Did you know that more than 2,000 ships have wrecked off the Outer Banks? No wonder this storied coastline is known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.”
Wright Brothers National Memorial
Wilbur and Orville Wright, self-taught mechanics from Dayton, Ohio, came to Kitty Hawk and changed the world when they invented the first successful airplane in 1903. At the museum and memorial in Kitty Hawk, visitors can walk up the steep hill to see where the brothers made history with their first flight. In fact, the First Flight Centennial Pavilion has a fascinating review of aviation technology that you won’t want to miss.
Roanoke Island Festival Park
Roanoke Island Festival Park serves as a Wayback Machine for the Outer Banks. The first English settlers arrived on the islands as early as 1500, during the reign of Elizabeth Tudor. The park is an indoor and outdoor interactive complex of exhibits and activities that explain what life was like on the barrier islands during its days as a British colony.
Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station
Don’t overlook this museum with the funny name. Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station and Museum is one of the most popular and beloved museums in the Outer Banks. The Lifesaving Station honors the men who worked the lifesaving stations along the seashore. These men rescued hundreds of shipwrecked sailors over the years. Their journals, uniforms, gear, and primary residence are on display.
Ocracoke Preservation Society
The Ocracoke Preservation Society is housed in a historic home known as the David Williams House Museum. Built in the late 1800s, the home was restored by the Ocracoke Preservation Society so that visitors could see what life was like for Bankers in the 19th century. There’s even a documentary about the “Ocracoke Brogue,” an accent particular to those born and raised on Ocracoke.
One of the real delights of the museum is the summer Porch Talks. Wander up to the porch, take a seat on the steps, and listen to local experts recount the legends, mysteries, and exciting tales of the Outer Banks.
Outer Banks History Center
On the grounds of Roanoke Island Festival Park, you’ll find the wonderfully academic Outer Banks History Center. If you are a history buff, a science nerd, a weather bug, or if you trace your roots to the Bankers, you will enjoy getting lost in this facility. The center is home to more than 300,000 documents, photos, maps, and books about the Outer Banks, some dating back to the 1500s.
Corolla Wild Horse Museum
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