pancake House at 3801 North Croatan Highway. Here, in a friendly, laid-back atmosphere, you and your family can chow down on fluffy cheese omelets, savory eggs and bacon, scrumptious waffles, and, of course, heaps of yummy pancakes. Prices start at just $1.99, so you can easily feed the fam without busting a hole in your budget.
If you prefer a quicker meal, stop by Barrier Island Bagels (4716 North Croatan Highway) for freshly baked craft bagels with your choice of tasty toppings. Or drop into Duck Donuts in the Ocean Centre Shopping Center for luscious made-to-order donuts you can customize with just about any topping or filling imaginable.
Take a Walk on the Wild Side at the Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve
Now that you're fueled and ready for the day, why not hit the forest trails at Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve?
This breathtaking wooded retreat covers 1,890 acres in all, 461 of which are owned by the Town of Kitty Hawk. Its varied landscape includes maritime deciduous forest (considered globally rare), maritime swamp forest, marshes and creeks, plus freshwater ponds and pools.
Hike the easy 1.90-mile loop trail to explore the hardwood forest. Here, in a virtually salt-free environment, you'll find red oaks, hickories, sweet gums, water oaks, and American beeches - unusual vegetation for a site so close to Currituck Sound and the Atlantic Ocean!
These towering trees grow among ancient dunes that reach up to 30 feet high. And, from spring through fall, they provide lush, leafy shade for a wide array of wildlife. Be on the lookout for colorful birds - especially during migration season - along with raccoons, river otters, reptiles, and other fascinating forest critters. Plus, keep your eyes peeled for lovely native wildflowers, including the Reserve's four species of orchids.
The Reserve itself is easy to get to. Public parking is available at the Ridge Road Trailhead and Birch Lane Trailhead as well as at the multi-use path that runs parallel to Woods Road. Visiting hours extend from sunrise to sunset.
Picnic at the Park
Up for a quick lunch? Grab some takeout and head to Sandy Run Park, a scenic 16-acre parcel bordering the Reserve's Maritime Woods Canals. Here you'll find covered pavilions, open picnic areas, and convenient charcoal grills, all perfect for a pleasant midday meal. And, when you're all finished noshing, you can take a relaxing stroll along the raised wooden walkway that winds through the park's grassy birdwatching and wildlife area.
Experience a Unique Children's Museum
Ready for a fun afternoon pastime? If you have little kids, they'll love spending a couple of hours at the Children at Play Museum at 3810 North Croatan Highway. This interactive facility helps youngsters develop crucial skills through creative hands-on activities. Little ones have a blast - and, best of all, they learn while they play!
How About a Swim Before Supper?
Can't get enough of that Outer Banks surf and sand? Head back to the beach for a delightful dip in the balmy Gulf Stream waters. Or just rest for a while on a bench or blanket, listen to the cries of the gulls, and watch the waves lapping the shore.
Dine Out or In - It's Up to You
If you're a tad tuckered out, you may opt for a cozy meal at your Outer Banks rental. But, if you've got your second wind, you may choose to dine out at a popular local eatery, such as the Black Pelican Oceanfront Restaurant - housed in a 19th-century lifesaving station with panoramic ocean views - or the island-themed Rundown Cafe, specializing in Caribbean fare.
Now It's Time to Just Chill
As the moon rises over the ocean, head back to your comfortable Kitty Hawk vacation rental, where you can unwind with your family before calling it a night. It's the perfect ending to a perfect day at Kitty Hawk!