Back in 2014 we released a blog article on how to avoid the traffic on you drive to the Outer Banks. After seeing how many people that article helped and reading everyone’s responses and tips, we’ve decided to update it. Anyone who has driven to the Outer Banks on a Saturday knows how bad the traffic can be during peak season. We’ve had reports saying the traffic was backed up 20 miles behind the Wright Memorial Bridge.
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).
Anyone who has driven to the Outer Banks on a Saturday knows how bad the traffic can be during peak season. Every year we hear reports saying the traffic was backed up 20 miles behind the Wright Memorial Bridge.
Everyone knows where the problem is. It’s the intersection in Kitty Hawk that takes you north onto highway 12 into Southern Shores. Traffic there bottlenecks and can add anywhere from 2 to 5 hours to your driving time. For guests who are staying south of this intersection there is a better way. If you’re staying in Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, or Nags Head with Outer Banks Blue here we have some time saving tips for you. During the peak vacation season, do not come across the Wright Memorial Bridge to get to the Outer Banks over the Wright Memorial Bridge during peak vacation season!
As most veteran vacationers to the Outer Banks know, traveling to the Outer Banks from the north and driving across the bridge will add around 3 hours to your driving time due to traffic. Google maps may say the stretch from Richmond to Kill Devil Hills, the middle ground for our Kitty Hawk to Nags Head guests, will take you 2 hours and 57 minutes but in reality it will take you 5 to 7 hours.
Those of you who usually drive by, or near Richmond and then take Highway 64 to Chesapeake, instead take Richmond, VA to Edenton, NC. Yes Google maps will say the drive is 4 hours, which is 1 hour and 3 minutes longer, but when you consider the traffic it is actually a time saver. Most who are trying to arrive on the Outer Banks by crossing the Wright Memorial Bridge are averaging a 6 hours drive from Richmond to Kill Devil Hills, but if you take the Edenton route you may cut as much as 2 hours off your drive. You may still encounter some traffic once your arrive on the Outer Banks, but as everyone knows the traffic south of the Kitty Hawk-Southern Shores traffic light is rather light by comparison.
Not only is this route a time saver but it is also full of smaller roads through the countryside which may be a nice change of scenery from your average drive down the interstate.
Another alternative to these routes is to take I-95 South to US-64 East by Rocky Mount, NC. This path shows on Google Maps as being 16 minutes longer than the Edenton route, but it is mostly freeway and has a lot more gas stations and food to stop at along the way.
Even those of you who must travel through Chesapeake, due to where you live, can take advantage of this tip when coming to the Outer Banks on a Saturday during peak season. The problem where traffic occurs typically begins somewhere between the Virginia-North Carolina state line and Highway 158-Highway 168 intersection. With there being an additional hour and 14 minutes to go the Edenton route you will still save time when considering traffic.
A big tip to beat a lot of traffic is what day you check in on. Typically, most people vacationing on the Outer Banks choose to rent from Saturday to Saturday. If you switch up your check in day to a Friday or Sunday Check in traffic will be much less.
If you are crossing the Wright Memorial Bridge no later than 9:00 am then you are usually in the clear. Most days traffic doesn’t tend to get congested until around 10 am. I know 9:00 am sounds early, especially if your rental won’t be ready until 4:00 pm, but it’s more enjoyable to find something to do on the Outer Banks rather than sit in traffic for hours.
If you arrive to the Outer Banks before your Outer Banks vacation rental is ready try grabbing a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants. The beach is full of great local cuisine that we recommend everyone try (Top 8 Favorite Place To Get Breakfast on the Outer Banks). One of the best early arrival tips we can give you is to plan like you will arrive early. Pack swim suits and beach chairs to be easily accessible. If there is still time to kill until you can check into your rental you will be able to get to the beach gear easily and have a beach day until you can unpack the rest of your luggage.
We hope these tips can help you on your next trip to the Outer Banks. If you have any tips that we’ve left out we would love to hear them in the comments!
Less Crowded and Less Traffic
There’s nothing like spending a week relaxing on the beach in the Outer Banks. Walking on the beach with the sand between your toes and the sound of the waves crashing will put anyone in a tranquil state of mind.
For some trying to find a spot among everyone else enjoying the beach can get a little frustrating. It’s no secret that the Outer Banks tends to get crowded in the summer. If you seem to enjoy sitting two to five feet from strangers on the beach then summer is perfect for you, but if having almost the entire beach to yourself sounds relaxing then you may want to consider visiting in the off-season. Although it may be too cold to lay out in the winter the Outer Banks gets quite warm during the fall and spring. In April, May, September, and October you can expect to see temperatures anywhere from the 70’s to 80’s. This may not be the same as a nice hot summer day that can get over 100 degrees, with the heat index, but it’s nice enough to relax in a bathing suit without breaking a sweat.
Not only are the beaches less crowded in the off-season there is also almost no traffic. If you are coming to stay on the Outer Banks during the summer you can expect to sit in traffic for hours while arriving on Saturday. If you time your vacation right and cross the bridge very early in the morning you may be able to beat the traffic, but it’s still a gamble. During the off-season you’ll also notice it will be easier to get from place to place with little to no traffic to compete with. Think of going to a restaurant and being able to be sat almost right away.
Although the Outer Banks is beautiful in the summer, there is a lot of beautiful scenery during the off-season.
Fall is an obvious season that has beautiful scenery virtually anywhere. There is no other month like October for sunrises and sunsets on the Outer Banks. Imagine waking up to a breathtaking sunrise over the beach with the calming sound of waves rolling onto the shore. The morning sky becomes painted with beautiful hues of magenta and purple while the sun rises above the ocean to warm the sand. It’s not every day that the east coast gets to see a sunset over the ocean. In October we tend to see amazing sunsets from the beach. The clouds become purple with a beautiful glow of yellow and pink along the horizon. The beach is relaxing enough on its own, but imagine lying on the sand under a picture perfect sky that looks like a painting. The sound of the ocean and the gentle breeze of the wind will cause you to slip away into a state of relaxation and peace that you didn’t know was possible.
Most people’s ideal Outer Banks vacation is not usually in the winter. Oftentimes people think of the negatives; it’s too cold for the beach, the grass and plants are dead, it’s too cold to sit outside. We agree that those are disappointing, but there are also positives to visiting the Outer Banks in the winter. Although the grass and most plants may be dead there is still a lot of beautiful scenery. Have you ever seen the beach covered in snow? It’s very beautiful and a must see in our opinion. In fact two years ago was a sight to see when the entire sound froze over! The winter can be a very romantic time with your loved one. It’s perfect to take a nice long walk on the beach and come back to the house to sit in front of the fireplace. The hot tubs that normally get neglected in the summer (because it’s so hot out) can get put to good use. Picture yourself sitting in the hot tub relaxing while listening to the sound of snow gently falling around you.
Everyone knows that spring is a beautiful time of the year. Just as the weather starts to turn nice and warm again, the flowers start to bloom and the birds begin to chirp. The Outer Banks usually sees some of its vacationers making their way back to their favorite vacation destination. In the spring you can truly sit back and enjoy the sounds of nature without it being interrupted by tons of other vacationers. You can comfortably layout on the beach in a bathing suit and enjoy your favorite book with no distractions. Spring is also a perfect time to take walks with a loved one. Picture yourself taking a peaceful walk with the aroma of numerous plants and flowers blooming right beside you. The vibrant colors, warm air, and pleasant smells will be sure to put you in a state of bliss.
The majority of vacationers know just how expensive a week stay in the Outer Banks can be. By the time you find the perfect home in the perfect location it is not uncommon for the cost to be $5,000 or more. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day rental prices are always raised due to it being the peak vacation season. The offseason provides a more affordable option. There are times where a property that costs $13,500 a week drops to as little as $3,000!
If you are someone that has vacationed in the Outer Banks before but wishes it wasn’t so crowed, busy, and expensive, then the off season may be the perfect time for you and your family to take a vacation!
Today’s Memory Monday brings a bit of mixed emotions as we mark the unofficial end of summer today. While we have great memories of Summer 2014, we also are going to miss the warm weather, calm seas, and fun outdoor activities that summer provides.
Today’s Outer Banks Blue Realty Memory Monday brings us a picture of one of those summer memories a beautiful sunrise over the Atlantic!
|Another beautiful day starting on the OBX!|
Janet Adkins of Danville, Virginia who stayed with us at the property “Looking Glass” in Nags Head brings us this great photo. Nothing like an Outer Banks sunrise!
Also today we thank Jackie Tilitsky of Fredericksburg, Virginia who has stayed with her gang for a few years now at the “Klein Cottage” in Southern Shores. She provides us a great Memory…a family reunion picture. We love seeing families gather together on the Outer Banks and Jackie’s photo is a great one. .
Thanks Jackie and Janet for wrapping up our summer memory Mondays with these wonderful pictures!
All the best from the beach!
By Tim Cafferty, President, Outer Banks Blue Realty Services
|No one is Lost in this group….Moonbeam is the place to be!|
Special congratulations on this special Monday goes to Sara who works with the Cleveland Indians Major League Baseball team who secured their first post season berth since 2007 with their win on Sunday over the Minnesota Twins. The Cleveland Indians are the top wild card team in the American League and host the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the first round of the playoffs this Wednesday. Go Tribe!Thanks Sara and good luck to the Indians in the upcoming playoffs. We look forward to serving you all again soon at Moonbeam!All the best from the beach!By Tim Cafferty, President, Outer Banks Blue Realty Services
|Traffic headed onto the Outer Banks on the W.M. Bridge|
The westbound bridge which provides two lanes of outgoing traffic will be shut down beginning September 15th and the 2nd bridge will be converted to allow one way traffic in each direction during the repair process. The N.C.D.O.T. has awarded a $6.3 million contract to G.A & F. C Wagman, Inc of York, Pa to repair the bridge, which crosses the Currituck sound and is the only way off of the northern Outer Banks.Plans are to replace the sagging pavement with a layer of latex-modified concrete that the highway department says will smooth out the riding surface. In addition, seals will be replaced in joints that allow the bridge to expand and contract with the weather.Since the bridge opened in the early 1990’s a series of dips on the deck of the heavily traveled span has made for bouncy, and potentially dangerous, driving for motorists heading west between the Outer Banks and mainland Currituck County.Weather conditions will play a large role in the placement of the new pavement as the statement released by the D.O.T. indicated that air temperatures must be between 50 and 85 degrees with surface temperatures between 40 and 85 degrees. Wind speeds cannot be more than 10 MPH during the process.
|The Bridge on the Left will be closed for 8 months|
There was no comment in the news release related to potential evacuations that may be called due to hurricanes.The contract is one of 29 contracts that total $107.5 million which were awarded in June for highway and bridge projects across North Carolina, the statement said.By Tim Cafferty, President, Outer Banks Blue Realty Services