A Guide to 4×4 Carova, Outer Banks, NC (aka Corolla 4×4)

carova, nc outer banks 4x4

Corolla is one of the most popular North Carolina beaches for one special reason: the 4×4 area, slightly to the north, known as Carova! If you have a vehicle equipped to take advantage of this opportunity I would highly recommend it as part of your Outer Banks vacation experience. Enjoy the sunshine, play in the waves, and possibly see the famous wild horses! READ MORE

Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse: A Hidden Gem of the Outer Banks

Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

Have you ever been to Manteo?

If you’ve visited this quaint island town in the NC Outer Banks, you may have noticed a picturesque structure at the end of a wooden pier just east of the downtown area. It’s the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse… and it’s unlike any tower-style lighthouse you’ve ever seen. READ MORE

How To Survive Long Days At the Beach

survive outer banks beach day

Summer’s approaching faster than you think and you know what that means; Long hot days at the beach! If you’re like me then you can barley contain your excitement when you think about being under the warm sun while listening to the sound of the waves roll onto the beach. I try to make the most out of my days at the beach. I clear my whole schedule and plan on staying from late morning until the evening. Long beach days like this take a lot out of you and many people couldn’t imagine staying that long. But for all the people that love beach days as much as I do here is how to survive a long day on the beach! READ MORE

Top 10 Planning Tips: Outer Banks Beach Vacation

Top 10 Planning Tips for your Outer Banks beach vacation

Planning for your vacation sets the stage for getting the most out of your vacation, even if your plan is to be as lazy as you can be.

When my family vacations we tend to plan in two stages. The first stage is all about thinking ahead to: what will we need for the trip and what will we need when we get there. The second stage is all about what are we going to do when we get there (activities). READ MORE

Bucket List: Extreme Water Adventures in the Outer Banks

Outer Banks water adventures

Love the ocean? Then chances are good you love water sports. And no doubt you’ve done all the usual – swimming, sailing, fishing, boating. Perhaps you’ve also tried somewhat more daring sports, such as surfing, kayaking, and water skiing. READ MORE

Top 6 Tips For a Beach Day with a Baby

A day at the beach with a baby

Beach days before having a baby meant complete relaxation. Entire beach vacations were spent catching up on some reading while kicked back in a beach chair without a worry in the world and maybe even a drink in your hand to top it off. With a new little one in tow, planning a vacation in general is usually a much different story. It may not be quite as carefree as prior vacations, but it doesn’t have to be any less fun! Here are some tips on how to have an awesome beach day with your baby! READ MORE

Which Outer Banks Town is Best for You?

Outer Banks vacation

No one has the same vision for the perfect vacation. Some may picture peace, quiet, and seclusion while others may picture plenty of activities close by. Regardless of what your ideal vacation looks like the Outer Banks has the perfect fit for everyone. READ MORE

Christmas on the Outer Banks

Christmas on the Outer Banks
Of course the Christmas season is special no matter where you are, but why not spend it in the beautiful Outer Banks? While you probably won’t see a white Christmas on the coast, there are plenty of reasons why the Outer Banks make the perfect family destination, no matter the season. The weather is chilly but not bone-chilling, vacation rentals are at the best value you’ll see all year, and when summer leaves, it takes all the traffic and crowds along with it.

While you’re in a beachy winter wonderland for the holidays with your loved ones and away from the monotony of home, here are some annual activities for the whole family to enjoy alongside the locals:

Annual Holiday Tour of Homes
December 1 @ 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm  –  $20 admission

Enjoy a holiday home tour of historic homes, inns and more on Roanoke Island in Manteo. Light refreshments and check-in are at The Outer Banks Distillery where the owners offer afternoon tastings for tour goers and a tour of the distillery. Your group will receive a brochure with a map of the tour route to help you navigate as you walk or bike through this historic area of Manteo. This tour marks the beginning of a day filled with holiday festivities, making it a full-day of fun-filled shopping, dining, and sightseeing.

Winter Lights at Elizabethan Gardens
November 24 – January 19, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm – Adults $11, Youth (ages 6-17) $9, Child (5 and under) $6. READ MORE

The Pioneer Theater: Experience Stepping Back In Time

Pioneer Theater
Maybe it’s the popcorn—the glorious, wonderful aroma of fresh popped popcorn that fills the air in the lobby of the Pioneer Theater in Manteo. The Creef family who owns the theater has always popped their own popcorn right there at the concession stand and it is much a memory of the theater as any movie that plays there.

Perhaps it’s the quaint ticket booth where tickets are sold. It’s a real ticket booth—not a glass-enclosed room that is part of a building. The Pioneer Theater ticket booth is a small wooded structure, centered on doors that open into the lobby. And the price of the tickets that are purchased at that ticket booth? Usually $4.00 less movies in a multiplex charges today.

And the lobby…the lobby is small, a little bit cramped, but that’s ok because there is the sound of popcorn popping and the scent of it and the price of concessions is about half and sometimes a bit less than half of what is charged in most movie theaters.

This is the what all movie theaters were like at one time—a place in the heart of the downtown district surrounded by shops a restaurants. It is smaller than the theaters of major cities although it does seat around 300-400, but in every other way it is what going to the movies was all about 40 or 50 years ago.

The word unique is thrown around almost carelessly at times, but when it comes to the Pioneer Theater, unique is the only word that truly describes the Pioneer.

It is the oldest continuously owned family movie theater in the United States—no other theater in all the 50 states can make that claim.

1918…that was the year George W. Creef Jr. opened the doors to the first, and for a long time, only movie theater in Dare County. He had to be a little bit crazy to do it. The population of the county was struggling to reach 5000; Manteo was the county seat, but there were no roads or bridges connecting it to the rest of the county; even Roanoke Island was sparsely populated with perhaps 600 residents living there.

According to family lore George, Jr. took a trip up north, went out to a nickelodeon, became fascinated with motion pictures and purchased a projector. Movies were free at first, but, again according to family tales, the movies were so popular that he felt there could be a business opportunity.

Now located on Budleigh Street, the original location was one block over on Sir Walter Raleigh. That move was made in 1934 and by that time George’s son, Herbert, Sr., was running the show.

It’s been three generations of Herbert Creef’s in charge of the theater since that time. Herbert Jr. took over from his father—he usually went by H.A. and ran the theater almost until the day he died in 2012. Then his son Buddy—Herbert III—took over. Buddy is usually there. He’s the big man, 6’2” or 6’3”, with the full beard who almost always is dressed in sandals and shorts.

The seats are comfortable if utilitarian. When Buddy took over from his father back in 2012 he made a number of improvements, including a substantial upgrade for the sound system and improved technology for the projection room. As a consequence the quality of the movie experience is very good.

The movies are generally just off the first run list, giving viewers a chance to catch in July the movie they missed in June.

The Creef family has always believed that the movie experience is something for the whole family to enjoy. It would be the rare R rated movie indeed showing at the Pioneer.

A movie theater is not often seen as part of the experience of visiting an area, but in this case, that would seem to be the exception. For a family of four, a night at the movies will be about $20-$25 less than at a typical theater, and the experience of stepping back in time, is something that will make the evening a moment worth remembering.

There is a lot to like about Manteo. There is the feel of a classic small town America downtown, fantastic art at the Dare County Arts Council gallery, great restaurants with sidewalk service and the Pioneer Theater.