Outer Banks Visitor Guide

Outer Banks visitor guideHeading to the Outer Banks? From our famous beaches to local dining, there’s plenty to see, do, and eat once you arrive. Here’s a sample of the excitement and local fare you can look forward to. See you soon!

Enjoy a Unique Natural Environment

Natural beauty is undoubtedly one of the biggest draws of the Outer Banks. If you’re a nature lover, rent a kayak and spend the day taking in quiet water trails that wind through the islands, along the shore, through maritime forests, salt marsh canals, and estuaries. Floating in the bay for sunset is an unforgettable experience, as is paddling through a sound as birds and river otters play around you. Of course, no Outer Banks tourism guide would be complete without a mention of the area’s pristine wildlife refuges. Visit Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve, Currituck National Wildlife Refuge, or Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge for the opportunity to get up close with local birds and animals.

Beach Fun

The Outer Banks have more than 100 miles of shoreline and dozens of beaches. Choose your beach depending on what you like. If you prefer modern conveniences such as paved parking, showers, and snack bars, you might want to head for northern beaches such as Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, and Duck. They typically have footpaths or boardwalks, bath houses, and free parking. Is your heart set on wide-open stretches of sand and sea? Beaches farther south have bigger waves and fewer people.

Attractions

When you’re ready to dry off, the Outer Banks have a variety of fun and educational attractions. The Roanoke Island Festival Park is home to Elizabeth II, a 69-foot replica of the types of sailing ships used to explore the New World in the 16th century. Just up the road is the Historic Waterside Theater and The Lost Colony, an outdoor drama that tells the intriguing story of the first colonies on Roanoke Island. This play has been running for 80 years and is a must-see before you visit nearby Elizabethan Gardens, a moving living memorial to Queen Elizabeth I and the Lost Colony.

Hatteras Island Ocean Center and Ecology Park is a prime location to spot wildlife and unusual birds. The Ocean Center also has classes and activities that help visitors learn more about this complex and important ecosystem. Classes include everything from birding to photography, and one class will even teach you how to catch your own crabs. Other educational attractions include the Airport Museum, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, and the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.

Just for Kids

A day at the beach is an activity most kids look forward to all year. If you have little ones, pick a beach on the sound side where the water is shallow and the waves are small. Otherwise, Outer Banks beaches are large and there’s plenty of room for kids to spend time building sand castles, flying kites, or trying their skills at boogie boarding, skim boarding, or surfing.

If you need a break from the sand and surf, there are dozens of miniature golf courses throughout the area, and many are elaborate enough to entice adults as well. The North Carolina Aquarium in Manteo is a must-see for kids of all ages. This aquarium has tanks of alligators, otters, giant sea turtles, and even sharks. There are several touch tanks where kids can get up close to some of the area’s native residents, such as crabs and manta rays.

Also not to be missed is the Children At Play Museum on Buccaneer’s Walk in Kill Devil Hills. This museum helps kids understand the special geography and culture of the Outer Banks while they explore and play. Exhibits include how to build a boat, the history of lighthouses, how to catch local fish, and more.

Local Restaurants

From fine dining to roadside taco stands, the Outer Banks has a vibrant food scene. If you’re looking for a romantic night out with an ocean view, the Inn at Pamlico on Hatteras Island has a cozy restaurant that is legendary for delicious fish, crab cakes, and vegetarian dishes.

In the mood for something different? Check out Flying Melon on Ocracoke for creative dishes and imaginative cocktails. If you’re staying near Kill Devil Hills, make a reservation at Colington Café. This quaint little restaurant is situated in a renovated historic home and is a favorite for special-occasion dinners.

If your stomach starts rumbling on Ocracoke, pull into Eduardo’s Taco Stand. Eduardo’s is famous for serious Mexican food with a local twist. For a big breakfast, Stack ’em High Pancakes in Kill Devil Hills is a cafeteria-style restaurant known for generous portions of all your morning favorites. In Kitty Hawk, local hangout Art’s Place serves up a nice variety of salads and pub grub, including the best burger in the Outer Banks.

Whether you’re in the mood to chill out at the beach, get close to nature, or explore local attractions, the Outer Banks have something entertaining for everyone.

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